Saturday, November 16, 2019

Charlotte M. Yonge, The Heir of Redclyffe


Opening Passage:

The drawing-room of Hollywell House was one of the favoured apartments, where a peculiar air of home seems to reside, whether seen in the middle of summer, all its large windows open to the garden, or, as when our story commences, its bright fire and stands of fragrant green-house plants contrasted with the wintry fog and leafless trees of November. There were two persons in the room—a young lady, who sat drawing at the round table, and a youth, lying on a couch near the fire, surrounded with books and newspapers, and a pair of crutches near him. Both looked up with a smile of welcome at the entrance of a tall, fine-looking young man, whom each greeted with 'Good morning, Philip.'

'Good morning, Laura. Good morning, Charles; I am glad you are downstairs again! How are you to-day?'

Summary: Guy Morville is from a family that has always had a greater share of competence than morals. Intensely and sometimes darkly passionate, the main line of the family has a long history of wrongdoing. Guy's grandfather repented in his old age of some of his wild deeds, and, as Guy's father is dead, he takes him in and makes something of an effort to raise him appropriately on the family's remote estate of Redclyffe. When his grandfather also dies, Guy, now a quiet, bookish boy who feels that his family heritage guarantees his moral doom, comes to live at Hollywell with the Edmonstone family, who are distant cousins through Mrs. Edmonstone. The family includes Charlie, crippled from a diseased hip-joint, sarcastically intelligent and frank, qualities that he gets from the combination of mild bitterness and over-pettedness given to him by his illness; Laura, who is mature for her age, intelligent and levelheaded; Amabel, often called Amy, who is young for her age, and often thought soft and silly by herself as well as others, although, as it turns out, there is much more to her than meets the eye; and Charlotte, the youngest, who is perhaps getting a little too much of Charlie's influence. Although the adjustment is awkward, many of the family come to like Guy, who, once he begins to be comfortable brings a great deal of joy to others. Guy also meets his cousin Philip Morville, who happens to be the second in line for Redclyffe if Guy has no male children, and their personalities immediately clash. Philip is cool, levelheaded, inclined to take charge, and insufferably aware of his own reasonableness. (You get a lot of what he is when you know that he thinks Le Morte d'Arthur is a poor piece of literature nobody could seriously enjoy, and that this is something that any reasonable person could discover just by a cursory skimming of the book, a position that brings one of his early clashes with Guy.) It doesn't help that Guy is born to wealth and Philip is not, and very aware that, however close to being wealthy by being in line for Redclyffe, he never will be. Philip, worrying that Laura might get caught up with Guy, who is, after all, from the dangerous and sometimes violent line of the Morvilles, realizes that he loves her, and they both come to an agreement that constitutes an almost-but-not-quite engagement, one that they keep secret.

The work is extremely good in terms of its characterizations; almost everything at every step contributes to giving us a better understanding of characters, sometimes in clever ways. At one point all the cousins play a game in which everyone has to write on a strip of a paper their favorites for the categories of historical character, fictional character, flower, virtue, and time. They then have to guess who wrote it. Much is made of the fact that Philip's (Lavender—steadfastness—Strafford—Cordelia in ‘King Lear’—the late war) and Laura's (Honeysuckle—steadfastness—Lord Strafford—Cordelia—the present time) share three of the same entries, which leads to a great deal of teasing. But the teasing hides something from the characters that the perceptive reader might catch, namely, that Guy's (Heather—Truth—King Charles—Sir Galahad—the present time) shares two entries with Amy's (Lily of the valley—truth—Joan of Arc—Padre Cristoforo—the present time), and that his fictional character has a sort of affinity with her historical character. Guy and Amy in fact become somewhat sweet on each other.

Trouble begins dividing the family when Guy goes off to Oxford and Philip begins collecting evidence that Guy is dissipating his funds through gambling, which comes to a head when Guy asks Mr. Edmonstone for a thousand pounds and will not say what it is for. It's his own money, but it seems to clinch the argument: Guy is following in the dissipated footsteps of his ancestors. In fact, he is not; Guy wants the money to fund a school, but needs to do it quietly, and Philip is getting some of his information through his sister, who is jealous of the young women who would be running the school. Guy is not allowed to return to Hollywell and Amy is told she must give him up. This will eventually work itself out, but when Guy and Amy meet up with Philip while on their honeymoon things become darker; Philip gets into an argument with Guy about whether the peasants are exaggerating the danger of an epidemic in a particular part of Italy they had originally planned to visit (guess which of the two is certain that superstitious Italian peasants must be exaggerating), and Philip goes and visits anyway, falling terribly ill because of it.

The book on occasion pulls out all the emotional stops, and the illness and its aftermath is one of those occasions. In Alcott's Little Women there's a scene in which Meg comes across Jo crying over The Heir of Redclyffe, and anyone who has read the latter knows exactly what scenes made Jo cry.

Being something of a Charlie by temperament, I, like Charlie, often wanted to strangle Philip, but this is a book without villains. Precisely the problem is that Philip is a generally decent, generally intelligent, generally reasonable man. He is the kind of man on whom you can rely. It's just that, like every other generally decent, generally intelligent, generally reasonable person, he has a dangerous capacity to argue himself into believing that he is being decent, intelligent, and reasonable, when his choices are really being distorted by his emotions, in this case a kind of sense of inferiority to the wealthy and surprisingly charming Guy that he can't stand feeling. The desire to show your superiority to another is dangerous in general; combined with a feeling that you might actually be inferior, it can lead to horrible things done with (one convinces oneself) the best of intentions. And it results also in an abundance of excuses. Philip's secret agreement with Laura is wrong, but of course, he would be open about it if he had the kind of money Guy will have. It is also made worse by the fact that, because he is the kind of person who is well-educated, intelligent, and reasonable, nobody can really outargue him. Sarcastic Charlie, for instance, who takes Guy's side, will always sound, to Philip's own ears and occasionally to the ears of others, more petty and less sensible than Philip. Philip's disaster comes step by step, every single step avoidable, and yet each one comes with a kind of inevitability, because this is what happens when you are smart enough to convince yourself of the falsehood that you are always right.

Guy is an extremely admirable and sympathetic character, and Charlie, Amy, and Charlotte all start out likable and have grown more so by the end. It is a powerfully moving book, because it's a book in which the author clearly cares for her characters, and in such a way that the reader can come to care for them, too.

Favorite Passage:

They went to the strangers’ corner of the grave-yard, for, of course the church did not open to a member of another communion of the visible church; but around them were the hills in which he had read many a meaning, and which had echoed a response to his last chant with the promise of the blessing of peace.

The blessing of peace came in the precious English burial-service, as they laid him to rest in the earth, beneath the spreading chestnut-tree, rendered a home by those words of his Mother Church—the mother who had guided each of his steps in his orphaned life. It was a distant grave, far from his home and kindred, but in a hallowed spot, and a most fair one; and there might his mortal frame meetly rest till the day when he should rise, while from their ancestral tombs should likewise awaken the forefathers whose sins were indeed visited on him in his early death; but, thanks to Him who giveth the victory, in death without the sting.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Poor, Unfortunate Souls

It's always hilarious when people try to rationalize their aesthetic likes as moral excellences on the basis of purely arbitrary associations. "The Little Mermaid Was Way More Subversive than You Realized", in the Smithsonian:

While teaching young Ariel how to “get your man,” Ursula applies makeup, exaggerates her hips and shoulders, and accessorizes (her eel companions, Flotsam and Jetsam, are gender neutral)—all standard tropes of drag. “And don’t underestimate the importance of body language!,” sings Ursula with delicious sarcasm. The overall lesson: Being a woman in a man’s world is all about putting on a show. You are in control; you control the show. Sells added, “Ariel learns gender, not as a natural category, but as a performed construct.” It’s a powerful message for young girls, one deeply threatening to the King Tritons (and Ronald Reagans) of the world.

In short, Ursula represents feminism, the fluidity of gender, and young Ariel’s empowerment....

The only response to this is: LOL. I suppose, if anybody had actually been thinking about this at the time, that making feminism the villain of the story, feeding a young girl lies in an attempt to steal her voice and destroy her family, from whom the girl needs to be saved by her father and her potential husband, would indeed have been a subversive story; I somehow doubt that this is exactly what Sells has in mind, though.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Samuel Drew

The soul of man must either be material, or it must not. If it be material, it must be capable of divisibility; and if with this capacity it be divided, I would ask, Does consciousness survive this division, or expire? If it survive, then the adhesion of the different parts of the soul is not necessary to its existence; and we are led to this absurd conclusion, that consciousness is dependent for its being, on a concrete substance, which is not necessary to its existence. But if consciousness expire, then it must have depended for its existence, not upon the component parts of the soul, but upon the adhesion of these component parts, because nothing but adhesion is now destroyed: but in admitting a mere adhesion of parts to be capable of producing what the parts themselves had no power of communicating, is to ascribe agency to mere adhesion. It therefore must follow, that consciousness, volition, &c. cannot inhere in any adhesion of a material substance; and if so, a substance which is immaterial must necessarily be admitted.

[Samuel Drew, An Original Essay on the Immateriality and Immortality of the Soul, p. 89.]

I was reminded of this work by Edith Hall's fine essay on the extraordinary historical importance of classical education and self-education in the classics to the British working class. Samuel Drew (1765-1833) was a shoemaker from Cornwall from a dirt-poor family who was known by his friends as a good-natured man who would be glad to argue any topic. When he published An Original Essay on the Immateriality and Immortality of the Soul, it became a worldwide bestseller, and for the best of reasons -- it is without any doubt the single best examination of the titular topic in the early modern period, and still holds up quite well today as a model of philosophical analysis. The widespread popularity of the work eventually allowed him to retire from the cobbler shop and devote his time to philosophical and theological writing.

It is perhaps worthwhile to get some advice from the admirable Drew; from a letter he wrote to a friend in 1816 (emphasis in the original):

When you write me, let me know what books you have been reading, and what proficiency you have made in metaphysics. Your last letter was written with too much hesitation, diffidence, and perplexity. You must not be afraid of me. You saw me a plain, blunt fellow, in London, who was mistaken for a blacksmith. Do not be afraid of committing yourself. Remember this rule—The person who never made a blunder never made a discovery. If you always tread near the central parts of a circle, you will never obtain much accurate knowledge of its circumference; and, consequently, you will never widen the horizon of knowledge. It is on the extremity of the circle that metaphysicians must walk; and they must not be terrified, if they sometimes slip their feet, and fall.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Evening Note for Tuesday, November 12

Thought for the Evening: The Internal Moralities of Law and Medicine

In the 1950s and 60s, the philosopher of law, Lon Fuller, attempted to find a middle road between natural law theory and legal positivism, or at least find a version of either that committed one to much less than the usual forms, and his book, The Morality of Law (1964), became a significant influence in the field. Technically, what Fuller presents could be considered a natural law theory (and often is), but it is an extremely minimalist one that is missing standard components usually associated with natural law theories. A natural law theorist could easily incorporate it and a legal positivist generally would have more difficulty, but Fuller's theory does not appeal to a more fundamental law than positive law, nor does it root anything directly in reason or common good. Rather, it attempts to identify the intrinsic moral conditions of law, principles of legality, without which you can have no law at all.

