Quotes Suitable for Framing: CS Lewis

Friday, May 5, AD 2017

But, if we are not careful, we shall see thousands turning in this tribulation to the Enemy, while tens of thousands who do not go so far as that will nevertheless have their attention diverted from themselves to values and causes which they believe to be higher than the self. I know that the Enemy disapproves many of these causes. But that is where He is so unfair. He often makes prizes of humans who have given their lives for causes He thinks bad on the monstrously sophistical ground that the humans thought them good and were following the best they knew.



CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

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CS Lewis Explains Veterans Day For Us

Friday, November 11, AD 2016


When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today 

Inscription on the memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Division at Kohima

We have made men proud of most vices, but not of cowardice. Whenever we have almost succeeded in doing so, God permits a war or an earthquake or some other calamity, and at once courage becomes so obviously lovely and important even in human eyes that all our work is undone, and there is still at least one vice of which they feel genuine shame. 

CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters

Sometimes simple questions can help illuminate great truths.   Why do we honor veterans?

Today is Veterans Day.  Ironically, many veterans will be working today as the “holiday” is mostly one solely for government workers, and most veterans in the private sector will be on the job today.  Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day and was observed to recall the ending of that conflict on November 11, 1918 and to honor the American veterans who served in it.  After World War II, veterans of World War I, many of whom had sons who served in World War II, spearheaded a move to change the name to Veterans Day to honor all Veterans.   Legislation changing the name of the holiday was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Eisenhower on May 26, 1954.  All well and good, but why do we set this day aside to honor those who have served in the military?

One veteran of World War I, CS Lewis, perhaps can help us understand why we honor veterans.  Lewis served on the Western Front as a Second Lieutenant in 1917-1918 until he was  wounded on April 15, 1918.  Lewis, the future Oxford Don, was an unlikely soldier and he wrote about his experiences in the War with humorous self-deprecation.  However, he had immense respect for those he served with, especially the enlisted men under his command, for their good humor and courage under the most appalling circumstances.  His war experiences had a vast impact on Lewis, as can be seen in his Screwtape letters, where Lewis writes about war.

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2 Responses to CS Lewis Explains Veterans Day For Us

  • Today is Veterans Day in the US, Rememberance Day in Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia. God bless our veterans.

    I do want to note that today, November 11, is Independence Day for the Republic of Poland. After 123 years of partition and occupation, the defeat of all the occupying powers and the armistice led to the re-establishment of the Polish nation. This is an important day for the Polish people and the Polish diaspora around the world.

Angel On My Shoulder

Monday, November 7, AD 2016


One of my favorite actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood is Claude Rains.  Throughout his career he brought vibrant intelligence and a world weary cynicism to his roles.  From his screen personae, it might be assumed that Rains was an English aristocrat educated at elite English “public” schools.  Actually he was London Cockney, and had a very pronounced Cockney accent and a speech impediment as he was growing up.  He served gallantly in World War I in the British Army in the London Scottish Regiment, rising from private to captain, and being blinded in one eye as a result of a gas attack.

He quickly achieved post war success in England as an actor.  He began acting in American films and became an American citizen in  1939.  His first big hit was the title role in The Invisible Man in 1933.  He went on to achieve stardom with unforgettable roles, such as Prince John in Robin Hood (1938), Senator Joseph Paine in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and, doubtless the role he is most known for, Captain Renault in Casablanca (1942):

In 1946 Rains appeared in probably the most unusual role in his career as Satan in Angel On My Shoulder.  The plot involves Satan’s attempt to use a deceased gangster, Eddie Kagle, played by Paul Muni, to discredit a living judge the gangster resembles.  The film is filled with bon mots by Rains, including him asking “What in my domain is that?” in reference to a ruckus caused by Eddie Kagle after he arrives in Hell.  The film has a rather profound sequence where Satan, or “Nick” as he is referred to in the film, expresses his exasperation with God for taking such concern over mortals.  He cannot understand why he loves them.  I suspect that is the case with the real Devil, and that the love of God is a complete mystery to him.  As CS Lewis noted in his The Screwtape Letters:

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3 Responses to Angel On My Shoulder

  • Love your blog! I have been lurking here for some time and enjoy the intelligent discussion it engenders. However, having seen a minor error repeated, I thought I might offer a clarification.
    The UK does not have a “Royal Army,” though it has royal regiments and other institutions attached to it. The British Army is a Parliamentary establishment, a consequence of the English Civil War, and that body has never acknowledged that the Army is the monarch’s; it is theirs…well, Commons’ anyway!
    Thanks again for this great forum you provide, not only for us Papists but for all reasonable people!

  • Thank you for your kind comments Jim. I should have known that since my great uncle Bill Barry served in the British Army 1939-1945. I have made the correction.

