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Archives for May 2005

It’s My Blog…

… and I’ll post old poems if I want to!
I’m back in upstate New York this week – just checked out a farm that’s coming up for auction. It wasn’t the one – the bones of the house weren’t right. The land, though…the barn, the hill, the stream, the trees… ah, well.

The Evening Comes

The evening comes
Everywhere and all at once
Rushing out of the sunset
Like Lucifer from the lake of fire
And there is everywhere
And all at once
An evening of things.

The morning comes
streaming slanted slats of gold
Showing me, once again,
Light and shadow
It leaves me
Mourning the difference.


G.K. Chesterton was born on this date in 1874.


Walker Percy was born on this date in 1916.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery…

David Horowitz has written a new book entitled The End of Time. Check out the cover here.

Gosh, but that’s a familiar looking cover. Hmm. Where have I seen something like that before?

Ah, well. I guess it means the good people at Loyola Press are doing something right.

You’ll Go Blind Doing That.

Okay, so it should be, “You’ll go blind taking that.” I know, I know – it’s too easy a shot. Forgive me.

The Liberal Media

Kidding. Half-kidding. From the May 21 Washington Post religion book roundup:

SWIMMING WITH SCAPULARS: TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A YOUNG CATHOLIC, by Matthew Lickona (Loyola Press, $19.95). Lickona, 32, is a writer for an alternative newspaper in San Diego, a devotee of the Onion Web site and a wine connoisseur. This Gen-Xer is also a traditional Catholic who wears a scapular, a sacramental object worn around the neck to protect the wearer from damnation, and he believes that sex is primarily for procreation. In this small book, Lickona tells of periods of doubt but ultimate adherence to the faith.

“He believes sex is primarily for procreation.” Hm. From page 105: “But in my experience of marriage, the unitive end rightfully stands beside the procreative. The joy of heaven comes from union with God, the supreme union of lover and beloved. Until that union – pray God – comes to pass, I have a foretaste of that joy in marriage, an echo of heaven on earth.”

Someone want to tell me how anyone could get “sex is primarily for procreation” out of that? As I say, the “liberal media” bit is a joke. It’s probably more sloppy reading than a bias against anyone who draws an essential connection between sex and childbearing. But gosh all golly, that’s an annoying claim.

And I won’t be 32 for another month. Hmph.

ADDENDUM: I should note that I’m still very grateful to be mentioned, whatever my petulant reaction to this or that detail.

Oh, Wow. Oh, Wow. Oh, Wow.

The Elusive Scotsman was kind enough to post this in my comments:

From the June/July 2005 issue of First Things:

An engaging case study is now on offer in Matthew Lickona’s Swimming with Scapulars: True Confessions of a Young Catholic(Loyola, 278 pp., $19.95). I will not be surprised if this becomes something of a niche classic. Lickona and his wife Deirdre are graduates of Thomas Aquinas College in California and live with their four (as of this writing) children in La Mesa, California, where he is staff writer for the San Diego Reader, an alternative newspaper. “Alternative” is the word for the ever-ancient, ever-new way of life they are striving to live, a life of self-discipline and spiritual struggles joined to the hilarity and high adventure of Catholic fidelity. (Four days into the honeymoon they were still virgins because, being committed to Natural Family Planning, the time was not right for Deirdre.) Thomas Aquinas is among the more prominent of alternative Catholic colleges established in recent decades, and this charming and frequently crazy book serves as a report card on what such schools are producing. If the Lickonas are representative, a rigorous (they would say vigorous) orthodoxy results in a way of being Catholic that has left behind the stale liberal-vs-conservative squabbles about what went wrong and what went right after the Second Vatican Council and has moved on to living the life of the faith in all its fullness. Theirs is not a return to the Catholic “ghetto” or “subculture,” nor are they part of an angry counter-culture. Rather, Lickona provides a delightfully high-spirited and candid account of living Catholicism as though it were true, scapulars included. The author is in lively engagement with the surrounding culture and the problems encountered by those who have chosen another way. “Let’s be open and clean,” he writes. “Let’s drag this out into the light and discuss. Let’s not be shocked and resentful; let’s love the lonely. Perhaps, coming from a fanatic, the message of God’s love will regain some of its wonderful outrageousness. ‘Listen. I have a secret. I eat God, and I have His life in me. It’s the best thing in the world; it leads to everlasting life. But first, you have to die to yourself.'”

