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Ten Years of TAC: The Ten Commandments of the Science Fiction Writer

(The American Catholic will observe its tenth anniversary in October.  We will be reposting some classic TAC posts of the past.  This post is from March 26, 2013.)

 

 

My co-blogger Darwin has a good post at his blog, Darwin Catholic, expressing his irritation at three laws proposed by the late science fiction writer Arthur Clarke.  Go here to read it.  The proposing of laws seems to often go with the territory of being a science fiction writer.  Asimov had his laws of robotics, for example.  Reading Darwin’s post propelled me into imagining the ten commandments for science fiction writers, and here they are:

 

 

1.  You are a science fiction writer, and will write only science fiction:  no fantasy, no (spit) urban fantasy, no (gag) romance novels disguised as fantasy.  This rule is subject to being overruled if you really, really need the cash.

2.  You will not bow down to the idols of popular taste or to what will sell in the mass market.  Kindle and e-publishing will have your sole worship.

3.  You will not take the name of science in vain and have more than three scientific absurdities in each story that you write.

4.  All the rest of creation labors for only six days.  For science fiction writing wretches remember the words of Heinlein:  “Six days shalt thou work and do all thou art able; the seventh the same, and pound on the cable.

5.  Honor your father and your mother as they may well be the ones supporting you as you seek fame and fortune by scribbling endlessly for a living.

6.  You shall not murder other science fiction writers who shamelessly steal your ideas.  You may think about murdering them however quite a bit.

7.  You shall not commit adultery with other literary genres, unless you really, really need the money.  See the first commandment.

8.  You shall not steal ideas from hack writers.  Stealing ideas from good writers is permissible so long as you have plausible deniability.

9.  You shall not bear false witness against other writers, even if they have it coming.  (Well maybe a little bit, if they really, really have it coming.)

10. You will not covet anything that more successful writers have that you do not.  You write only to express yourself and not to gain financial riches!  (Everyone can now stop laughing.)

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Ten Years of TAC: 20 of my Dadisms

(The American Catholic will observe its tenth anniversary in October.  We will be reposting some classic TAC posts of the past.  This post is from August 6, 2012.)

 

Ah, Dadisms, the short hand that many fathers use as they attempt to navigate life with their families.  Here are some of my favorite:

 

 

1.   Clean up this dump!

2.   You are not going outside like that!

3.   When I was young and dinosaurs ruled the earth…

4.   I’m proud of you!

5.   Always get it in writing.

6.   Can’t I trade you in for a new kid?

7.   Because I said so, that’s why!

8.   Did you ask Mom?

9.   Take this twenty, it might come in handy.

10.  Careful, there are lots of loosely wired people out there. Continue Reading

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Ten Years of TAC: A Priest Born on Flag Day

(The American Catholic will observe its tenth anniversary in October.  We will be reposting some classic TAC posts of the past.  This post is from August 6, 2012.)

One of the most highly decorated chaplains of World War II, Father Elmer W. Heindl used to joke that his decorations were simply due to him being in the wrong place at the right time.  Born on June 14, 1910 in Rochester, New York, the oldest of six children, Heindl decided at an early age that he was meant to be a priest and was ordained on June 6, 1936.  He said that being born on Flag Day indicated to him that during his life he would do something to honor the Stars and Stripes. Continue Reading

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Ten Years of TAC: Dagger John and Honest Abe

(The American Catholic will observe its tenth anniversary in October.  We will be reposting some classic TAC posts of the past.  This post is from February 11, 2009.)

Archbishop John Hughes (1797-1864) of New York, was a titan within the Catholic Church in America in the nineteenth century.  Overseeing with skill the explosive growth of the Church in New York, and helping lead generations of Catholic immigrants out of poverty,  he also found time to take part in the public affairs of his day, and was probably the best known Catholic churchman of his time.  He was also a very tough and fearless man.  After the anti-Catholic riots in Philadelphia in 1844 he called on the mayor of New York, an anti-Catholic bigot, and informed him that if a single Catholic church were touched in New York, New York would be a second Moscow.  (The reference was to the burning of Moscow in 1812 during Napoleon’s occupation of the city.) Not a Catholic church was touched.  On another occasion when a threat was made to burn Saint Patrick’s cathedral the Archbishop had it guarded within hours by 4,000 armed Catholics.  No wonder his enemies and friends nicknamed him “Dagger John”! Continue Reading

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Ten Years of TAC: The First PopeWatch

(The American Catholic will observe its tenth anniversary in October.  We will be reposting some classic TAC posts of the past.  This post is from October 6, 2013.)