Fuller proposed eight principles of legality. To work as a law at all, a law must be (1) sufficiently general, (2) promulgated, (3) applicable to the future rather than the past, (4) in a basic way intelligible, (5) coherent, (6) stable, (7) such that it can be obeyed, (8) applied in a way that can be determined from its meaning. Hart criticized this as not any sort of morality at all, since it all has to do with the appropriate of means to ends, but this criticism seems never to have been widely accepted and, indeed, seems to show a common problem with legal positivism, namely, that their view is often based on a very narrow understanding of how morality works, in this case assuming that efficacy of means to ends in matters of choices is not any kind of moral question. (It may, of course, be a relatively minor one, as we find in etiquette, but many questions of morality clearly are concerned with choosing appropriate means to ends in matters directly touching on choice.)

More interesting is Hart's claim that by the same standards you could have an 'internal morality' of poisoning, but contrary to what he claims, this is not absurd at all. We would have to be considering poisoning not as a solitary act, but as a kind of practice, but if you do, to talk about its internal morality is entirely comprehensible. Indeed, fantasy stories are filled with 'guilds of assassins' and people are endlessly fascinated by the deadly games of Renaissance courts for precisely this reason. If you are poisoning not in a random act but in a practice of poisoning, there are indeed principles of poisoning structuring it. We don't take poisoning itself to be moral, of course, because poisoning, even as a practice, is not standalone, but part of a larger system with its own internal morality, one with which poisoning tends to conflict. Now, this is true of positive law, as well, that it has a larger context, despite Fuller's attempt to work around that, but this doesn't affect the question of whether law has an internal morality, and in any case, a legal positivist is of all people the one who can least afford to make this criticism of Fuller.

The relative success of Fuller's account has led some to try to see if you could come up with an internal morality of medicine; the attempt to do this has, I think, been much more unevenly successful. Part of the problem is that sometimes philosophers of medicine just use 'internal morality' to mean 'morality based on the actual phenomena of medicine', which is a somewhat broader notion than we are dealing with here. More of the reason, I think, is that there is a sense in which calling Fuller's account an internal morality of law is in English misleading: it is not an internal morality of all legal actions but of a specific one, legislation. As legislation is the principal legal action, it affects everything else, but you could also have an internal morality of ruling on law, an internal morality of enforcing law, etc. And likewise, you would really not want to talk about the internal morality of medicine, if 'medicine' here is taken to cover everything we usually to take it to cover, but the internal morality of diagnosis, the internal morality of clinical treatment, the internal morality of prescription, etc. When philosophers and practitioners focus on these kinds of typical activities, they often get accounts of the internal morality of medicine that are more substantive and fruitful than when they stay at too general a level.

Since you can have internal moralities for for law and for medicine, one could on the same principles work them out for clerical ministry, education, and the like, although I don't know anyone who has actually done this explicitly. This all, in fact, closely relates to previous posts I have done on humanitarian traditions in general.

Previous Evening Notes on Humanitarian Traditions
- Humanitarian Traditions
- Prima Facie Duties and Humanitarian Traditions
- Humanitarian Traditions and Cliental Privilege
- Perversion in the Context of Humanitarian Traditions

Various Links of Interest

* Craig Stern, A Mistake of Natural Law: Sir William Blackstone and the Anglican Way (PDF)

* Oscar Schwartz discusses Leibniz and Llull

* Marnie Hughes-Warrington, Wonder Works

* Thomas Moynihan, Enlightenment and the Discovery of Human Extinction

* David Chapman, The probability of green cheese. The subject reminds me to some extent of St. Olaf's Miraculous Thirteen.

* Liam Kofi Bright on intellectual humility.

* Bright has another post on Peter Boghossian and the correspondence theory of truth that is interesting, but I think fails completely in its intended argument; much of the post reads like Bright needs to go back and re-read Fumerton (Realism and the Correspondence Theory of Truth). While positions like it have fallen out of general favor in recent years, and Boghossian tends toward blunt and un-nuanced formulations, Boghossian's understanding of the correspondence theory is not (pace Bright) 'idiosyncratic', and such views are not uncommon (although probably not common enough to be counted as 'typical') among correspondence theorists, and never have been. The discussion of what Bright finds appealing in deflationary theories, though, is quite interesting.

* SFAudio's Public Domain PDF page for science fiction works in the public domain

* Marilynn Johnson, Must We Mean What We Wear? (I meant to put this link in the last set of links)

Currently Reading

Charlotte Yonge, The Heir of Redclyffe
Kevin Flannery, Cooperation with Evil
John Henry Newman, Discourses to Mixed Congregations
Michael Trapp, Philosophy in the Roman Empire

Benevolence and Righteousness

Mencius went to see king Hui of Liang. The king said, 'Venerable sir, since you have not counted it far to come here, a distance of a thousand li, may I presume that you are provided with counsels to profit my kingdom?'

Mencius replied, 'Why must your Majesty use that word "profit?" What I am provided with, are counsels to benevolence and righteousness, and these are my only topics. 'If your Majesty say, "What is to be done to profit my kingdom?" the great officers will say, "What is to be done to profit our families?" and the inferior officers and the common people will say, "What is to be done to profit our persons?" Superiors and inferiors will try to snatch this profit the one from the other, and the kingdom will be endangered. In the kingdom of ten thousand chariots, the murderer of his sovereign shall be the chief of a family of a thousand chariots. In the kingdom of a thousand chariots, the murderer of his prince shall be the chief of a family of a hundred chariots. To have a thousand in ten thousand, and a hundred in a thousand, cannot be said not to be a large allotment, but if righteousness be put last, and profit be put first, they will not be satisfied without snatching all. There never has been a benevolent man who neglected his parents. There never has been a righteous man who made his sovereign an after-consideration. Let your Majesty also say, "Benevolence and righteousness," and let these be your only themes. Why must you use that word - "profit"?'

[Mengzi 1A1]

Monday, November 11, 2019

Natural Vaticination

There is a certain analogy, constancy, and uniformity in the phenomena or appearances of nature, which are a foundation for general rules: and these are a grammar for the understanding of nature, or that series of effects in the visible world whereby we are enabled to foresee what will come to pass in the natural course of things. Plotinus observes, in his third Ennead, that the art of presaging is in some sort the reading of natural letters denoting order, and that so far forth as analogy obtains in the universe, there may be vaticination. And in reality he that foretells the motions of the planets, or the effects of medicines, or the result of chemical or mechanical experiments, may be said to do it by natural vaticination.

[George Berkeley, Siris, #252.]

Abyss & Sea 4

Let's see if I can get this started again. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

The High King sat, and then Disan across from him, and then, in a flowing motion, Elea next to the High King. Disan had to suppress a smile; the Princess's manner was as artless as her artfulness could make it. Antaran leaned forward.

"I am told that King Envren visited you recently. How is he? Last I saw him, he seemed to be behaving oddly."

"Jumpy, too quick to startle," the Princess put in.

"He seemed well enough," said Disan, and he paused, trying to assess the room. "Of course, he did have a complicated story about Tavra and Tala building a large fleet that could be used against other kingdoms."

Antaran and Elea glanced at each other, and Antaran relaxed back with a smile, as if Disan had passed a test. "Well," he said, "he is right about the fleet, although not about the purpose. When you were away, we started building a fleet with the Andrans. We have run into a problem with it, however. A month ago, an Andran ship was caught by a storm and it sank."

"That's not possible," said Disan. "The Andrans have the secrets of the unsinkable ship; they stole them from Sorea several generations ago."

"So we were told, as well. Yet the loss of the ship is certain, and we are worried that the Andrans have been playing us for fools, promising ships that won't sink, which are not at all cheap, and skimping on the actual building so that they could pocket the profit. You know what they say. To make wire, give two Andrans one coin."

"That is their reputation, but surely they would have the sense to know that they would be found out."

"Which leads to the second theory, which is that they are simply incompetent. I will be honest with you, my friend. My first impulse when we began to think of building the new fleet was to go to the Soreans. But you were away across the sea and some people"--here he glanced with meaning toward Elea, who ignored him--"thought that your Queen might be hesitant to agree to such a large undertaking in your absence. But ever since we have been plagued by complications and delays and now this egregious failure of an unexpected test, and while you've returned, we have made little enough progress and and what gains we have made are plunged into certainty. We should have waited for your return. You were always the person we needed. Besides, the Andran royal court is cramped and unimaginative. For a bold undertaking, we need someone bold."

"You still have not told me what this 'bold undertaking' is."

"You have been out in the world," said Elea. "You have met the barbarian tribes in treaty and in battle, not through emissaries, but in person. You have tramped across a significant portion of the Great Continent. And as the King of Sorea you have more news about all the rest of the world than any of us combined. Is there any society on the face of the earth that rivals ours in strength and prosperity."

"None. That is, in fact, why Envren said that you must be planning conquest of the other kingdoms."

Antaran laughed. "Why would I try to conquer the Great Realm? I already rule it."

"King Envren has become paranoid in his old age," said Elea. "He excels everyone in observation, but he is no longer as swift to the right interpretation as his legend would suggest. You need a fleet not merely to conquer armies but to ensure prosperity as your power expands."

"Surely you are not going through all of this trouble to hunt pirates and smugglers? We could do that simply by providing occasional support to our allies."

"We are not doing it specifically to fight anyone at all, although there will doubtless be some fighting. But you have been out in the world. Is there not already too much fighting among all these barbarian nations."

"There is a vast amount," Disan admitted.

"And that raises a question. What would stop it?"

"The fighting? Nothing, I imagine." Disan paused. "But you are suggesting that we would stop it."

"Exactly," said Antaran. "Look around us. We are overflowing with an abundance that the outer realms could not possibly imagine. The magnaneries of Tala produce finer silk for farmers than the kings of the barbarians can afford for themselves. Compare the finest palaces of their wealthiest chieftains to Neyat Sor, or Neyat Andar, and they are shown to be little more than barns. We are arts of which they have never even dreamed, resources which are to them but whispers in a legend. Do they have a city than compare to Talamir or to Mir Ezrym? We sit here in the light, and there is a world out there huddling in the darkness.