There is a good deal of Matthew Lickona’s self in Swimming with Scapulars, but with the guidance of St. Augustine, C.s. Lewis, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church a new man is manifestly a-bornin. This book may not be a portent of the Catholic future, but it is a compelling account of the Catholic present as experienced by a growing number of young people who have dared to accept Christ’s invitation to “put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” In catching, Matthew Lickona has been caught, and with winsome enthusiasm he recommends the experiment to others. The times they are a’changin.

Great googly-moogly, but that’s a nice review. I’m amazed and grateful.



Did I say that was my last Star Wars post down there? I was misinformed. I lied. I’m weak. This is the best thing since


Habemus Papam? You don’t say.

Apparently, we have a new pope. Apparently, we’ve had him for a while now – which makes the following inexcusably tardy. But here at Godsbody, that’s never stopped us before. We were shuffling through old email, muttering to ourselves about deadlines we weren’t meeting, when we found this, from sis-in-law Lisa, and thought we’d share:

Today Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Benedict XVI. I feel relief, excitement, joy, anticipation. The media portrays him as a hardline conservative. This is so far from the way I perceive him. The very first theology book I ever read was in my required sophomore intro course: Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity. I didn’t know anything about Ratzinger then or even anything about Catholic theology. But I guess that at some level I perceived it as dusty, dry and stodgy–because I remember my surprise when, after reading about 10 pages, I was enchanted, intrigued, challenged. Ratzinger’s writing was and is fresh and re-freshing. His prose is anything but plodding, his insights anything but predictable. Yesterday my theologian-friend Margie and I were talking about him. “He has no system of his own,” she said, with an air of respect, “He seems simply to be always contemplating the mystery.” Reading Introduction to Christianity was the first time I touched the mystery in a book of “theology.” Two years later, Michael Waldstein, a devotee of Ratzinger, taught the course that convinced me to study theology in graduate school. I was hooked.

At the John Paul II Institute I became acquainted with a German Dominican seminarian who had studied under Ratzinger at the university. Ratzinger, he told me, had a giant intellect. He could speak and the sentences rolled off his tongue as fully formed thoughts–“as though you were reading them in a book,” the seminarian added. Ratzinger has a great mind. But when I think back to that first reading of Introduction to Christianity, now that I have more theology under my belt and more Ratzinger books in my library, what I remember are not his arguments, but his stories, his images. One that stuck with me was in his discussion of the characteristics of God–one of which he termed “superfluity,” that is, overabundance, a gift that overwhelms the receiver. It is the characteristic of a God who spills his own blood for his pitiful creatures. Isn’t this superfluity, this overabundance, Ratzinger reasons, visible throughout the universe–from the thousands of seeds that are produced so that one flower may grow to the millions of stars strewn simply for our pleasure and amazement. This is vintage Ratzinger: turning a well known argument against the existence of God–after all, what is the measly earth but a speck in a quasi infinite universe–on its head. This is what comes from contemplating the mystery: the Love that created all that is, that beckons us in the person of Jesus Christ.

We Can Explain

We think we might have an explanation for this, besides the perhaps more obvious “The man is unhinged.” Tom Cruise is still smarting from the impression Ben Stiller did of him way back when on the Ben Stiller Show. The skit where he had Tom turning his most famous movie roles into a Broadway revue. This is Tom doing his best Ben Stiller, when Stiller is in his angry, helpless, freaking-out mode. Now all we need to complete the circle is for Ben to riff on Tom’s impression…