  • Thanks Don! If you’ll forgive my own patronizing story….As a frustrated historian and first generation American of Geordy English/Scottish descent on me late Da’s side, who received his citizenship upon discharge from the US Army Engineers by the way, while his older brother served with Monty’s 8th Army in the Royal Signals, I have a great interest in the history of the British Army, though my former study and reading concerned the 19th century German states and that last bastion of catholic culture, Austria-Hungary, inspired in my college days by my late first wife of Hungarian descent. Anyway, a great uncle served in the Great War in eastern Europe with the Royal Scots/No.British Fusiliers (the old 21st Foot), and his brother in the Royal Navy, who lost a leg in the sinking of one of those mine-sweepers in the Dardanelles campaign. The naval service for him was fitting, since my great uncles and their brother-in-law, my grandfather, were all ship wrights in the New Castle area, where, in Hartlepool, they survived the bombardment by the Kaiserliche Marine. The fact that I’m a Papist is due to me Irish American Mum, my father having converted in the late 40’s though he made his confirmation after me; I’m a pre-Vatican II catholic, well just, while he was post.
    My own life has not compared to those of my forbears…bitterness in not getting that ROTC sholarship? St.Crispin’s Day sadly comes to mind….Did I say too much? Ah, what the hell…

    I should add, let’s all pray the right person gets elected today!!!

    Thanks again for a great blog!!!

Notes on How Not to Be a Saint

Tuesday, November 1, AD 2016


(This is a repeat of a post from last year.  I like it and I think it will be a perennial for All Saints Day.)



We at The American Catholic often receive unsolicited manuscripts.  What follows is from a lengthy collection of documents, smelling faintly of brimstone, that purport to be the notes of a Mr. Wormwood taken while he was attending a class colorfully entitled Damnation 201.  The documents are dated, but the dates given are gibberish:

Ah, Sleek Sylph looks especially delicious.  Oof, Professor Thornbit is saying this could be on the final.  Concentrate Wormwood!

Thornbit:  After what mortals call death patients who escape our clutches are designated Saints by the Enemy.  The penalty for a tempter allowing a patient to become a Saint is as final as it is terrible, albeit succulent for those of us who gain sustenance from those of you who prove incompetent.  Here are ten simple rules to prevent you from ending up on my table.

1. Encourage your patient to violate those laws the Enemy calls his Ten Commandments.  Emphasize to the patient that these are unmerciful rules that do not allow for the complexity of life.  You will find, at least those of you who are not a waste of Hellfire, that the term “complexity” is ever useful in causing a patient to ignore the clear commands of the Enemy.

2.  Most patients, ludicrously, are proud of their intellects.  Encourage the cretins in this, as one of the few true human sayings is that “pride goeth before a fall.”

3.  If you can, make your patient an atheist;   the shock of such patients when they arrive here is an amusement that is indescribable.  Take care however, some who claim atheism merely hate the Enemy and the Enemy has a way of turning strong hate into strong love in an instant if you are not careful.  Also, make certain that your patient embraces atheism as a substitute religion and not as a proposition that he may rethink given evidence to the contrary.  The Enemy and his agents are too cursed good at argument, and in providing evidence, against the useful absurdity of atheism.

4.  The patient should be taught to regard every mortal he encounters as a potential victim for him to exploit.  Although humans tend to be selfish animals, this isn’t as simple as it sounds.  Honest affection and even love can spring from the most unlikely of mortals if his tempter is not ever vigilant.

5.  Sexual excess, especially if channeled into what the Enemy considers perversions, can be a useful aid to propel a patient along our Downward Path.  However, lazy tempters view this as a foolproof temptation at their peril.  That abomination that the Enemy calls love can spring from the most wonderfully sordid sexual entanglements if the tempter of a patient does not take proper precautions.

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4 Responses to Notes on How Not to Be a Saint

  • I apologize.
    11. Get your patient to vote Democrat. FYI – that’s providing aid comfort to the enemies of God and man: abortion, class envy, euthanasia, mass brigandage, sodomy, tyranny – and a mortal sin.

  • Thank God for God. Thank God for Jesus. Thank God for the Saints in heaven. Even the devils testify to the existence of God. Now the atheists have nowhere to hide.

  • And pay attention to what the Enemy calls “holy days of obligation”. Do not let the pain of seeing the Enemy in His full battle armor distract you! These are occasions when you can get an otherwise religious subject to fail in his practice. Even if that isn’t possible, you can make the subject resentful that “his” time is being occupied by the Enemy. Build on this thought, and over time the subject can be made to carry Our Father’s spirit throughout his spiritual life. If the Enemy must have his Masses, we will fill the space with subjects checking their watches.

  • Donald McClarey: I really enjoyed this post.

CS Lewis Explains Why He Was Not a Pacifist

Sunday, October 16, AD 2016




It is, of course, true that wars never do half the good which the leaders of the belligerents say they are going to do. Nothing ever does half the good — perhaps nothing ever does half the evil — which is expected of it. And that may be a sound argument for not pitching one’s propaganda too high. But it is no argument against war. If a Germanised Europe in 1914 would have been an evil, then the war which would have prevented that evil would have been, so far, justified. To call it useless because it did not also cure slums and unemployment is like coming up to a man who has just succeeded in defending himself from a man-eating tiger and saying, “It’s no good, old chap. This hasn’t really cured your rheumatism!”

CS Lewis






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2 Responses to CS Lewis Explains Why He Was Not a Pacifist

  • Pacifism is a pet peeve of mine, so this is one of my all-time favorite of Prof. Lewis’s essays. Thanks for sharing!

