I’ve added a link to some blogs on Amazon’s website. I’m not responsible for the contents of these blogs, and do not necessarily agree with or disagree with any opinions expressed on the Amazon blogs.
I normally send notices of updates to this blog to the members of a religious community that I belong to. I suppose they wonder what this stuff has to do with our vocation. For some of it the answer is, frankly, nothing. I simply enjoy science fiction, and I like old movies. In some cases it’s because I’m a bookish person and am inclined to think of books, plays, and poems in reference to real life. I don’t think you can pile higher and deeper in English lit unless you are a bookish person. I tend to think of myself as a humanist in the Erasmus, Thomas More sense rather than in the Dawkins, Hitchens sense. Of course, there is always the problem represented by Jerome’s dream. When an angel appeared, he was asked if he was a Christian. Jerome said yes in his dream. The angel said, “No, you are a Ciceronian.” My scores on a psychological values test suggest that I value aesthetics before religion. So it is problematic. On the other hand, John Paul II in Christifideles Laici, said this:
"The various ministries, offices and roles that the lay faithful can legitimately fulfill in the liturgy, in the transmission of the faith, and in the pastoral structure of the Church, ought to be exercised in conformity to their specific lay vocation, which is different from that of the sacred ministry. In this regard the Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, that had such a great part in stimulating the varied collaboration of the lay faithful in the Church's life and mission of spreading the gospel, recalls that "their own field of evangelizing activity is the vast and complicated world of politics, society and economics, as well as the world of culture, of the sciences and the arts, of international life, of the mass media. It also includes other realities which are open to evangelization, such as human love, the family, the education of children and adolescents, professional work, and suffering. The more Gospel-inspired lay people there are engaged in these realities, clearly involved in them, competent to promote them and conscious that they must exercise to the full their Christian powers which are often repressed and buried, the more these realities will be at the service of the Kingdom of God and therefore at the service of salvation in Jesus Christ, without in any way losing or sacrificing their human content but rather pointing to a transcendent dimension which is often disregarded.”" In any case what I generally try to do, particularly with the classic works, is to find some salient point that I would raise if I were in a class such as they have at St. John’s. I’m trying to pretend that I’m one of those obnoxiously bright students that a lot of people hate. These works, because they form the basis of our culture are important for understanding ourselves, and for the issues they raise. In the case of movies I frequently find moral or political themes that point to current issues. Even in a slight film such as Confidentially Connie, the issue of the relevance of the Western tradition is annunciated.
Update, August 19, 2013—In looking over some of the posts here I can see that I have a tendency to ramble, and sometimes to free associate. I'm prone to see linkages between the things I'm reading and current events. That may be an indication of an underlying psychopathology, such as OCD, or it may be normal. In any case it results in something that is not strictly speaking a well focused essay. My justification for this is that I don’t really conceive of these pieces as being essays, but more along the lines of chats about books and politics in which I invite the reader to contribute their thoughts. The reader, as always, is invited to send me their comments, which I will then incorporate into the post, along with my reply.End update
I don’t know if I can be said to have succeeded in my ambitions. I hope so, and I hope my readers, if any, enjoy what I have to say.