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Summa Contra Mundum

Hail, O Reproof of foolish philosophers! --Akathist Hymn to the Virgin Mary

Updated: 2015-10-03T19:18:12.186-05:00




A blog update! Holy Moley!

Have you found web serieses yet? (what's the plural for series? Seriess? Series'?) I am sick of every television series that I like getting cancelled. First it was Brisco County, then Firefly, then Dollhouse. Such shows were too expensive to produce, given the small audiences that they drew. But a web series takes very little money to make, and can now be distributed easily via Youtube. Surely, this is what the internet is for.

Here are some that I like. I will not add links in this post, because I have a migraine and can't really see what I am typing. Look them up yourself. The Guild, a story of online gamers who meet in real life, is wonderful. The Legend of Neil is a remake of the Legend of Zelda Nintendo game (with lots of adult humor). Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising is a must-see if you ever enjoyed role playing games. I also am currently enjoying the Lizzie Bennett diaries, a retelling of Pride and Prejudice as told by a webcam. Felicia Day has a whole channel, called "Geek and Sundry", which collects a bunch of web series (serieses, series?) together, including The Guild, a personal video log she writes, Table Top (celebrities play board games), and one I am especially anticipating, Written by a Kid.

The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, New Testament


I just got one of these yesterday, and I am enjoying it immensely. I'm working my way through Matthew, and the footnotes and topical articles are clear and insightful. It's certainly much more worth your while than the New American Bible, with its pedestrian translation and deplorable footnotes.

Is this thing on?




Worrying about what bishops are doing

is a sign of spiritual malaise. Don't you have enough to worry about with the state of your own soul? I certainly do. Let bishops be bishops.




I don't like colds.




Just a reminder: it is spelled "eucharist" in Greek.



A new document on Scripture

from the Vatican. The best part is that the pdf, mirabile dictu, is actually typeset rather well, in sharp contrast to most Vatican stuff.

The thing about restarting my blogging:


I need to write even when I don't have too much to say. So, this is a somewhat random post of things I am thinking about:

  1. The Kindle is very nice. I love the screen, and it is quite convenient to carry along The Lord of the Rings, the complete Summa Theologiae, the Bible, the Menaion, and about eight or nine Chesterton books, all in one small package. I highly recommend it.

  2. Homeschooling is hard, but wonderful. Is "wonderhard" a word?

  3. People shouldn't reveal changes of religion on Facebook.

  4. The Melkites publish wonderful books. I have their Horologion, original version, which is laid out beautifully. Lots of publishers don't understand typography, but Sophia Press does. I have just ordered the new version of the Horologion, and can't wait to get it.

That should do it. Perhaps I'll have something more substantial to say later.

I spent five hours in church today


We started with Matins at 9am, with four cantors singing four-part harmony. The Divine Liturgy started at 10am, and ran until 11:30. Then I directed the choir until 1pm, and gave a private lesson until 2pm.

Just an ordinary Sunday!

I have reached a Conclusion:


Indian food is the best cuisine in the world. One can understand why Europeans made so many efforts to find an easy route to India.

Remember, vote today!


Or you shouldn't complain. I think people underestimate the importance of querulosness as a motive for political activity.

Spiritual discernment? Or just restlessness?


Having recently lost two friends from my parish to another church, I can't help but wondering whether the attempt to pray, to determine what God is calling you to do, might not hide within it a great danger, the seduction of wanting God to call you away from where you are.

Let me give an example. Say I am an ordinary believer in a church. To go about the ordinary business of being a Christian is often very dry, requiring one to maintain faith even when it doesn't seem as if there are any concrete results. This is the usual state of life for most of us. But when confronted with the slow martyrdom of an ordinary life, we get bored. We lose heart. Here is where the temptation comes: What if God is calling me to change? To find a better church? Now I become important, someone who matters. Maybe God is not calling me to change, but to endure. But enduring is boring! It is seductive to consider oneself part of a grand plan that will bear visible earthly results.

The still small voice of God might be saying "Stay right where you are."



Just a test.



Will I post again?

I will, I will!

Now, if I could only get rid of all of the weird spam in the comments. . .

All that rises must converge.


I'm writing a paper for a conference on St. Edith Stein at Steubenville, and I think I have discovered a unique aspect of her theology, something that she arrives at on her own. Then I find that the Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky says much the same thing, drawing on St. Gregory of Nyssa, whom I have no evidence that Stein read.