"And yet, though we are in the light, we rot. It is all stagnant. We are built for great deeds, but what great deeds are there to do? Our ancestors did things of wonder. Our grandparents fought the Court of Night and won. How can we match them? But to enlighten the world -- is that not a great deed? Is it not something that none of our ancestors ever did, or ever dared to do?"

Disan looked thoughtfully across the balcony to the dome of the Oracle of the Sun, which had lost its gleam and was growing more shadowy under a purpling sky. "Is it even possible?" he said slowly. "The Orikhalh Tablets forbid the founding of any empire beyond the shores given to us by the Powers."

"The Orikhalh Tablets are ancient. Can any law be valid that long? All other things change. The Great Realm is a living thing; it cannot be governed by a rigid rule forever. As for the Powers, who has seen them in any recent years. They came to our grandparents and asked for help, and our grandparents helped them, and who has spoken to them since? And that is one time in centuries. When was the last time anyone heard the Voice of Fath? We have been children under the Powers, but some day we must become adults, throwing our tutelage. How is this not the time? We have grown so powerful, we could overthrow the Court of Night. What is there that we cannot do?"

"We had help against the Court of Night."

"Yes, we but we have only grown in power since," said Elea. "And throughout the world, you would look in vain to find anyone who is our peer, much less our superior."

It was growing dark. Antaran snapped his fingers, said, "Light!" and pointed, and a brazier lit and glided over to where he pointed. "Is there anything more splendid than being able to make light? We three could enlighten the world. Think about that."

"It has a certain fascination to it," said Disan. "How many ships would you need?"

Antaran smiled broadly. "It is a big world. As many as you could make. The agreement with Andra was for three hundred fifty, but if you can do more, we will take more."

"Our forests cannot supply anything like the timber for a fleet that size. And somehow I suspect that in this case the Andrans would be reluctant to let us cut down theirs."

"They may have little choice in the matter," said Antaran. "But my thought is actually that if we are going to build a fleet for the world, there is a world of forests out there. There are bound to be places that are suitable for new shipyards."

Disan nodded slowly. "We have thought at times of building outposts for ship repair, to service the other kingdoms allies and those handful of foreign allies who have fleets of their own. What you are suggesting is on another scale entirely, but there are places that might be right for it."

The High King seemed very pleased. "You have the right idea." He thought a moment, then looked at Elea. "Obviously there is a great deal to consider in this. Perhaps we can give you time to think about it, and then we can start formalizing the agreement to build the ships, the shipyards, everything."

"We have been quiet about this so far because we do not wish to bring the full plan before the Ten and Two without having the essential elements in place," said Elea, "Tala, Tavra, Andra, Sorea: these are the only Houses who have knowledge of the fleet and its purpose..."

"Frankly, we should have found some way to keep the Andrans out of more of it," interrupted Antaran; "Zalan is an idiot and has no doubt let out more than he should...."

Elea, ignoring him, continued: "...and we have sounded out a few of the other Houses about smaller details in the plan..."

" extending elsewhere what you've done with the Chipou tribes..."

Elea, continuing as if the High King had not spoken: "...but the essentials need to be held close to the chest. With something this size, everyone will know something is happening, as Envren does, but not everyone can know everything until the time is right."

"Besides, it will impress more if they have spent a while puzzling over it before we lay it before them at the Great Council," said Antaran.

She finally glanced at him. "That is very true." And she smiled at Disan. It was a truly lovely smile, beautifully crafted.

"You need have no fear on my part, Princess," said Disan.

"Not a word of it unless Elea has cut off all possibility of eavesdropping," warned Antaran. When Disan nodded, he said, "Well, we will not keep you from your evening rest. No doubt it has been a long day."

"I will need to open a doorway for you in the shield," said Elea, rising. She went to the door, followed by Disan, and she raised her pendant again, muttering something. "You can step through."

Disan did, and turned to say his goodbye, but the Princess was already raising her pendant again, muttering whatever invocation touched off the magic of it, and Disan was startled to see the doorway, and the room beyond, suddenly hidden in an impenetrable darkness.

He made his way to his rooms.


Sosan came to Baia in a moment when she had a moment between morning magistracy and afternoon entertainments.

"I sent messengers to a number of villages for the inquiries you requested," he said. "There have been rumors of sightings of wolves, but nothing definite or reliable, and no one has come across other deaths like those at the farmhouse. But villages along the road near the farmhouse say that it is a route commonly taken by merchants selling honey, sugar, and flour from Tavra. Beyond that, we have found nothing. It may be all we will ever find."

"Tavra," said Baia reflectively. "That would make sense." She thought a moment. "I would like regular reports on any news we get about Tavra, paying special attention to merchants from there. Perhaps it was a singular affair, but it would be better to be prepared if there is a tainted trade source. What are we doing about the wolves?"

"I set a group of rangers to scout the area; they have found nothing."

"Increase the area; otherwise I will have nightmares of wild wolves coming upon children. And we will keep looking on both fronts until we find something, even if only a tenuous bit of evidence for an unlikely speculation. This is not something I want to stay a complete mystery."

"As you wish, my Queen."

Baia sat in thought for a long while, trying to piece everything together.

It had all begun for her when Disan had returned from his time abroad, a little older, a little wearier, but more handsome than ever, if possible, and with the same dry humor in his striking grey eyes. She had been worried that a year of battle and hard living might chase that light away, and she was boundlessly relieved to find that it had not. But after her relief had quieted, she did notice differences. He was graver, as if his responsibilities had increased, and seemed more cautious, or perhaps more wary, of everything, as if he had some grave secret in his keeping. She waited for a few days to see if he would tell her on his own, and when she concluded, exasperated (he was always slow to tell his problems to her), that he would not, asked him one night in the space between first and second sleep.

He had sighed. "I have been wondering how to tell you about it," he had said. "I myself do not fully understand what it means. But while I was away, I had experience, of sorts; whether a vision or something else, I know not."

After an intense battle, he had said, he had become separated form his guard and become lost. While trying to return to his men, he came across something like a temple, far more advanced in its architecture than could be expected from any of the tribes in the area. And out of the doorway, yawning like a black mouth, came the words, "Disan, King of Sorea." Then all around vast rose bushes preventing his retreat. He entered into a long, dark passageway, sloping somewhat steeply downward. At first there was no light except what filtered past him from the doorway, but he soon became aware of a strange bluish luminescence along the walls, preventing the passage from becoming completely dark. And soon he came into a large room, still dark, but just barely lit by the luminescence.

"I say a room," he said, "but it was more like a cavern; when I hit my foot on a stone, it echoed."

Standing there a moment, he had wondered what to do, but had soon realized to his surprise that despite the dimness, he could somehow make out pictures on the wall, and, what was more surprising, that he could recognize the stories they told. Miles beyond count from home, here were stories learned by all of the children of the Great Realm, of things accomplished by forces so old their names were hardly spoken from the sanctity of them. Here were the first ancestors, huddling in a cave, visited by The Kané with the gift of fire; there Fulné and Trethin raised the Great Realm from the sea, and there again Fath and Fulné bringing the huddled men and women to their new home. There in pictures was the story of the Lady and the Old One, whose names no man knows can know, teaching the arts of civilization: the gifts of steel, of orikhalh, of loom, of neyat, of volor, of impermeable silk, of unsinkable ship, of chantment capable of mastering water, air, and fire. Here Fulné brought the Soreans of the sea, and there Trethin brought the Khaljans of the mountains, and the joining of the Two to the Ten, the building of Talamir, the cooperative work on the Porphyry Mountain to make it the greatest of all palaces imaginable to the human mind. There was the giving of the Orikhalh Tablets and the establishing of the pacts and the covenants, and the people swearing before the Powers to uphold them. Hundreds more followed, heroes and kings battling khalkhythra and dragon, and uncountable more great deeds done by his people. But when he had reached the pictures that spoke of the kings of the Great Realm for the first time leaving their island in person to fight the Court of Night, a great,deep voice spoke through the dark air, as if it were coming from all points simultaneously, even reverberating from inside and casting him down to his knees.

Hail, Disan, King of Sorea. Do not fear. Do you know the Voice you hear?

And Disan had said, "It is the Voice of Fath."

Listen now, Disan, to the Voice of all Powers that guide the working of the world: For three transgressions and for four, we have borne patiently the wickedness of your people. For three transgressions and for four, we have awaited for the words of repentance. We called your grandfathers to the War of Night, to bring finally to nothing the corruptions of the terrible Court; with all the free peoples of the world we called them. And we laid this rule and this alone on them: that they should not take from the Court of Night anything unless we permitted it. But the kings of all the Houses saw the power of the Court of Night, and the greed of their hearts won out, and they took, hiding them in secret. And among the things they stole was an abomination beyond all other things, which even now sits in the darkness, rotting the heart of the Great Realm. The law we gave to your ancestors was writ in orikhalh, which neither rusts nor fades; how then has the law in your hearts rusted and faded? Do not the people of the Great Realm even now reach out their greedy hands with violence and death in their hearts? For three transgressions and for four, judgment shall surely come upon you all.

"What do you wish of me?" Disan had asked, out of breath from the forcefulness of the Voice.

For now, only this: Let your blindness fall away; let your deafness be no more; let your mind take thought to the corruption beneath the splendor. Listen and see, and be a fool no more.

Disan had then been thrown to the ground unconscious, as if a great weight had collapsed upon him, and when he awoke, he was in the sunlight, on a little grassy knoll in the wood, with the temple nowhere in sight. He found his men shortly afterward.

When he had told her all of this, Disan had put his head on her shoulder and sighed. "I do not know if you can understand," he said wearily and in a low tone, "what it is like to have the Voice that cannot be denied tell you, as if it welled up out of your very being and everything around you, that you have been a fool."

Baia, remembering all of this, and especially Disan's head upon her shoulder, said to herself, "There must be something more here, something we are missing. Twice now Tavra has been named in strange doings, so that is where we must inquire."

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Sleepless Emperor

The Emperor Justinian would apparently thrive on Twitter:

Everything was done the wrong way, and of the old customs none remained; a few instances will illustrate, and the rest must be silence, that this book may have an end. In the first place, Justinian, having no natural aptitude toward the imperial dignity, neither assumed the royal manner nor thought it necessary to his prestige. In his accent, in his dress, and in his ideas he was a barbarian. When he wished to issue a decree, he did not give it out through the Quaestor's office, as is usual, but most frequently preferred to announce it himself, in spite of his barbarous accent; or sometimes he had a whole group of his intimates publish it together, so that those who were wronged by the edict did not know which one to complain against.