  • The human person is irreplaceable and self-determining. If Gandhi wanted to be a pacifist, Gandhi was free to be a pacifist. Removing man’s innate human right to self-preservation en-mass is not democracy but communism. The Second Amendment is our Founding Fathers’ opinion on pacifism.

CS Lewis on the Trinity

Sunday, May 22, AD 2016




You know that in space you can move in three ways – to left or right, backwards or forwards, up or down. Every direction is either one of these three or a compromise between them. They are called the three Dimensions. Now notice this. If you are using only one dimension, you could draw only a straight line. If you are using two, you could draw a figure: say, a square. And a square is made up of four straight lines. Now a step further. If you have three dimensions, you can then build what we call a solid body: say, a cube – a thing like a dice or a lump of sugar. And a cube is made up of six squares.

Do you see the point? A world of one dimension would be a straight line. In a two-dimensional world, you still get straight lines, but many lines make one figure. In a three-dimensional world, you still get figures but many figures make one solid body. In other words, as you advance to more real and more complicated levels, you do not leave behind you the things you found on the simpler levels: you still have them, but combined in new ways – in ways you could not imagine if you knew only the simpler levels.

Now the Christian account of God involves just the same principle. The human level is a simple and rather empty level. On the human level one person is one being, and any two persons are two separate beings – just as, in two dimensions (say on a flat sheet of paper) one square is one figure, and any two squares are two separate figures. On the Divine level you still find personalities; but up there you find them combined in new ways which we, who do not live on that level, cannot imagine. In God’s dimension, so to speak, you find a being who is three Persons while remaining one Being, just as a cube is six squares while remaining one cube. Of course we cannot fully conceive a Being like that: just as, if we were so made that we perceived only two dimensions in space we could never properly imagine a cube. But we can get a sort of faint notion of it. And when we do, we are then, for the first time in our lives, getting some positive idea, however faint, of something super-personal – something more than a person. It is something we could never have guessed, and yet, once we have been told, one almost feels one ought to have been able to guess it because it fits in so well with all the things we know already.

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: CS Lewis

Sunday, March 20, AD 2016




Early in 1926 the hardest boiled of all the atheists I ever knew sat in my room on the other side of the fire and remarked that the evidence for the historicity of the Gospels was really surprisingly good. “Rum thing,” he went on. “All that stuff of Frazer’s about the Dying God. Rum thing. It almost looks as if it had really happened once.” To understand the shattering impact of it, you would need to know the man (who has certainly never since shown any interest in Christianity). If he, the cynic of cynics, the toughest of the toughs, were not-as I would still have put it — “safe,” where could I turn? Was there then no escape?

CS Lewis, Surprised by Joy

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Laws for Wolves and Men

Thursday, March 10, AD 2016

The twenty-ninth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here , here , here and here.

Kipling had a love, hate relationship with the law and authority in general.  He regarded law as necessary to the human condition, but he was too sharp an observer of the humanity not to notice that more than a few men in authority were fools, and that they manipulated laws to their advantage.  In our confused times we have individuals who are stridently against laws that support traditional morality, while calling for government micro management in other areas of life that would have astounded most of the tyrants in history who lived prior to the last century.  In his The Jungle Book (1894), Kipling sets forth a law code for a group, a wolf pack, that would at first blush seem completely lawless:

The Law of the Jungle
(From The Jungle Book)
by Rudyard Kipling

Now this is the Law of the Jungle —
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk
the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip;
drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting,
and forget not the day is for sleep.

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: CS Lewis

Wednesday, January 13, AD 2016


Life has never been normal. Even those periods which we think most tranquil, like the nineteenth century, turn out, on closer inspection, to be full of crises, alarms, difficulties, emergencies. Plausible reasons have never been lacking for putting off all merely cultural activities until some imminent danger has been averted or some crying injustice put right. But humanity long ago chose to neglect those plausible reasons. They wanted knowledge and beauty now, and would not wait for the suitable moment that never comes. Periclean Athens leaves us not only the Parthenon but, significantly, the Funeral Oration. The insects have “chosen” a different line: they have sought first the material welfare and security of the hive, and presumably they have their reward. [People] are different. They propound mathematical theorems in beleaguered cities, conduct metaphysical arguments in condemned cells, make jokes on scaffolds, discuss the last new poem while advancing to the walls of Quebec, and comb their hair at Thermopylae. This is not panache: it is our nature. . . .

CS Lewis, Learning in Wartime (1939)

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: CS Lewis

Sunday, January 3, AD 2016




In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: What are you asking God to do? To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does.

CS Lewis

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God and Superstitions

Tuesday, November 3, AD 2015



Man is hardwired to worship.  If the does not worship the God who created all that is, he will revel in superstitions and worship degrading substitutes for God.  Walter Russell Mead at The American Interest nails it:

Human beings feel instinctively that the visible reality that we live in day to day is connected to something larger and more mysterious. When belief in God goes away, the hunger for meaning and connection with a truth beyond the business of daily life remains. The New York Times:

Like many Europeans, Marianne Haaland Bogdanoff, a travel agency manager in this southern Norwegian town, does not go to church, except maybe at Christmas, and is doubtful about the existence of God.

