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Showing posts from November, 2012

UPDATED My new e-booklet -- please read! Free booklet for the asking!

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I'm a reader and a writer. When I write, I try to write things I'd like to read. I'm a bit of a DIY nut, especially when it comes to my health, and one of the things I'm really interested in is finding ways to use more natural products around the house, to avoid toxic chemicals and to save some money by avoiding brand name products (there are a number of large manufacturers that I am always happy not to buy from). I do a lot of informal research on the internet regarding more natural ways to stay healthy, clean my home, etc., but I find that sometimes some really wild claims are made about things like raw honey, boric acid, etc. I find it rather irritating that reasonable claims about the valuable properties of such things are often all mixed up with really wild claims (cures cancer! pulls viruses out of the air!), so I decided to do a little more research and then write a little book about healthy, natural products for the home, with reasonable explanations of why an…

Epic poetry and the moral imagination

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This fall I’ve been teaching a course on Medieval Epic Poetry, a continuation of the Ancient Epic course I taught last spring, in which we read Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Vergil’s Aeneid, poems that are all deeply grounded in a pagan worldview but which nonetheless examine human nature, and particularly human excellence, in such an authentic way that they continue to speak profoundly to readers in our own day. Still, the pagan world that produced those works valued things that sometimes run counter to Christian values, so their heroes may seem strange and not entirely admirable to a modern Christian. Nonetheless, all the poems we read in the Medieval Epic course are written by Christian poets who have, to one extent or another, appropriated the epic tradition and made it their own. What does it mean to be a hero? This shows, on the one hand, the powerful appeal of the epic form and, on the other hand, the way Christians have always been able to “baptize” the best of pagan culture.…

Catholic Science Fiction -- is this the moment?

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I wonder if the new initiative to "re-evangelize the culture" will result in a spate of Catholic science fiction novels? And what will those be like? Over on my scifi blog, Sancta Futura, I just posted some background on the story I'm working on -- take a look!

Just about the same time I wrote that post, I noticed that one of my Facebook friends had "liked" a FB page for a Catholic science fiction novel that will be published in a few months. It's called Father and Captain, written by Patrick Baum. Here's the blurb on the FB page:
The last Catholic seminarian in the US, forced into exile by the Bureau of Virtue Engineering, must choose between God and family, a life on earth or a life in interstellar space. I suspect, as we all get more and more discouraged by the direction modern society is headed, we'll see more such things. My own story is set in the distant future, partly because I don't want it simply to be a thinly veiled commentary on …

Taking the Faith to the Stars -- and Beyond!

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If you read this blog regularly, you know that I've recently decided to take up the challenge to write "speculative fiction" from a Catholic point of view. I'll talk about the writing side of things over on the Sancta Futura blog, but here I'd like to talk about reading science fiction, and why it's not a total waste of time, as many people seem to believe.

I've been reading things that fall under the general rubric of "speculative fiction" (the term I prefer to "science fiction") since I was a little kid reading things like Sprockets: A Little Robot by Alexander Key (better known for Escape from Witch Mountain) and The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree by Louis Slobodkin. Later, in high school, I was hooked on the early novels of Robert Heinlein, and all sorts of post-apocalyptic novels such as Alas, Babylon and On the Beach, as well as the much more optimistic I lost interest is science fiction (strictly speaking) about the same time …

More ways to read on your Kindle

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I've mentioned before that this blog (and, by the way, now also the Catholic Reading Project blog) can be delivered automatically to your Kindle, if you subscribe through Amazon. If you've gotten as used to Kindle reading as I have, you may find that reading from your Kindle is more comfortable than reading from a computer screen.

Well, here's another way you can read this blog (or anything else you find on the internet) from your Kindle -- just get the Send to Kindle browser plug-in (I just got the one for Firefox; you can also get it for Chrome, and a Safari version is coming "soon"). The add-on is super-easy to use: just click the little button that sits up in your browser bar (see photo) and it will allow to preview what will be sent or just send it directly. What the program does is analyze what is the main article on the page and send just that; this is similar to using "article mode" if you are reading a story in the built-in web browser found in…

Flannery O'Connor and Charles Williams: Coming to the Big (and Small) Screen

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I just ran across the Facebook page for a television and film production company called Good Country Pictures. This small company is dedicated to bringing the works of Flannery O'Connor and Charles Williams to the screen, and currently is working on producing a TV series based on O'Connor's short stories, and making a film of Williams's novel, All Hallows Eve. Here's how they describe their mission:
Good Country Pictures is dedicated to producing TV and film projects that help their audience rediscover 'mystery and manners.' GCP presently owns the TV and film option rights to most of the works of Flannery O'Connor and Charles Williams. Already underway is a feature film of O'Connor's 'The Violent Bear It Away' and a TV series of her short stories. A film treatment of Charles Williams' 'All Hallows' Eve' (1941) is also in progress. I've recently written a bit about Flannery O'Connor (there's lots more I…

The Greatest Book Ever Written!

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I am very big on the importance of reading things in their proper context, as you can see in my Four-Step Reading Method for reading with understanding. Earlier today, I was reading this article by Thomas P. Harmon on Catholic World Report, a review of John Bergsma’s Bible Basics for Catholics: A New Picture of Salvation History . I haven’t read the book, but it sounds like a good one, chiefly because it presents the Bible the way it has traditionally been read – i.e., the entire Bible is about Christ. This is the way the first Christians understood Hebrew Scripture (the Old Testament) and it is obviously true of the New Testament.
Much of the exuberance of the early Christians stemmed from the extraordinary realization that the Scriptures had been fulfilled within their lifetimes and in their sight (one is tempted to say, right under their noses). Their exuberance is present in Peter’s speech to the crowds on Pentecost, when he points out Christ’s fulfillment of the promises given…

Read any work with greater understanding

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I thought I would offer here the following method of analyzing any serious work, which can be used by intelligent readers with no particular expertise in the subject matter of the work being read (I've also published this over on my Catholic Social Teaching blog). This is a method I developed for my Humanities students at the University of Southern Indiana, who were usually not accustomed to dealing with primary works and needed some guidance in developing good reading skills. This method is intended to be used for "non-fiction" works of all sorts, although it can (and has) been adapted for reading literary (poetic, fictional, or dramatic) works.
I will confess that this method (which the students found very helpful, not only in my class, but in upper level classes in their majors) is one I boiled down from Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book (which I've referred to several times before). One way in which I’ve improved on Adler’s method (if I may say so) is to put “ev…

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