Procopius, The Secret History. Of course, The Secret History is a hatchet job, so shouldn't be trusted, and, what is more, as a hatchet job is very over-the-top (there is an extensive discussion of how Justinian, who famously slept very little, was a demon whose head would sometimes float around on its own at night), so who knows whether Justinian actually went around just announcing his decrees to whomever.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Music on My Mind

Gordon Lightfoot, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". The Edmund Fitzgerald left Superior, Wisconsin on the afternoon of November 9, 1975.

Lightfoot made a serious effort to be as accurate as possible, but there are always things missed or not known at the time, or are reworked a bit to fit the song, or that aren't wrong but potentially misleading due to compression. The Edmund Fitzgerald was actually bound for Zug Island near Detroit, its last cargo run before it returned home to Cleveland for the winter. "The Maritime Sailors' Cathedral" is really the Mariners' Church of Detroit; it still holds an annual memorial service, although now it is for all lives lost in the Great Lakes, not just for the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Dashed Off XXIII

This finishes the notebook completed in September 2018.

Three blocks may be so disposed as to hold a sheet stably when no single block can do so. Likewise multiple persons together may be so disposed as to do what no single person can do. (group agency)

Summative accounts of collective intentionality run into problems with cases in which the intentionality is organized deontically.

groups operating as instruments (armies for generals, etc.)

Memories often include references to other memories; this is a big part of remembering.

indexical, iconic, and symbolic memory

mediational approaches to apologetics: There are two opposing needs/tendencies requiring a mediating principle, such-and-such Christian doctrine or practice is capable of providing such mediation. (Cp Schleiermacher)

The vow of celibacy in the Latin Church is linked to the Latin Church's special charism of evangelization.

Symbolic theology teaches the right use of sensible things.

correlates in civil theology to theistic arguments in natural theology (e.g., Fourth Way / Aquinas on law; design / Maistre on British Constitution; etc.)

There is a dangerous tendency to take rights to be nothing other than powers to force others to do things. Rights can give title to coercion, but they are in fact not naturally expressed coercively -- coercion is remedial, not essential, to the right. The tendency also leads to overlooking that actions have to take into account all of the rights of all of the parties.

Sexual sins tend easily to breed sins of dishonesty.

At-at theories give implausible results when dealing with motion-through == something can be at x at t1 and at x at t2 and still be moving through x despite being at it at both times (which is just a matter of how you are measuring).

Never trust someone talking about development of doctrine if they are not also concerned about avoiding corruption of doctrine.

events that can only be understood as being 'on occasion' of something else: responses, reactions, jarrings, traveling changes

The love of human parents for their children is not mere affection but heavily deontic in character.

The most dangerous corruption is corruption under cover of good intentions.

the chosaliser of symbolism

Bodies are located by commensuration with containing dimensions; but location for other things is not so straightforward (cp. souls, Hume's taste of fig, angels, eucharist, electrons, legal entities).

Every sacrament is a kind of conversion to God.

our capacity to use our own presence (or communication thereof) as a sort of instrument, particularly in interacting with others (e.g., using one's being here to console)

One of the things that seems to have worked very well for Fabius Maximus was his recognition of religion's power to 'reset' a people so that they might rally anew.

Christ is Prophet, Priest, and King, but each as a unique limit case, in a way eminenter, for he fulfills all three not in servile mode but in filial mode.

One of the oddities of human society is that people will actively punish unusual self-restraint.

Nietzsche has a fragment in which he classifies the Gospel of John as Dionysian.

The epistemic advantages of the margins are real, but they are at the margins.

To say that Christ's presence in the Eucharist is substantial is to say that His presence is not merely causal.

kinds of presence, with example
true, not real, not substantial: legal representation
true, real, not substantial: telepresence
true, real, substantial: personal meeting

Hunter-gatherers have a more active involvement in their environment than is usually assumed: they clear out undesirable vegetation and fauna, spread desirables by selective use and sometimes by seeding, and modify the environment to make resources more available.

In any frontier or wilderness setting, food-gathering tends toward an improvised mixture of hunt, trap, forage, farm, and herd. A pioneer wants as diverse a set of options available as is possible. Indeed, this extends well beyond pioneering; small farmers and the like still do this to some degree.

"All these philosophers, so much on guard against the truths that embarrass them, are, so to say, all open to error, if only it accommodates them." Maistre

internal sacramental abuses, with examples
--- (A) Incorrect
--- --- (1) Fake: invented rite of ordination for women
--- --- (2) Misapplied: correct rite applied to women
--- (B) Incomplete
--- --- (1) Impeded: anullable marriage
--- --- (2) Interrupted: marriage with no actual expression of consent
--- (A) Illicit: consecration by episcopi vagantes
--- (B) Unworthy: receiving consecration in a spirit of disobedience
[I and II are essentially different kinds of evaluation.]
[I is ordered according to severity]
[IIA and IIB, on the contrary, are not exclusive, and this is important: one may innocently do the illicit, due to ignorance, and one may do the licit unworthily, and one may do the illicit unworthily. So they are also essentially different evaluations.]

three distinct standards by which sacramental acts are evaluated: sacramental, jural, and moral

In addition to abuses internal to the sacramental act itself, there are external abuses, e.g., sacrilegious use of consecrated hosts -- that is, desecrations and mockeries.

Categorical and dispositional properties are the same things described differently.

the analogous supplementation principles for compossibility

Note that Austin recognizes infelicities that are not in his taxonomy (e.g., verdictives may be unjustified or incorrect despite being neither void nor insincere).

Because of its occasion, unction admits of cases that are possibly in some sense unjustified, but neither invalid nor illicit nor unworthy (e.g., perhaps the seriousness of the illness is overestimated in an understandable but avoidable way).

titles of interpretation

Idea, Energy, and Power in praying
scalene trinities in praying

Restorative justice requires a retributive framework.

In "Justice", George MacDonald fails to grasp that punishment can be just because it itself is part of resitution and restoration; he also fails to grasp that perpetrators, not merely victims, have a perspective, and perpetrators in being restored to justice recognize the justice of, and sometimes demand, being penalized. The punishment makes up the wrong to the perpetrator; it is the justice of it that makes it up to the victim. When a perpetrator repents, this contributes to reconciliation by admitting the wrong; when he begs forgiveness, this contributes by admitting the desert of punishment. Thus MacDonald's entire discussion is incomplete.

MacDonald's attack on spiritual adoption seems clearly to take it as a merely forensic notion. But this is not true even of human adoption.

Punishment is obviously part of the offset to transgression; this is recognized almost universally. MacDonald's error is to assume that this means nothing can substitute for it, or that being a genuine contributor to offset means being a necessary condition of it. This is because he actually has an extremely harsh conception of justice: if a perpetrator has suffered independently from his crime, he takes this to contribute *nothing* to how justice will work. But this again is almost universally recognized as false.

MacDonald also does not seem to grasp that the sin is the beginning of its punishment. (This is quite clear in his comment on Dante -- he does not recognize that the punishments are symbolic representations of the wrongness of the sins.)

religion beyond the bounds of reason alone (note that this necessarily includes history as well as tradition and mysticism)

responsibilities to parents // responsibilities to ancestors

modes of Christology: Christology proper, Mariology, mysteriology

Much modern political philosophy depends on taking the part for the whole: taking one part of the common good, for instance, as definitive of it.

Contractualism does not guarantee justice, but only the least injustice that could reasonably be had by negotiation.

presential self-knowledge vs common-sensible self-awareness

performatives as language operating in ritual space

'causal powers' of absences // movements of cracks

consent-based ethics as negotiated relativism, the attempt to have the benefits of relativism while avoiding pure social relativism and pure individualism

Nonconvergence arguments for anti-realism often conflate two different things:
(1) there being no objective fact of the matter, in which case talk of nonconvergence is itself as problematic as convergence
(2) there being an objective fact adequately in hand which could explain nonconvergence

winking, shrugging, etc., as micro-ritual

tacit consent as deemed consent

A priori and a posteriori are relative to method.

The subsidiarity of the Incarnation makes possible the solidarity of the Cross.

the layers of the external world (sensation, experience, ampliation)

On the Cross Christ descends into *our* dark night.

People consistently draw the wrong conclusions in Dutch Book Arguments; the Dutch Book theorem establishes that some losses are guaranteed -- it is impossible to have unrestricted betting that does not overall incur guaranteed loss. Two ways to see this, with minor common assumptions:
(1) Betting does not occur in the realm of real numbers; probability does. Thus no betting can ever do more than approach probability theory to a certain degree.
(2) Some propositions, like "I will make no more bets", will not possibly conform to the requirement.
--The question is more complicated if betting is not unrestricted (since it depends on the restriction) or if you change how the probability theory is interpreted.

A rational agent whose sole aim was to maximize monetary profit would not do so by betting.

Grace burns before it saves.

"It is the great achievement of American civilisation that in that country it really is not cant to talk about the dignity of labour." Chesterton

Lust's greatest torment is chastity's expectation.

For every fact understood in context, there is a natural valuation for that context.

Every known proposition has a causa cognoscendi.

Mary participates in the passion of Christus patiens.

God must be judging His Church, given the theologians with whom we are stuck.

Lines in genealogical trees always involve a range of probabilities and, indeed, distinct kinds (because a genealogical record has multiple factors as testimonial and as evidential).

trying things out as the normal activity of the human mind

The assumption of compositionality in meaning tends to be applied without regard for functionality. But propositions are functional, not aggregative, wholes. Intersubstitutability is more like organ transplant than like switching out tiles on a floor.

All epicycles tend to correspond to real phenomena because their whole purpose in the model is to make the model better at tracking real phenomena.

ampliation and the non-univocity of truth value assignments

Rights must be adorned with beauties or people do not defend them.

A society needs people both to come together easily and to be insulated from each other's mistakes and aggressions.

What we call 'human dignity' is sometimes integral humanity, sometimes the possibility of it, sometimes the power of either to signify divinity.

sympathetic knowledge as quasi-presential

Survival is incremental and cumulative in nature.

the person as such -- the jural person -- symbolic vestment of person -- honor as witness to person -- protective circumstances of person (personal environment)

The words of absolution in penance are verdictive and exercitative.

A geneaological tree should be seen as a system of hypotheses confirmed by (usually) testimonial evidences.

The descent into hell is an illumination of souls. (ST 3.52)
the descent into hell & preaching (1 Pt 3:18-20; 4:6)

"The nineteenth century prided itself on having lost its faith in myths, and proceeded to put all its faith in metaphors." Chesterton

philosophy in theology like a curved four-dimensional space embedded in a ten-dimensional space

The standpoint of the martyrs is a eucharistic standpoint.

divertissement as a spreading out of attention and intention

Trading is by its nature a ritual interaction.

Economics is one kind of study of performatives and their results.