But when “weird things” — inexplicable computer breakdowns, strange smells and noises and complaints from staff members of constant headaches — started happening at the ground-floor travel office, she slowly began to put aside her deep skepticism about life beyond the here and now. After computer experts, electricians and a plumber all failed to find the cause of her office’s troubles, she finally got help from a clairvoyant who claimed powers to communicate with the dead. The headaches and other problems all vanished.

People who think themselves too rational for religious belief end up believing in “astral forces”, ghosts and other phenomena. Sometimes these superstitions take the deadly form of political ideologies that fanatical believers take up with religious fervor—communist atheists murdered tens of millions of people in the 20th century in the irrational grip of an ugly ideology. They scoffed at the credulity of religious believers even as they worshipped the infallible insights of Stalin. Similarly, the Nazis presented their faith as an alternative to the “outgrown superstitions” of historic Christianity.

It’s something very much worth remembering: a world without faith in God wouldn’t be a more rational or more humane place.

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3 Responses to God and Superstitions

  • Interesting,isn’t it, that she and others begin to look for explanations when things are awry. No felt need to explain beauty, truth, goodness, etc.

  • I suspect that most often, it isn’t making bad choices that creates things like atheist Nazis and communists, as much is a simple refusal to serve–which requires individuals to relinquish serving themselves (as gods).
    Elevating the created above the creator is what we also find in todays variations of radical environmentalism. Like all sin, it becomes the abuse of a good that God created.

  • Hume famously tried to explain our unshakable, but quite improvable, conviction that we live in an orderly universe and that every event can be traced back to some cause.
    “The only connexion or relation of objects, which can lead us beyond the immediate impressions of our memory and senses, is that of cause and effect; and that because it is the only one, on which we can found a just inference from one object to another. The idea of cause and effect is derived from experience, which informs us, that such particular objects, in all past instances, have been constantly conjoined with each other… We suppose, but are never able to prove, that there must be a resemblance betwixt those objects, of which we have had experience, and those which lie beyond the reach of our discovery.”
    Of course, to say that it is “derived from experience” is problematic. As Hume says, “probability is founded on the presumption of a resemblance betwixt those objects, of which we have had experience, and those, of which we have had none; and therefore it is impossible this presumption can arise from probability. The same principle cannot be both the, cause and effect of another…” To say that all past experience confirms our conviction of the uniformity of nature gets us nowhere, unless we suppose that our future experience will do so, too. But why should it? That the past will resemble the future is just a special instance of the uniformity of nature, so we are arguing in a circle.

Our Will Be Done

Wednesday, October 28, AD 2015


Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat



My favorite living historian Victor Davis Hanson has a brilliant post on the rot that infects the West:


Sanctuary cities illustrate how progressive doctrine can by itself nullify the rule of law. In the new West, breaking statutes is backed or ignored by the state if it is branded with race, class, or gender advocacy. By that I mean that if a solitary U.S. citizen seeks to leave and then reenter America without a passport, he will likely be either arrested or turned back, whereas if an illegal alien manages to cross our border, he is unlikely to be sent back as long as he has claims on victimhood of the type that are sanctioned by the Western liberal state. Do we really enjoy free speech in the West any more? If you think we do, try to use vocabulary that is precise and not pejorative, but does not serve the current engine of social advocacy — terms such as “Islamic terrorist,” “illegal alien,” or “transvestite.” I doubt that a writer for a major newspaper or a politician could use those terms, which were common currency just four or five years ago, without incurring, privately or publicly, the sort of censure that we might associate with the thought police of the former Soviet Union.

It is becoming almost impossible in the West to navigate the contours of totalitarian mind control. Satirists can create cartoons mocking Christ, but not Mohammed. If a teen brings a suspicious-looking device of wires and gadgetry to school, he will be suspended — unless he can advance by his religious or ethnic background some claim on victimization.

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6 Responses to Our Will Be Done

  • “Might makes right” sums up the left. Obama, and this pope, are perfect exemplars. There is no objective standard to their moral code. It is just their ability to enforce their beliefs that makes them “right”.

  • “Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat“
    “Whom God wishes to destroy, He first makes insane.”
    Destruction is imminent for insanity is overwhelming.

  • The alt-right (with uncharacteristic precision and creativity) have coined a term for what he describes: “anarcho-tyranny”.

  • Like a stopped clock, Al Gore recently got right one thing. People are more stupid, see presidential election results 2008 ands 2012. He blamed global warming. I blame public schools and the post-modern academy that traded the truth for the asinine, liberal narrative. For them, truth is that which advances the agenda.
    They start with the premise, say, income inequality was a major aspect of the Roman Republic, and “prove” it by agitated appeals to emotion (not fact or logic), calumnies, distortions, exaggerations, fabrications, false equivalences, fantasies, misdirections, non sequiturs, omissions (ignore it), projections of 21st century amorality, repetitions, spins, unsupported conclusions.

  • Probably not the best example since income inequality was a major aspect of the Roman Republic. Social and economic inequality is the rule and not the exception for almost all of human history.

    But yes, foot-stomping is the preferred method of argument amongst liberals.