 

 

Announcing a new series at The American Catholic:  PopeWatch.  I think it is obvious that Pope Francis will be making the headlines on a regular basis,  and I will be commenting on him fairly frequently as a result, hence the new series.  First up, a statement by papal press spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.  I have a soft spot in my heart for press flacks.  They have tough jobs, especially in the wake of feathers hitting a fan.  Then they come out to meet the media, and often have to say the most absurd things with a straight face, and it would take a heart of purest granite not to feel some sympathy for them at such times.  In the wake of Pope Francis’ colorful interviews, Father Lombardi explained what the problem is:

Perhaps the most insightful take on all this came from Lombardi himself, who said we’re seeing the emergence of a whole new genre of papal speech — informal, spontaneous and sometimes entrusted to others in terms of its final articulation. A new genre, Lombardi suggested, needs a “new hermeneutic,” one in which we don’t attach value so much to individual words as to the overall sense.

“This isn’t Denzinger,” he said, referring to the famous German collection of official church teaching, “and it’s not canon law.”

“What the pope is doing is giving pastoral reflections that haven’t been reviewed beforehand word-for-word by 20 theologians in order to be precise about everything,” Lombardi said. “It has to be distinguished from an encyclical, for instance, or a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, which are magisterial documents.” Continue Reading

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Ten Years of TAC: 800 Dead Kids, Irish Catholic Bashing and the Truth

(The American Catholic will observe its tenth anniversary in October.  We will be reposting some classic TAC posts of the past.  This post is from June 9, 2014)

 

Catholic bashing has become the national sport of Ireland.  Blaming the Brits for every ill that has ever afflicted Ireland has become passé, and in the former land of saints and scholars the Church is the whipping boy du jour.  This of course suits the politicians who lead Ireland, eager to transform it into a carbon copy of every other European state with divorce, contraception and abortion ever available and with atheism as the de facto state religion.  Irish leftism, always of the most infantile variety, has eagerly joined in, along with academia and entertainment.  The attitude of the Church in Ireland has been, by and large, “Please sir, may I have another!” with most priests and prelates seeming to desire to become a Catholic Lite Church that will not utter a word troubling to their new lords and mistresses, the chattering classes in government and out.

Realizing this, I turned a jaundiced eye to endless stories about nuns supposedly casting the bodies of  some 800 children into a septic tank at a home for unwed mothers in Tuam, County Galway, between 1925-1961.

Go here to Salon to see a prime example of the Catholic bashing way the story was played.

Besides the anti-Catholic hysteria, the thing that struck me about the stories was the sheer ignorance displayed:  ignorance of the death rate of children in Ireland in pre-antibiotic days, ignorance that homes for unwed mothers run by religious orders were often used for caring for kids with mortal illnesses, ignorance as to the difficulties involved in  using a septic tank to hold even a small number of bodies, let alone 800.

Well, the truth is starting to come out.  Ironically it is from the local historian Catherine Corless, who was cited in all the stories for bringing this to light, but apparently wasn’t listened to very carefully by a media eager to hear what they wished to hear:

What has upset, confused and dismayed her in recent days is the speculative nature of much of the reporting around the story, particularly about what happened to the children after they died. “I never used that word ‘dumped’,” she says again, with distress. “I just wanted those children to be remembered and for their names to go up on a plaque. That was why I did this project, and now it has taken [on] a life of its own.”

In 2012 Corless published an article entitled “The Home” in the annual Journal of the Old Tuam Society. By then she had discovered that the 796 children had died while at St Mary’s, although she did not yet have all of their death certificates.

She also discovered that there were no burial records for the children and that they had not been interred in any of the local public cemeteries. In her article she concludes that many of the children were buried in an unofficial graveyard at the rear of the former home. This small grassy space has been attended for decades by local people, who have planted roses and other flowers there, and put up a grotto in one corner. Continue Reading