Trading failures
(I) misfires: purported trade but void
--- (A) misinvocations
--- --- (A1) nonplay: purported trade without the form of trade
--- --- (A2) misplay: purported trade but with wrong persons and circumstances
--- (B)
--- --- (B1) flaw: trade done incorrectly
--- --- (B2) hitch: trade not completed
(II) abuses: trade inviolation of the spirit of trade
--- (C1) fraudulent or forced
--- (C2) breached

People talk about free markets as if the markets were free, when in reality a free market is one in which the people are free.

"The soul does not die by sin but by impenitence." Chesterton

There is very little though in the politics even of very intelligent people.

"It was in itself a Christian miracle to make Paganism live." Chesterton

While there is a causal influence, the use of notes or a notebook is not merely causal; the notes/notebook are involved in our thinking and not merely an influence on it.
The physical notebook on its own lacks intentionality, nonderived content, or informational update, but using-the-physical-notebook has all of these things.

"...our vices are cured by the example of His virtues...." (Augustine)
"No sinner is to be loved as a sinner; and every man is to be loved as a man for God's sake, but God is to be loved for His own sake."

As morality is a higher advantage and wisdom a higher eloquence, so holiness is a higher morality.

Even among just societies there is gradation; for among just societies one may be more just than the other in this way or that. For there is a creativity to justice that seeks out new ways of being just.

The essential marker of an adequate philosophical account of disease is capturing the notion of something to be cured if possible. Any account that does not do this is already wrong, whatever strengths it might have in capturing other aspects.

accounts of disease based on harm, on failure of the necessary,, on lessening of quality, on nonfulfillment of end

The sacrament of confirmation constitutes the people of the Church as a spiritual militia.

onological principle of noncontradiction (Met 1005b19-23)
by abstraction ->
logical PNC (Met 1011b13-14)
both together by aptitude of intellect for truth >
psychological PNC (Met 1005b23-25)

ontological, logical, and psychological versions of PSR

Xunzi's account of li makes it (a) goal-directed (seeking after desires), (b) social (avoiding contentions), (c) structured (making divisions), and (d) traditionary (ancient kings).

li as that which is necessary for completion

probability: using possibilities to measure possibilities
time: using changes to measure changes
location: using regions (containers) to measure regions

x is a brute fact -> X is capable of being a brute fact -> There is something about X such that it can be a brute fact -> Something about X explains its possibly being a brute fact.

Either a brute fact is possible or it is not. If not, it is impossible. If so, it is either always possible or only sometimes possible. If always possible its possibility is a necessary truth, and is explained as such. If it is only sometimes possible, something must distinguish when it is possible from when it is not. Therefore even if there are brute facts, their possibility requires sufficient reason.

A single psychological study is not better than a common anecdote -- indeed, on its own, it is just an anecdote about a single artificially provoked case. The advantage over ordinary anecdotal evidence is pragmatic -- measurement allowing replication for further confirmation -- and not intrinsic evidential force.

"There is no rationality without turning to the infinite." Marion

Arguments are given on someone's behalf.

discovery strategies: (1) generalize; (2) apply; (3) divide; (4) analogize

"Human life is composed of small actions which accomplish great duties." Gerbet
"Each mark of contempt towards the poor contains a principle of infidelity and the germ of blasphemy."

Sincere joy or sorrow is given a transfiguration by music, becoming then something more easily shared.

"...learning is precisely learning to have a stopping point." Xunzi
"Speeches without proof, untested actions, and unprecedented plans -- the gentleman is careful of all such things."

When Xunzi says that human nature is bad, he takes it to be equivalent to saying that people who do not learn the good nor work at being good are bad.

making-possible, facilitation, making-probable, causation, determination, overdetermination

heresiological invasion, proliferation, metastasis

compatibilism and incompatibilism with respect to free will // compatibilism and incompatibilism with respect to chance

Dreyfus on expertise --
(1) novice : simple techniques and processes, explicit rules for use
(2) advanced beginner: expansion of technical repertoire and of judgment in application of rules
(3) competent: large number of rules requiring focused problem-solving and emotional engagement.
(4) proficient: problem recognition and classification increasingly automatic, as well as rule selection
(5) expert: immediate recognition and classification, passing easily to appropriate action

'the meaning of life': the structuring of the materials of life into means for an appropriate end, by that end
-- this is the broad sense (life given meaning), but we often use the phrase in a narrower sense that requires that the end be not only appropriate but also adequate. (Arguments that without God life has no meaning, for instance, are usually not saying that God is the uniquely appropriate end but that among appropriate ends, God is uniquely adequate.)

Institutes 4.2.1: Note that Calvin switches immediately from 'founded on the apostles and prophets' to 'founded on the doctrine of the apostles and prophets'.
Institutes 4.14.23-26: Calvin argues that the sacraments of the New Covenant are on a level with those of the Old. -- Note that this discussion is extensive and repeatedly echoed later; this is an essential element of his account. -- Note that he also puts Christian baptism and the baptism of John on a level (4.15.6-8), on similar grounds.

the ministries of the traditional minor orders
(1) porter: Christ cleansing the temple.
(2) lector: Christ reading Isaiah in the synagogue
(3) exorcist: Christ healing
(4) acolyte: Christ leading
(5) subdeacon: Christ washing the feet of the disciples
(6) deacon: Christ distributing at the Lord's Supper
(7) priest: Christ offering himself in sacrifice

Those not yet enlightened by the Spirit of God become teachable by reverence for the Church, through which the Spriit teaches, and thus submit to learn the faith of Christ from the gospel, which the Spirit through the Church preserves, proclaims, and preaches.

the Life of Christ as the general miracle: all miracles anticipate Christ, or memorialize Him, or are contained in or are expressive of the Life of Christ

"Grace does not come to man in the abstract, not because grace is limited in its power or efficacy but because there is no man in the abstract." Frederick Wilhelmson

intelligere est communicare

Experiment occurs within a field of observation, and thus depends on the kind of observation.
Duhem's theory of instruments and simulation as part of experimental context

works that express a philosophy vs. works that explore a philosophy

Doctor Subtilis

Today is the feast of Bl. John Duns Scotus, the Subtle Doctor. From Ordinatio IV, d. 46, q. 1:

Justice, properly speaking, is the rectitude of a will that has been habituated; consequently, it inclines quasi-naturally to another or to oneself as if to another. And the divine will does not have any rectitude that inclines it determinately to anything other than to its own goodness as if to another, for it is related only contingently to any other object, in such a way that it can incline equally to and to its opposite. It follows, therefore, that God has only one justice: the justice that inclines him to render to his own goodness what befits his goodness.

[John Duns Scotus, Selected Writings on Ethics, Williams, tr., Oxford University Press (New York: 2017), p. 323.]

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Another Poem Draft

Udayanācārya was a tenth-century Indian philosopher; his Nyayakusumanjali argues for the existence of Īśvara, who is cause, orderer, and sustainer of the world, the source of language, moral law, and rational thought, and the one who governs the workings of karma. I've come across a number of different versions of the legend of Udayana and the Buddhist, and have combined them.


Mighty of mind was great Udayana,
mighty in reason's ways;
his thought searched out the higher things
like hound that leaps and bays.
From lowest thing to holy God
in breadth and width and height
he walked on reason's highways
with reasons ever right.
Never wrong was great Udayana.
His inference was sure
and traveled straight like arrow-flight
and always would endure.
He was a great debater;
he could bring the point to close,
and the God-denying Buddhists
he held as his foes of foes.
Before the king of Mithila
he debated a Buddhist long.
His words were clear. His subtleties
and arguments were strong,
and at the end the Buddhist,
though for debate he had renown,
in defeat went to the highest cliff
and cast his body down:
ashamed of having been so wrong,
ashamed of his guilt and pride,
ashamed of having doubted God,
he leaped from the cliff and died.
Repenting, the great Udayana
went down to the temple-place
and before the God whom he had proved
he knelt and bowed his face.
The God gave not a whisper.
The silence was cool and cold,
and, anguished, great Udayana
spoke out in anger bold.
"My life has been a service,"
he said, "to lead minds to you,
and to the God-deniers,
I showed that you were true.
Why, then, are you silent?
My existence comes from yours,
but by my proof and reasons
your name with men endures."
Then a dream came to Udayana.
The God spoke the word, "Unclean,"
and a storm rose through the temple
and shook the temple-screen.
"You may argue, O Udayana,
and your arguments are sure,
but this is also true of God:
the God is wholly pure.
Let us take a proof, Udayana;
I will give it in a tale,
and by my proof know that proof
may, impure, come to fail.
A philosopher like Udayana
when Brahman and Buddhist fought
led them to the mountain
and gave them the proof they sought.
Down he threw the Brahman.
'There is a God,' the Brahman said,
and set down like a downy feather,
unscratched in limb and head.
Again he threw the Buddhist,
who said to the wind that sighed,
'There is no God, all things must end,'
and, ending, the Buddhist died.
It was a certain proving,
in a way that none could hide,
with only one objection:
that the Buddhist monk had died.
And from the sun of heaven
the fire of judgment fell
and cast impure philosopher
into deepest pits of hell.
God is most pure, Udayana,
the greatest eminence of holy life,
and shuns the bloody-handed
and the stirrer-up of strife.
Unfit are you, great Udayana,
though the truth may crown your head,
for though you spoke the truth of God,
by you man's blood is shed.
You have argued with godlike splendor
and your fellow men have awed;
your word of truth was light to man,
but darkness to the God."

Rack All the Sky, and Tear It into Shreds

A Thunderstorm at Night
by Eric MacKay

The lightning is the shorthand of the storm
That tells of chaos; and I read the same
As one may read the writing of a name,—
As one in Hell may see the sudden form
Of God's fore-finger pointed as in blame.
How weird the scene! The Dark is sulphur-warm
With hints of death; and in their vault enorme
The reeling stars coagulate in flame.
And now the torrents from their mountain-beds
Roar down unchecked; and serpents shaped of mist
Writhe up to Heaven with unforbidden heads;
And thunder-clouds, whose lightnings intertwist,
Rack all the sky, and tear it into shreds,
And shake the air like Titans that have kiss'd!

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Two New Poem Drafts

Anton Wilhelm Amo

Spirit is purely active;
the senses do not bind it.
Who can bow to fate is wise,
having an inkling of God;
his words will be remembered
to everlasting ages.

Star of Ghana, Axim's child,
rising in all-circling sky
above the lands of the earth,
shine splendidly! None may doubt
your contribution of light
which, joined to uncounted stars,
light the night of human life.


In the darkness I have walked down the highway,
in the shadows have been lost on the byways,
yet I never lost the calling;
I could hear it through the night.
Even friendless I would journey with boldness,
hug myself tightly to fend off the coldness,
though I did not know the ending
or what would come with morning's light.

Now my steps beat on their way
and I face the coming day;
soon the light will shine at dawn;
I will then be home.

