Swimming with Scapulars by Matthew Lickona

I’m about two-thirds through this little book and enjoying it immensely. I appreciate Lickona’s dedication to the exterior details of the faith coupled with his scrupulous introspection and inwardness. I almost put the book down after the first ten or twenty pages covering Lickona’s childhood. The book didn’t really hit home with me until the middle section focusing on marriage, parenthood, wrestling with a writerly vocation, struggling with the vicissitudes of parish life (and dearth) etc. I also appreciate Lickona’s reflections on authors such as Percy, Waugh, and Camus. A sample:

Besides bourbon and the scapular, Joseph also introduced me to Catholic literature — or rather, literature written by Catholic authors. He didn’t put it so grandly, of course. What he said was that he had discovered a great novel called Love in the Ruins, written by a guy named Walker Percy…. Joseph and I took endless delight in Love‘s lustful, knowing, bourbon-swilling hero, Dr. Tom More. He favored Early Times instead of Wild Turkey, but we forgave him that.

Over the next couple of years, I read all the Percy I could find…. Percy, like his fictional alter ego More, was a diagnostician, searching for the dis-ease at the heart of modern man. He didn’t skewer the objects of his satire so much as he pinned them to a board for closer study.

Later, Lickona recounts his and his wife’s struggles with Natural Family Planning in the regulation of marital relations, beginning with the astonishing feat of waiting four days after the wedding to consummate the marriage. “It got to the point where I scratched ‘nookie’ in the leather of my shoe with my fingernail, pleading with every step I took around our home.” A bit like a young Tom More himself, perhaps.


  1. Jonathan Potter says

    Lickona’s newspaper column, “Confessions” (under the pseudonym Broderick Barker) is available at http://www.sdnewsnotes.com/ed/confessions/. He and his friend Ernie also do a “Talking about Movies” column for that is worth perusing.

  2. Jonathan Potter says

    I just discovered his website, too, which is quite excellent: http://www.matthewlickona.com/ Check out the Easter Island Cartoons, under “Etc.”

  3. Jonathan Potter says

    This cat gets around. He’s also guest blogging at Old Hag: http://www.theoldhag.com/index.php?p=476

  4. jopomojo says

    He also writes “Crush,” a wine column for the San Diego Reader, found at: http://www.sdreader.com/published/current/crush.html

  5. John Stottlemyer says

    Ah, nice.

Speak Your Mind