John Zmirak Has a Beef With CS Lewis

Monday, October 26, AD 2015

Lewis Quote


It is your duty to to fix the lines (of doctrine) clearly in your minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession. This is your duty not specially as Christians or as priests but as honest men. There is a danger here of the clergy developing a special professional conscience which obscures the very plain moral issue. Men who have passed beyond these boundary lines in either direction are apt to protest that they have come by their unorthodox opinions honestly. In defense of those opinions they are prepared to suffer obloquy and to forfeit professional advancement. They thus come to feel like martyrs. But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of is your continuing in your ministry after you have come to hold them. We always knew that a man who makes his living as a paid agent of the Conservative Party may honestly change his views and honestly become a Communist. What we deny is that he can honestly continue to be a Conservative agent and to receive money from one party while he supports the policy of the other.

CS Lewis, Easter 1945






At The Stream John Zmirak has a complaint lodged against CS Lewis:


I have a bone to pick with C.S. Lewis. Yes, of course the man was a fine writer and his work has taught countless readers how to love God better. But as an author, he proved a little careless in completing his novels. Instead of sealing them up tight when he was finished with them so we could safely enjoy them without side-effects, Lewis apparently left the bolts unscrewed, and now the characters are escaping into the real world.

I am sure Lewis never intended this, but it is happening, and something must be done, if only to avoid poisoning interfaith relations. I’m not speaking of The Screwtape Letters; the devils we have had always with us. No, I’m talking about the third book in his space trilogy, That Hideous Strength.

Reverend Straik

The first escapee was Lewis’s liberation theologian, Reverend Straik — whom readers will recall for his stark, this-worldly, radical creed. Straik denounced the historic, really-existing Christian church as the subterfuge by which the World, the organization and body of Death, has sidetracked and emasculated the teaching of Jesus, and turned into priestcraft and mysticism the plain demand of the Lord for righteousness and judgment here and now.

The Kingdom of God is to be realized here — in this world. And it will be. At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. In that name I dissociate myself completely from all the organized religion that has yet been seen in the world.

It is the saints who are going to inherit the earth — here in England, perhaps in the next twelve months — the saints and no one else. Know you not that we shall judge angels? . . . The real resurrection is even now taking place. The real life everlasting. Here in this world. You will see it.

I was sobered to learn that Reverend Straik had eluded Lewis’s safeguards, slipped into the real world, and taken up residence in Honduras, under the nom de guerre “Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga.” In his prominent role as one of nine cardinals chosen to reform the Catholic church, Maradiaga has been increasingly outspoken about the need to reject that Church’s historical legacy and start again from scratch. As he said in a famous address in Dallas: “With the New Evangelization we restart (start anew) from the beginning: we once more become the Church as proclaimer, servant, and Samaritan.”

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7 Responses to John Zmirak Has a Beef With CS Lewis

  • Wow. Thanks be to God.

  • Might just as well rebuke Fyodor Dostoevsky for thinking Cardinals would rather be Grand Inquisitors.

  • The good cardinal is a charlatan. At least he could focus on his little corner of the world instead of bringing his brand of corruption to the rest of us.

  • “… But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We
    never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of
    is your continuing in your ministry after you have come to hold them.”

    A friend of mine is the nephew of a certain Episcopalian bishop famous for both his love
    of the camera and microphone and for his disdain for what C. S. Lewis would describe
    as “mere Christianity”. Instead, his version of Episcopalianism seems to built from
    planks taken from the Democrats’ party platform, even to the removal of the idea of a God.
    Since he assumes his nephew is a fellow-traveller (never bothering to ask otherwise), the
    bishop has made some very frank admissions in his nephew’s presence– that all faiths,
    Christianity especially, are ridiculous, and that only simpletons actually believe “all that
    I have no idea when the bishop lost his faith, or how he developed such contempt for
    those who still have theirs. He seems to believe that he should remain where he is–
    with his very comfortable, secure livelihood and the attention and marks of respect it
    brings– because he is doing important work, tearing down an old church so a new,
    improved one may rise in its place. His flock, inasmuch as they persisted in clinging
    to their orthodoxy, were an impediment to his real calling.
    He and his sort are out there, and I suspect they aren’t as rare as we’d hope.

  • They’re like the poor that way, Clinton.

  • Good post. Thanks.

  • Sounds like a permutation of Poe’s Law– ‘good parodies are at very high risk of becoming pre-news’ or something.

Sin and Boredom

Wednesday, October 14, AD 2015




Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, As, to be hated, needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

Alexander Pope

Then get bored by.  That is what I take away from this interesting piece of news:

Opening a copy of Playboy magazine on an airplane or at a hair salon may no longer have people raising their eyebrows.

Playboy will no longer publish images of fully nude women in its magazine beginning this spring. The move comes as part of a redesign that will be unveiled next March, Playboy Enterprises, Inc., announced Tuesday. The magazine will still feature women in provocative poses, but they will no longer bare all when the March issue is released in February, according to a statement from Playboy.

The onslaught of Internet pornography has made the nude images in Playboy “passé,” Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive, told the New York Times.