I have been lost more times than I could tally,
but every time I have learned how to rally;
Though oft heaven's dove descending
was the one thing to put me right.
Simple things were what would shield me from madness,
though heaven knows I still have tasted of sadness;
through it all I heard a singing
that stirred my heart to rise and fight.

Step by step I make my way;
may I soon see light of day!
Surely when I see the sun
I will then be home.

When you are lost and burdened with confusion,
facing problems in an endless profusion,
hear the music slowly building;
listen well and find your way.
Though the chill may be gusting and blowing,
though your pace by doubt may even be slowing,
let there be no pause or ceasing:
journey on to find the day.

As you walk, you learn the way;
step by step draw near to day.
Surely when you see the sun
you will then be home.

Queen Anne, Tea, and Coffee

Anne's Tory friends did not make her happy; they used to quarrel among themselves and frightened her; and after one of their disputes she had an attack of apoplexy, and soon died of it, in the year 1714.

It was during Anne's reign that it became the fashion to drink tea and coffee. One was brought from China, and the other from Arabia, not very long before, and they were very dear indeed. The ladies used to drink tea out of little cups of egg-shell china, and the clever gentlemen, who were called the wits, used to meet and talk at coffeehouses, and read newspapers, and discuss plays and poems; also, the first magazine was then begun. It was called "The Spectator," and was managed by Mr. Addison. It came out once a week, and laughed at or blamed many of the foolish and mischievous habits of the time. Indeed it did much to draw people out of the bad ways that had come in with Charles II.

From Charlotte M. Yonge, Young Folks' History of England.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Poisoning the Wells

Douglas Walton, Informal Logic: A Pragmatic Approach (Cambridge UP (New York: 2010) p. 189) on the fallacy of poisoning the well:

The term is supposed to have been originated by Cardinal Newman, when he was confronted by the argument that, as a Catholic priest, he did not place the highest value on the truth. The allegation was that since Cardinal Newman was personally biased towards the Catholic position, he could not be relied upon a source of fair or impartial argument.

This is a somewhat oddly understated way of putting it. Kingsley's accusation in the dispute was not that Newman was biased because he was Catholic; it was that Newman was dishonest because he was Catholic. As he put it,

I am henceforth in doubt and fear, as much as any honest man can be, concerning every word Dr. Newman may write. How can I tell that I shall not be the dupe of some cunning equivocation, of one of the three kinds laid down as permissible by the blessed Alfonso da Liguori and his pupils, even when confirmed by an oath, because 'then we do not deceive our neighbour, but allow him to deceive himself?'

To this, Newman replied,

But what shall I say of the upshot of all this talk of my economies and equivocations and the like? What is the precise work which it is directed to effect? I am at war with him; but there is such a thing as legitimate warfare: war has its laws; there are things which may fairly be done, and things which may not be done. I say it with shame and with stern sorrow;—he has attempted a great transgression; he has attempted (as I may call it) to poison the wells....[W]hat I insist upon here, now that I am bringing this portion of my discussion to a close, is this unmanly attempt of his, in his concluding pages, to cut the ground from under my feet;—to poison by anticipation the public mind against me, John Henry Newman, and to infuse into the imaginations of my readers, suspicion and mistrust of every thing that I may say in reply to him. This I call poisoning the wells.

The claim that the tactic is 'unmanly', incidentally, is a swipe at Kingsley, who was famous as a member of the Muscular Christianity movement, devoted to the ideal of Christian manliness, and who often swiped at Catholic priests for being unmanly and feminine due to their celibacy and dishonesty.

In any case, the dispute, of course, was the occasion for and subject of Newman's autobiography, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, which is explicitly written to clear himself of any charge of untruthfulness on the subjects with which he had been arguing with Kingsley.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Fortnightly Book, November 3

The next fortnightly book will be Charlotte Yonge's The Heir of Redclyffe. When Yonge published it in 1853, it became a worldwide bestseller, perhaps the most widely read contemporary fiction work in the world at the time. The protagonist, Guy Morville became a widely admired fictional hero among young men; young women cried over the sad turns of the tale. While Wilkie Collins didn't like the unrealistic characters, he was very much in the minority of the critics. It made Charlotte Yonge a lot of money and, what is more important, established her as one of the major authors of her day.

Yonge is not read all that much, anymore, perhaps because her High Church Anglo-Catholic values, for which she was famous, are not in fashion, or perhaps because she wrote eminent examples of a kind of novel that has itself fallen out of favor, or perhaps because people think that if they have Austen and Eliot and Dickens and Thackeray, they have enough. She wrote prolifically, everything from the novels for which is best known to her history of Greece for children, but very little of it is read or studied, except by a few devotees, and even then it is mostly The Heir of Redclyffe. But it's a good choice for a starting point; it was a novel that shaped a generation, and not an insignificant or unliterary generation, at that, and we will see how it reads.

H. P. Lovecraft, The Whisperer in the Darkness


Opening Passage: From "Dagon", the first story in this collection:

I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be no more. Penniless, and at the end of my supply of the drug which alone makes life endurable, I can bear the torture no longer; and shall cast myself from this garret window into the squalid street below. Do not think from my slavery to morphine that I am a weakling or degenerate. When you have read these hastily scrawled pages you may guess, though never fully realise, why it is that I must have forgetfulness or death. (p. 3)

Summary: Lovecraft develops the horror atmosphere for his stories in three ways, all three of which are actually strengthened, I think, by his famous purpureal polysyllabery. First, there's the obvious attempt, sometimes successful, sometimes not, to appeal to disgust mechanisms. In "Dagon", for instance, we get "half sucked into a slimy expanse of hellish black mire", "rotting soil", "putrid with the carcasses of decaying fish", "nauseating fear", "dead things", "the odour of the fish", all setting the mood in the first couple of pages. He, of course, uses a very wide palette of the disgusting, including colors that probably did more to play to Lovecraft's own oddities than to most of his readers'; obviously his racial disgusts are not universals, but he has a number of others that have probably always been regarded by readers as curiosities despite being treated by him as a disgust-colors -- his treatment of any mathematics beyond the most simple as not just weird but disgusting and nauseating is a good example, since while I think his treatment of strange geometries has often helped increased the sense of the alien among his readers, I imagine very few have had the response of actual disgust for which he seems in some cases clearly to be aiming. The disgusting, of course, is a common way to try to make a story a horror story, but Lovecraft is genuinely quite good at it. He can lay it on thickly at times, but he makes no attempt to use it constantly. And his complicated and somewhat stilted prose does a lot to help it. I happened to re-watch the movie Alien while reading these stories, and was struck by how the movie, one of the best horror movies ever made, is, despite having a very non-Lovecraftian setting and characterization, nonetheless is an excellent attempt to capture the handling of disgust in a Lovecraftian way. Viewers don't get a constant stream; everything is built slowly, and by punctuating quiet stretches, which makes the disgust-episodes all the more effective. Lovecraft's style of prose works the same way to insulate his disgust-episodes so that each one counts all the more.

Second, while Lovecraft uses disgust-horror quite liberally, most of the actual horror is literary, not biological. Lovecraft's stories are not isolated units. They draw on a (mostly) literary background that is presumed to be shared. Lovecraft is specifically writing for an audience that loves an already existing literary genre of weird stories, and he layers his own tales with allusions and references to the corpus of that genre. At the Mountains of Madness is a really good example of this, with sentences like "Here sprawled a Paleaeogaean megalopolis compared with which the fabled Atlantis and Lemuria, Commoriom and Uzuldaroum, and Olathoe in the land of Lomar are recent things of today -- not even of yesterday; a megalopolis ranking with such whispered pre-human blasphemies as Valusia, R'lyeh, Ib in the land of Minar, and the Nameless City of Arabia" (p. 317). That's Theosophy (Atlantis and Lemuria), Clark Ashton Smith (Commoriom and Uzuldaroum), Lovecraft himself (Olathoe in Lomar, R'lyeh, Ib in the land of Minar, the Nameless City), and Robert E. Howard (Valusia) all in a single sentence. And of course, the novella is heavily inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, drawing from Ulalume and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. This intertextuality, of course, is the foundation for the 'Mythos' aspect of Lovecraft's work. Horror is a tree that grows from memory; it comes from suspense and disgust interacting with a sort of dark nostalgia by which one remembers previously scary events or tales of monsters. The frightening character of a monster story largely builds on the memory of frightening monster stories. But it takes a certain art to integrate this kind of nostalgic allusion, and Lovecraft's style helps him here, as well, by allowing endless name-dropping and allusion-dropping that doesn't seem out of place.

Third, Lovecraft is a genius at description of scenery. This is, I think, not sufficiently appreciated. People mock Lovecraft's thickly wrought prose, but there are kinds of description for which it is excellent, and there are very few people who are up to Lovecraft's level when it comes to describing scenery. It's a pity that he lived pretty much all of his life in New England, because he would have been a travel writer like no other. Scenes of mountains and villages and trees are not, as they would be in most writers, merely 'there'; they are active participants in the story, rich with mood, carrying a message.

Of the stories in this anthology, far and away the best is the "The Dunwich Horror". It has the richest story-structure, the most engaging characters, and the best use of Lovecraft's talent for scenery. It flows quite smoothly, lacking the occasional tediousness of the early parts of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and it strikes an excellent balance between the said and the unsayable (which I don't think At the Mountains of Madness quite manages). It also doesn't depend on gimmick quite as much as some of Lovecraft's other memorable stories. I particularly liked how it was layered, with the interwoven mysteries of Dunwich and the Whately family, and the mystery of Wilbur Whately building to the mystery of the thing in the house.

I addition to the reading itself, I listened to two radio adaptations. The first, one that was made relatively recently, was Atlanta Radio Theater Company's "The Call of Cthulhu", which was pretty straightforward and relatively faithful. They did a very good job with the first part, but not surprisingly had considerable difficulty once the story began getting to R'lyeh and Cthulhu himself. Nonetheless, it interested me enough that I will probably at some point listen to their versions of "The Dunwich Horror" and At the Mountains of Madness.

The second was the Suspense epsiode, "The Dunwich Horror", which starred Ronald Coleman and aired November 1, 1945:

It adapts quite freely and necessarily cuts much of the story out in order to fit it into half an hour, but it did an excellent job with the fragments it used.

