10 Essential Books for New Catholics

If you are a new Catholic or are in a Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program (RCIA), then welcome and good for you!  I’m discovering that many RCIA programs in parishes are rather paltry when it comes to educating catechumen and candidates who desire to grow and be emboldened in the Roman Catholic faith. […]

Thomas Merton’s Desolation

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here.  I thought it’s about time to get back into it.  All apologies. Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968) was a Trappist monk who wrote inspirational essays on spirituality and literature, poetry, and a classic autobiography which critics aptly compare to St. Augustine’s Confessions.  If you haven’t yet read Merton’s […]

Why the Hero’s Journey Is Still Worthwhile

I recently came across Craig Chalquist’s Huffington Post article entitled “Why I Seldom Teach the Hero’s Journey Anymore–And What I Teach Instead.”  Chalquist rightly observes the pervasiveness of the hero’s journey in contemporary popular culture and cites the influence of mythologist Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth and A Hero with a Thousand Faces.  In the […]

Marjorie Perloff’s ‘Ironic’ Wittgenstein

God and religion are controversial topics nowadays as secular atheists decry the evils of a “God delusion” and Christian evangelists crusade against Darwin and scientific cosmology in the public schools.  It’s not often that public intellectuals wade into such dangerous waters to espouse religious beliefs, yet Ludwig Wittgenstein did just that when he returned to […]

W.B. Yeats’s Swan Song

One of the most beautiful passages in world literature is Socrates’s death scene in Plato’s Phaedo.  But the first instance of a “swan song” as a mournful lamentation is in Aeschylus’s Agamemnon.  According to the myth, the swan is a quiet, calm swimmer in placid waters until it prophesies its own impending death, then the swan’s soul sings a […]

That Silly Goose: Kurt Godel’s “Poetry”

In Wittgenstein’s Ladder, Marjorie Perloff makes the case that poets take Ludwig Wittgenstein’s ideas very seriously.  But not just poets, plenty of fiction writers (e.g., Thomas Bernhard, David Markson, and David Foster Wallace) and artists as well.  This is interesting because it can be said that professional philosophers nowadays take Wittgenstein less seriously than do […]

College Reading Lists: “What We Have Loved, Others Will Love”

First year reading lists, college reading lists, tend to stir up controversy.  The so-called Great Books have been challenged, tossed out, revised, and revisited in one form or another. Many colleges and universities have attempted to increase diversity and multiculturalism by revamping “traditional” (i.e., old-fashioned) reading material.  One tendency has been to refurbish humanities curricula […]