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7 Responses to Sin and Boredom

  • Donald,

    Reminds me a great deal of some thoughts by Reinhard Hutter in his excellent article here: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/04/pornography-and-acedia


  • I confess that when I was a submarine sailor long ago I maintained a deep and abiding interest in Playboy magazine. Of course I do not excuse my behavior as morally acceptable (on the contrary!), but nevertheless such “literature” was quite common to be found stowed in the bunks of sailors underneath the sea for months on end. I thought that Playboy’s chief competitors, Hustler and Penthouse at that time, to be several steps lower in overall quality than Playboy itself. In fact, the photography in those magazines never appealed to me in the way that the classical photography in Playboy excited me, and I rarely if ever wasted my money on them. Having seen pictures of Greek and Roman sculptures of women all through my youth, and having seen some actual sculptures at museums, I found the Playboy of the 1970s and 1980s to be similar in taste and not a substitute for gynecological photographs (though what may exist today I do not know but can imagine). Yet in the end the photographs in Playboy were a means towards self-gratification and an objectification of women as mere objects of sexual desire. Once the good Lord finally took the baseball bat of drug and alcohol withdrawals to my sick head and got me into a 12 step program, both my sponsor and my confessor (a Franciscan priest at a monestary in Graymoor, NY) would tell me that such self-gratification was simply another way to get high, and one cannot be high and sober at the same time.
    As for Hugh Hefner, Bob Guccione of Penthouse was worse I suppose. But more than his magazine, it was Hefner’s stylized life of wealth and “carefreeness” (is that a word?) in a harem glorified in all the popular news media that truly objectified women. Perhaps he was no different in having his harem than either King David or King Solomon were in having their hundreds of concubines. But while as a submarine sailor I liked his magazine, him I never did like. He could never remain loyal to one woman, and that is the whole point of his publication: why have any one woman when for a small paltry sum you may have a thousand women and be your own King Solomon. The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us how well that works out.

  • “Reminds me a great deal of some thoughts by Reinhard Hutter in his excellent article here: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/04/pornography-and-acediahttp://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/04/pornography-and-acedia


    “To comprehend the spiritual roots of this crisis, we need to recall an all-too-forgotten vice, acedia, usually called “sloth” but better rendered as “spiritual apathy.” It is the very forgoing of friendship with God—which is the fulfillment of the transcendent dignity and calling of the human person—and the embrace of the self-indulgent deception that there never was and never will be friendship with God, that there never was and never will be a transcendent calling and dignity of the human person. Nothing matters much, because the one thing that really matters, God’s love and friendship, does not exist and therefore cannot be attained.

    Acedia creates a void that we try to fill with transient rushes of pleasure—primarily venereal pleasure—to ward off the ennui of life bereft of its very center. But the simulacra that promise the rushes of pleasure we seek betray us. They cannot fill the void created by the loss of our transcendent calling to the love and friendship of God. Rather, they only increase the craving to fill the void we cannot fill, breeding compulsion and intensifying spiritual apathy, thereby encouraging acedia’s most dangerous shoot to spring forth: despair.

    Christian spiritual wisdom has always regarded acedia as a vice that, unchecked, will eventually prove deadly to the Christian life. For spiritual apathy first leads us to despair of God’s love and mercy and eventually issues in a sadness that will always cause problems. For, as St. Thomas Aquinas observes in On Evil, “No human being can long remain pleasureless and sad.” People engulfed by the sadness to which their indulgence in spiritual apathy led them tend to avoid such sadness first by shirking and then by resenting and scorning God’s love and mercy.”

    A good article Jonathan!

  • If only pornography was truly taking a hit. The poisonous weeds Hefner planted live on more virulent than ever.

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  • Kevin,
    Hugh Hefner’s magazine is “innocuous” and “sedate” compared to what one may possibly obtained on the internet in graphic videos. Indeed, one time several years ago I was searching for the web site of NUPIC – the Nuclear Procurement Issues Committee – and I got an entirely unexpected nude picture / video of Pamela Anderson. Sadly, what is seen can never be unseen.
    That said, the photography of Hefner’s magazine is extolled as art reminiscent of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures of nude women (and men). But by making nudity readily and widely accessible for private use, he has as you indicated planted a seed whose wild roots have descended throughout everywhere in modern society. The walls of the buildings in ancient Pompeii would be green with envy. There is no artistry imaginable in the perversions of today’s internet.

  • Paul, Exceedingly well stated. Also the sad reality that once seen, impossible to remain unseen. I was lucky to largely escape pornography as a teen but later travelling in Austria a magazine fell from where I retrieved a down blanket. The center page was one huge indescribably profane orgy scene that would compete with the dirtiest of filth, an yet, 30 years later I sadly can recall it with photographic memory. I don’t recall it often, but only when I try to describe how damaging porn can be.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: CS Lewis

Thursday, September 17, AD 2015




A still worse thing may happen. Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude it, the questions ‘What on earth is he up to now?’ will intrude. It lays one’s devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, ‘I wish they’d remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try experiments on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks.’

CS Lewis

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5 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: CS Lewis

  • It couldn’t be much worse..but I must ask. Is that a citronella candle on the altar? Those pesky miskito’s. Paper plates and plastic cups are fitting as well…I know it’s a picnic!