If you're interested in just an overview, the Hodges recommended the following video, which I also found amusing:

Favorite Passage: From "The Dunwich Horror":

As the hills draw nearer, one heeds their wooded sides more than their stone-crowned tops. Those sides loom up so darkly and precipitously that one wishes they would keep their distance, but there is no road by which to escape them. Across a covered bridge one sees a small village huddled between the stream and teh vertical slope of Round Mountain, and wonders at the cluster of rotting gambrel roofs bespeaking an earlier architectural period than that of the neighbouring region. It is not reassuring to see, on a closer glance, that most of the houses are deserted and falling to ruin, and that the broken-steepled church now harbours the one slovenly mercantile establishment of the hamlet. One dreads to trust the tenebrous tunnel of the bridge, yet there is no way to avoid it. Once across, it is hard to prevent the impression of a faint, malign odour about the village street, as of the massed mould and decay of centuries. It is around the base of the hips and across the level country beyond till it rejoins the Aylesbury pike. Afterwards one sometimes learns that one has been through Dunwich. (p. 179)

Recommendation: The anthology as a whole is Recommended; of the parts, "The Dunwich Horror" is Highly Recommended and the rest is Recommended.


H. P. Lovecraft, The Whisperer in the Darkness, Elliott, ed. Wordsworth Editions (Ware, Hertfordshire: 2007).

Friday, November 01, 2019

All Saints III

But these were men of mercy, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten; their prosperity will remain with their descendants, and their inheritance to their children’s children. Their descendants stand by the covenants; their children also, for their sake. Their posterity will continue for ever, and their glory will not be blotted out.

Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan

Born in the little village of Puthenchira in Kerala, Thresia was devoted to penance from an early age. She felt very strongly that she was called to some such life, but it took her many years to find the life for which she was seeking. She tried doing it alone, and found that it wasn't practicable. She gathered a group of friends and tried to start a spiritual retreat, and the retreat building burned down. The bishop suggested that she join a religious congregation instead, and she looked into the Franciscan Clarists, and found that it was not at all a good fit. She tried to join the Carmelites, and that didn't work, either. And finally in 1913, she tried to set up another religious house of her own, a small, unambitious affair, and the Congregation of the Holy Family was founded. Her spiritual life was equally complicated. In 1904, she had a vision of the Virgin Mary, and from then on called herself Mariam in honor of the Virgin. She then is said to have suffered a series of demonic attacks, which required formal exorcism; that problem over, she devoted her life to prayer and began to develop stigmata, which she tried to hide. In 1826, her leg was severely wounded and she could not get treatment quickly enough; the wound became septic, and she died on June 8, which would become her feast day. She was beatified by John Paul II in 2000 and canonized by Francis in 2019.

Gregory II and Gregory III

Gregorius Sabellus was a Roman who early in life became a significant figure at the papal court, where he ended up having several important roles, including treasurer and the head of the Vatican library. When Pope Constantine was summoned to Constantinople by the Emperor Justinian in 711, he went along as papal secretary and played a significant role in the negotiations over whether Rome would accept the canons of what was known as the Council in Trullo. After Constantine's death, he was elected Pope Gregory II. He would have a remarkably busy pontificate. He turned his family estate into a monastery, St. Agatha in Suburra. He found himself in an on-again, off-again battle with Monothelitism almost immediately. He rebuilt Monte Cassino, which had been severely damaged by a Lombard attack. He had to deal repeatedly with the restless and unruly Lombards. He began to have problems with the Byzantine Emperor, Leo III the Isaurian, in 722, when Leo attempted to tax lands that the popes were using to support Rome; in response Gregory raised the Roman populace and had the Imperial governor thrown out of the city. The Emperor in response tried to have him assassinated in 725, but the conspiracy was uncovered and the conspirators executed. And then in 726, Leo began actively advocating Iconoclasm. Leo was not in a position to enforce his decrees in the West, but Gregory lost no time in denouncing them, and because of this, much of the Western Roman Empire was encouraged into revolt against Leo, including the important Exarchate of Ravenna, of which Rome was a part. (Gregory, however, dissuaded the armies of Ravenna from marching on Constantinople.) In 727, Gregory held a synod condemning iconoclasm and sent copies to Leo. In response, Leo appointed a new Exarch of Ravenna, Eutychius, whose first act was to try to assassinate Gregory (it failed) and who then tried to pull together an alliance with several Lombard Dukes to march on Rome (the Lombards wouldn't have known iconoclasm from an icicle, so they didn't know what to make of this and were reluctant to provide him any help). Finally Eutychius managed to get King Liutprand of the Lombards to form a military alliance, but his attempt to use the alliance against Rome failed when Gregory convinced Liutprand to go back to Pavia. Gregory in turn supported St. Germanus when he was the beleaguered, and later exiled, Patriarch of Constantinople. The further missionary activities of his pontificate were also extensive. He sent missionaries to Bavaria; one of his achievements would be to force St. Corbinian (who wanted just to be a monk) to become bishop of Freising. He supported St. Boniface's missionary work in Germany (and actually gave him the name 'Boniface'; the monk's name had originally been Winfrid). Gregory died in 731; his feast day is February 11 or February 13, depending on the calendar.

When Gregory II, Gregory III was almost immediately elected. He was a member of a Syrian family, for which reason he was sometimes called Gregorius Syrus. At the time, it had been custom for the Pope to wait on formal consecration as Pope until certification from the Exarch of Ravenna was received. The Exarch did so, but if he thought that Gregory III was going to change the policy of Gregory II, he was mistaken; Gregory III immediately began his opposition to the iconoclastic policies of the Emperor and called a synod to condemn iconoclasm. Leo retaliated by trying to invade (his fleet was broken up by a storm) and then by appropriating the papal territories in Sicily and Calabria. He continued Gregory II's missionary policies, supporting St. Boniface and St. Willibald. His major challenge, however, was King Liutprand, who had captured Ravenna from the Byzantines in 738 (which ironically, yet perhaps fittingly, had been possible because Emperor Leo had divided the papal lands in retaliation for papal opposition to iconoclasm) and saw an opportunity to consolidate control throughout Italy; he now only had scattered Lombard Dukes and the Pope as his major rivals. By supporting various rebellions, Gregory managed to hold him off a while, but Liutprand was not to be deterred. Gregory attempted to get help from Charles Martel, but nothing came of it, and Gregory ran out of options and time. He died in 741. His successor, Pope St. Zacharius, was fortunately a clever diplomat who was able to make peace with Liutprand. Gregory III's feast day is December 10.

Katarina Ulfsdotter

The daughter of St. Birgitta of Sweden and Ulf Gudmarsson, Katarina was married to Lord Eggert Lydersson van Kyren at an early age. She convinced him to make it a Josephite, i.e., unconsummated, marriage, and the two instead devoted themselves to charity and religious devotion. In 1350, she accompanied her mother on pilgrimmage to Rome; St. Bridget was trying to get the rules of her new order approved. It was a long and trying process to get that permission, and the Pope was also not in Rome at the time, because it was the time of the Avignon papacy, so all communication ended up being quite indirect. While in Rome, she helped her mother do charitable works for the people of Rome and pray regularly for the return of the Pope to his proper see, and the visit to Rome became a relatively permanent thing, punctuated only by the occasional pilgrimage. Catherine herself seems to have not liked Rome; she hated the weather. When St. Bridget died, St. Catherine took the body back to Sweden and spent some years carrying forward her mother's work by becoming abbess of Vadstena Abbey. When the inquiry for her mother's canonization began to pick up, St. Catherine returned to Rome to assist in it; there she seems to have met St. Catherine of Siena, and they became good friends, and pooled their efforts in attempting to convince the Pope to return to Rome. She returned to Vadstena in 1381 and died the next year. When St. Bridget was formally canonized by the Pope in 1391, St. Catherine of Vadstena seems to have quietly been placed in the Roman Martyrology for March 24, and there she has been ever since, a quieter and more self-effacing reflection of her more widely venerated mother.

Marko Stjepan Krizin, István Pongrácz, and Melchior Grodziecki

Born in Križevci in the Kingdom of Croatia, St. Marko Krizin was a Jesuit who was living a fairly ordinary life until in 1619 he was sent to look after the affairs of the Benedictine Abbey of Széplak. The abbey was near Kassa, in Hungary (Košice in modern-day Slovakia). It was a tumultuous time for the area, which was seeing an uprising of Calvinists against Catholics, led by Gabor Bethlen, Prince of Transylvania. While in the area of Kassa, Marko met István Pongrácz and Melchior Grodziecki, who were also fairly ordinary Jesuit priests living fairly ordinary lives before coming to Kassa. Kassa was then a significant Calvinist stronghold with a government appointed by Catholics, and when a rumor went around the city that the Catholics in Kassa had been involved in schemes of arson, the equivalent in that time of what a terrorist activity would be in ours, the whole city went into a state of high tension, worsened by a siege against the city by a Calvinist army. The city's mercenary defenders betrayed the city government and delivered the city to the besiegers. Marko and two other Jesuit priests were arrested by the Calvinist army and were held for three days without food or water while the new Calvinist city government had a heated debate over whether all the Catholics of Kassa should be executed or just the Catholic priests. Moderation won out, I suppose we could say, and the city chose to execute only the priests. The priests were promised leniency if he would become a Calvinist, but they refused and were beheaded on September 7, 1619. Catholic Hungary was outraged by the execution, and became even more so when the decision was made not to give them a Christian burial. (The authorities eventually relented on the burial, but only after some months had passed.) The Košice martyrs were beatified in 1905 by Pius X and canonized in 1995 by John Paul II. They all share September 7 as their feast day.

Amandus and Bavo of Ghent

Amandus was a young man from a noble family who, against his family's wishes, became a monk, almost a hermit. He spent some time following a strict rule, but then went on pilgrimage with a protege who, being from a wealthy family, was having second thoughts about the monastic life. The pilgrimage would change the course of his life, because he was soon made a missionary bishop and went on mission to Ghent and Flanders, preaching the gospel to the largely pagan folk there. While he was engaged in a large-scale project of creating monasteries throughout Ghent, he met a young and very wild nobleman named Allowin, also known as Bavo, who was son of St. Itta of Metz and Pippin of Landen, the Mayor of the Palace (and who himself is on some local calendars of saints). But Bavo one day heard a sermon by St. Amand on the vanity of the material life, and was utterly astounded by it. He returned home, distributed much of his wealth to the poor, donated his land to Amand for a monastery, and became a monk himself. Amand continued his missionary work, helped now by Bavo. On one of these trips, though, Bavo met a man who had been captured by Bavo in his soldiering days and sold into slavery, and thereafter devoted his life to the severest forms of eremitic penance for the misdeeds of his former life. He eventually died, with St. Amand at his bedside, and his feast day is October 1. Amand eventually made a very unsuccessful missionary trip to Slovakia, and on his return holding a number of councils for the Pope. He helped St. Itta and her daughter, Bavo's sister, St. Gertrude of Nivelles, to establish the monastery of Nivelles, and then made his way to Basque country to evangelize the people there. Amand died at the age of ninety, famous across Europe for his hospitality, and his feast is February 6.

