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Showing posts from 2014

A New Look & a New Reading Opportunity

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Welcome to the new and (I hope) improved look for this blog. Please look around and check things out -- let me know if anything is not working properly.

I've created the refurbished look in anticipation of returning to blogging on a more regular basis. Even though most of my writing for the past year or so has been work on the novel, not the blog, I've been reading lots of interesting things and hope to find time to write about them soon.

Meanwhile, I thought I would let you know about something else you might like to read -- the online edition of The Lost Country, a literary journal published twice yearly by The Exiles, a literary club founded by former students of the (now, sadly, defunct) College of Saint Thomas More in Fort Worth. I had an essay published in their debut issue a couple of years back (which I mentioned in an earlier post). The most recent edition also contains something of mine -- a translation of some short fables by Argentine writer Marco Denevi, from h…

Fact, Legend, and the Perils of Modern Hagiography: Andrew M. Seddon’s Celtic Paths

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In my most recent post, I talked about the problems created when we insist on “facts” rather than truth – the modern obsession with being “scientific,” as if that were a guarantee of “truthiness.”

The modern Christian hagiographer faces a similar problem when seeking to portray the sanctity of men and women whose lives and deeds are shrouded in (often quite fanciful) legend. Surely it is much easier for a modern writer to deal with a Therese of Lisieux, a Maximilian Kolbe, or a Theresa of Calcutta – whose lives are thoroughly documented (complete with photographs, personal mementos, and video footage), whose miracles have been vetted and certified by scientists and medical experts – than to make a six or seventh century saint emerge from the mists of legend and come to life for modern readers.

Fortunately, however, some writers are willing, and able, to rise to the challenge of bringing obscure ancient saints to life. Several months ago, I commended the first volume of Andrew M. Sedd…

Truth, Eternity, and Mere Facts

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On my way back from a recent meeting of the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers Group, I caught a snippet of Al Kresta’s interview with John G. West, editor of a new book called The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society.  West was discussing the philosophical shortcomings of scientism, an ideology that reduces all truth to that which can be verified empirically. Coincidentally, at our writers’ meeting, I’d just had a conversation with a writer working on a short story that explores a similar theme.

This coincidence points to a problem that plagues the modern mind, i.e., the bad habit of confusing mere facts with truth, of conflating knowledge and wisdom. The world we live in today is obsessed with facts, yet has little understanding of (or appreciation for) truth; when scientists claim they know something to be true, we too often take them at their word, never questioning the relationship between particular empirical facts and universal truths. Few scientist…

Reading and the Moral Imagination: Plato and truth in fiction

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Nota Bene: I originally published this post back in 2012, and it has been one of the most-read posts on this blog ever since. In fact, it sums up pretty well my defense of the necessity of literature — an apologia pro literatura, if you will. For this reason, I’ve decided to pin it here to the top of the blog, so that anyone who stumbles on this site accidentally will know what I’m on about. If you want to know more, try reading some of the other articles in the “popular posts” list that you’ll find in the sidebar to the right. Welcome, and don’t feel shy about leaving comments. I respond to all comments on this blog (which is how I happened to write my most popular post of all time).

Some time ago, I lamented the fact that people — even allegedly “educated” people — these days are reading less and less; and I began to explore the question of why this fact should alarm us. Isn't reading just one of many ways to amuse ourselves in idle moments? Why should reading novels, say, be any…

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