    What in the wide world of sports are they accomplishing with Jr’s blankie?

  • How soon before the rent out ad space on one of those sixties banners?

  • “How long Lord?”

  • One of the contributors to The Latin Mass has offered that the 1965 missal was destructive in ways few recall (given what happened later) because it was in response to the missal’s issuance that some priests took to offering Mass versus populum (“turning the priest into a performer”). IIRC, the Congregation for Divine Worship did issue an instruction in the last dozen years indicating it was perfectly regular for a priest to offer Mass ad orientem, but you very seldom see it done in a Novus Ordo service.

  • Just to be a bore, I’ll point out that however negligent bishops are regarding disciplinary matters, this mess happens because parish clergy want to do this.

Shocking New Discovery About Christ!

Wednesday, July 29, AD 2015


From those brilliantly twisted folks at The Lutheran Satire.  As CS Lewis said:


You will find that a good many Christian political writers think that Christianity began going wrong in departing from the doctrine of its founder at a very early stage. Now this idea must be used by us to encourage once again the conception of a “historical Jesus” to be found by clearing away later “accretions and perversions,” and then to be contrasted with the whole Christian tradition. In the last generation we promoted the construction of such a “historical Jesus” on liberal and humanitarian lines. We are now putting forward a new “historical Jesus” on Marxian, catastrophic and revolutionary lines. The advantages of these constructions, which we intend to change every thirty years or so, are manifold. In the first place they all tend to direct man’s devotion to something which does not exist. Because each “historical Jesus” is unhistorical, the documents say what they say and they cannot be added to. Each new “historical Jesus” has to be got out of them by suppression at one point and exaggeration at another point. And by that sort of guessing (brilliant is the adjective we teach humans to apply to it) on which no one would risk ten shillings in ordinary life, but which is enough to produce a crop of new Napoleons, new Shakespeares, and new Swifts in every publisher’s autumn list. . . . The “historical Jesus,” then, however dangerous he may seem to be to us at some particular point, is always to be encouraged.

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9 Responses to Shocking New Discovery About Christ!

  • Consider, compare and contrast the “evolving” (0 tempores, o mores!) Jesus with Mohammed and his recalcitrant followers’ unchanging faith.
    One contrast is that Mohammad’s fell revelations have no witness. He said it, and it is objective truth.
    By contrast, hundreds witnessed Christ’s crucifixion and death. Christ gloriously rose from the tomb on the third day and for forty days appeared to HIs Mother and disciples. Christ ascended into Heaven after forty days and in the presence of Mary and HIs disciples. Later, the Holy Spirit descended on Mary and the Apostles.
    Finally, the credentialed cretins can’t monkey with the “historic” Muhammad. Because .. . KABOOM.

  • “…We are now putting forward a new “historical Jesus” on Marxian, catastrophic and revolutionary lines….”

    I wonder if this historic Jesus might be that fellow with Jesuit frock and an Uzi fighting for the “preferential option for the poor” down in Nicaragua a few years back?

  • Thanks for the laugh’s.

    It’s about time for Tom Hanks to star as the lead in the new screenplay; “Jesus the Environmentalists.”
    Not only is it true that Jesus was married, but he founded Green Peace.

    Dan Brown made his thirty silver pieces. Why not others? There seems to be no problem with recycling garbage to make a buck.
    Until the last breath is taken, I suppose.

  • In keeping with the satircal line, the only piece of evidence that Jesus might have been married is that he did not fight against his execution.

  • Thanks for the levity Don, And this is how we should view much of the stuff coming out of the Vatican nowadays where we come to find out that Jesus is not who He said He was but rather more like President Obama. Who would have known? What a wonderful teacher we have in Pope Francis!?

  • As the Son of God, Christ was a brother to all persons. For Christ to marry a woman, Christ would have committed spiritual incest but marrying His spiritual sister. Christ did all that He did for His Father in heaven. Christ’s Father in heaven is an infinite God. Finite persons cannot complete Christ’s mission of salvation for us.

  • Philip: In Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, Brown gives us his opinion on the opinion of Da Vinci of The Last Supper, which Brown calls the truth. Yes, for Da Vinci and Brown and may be Tom Hanks but for Catholics it is still hearsay, two opinions against the truth. Now, more opinions, but the perjury was that Brown called the Da Vinci Code God’s honest truth.

  • Thanks Mary.
    I appreciate the clear explanation.

Perennial Adolescence

Thursday, September 26, AD 2013


Strange, I had always taken your highness for a perennial adolescent, who cared only for his pleasures.

Bishop Folliot to Henry II in the screenplay for the film Becket

The modern world seems intent on destroying both childhood and adulthood:


The idea that suddenly at 18 you’re an adult just doesn’t quite ring true,” says child psychologist Laverne Antrobus, who works at London’s Tavistock Clinic.

“My experience of young people is that they still need quite a considerable amount of support and help beyond that age.”

Child psychologists are being given a new directive which is that the age range they work with is increasing from 0-18 to 0-25.