Zhang Huailu

In early 1900 at the age of 57, Huailu Zhang became interested in Christianity and began to attend catechism classes. It was not a good time to be Christian and his family protested vehemently, but he insisted on continuing. He had considerable difficulty with the classes; he could not read, and found the prayers complicated and hard to remember. That same year, a major uprising occurred in China, the Boxer Rebellion; the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists, better known as the Boxers, began a reign of terror in the attempt to stamp any and all foreign influence, of which the Christian missions were a very prominent example. Some local thugs went through the more Christian communities of the area, demanding protection money, or else they would report the locations and identities of Chinese Christians. Mr. Zhang paid the protection money, but the thugs reported everybody anyway. When the Boxers came, instead of trying to hide or lie, he boldly said that he was a Christian and made the sign of the Cross, the prayer he could most easily remember. He was executed. Beatified by Pius XII and canonized by Benedixt XVI, he is commemorated with the other Holy Chinese Martyrs on July 9.

Colette of Corbie

Nicole Boellet was born in Corbie, France, in 1381. According to stories told, her parents had always wanted a child, but they never had one and were beginning to get on in years, so they prayed to St. Nicholas to intercede for them, and Nicole, named after the saint, was born to her mother when her mother was sixty years old. Nicole became Nicolette, which became Colette, and thus she got the name by which she is known. Her parents died when she was 18 years old, and she is said to have tried both the Beguines and the Benedictines, and found neither of them suitable for her. Finally she joined the Third Order of Saint Francis, and started living as a hermit; while she was living this life, though, she began to have visions that she interpreted as suggesting that she was called to contribute to and reform the Second Order of St. Francis, returning it to the Franciscan emphasis on poverty. In 1406, she decided to take action, and turned to the pope. This was the time of the Western Schism, so there was considerable confusion over who was pope. Pope Innocent VII was the pope in Rome, but Colette was a Frenchwomen, and the French generally supported the claims of the antipope, Benedict XIII in Avignon. So Colette went to Benedict XIII to get permission to join the Order of the Poor Clares. Benedict XIII must have been quite impressed by her, because he put his full backing behind her, helping her to found new monasteries and to create a reform branch of the Poor Clares, who today are known as the Colettine Poor Clares. With his support, and later the support of others, especially her confessor, Bl. Henry of Beaume, she ended up founding eighteen monasteries, all devoted to the strictest interpretation of the Franciscan vow of poverty. The Avignon schism was healed in 1429, when Benedict XIII's successor, Clement VIII, abdicated in favor of the Roman pope, Martin V. Colette herself died in 1447. She was beatified in 1740 by Pope Clement XII and canonized in 1807 by Pius VII. Her feast is March 6.

Alphonsus Rodriguez

Alfonso Rodriguez was the son of a wool merchant. At the age of 14, he left school to help his mother with the business when his father died; he eventually married a woman named Maria Suarez and had three children; but his wife and his three children all died, one by one, from various causes. The Rodriguez family had long had an association with the Jesuits -- St. Peter Faber had given Alfonso his First Communion -- so when Rodriguez began considering the possibility of entering a religious order or society, the Jesuits were an obvious choice. However, because he had spent all of his life working, he did not have the education required for life with the Jesuits. He tried to make it up by enrolling in school at the age of 39, but it was too much for him. He was very well liked by the Jesuits, though, and he was allowed to become a lay brother the next year. He was sent to the college of Montesión at Majorca, where he became the porter. And he would be doorkeeper there for 46 years, admitting guests, handling luggage, delivering messages, and performing errands; it is said that his guideline for doing it was to assume, whenever the doorbell rang, that Christ had come to the door. He was also often asked to give the dinner sermon. As he grew older, he had increasing physical difficulties, probably not helped by his intensive mortifications, and in the last few years of his life he began to lose his memory. He died October 31, 1617. He was beatified by Leo XII and canonized by Leo XIII in 1888; his feast day is October 30.

Marie-Margeuerite d'Youville

Marie-Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais was born in Varennes, Quebec, in 1701. The family was poor, and its social standing collapsed when Marguerite's mother married an Irish doctor. In 1722, Marguerite was married to a trapper and bootlegger, François d'Youville; they had six children by the time François died in 1730. A few years after, she got together with a few other women to devote themselves to providing homes for the poor of Montreal. In many ways, it did not go well; the group was mocked throughout the overly snobbish Montreal for their oddity and for Marguerite's past association with the disreputable François, and given the nickname Les Grises, which literally means 'The Grey Women' but in the slang of the day also meant 'The Drunks'. But the women persevered, and became a formal religious order, the Order of Sisters of Charity of Montreal, which became widely known as the Grey Nuns. In 1747, the Grey Nuns received a charter to run the General Hospital of Montreal, which had been on the verge of bankruptcy. D'Youville died in 1771. She was beatified by John XXIII and canonized by John Paul II, the first native-born Canadian to be canonized. Her feast is Oxtober 16.

Anthony of the Caves

Born in Lyubech in the Principality of Chernigov in Kievan Rus, Anthony made his way early in life to the Esphigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos. There he spent some years as a cave-dwelling hermit, but in his late twenties, the abbot sent him back to Kiev to establish monasteries there. He established several, but in 1015, the death of Vladimir the Great plunged Kiev into civil war, and he returned to Mount Athos until it was over. He did go back, and this time spent most of his time again as a cave-dwelling hermit. Slowly a number of others began to join him, and thus the first community began in the monastic community of the Far Caves, perhaps the most influential community in Kievan monasticism. He died in 1073, and his feast is celebrated in the Roman Martyrology on May 7.

Teresa of Calcutta

Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu was born to an Albanian family in Skopje in 1910. She had a desire to be a religious missionary from a very early age and to this end joined the Sisters of Loreto in 1928, with whom she began to learn English, and was sent to India in 1929. After her formal vows, she began teaching school in Calcutta and was greatly disturbed at the severe poverty of the city, which she saw during the Bengal famine and the 1946 Calcutta Killings. It was shortly after the Killings that she had what she would call the 'call within the call', and determined to leave the convent to live among the poor. In 1948 she began wearing the white sari with blue border and started a number of projects; she was soon joined by other women, and the Missionaries of Charity were born, receiving formal recognition by the Holy See in 1950. In 1952 she founded one of her most famous ventures, Kalighat, the Home of the Pure Heart, as a hospice to care for the dying with respect. The sisters also formed hospices for lepers and orphanages. Soon the Missionaries were also expanding outside of India. When she was featured in a documentary by Malcolm Muggeridge in 1969, she became recognizable all over the world. She received a vast number of awards, and was able to use this as a basis for fundraising for the Missionaries of Charity; she was so good at this, in fact, that it became a common complaint of the sort of critics who tend to complain when nuns are good at raising money for projects. Teresa herself, however, was not finding life easy; she was repeatedly plagued by a feeling of isolation from God in a spiritual aridity that lasted, with only a few brief pauses, for nearly fifty years. Beginning in 1983, with a heart attack, she began to have serious health problems, including another heart attack in 1989 and a broken collarbone in 1996. In 1996 she became one of the eight people who have been honored by the United States with honorary citizenship, one of its highest honors for non-citizens, and one of the only two to receive it while still alive (the other being Winston Churchill). She died September 5, 1997. She was beatified in 2003 by John Paul II and canonized in 2016 by Francis.


2019 All Saints Post, Part II
Bartolomeu dos Mártires, Manuel Moralez, Apollonius the Apologist, Henry II the Exuberant and Cunigunde of Luxembourg, Ramon Nonat, Francis Xavier Cabrini, Juliana of Liège, Aelia Pulcheria, John Henry Newman, Anna Schäffer, Ivo of Chartres, Paul I of Constantinople

2019 All Saints Post, Part I
Matteo Correa Magallanes, Nicholas Owen, Knud IV and Knud Lavard, Mariana de Jesús de Paredes, Joseph Vaz, Zdislava Berka, Caterina Fieschi Adorno, Pietro I Orseolo, Ðaminh Hà Trọng Mậu, Jeanne-Françoise Frémiot de Chantal, Stephen Min Kŭk-ka, Rabanus Maurus Magnentius

2018 All Saints Post
Gianna Beretta Molla, Margaret of Scotland, Yu Tae-chol Peter, Justa and Rufina of Seville, Giuseppe Moscati, Kazimierz Jagiellończyk, Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghaţţas, Salomone Leclerq, Arnulf of Metz, Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, Frumentius of Tyre, Jeanne Jugan, Joseph Zhang Dapeng, Maroun and Abraham of Harran, Magnus Erlendsson, Callixtus I, Hippolytus, Urban I, Pontian, Anterus, Fabian, Jean de Brébeuf

2017 All Saints Post
John Ogilvie, Leo IV, Andrew Stratelates and the 2593 Martyrs, Theodore the Studite, The Martyrs of Gorkum, Margaret Ward and John Roche, Mesrop Mashtots, José María Robles Hurtado, Genevieve of Paris, Pedro Calungsod, Isaac of Nineveh, George Preca, Denis Ssebuggwawo Wasswa, Anthony of Padua

2016 All Saints Post
Theodore of Tarsus, Nilus the Younger, Anne Line, Mark Ji Tianxiang, Maria Elisabetta Hesselbad, Sergius of Radonezh, Anna Pak Agi, Jeanne de Valois, Vigilius of Trent, Claudian, Magorian, Sisinnius, Martyrius, Alexander, Euphrasia Eluvathingal, José Sanchez del Rio, Andrew Kaggwa, Roberto Bellarmino

2015 All Saints Post
Margaret Clitherow, Kaleb Elasbaan of Axum, Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin Martin, Gertrude of Nivelles, Pius V, Clare and Agnes of Assisi, Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Scholastica, Vinh Sơn Phạm Hiếu Liêm, Thorlak Thorhallson, John Damascene

2014 All Saints Post
Marie Guyart, Alphonsa Muttathupadathu, John Neumann, Hildegard von Bingen, Pedro de San José Betancurt, Benedict the Moor

2013 All Saints Post
María Guadalupe García Zavala, Antonio Primaldi, Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini, Gabriel-Taurin Dufresse and Augustine Zhao Rong, Josephine Margaret Bakhita, John Chrysostom

2012 All Saints Post
Jadwiga of Poland, Kateri Tekakwitha, André Bessette, Rafqa Pietra Choboq Ar-Rayès, Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga

2011 All Saints Post
Bonifacia Rodríguez de Castro, Celestine V, Olga of Kiev, Cyril of Jerusalem, Joseph Mukasa and Charles Lwanga

2010 All Saints Post
Moses the Black of Ethiopia, Micae Hồ Đình Hy, Katherine Mary Drexel, Robert Southwell, Lojze Grozde, Andrew Kim Tae Gon