But they all agree on the very unknowability of any human person as being a way in which humans are in the image and likeness of God. Perhaps a difference could be in the centrality of this aspect.

Cicero on the liberal arts


Nam ceterae neque temporum sunt neque aetatum omnium neque locorum: haec studia adolescentiam acuunt, senectutem oblectant, secundas res ornant, adversis perfugium ac solacium praebent, delectant domi, non impediunt foris, pernoctant nobiscum, peregrinantur, rusticantur.

Other pursuits are not of all times, ages, or places. This pursuit sharpens adolescence, delights old age, adorns favorable things, supplies refuge and solace to unfavorable things, pleases at home, doesn't hurt away from home, and watches with us through the night, journeys with us, and relaxes in the country with us.

Got Pharr's Aeneid


Much fun will be had. I've been working hard on the Latinum Podcast, and the constant practice with oral Latin is really helping. Things that I knew analytically in my previous Latin work are becoming second nature, almost fluent. What a good use for an ipod!

A Note To Me


Think twice before upgrading your computer. Resist the urge to update the bios. It works--the gains from the upgrade are small compared to the pain of messing everything up.

Listen: it's me talking!



Speaking of books

Here's my Amazon wishlist: Note to Santa.




I wanted to get a copy of this book: frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="border:0px" src="" width=500 height=500>

Usually I would just print it out and stick the pages in a binder. But I decided to try the link for Google Product search. It took me to, which then took me to I bought the book. It cost me 17$, including shipping, and took about a week to get. Would you like to see how it looks?




Holiday Tree?

The town where I live is kicking off a month of Holiday Festivities, where Holiday songs will be sung, Holiday treats will be eaten, Holiday movies will be watched, and a Holiday tree will be lit.

Is Holiday some new kind of holiday? Did I miss its establishment? Is there some new religion whose grand feast is Holiday?

Or, if it is a generic description not meant to offend anyone in a diverse culture, it must mean "any holiday." If it is the "any holiday" season, then, given our diversity, isn't every season the Holiday Season?

Felix Saturnalium, I guess.

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times


for studying the classics. Never before have there been so many resources for people to study Greek and Latin, and never before, thanks to Google Books and others, have so many texts been readily available. Unfortunately, interest in these subjects seems to be small. We starve amidst a banquet.

Recently I discovered the Latinum Podcast. Evan Millner has recorded the entire Adler _Practical Grammar of Latin Language as a series of podcasts that can be downloaded into an Ipod. He goes over the text with meticulously accurate pronunciation and with much useful repetition, so much that one really doesn't need to read the text. The course is primarily in Latin composition, so that the language is learned by speaking or writing it.

I am delighted to have found it. I am through six lessons, and already my Latin has improved greatly, just from hearing it spoken.

If only there were a classical Greek version.



I note with enjoyment in Catullus 13 he uses this image:

plenus sacculus est aranearum.

(My) purse is full of spiderwebs.

Some Cicero for you:


Etenim omnes artes, quae ad humanitatem pertinent, habent quoddam commune vinculum, et quasi cognatione quadam inter se continentur.

As a matter of fact all arts which touch on humanity have a certain common chain, and as if by a certain common birth are akin to each other.

I take liberties on "continentur." The sense is that the study of any human art is the study of all of them. It is said that Abraham Lincoln only had two books, the bible and Shakespeare, and educated himself through these. If this is so, one could get a very fine education, since so much of human nature is contained within those books. Learning a few books well would be better than many books poorly.



From Donna Tartt's The Secret History

Pur: that one word contains for me the secret, the bright, terrible clarity of ancient Greek. How can I make you see it, this strange harsh light which pervades Homer's landscapes and illumines the dialogues of Plato, an alien light, inarticulable in our common tongue? Our shared language is a language of the intricate, the particular, the home of pumpkins and ragamuffins and bodkins and beer, the tongue of Ahab and Falstaff and Mrs. Gamp; and while I find it entirely suitable for reflections such as these, it fails me utterly when I attemp to describe in it what I love about Greek, that language innocent of all quirks and cranks; a language obsessed with action, and with the joy of seeing action multiply from action, action marching relentlessly ahead and with yet more actions filing in from either side to fall into neat step at the rear, in a long straight rank of cause and effect toward what will be inevitable, the only possible end.