“We are becoming much more aware and appreciating development beyond [the age of 18] and I think it’s a really good initiative,” says Antrobus, who believes we often rush through childhood, wanting our youngsters to achieve key milestones very quickly

Go here to read the rest at BBC News Magazine.  The war on childhood has been on course for quite a long time:  easy divorce, sex education reaching down to kindergarten, using drugs to control perfectly normal children, and zero tolerance policies for child hood play that boys have engaged in as long as there have been boys.  For about the same time period, adolescence has been lengthening, so a brief period of tolerated irresponsibility, circa 14-18, has now been broadened to at least 30.  I see it in my legal practice, as paternity cases have tended to replace divorce cases for clients in their twenties who, to my jaundiced eye, have about as much of a chance of being responsible parents as a mouse has of learning algebra.

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13 Responses to Perennial Adolescence

  • Yesterday in a village churchyard I noticed a distinctive Commonwealth War Graves headstone. RAF sergeant pilot, killed 1941, aged 19. No perennial adolescence then.

  • Words have a certain creative force. That is they don’t just describe what is, they also describe what can be and define a possibility.. in a way making allowance for what people may want to do anyway. “Look Ma I don’t have to move out on my own now, it says so here in the newest social studies. I am ok the way I am.. Heck it looks like I have a few more years before ..

  • C. S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley and John F. Kennedy, all three, died on November 22, 1963. Atheism has no where to go. Huxley’s character hung himself. I watched Dead Poets Society with Robin Williams. There too, the young man committed suicide. Without Christ’s “Come follow me”, young people have no destiny, no future, no hope, no goal, no pursuit of Happiness. Victor Frankel’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning is a good read.
    With the assassination of JFK, it was ten years before anyone noticed that Huxley was missing. Listening to Aldous Huxley made my blood run cold. Atheism has nothing to offer. Not a prophet, Huxley opened the door to decanting human beings, as Anzlyne points out.

  • Atheism has no where to go. Huxley’s character hung himself.

    That was Huxley’s point, wasn’t it?

  • Maybe not, or maybe not entirely. I forgot that John hung himself as much out of shame as existential despair; maybe more.

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  • 25 years ago I was driving through France and we decided to stop off at their WWI War Memorial (Ossuary) at Verdun. The walls contained the cremated bones of thousands of martyrs of the Battle of Verdun and the names and ages of the victims were chiseled into the stone. Mostly teenagers. The lost generation.

  • About 40 years ago, I was at (USO bus tour) Verdun (that night ate Thanksgiving Dinner at a McDonald’s in Paris). There was some kind of riot going and the gents d’armes were formed up carrying rifles. At Verdun, there was so much unexploded ordnance that you were warned not to step off the paved paths.

    Vietnam: Paul P., Danny N., Joe M., Dave B. Bill R., . . . they never saw 20 years. A number more never saw 25.

    Most of us, to some extent, suffer from the “Peter Pan” syndrome, which drives the wives crazy. I’m 63 going on 16.

    They may as well stay adolescents. Look at the country we’re leaving them.

  • It’s worth remembering that the adjectival term “adolescent” dates only from about the late 18th century and the contemporary concept of “adolescence” is even later. Before then, adulthood was considered to begin in the early to mid ‘teens. A clear echo of this is the custom of celebrating the Bar (or Ba’at as the case may be) Mitzvah at about 12 or 13.

  • In the early days of this nation, when most people were not middle class or wealthy and they farmed for a living, it was not uncommon for people in their teens to marry, as, given that they survived childhood (no easy task when there were no vaccinations for childhood diseases) young people learned to plant crops, slaughter and prepare farm animals for supper, cut trees with axes and build log houses and barns, make their own clothes.

    They were not warehoused in classrooms in large buildings, shuffled from room to room, having little interaction with adults besides their teachers and parents when they return home.

    Preschool, a year of kindergarten (full day in many school districts), followed by twelve years of classrooms. To follow that, how many people can get a job that supports themselves and a family out of high school? You can’t anymore, so add college or technical school.

    I submit that modern education is a racket. Public university tuition rises each year everywhere. College graduates have tens of thousands of student loans to pay off that cut into their meager earnings for years, preventing the likes of purchasing a new car or a new home. My school property taxes go up and up each year. They have reached a point where my home’s assessed value exceeds the bank appraisal by over $10,000.

    Slopular culture glorifies bad adolescent behavior just as political correctness treats it as if punishable by sharia law.

    Our education system (such as it is) and entertainment have led to perpetual adolescence. However, parents who have the will and the backbone to make sure their children do not become lazy adults can put a stop to it.

  • I see it in my legal practice, as paternity cases have tended to replace divorce cases for clients in their twenties who, to my jaundiced eye, have about as much of a chance of being responsible parents as a mouse has of learning algebra. –Donald R. McClarey

    Can’t have a divorce without a marriage first, but a baby – sure!

    I remember how the know-it-alls mocked Newt Gingrich’s suggestion that orphanages have a better track record raising children into well-adjusted, competent adults than unwed mothers. The know-it-alls were wrong that time too, of course.

  • “Maybe not, or maybe not entirely. I forgot that John hung himself as much out of shame as existential despair; maybe more.”
    The “normal man” hung himself. That is Huxley’s point.