Archives for October 2014

The definition of faith

The word faith means trust. It means remaining true to your oaths, true to your beliefs. It means remaining true to what reason has shown you, even during moments of deep and irrational emotion that threaten to introduce doubt where doubt is not logical.

John C. Wright


There are only two types of people in the world: Those who believe in false dichotomies, and penguins.

—Anon.; hat tip to Mary Catelli

Mind you, this is itself a fine example of a false dichotomy. Penguins are notorious for their habit of seeing things in black and white; especially other penguins.

The second way of knowing

Sensation is, after digestion, the Second Way of knowing. When we eat something, we incorporate the matter without preserving the form. When we sense something, we incorporate the form without preserving the matter. Otherwise, when we stop to smell the roses, tiny little roses would grow in our brains and the thorns would give us headaches.

—Michael Flynn

Read all about the Animal Soul on Mr. Flynn’s blog:

In Psearch of Psyche: Man the Animal

Where Angels Die: Episode 1, chapter 3

Thanks to my 3.6 Loyal Readers for your kind remarks. Comments, as always, are more than welcome.


The story so far:

The Summons

Chapter 1: The Taken

Chapter 2: A Battle of Souls


Chapter 3

The Food of Demons


They set out at a brisk trot, hurrying to put the hill-country behind them before they could be ambushed again. But those same hills delayed them; the road kept doubling back, chasing its own tail. An hour’s hard riding took them little more than a mile, as the crow flies, from the place where Lim died. In that bleak terrain, the enemy’s signals, one band of Taken shouting to the next, travelled faster than horses.

‘If the demons want this place,’ said Revel sourly, ‘I say we let them have it.’

‘It was green and pleasant when I was young, Surin,’ said Jandi. ‘There were such deer in the hills then, a hunter would give a season of his life to catch one. All gone now. They fled at the touch of this winter.’

Revel glanced up at the livid sky. ‘So would we, if we had any sense. How do they work this weather, anyway?’

‘All of Anai asks the same question, Surin. Had we such lore, we could fight them without help. This only we know: wherever the demons go, the sun is hidden and the snows follow.’

Another keening cry rose and fell, closer this time. ‘How far to the Cleft of Bones, Jandi?’

‘Not far, Surin. The river lies just beyond that ridge.’

Ridge, thought Revel, was hardly the word for it. A sheer face of cracked and weathered rock barred their way northward, impassable except where the road passed through a narrow notch and over the storm-scoured crest.

‘They’ll try to stop us.’ The Badger pointed at the notch. ‘There or nowhere.’ [Read more…]

Christ the Confucian

Now the best relation to our spiritual home is to be near enough to love it. But the next best is to be far enough away not to hate it. It is the contention of these pages that while the best judge of Christianity is a Christian, the next best judge would be something more like a Confucian. The worst judge of all is the man now most ready with his judgements; the ill-educated Christian turning gradually into the ill-tempered agnostic, entangled in the end of a feud of which he never understood the beginning, blighted with a sort of hereditary boredom with he knows not what, and already weary of hearing what he has never heard. He does not judge Christianity calmly as a Confucian would; he does not judge it as he would judge Confucianism. He cannot by an effort of fancy set the Catholic Church thousands of miles away in strange skies of morning and judge it as impartially as a Chinese pagoda.

It is said that the great St. Francis Xavier, who very nearly succeeded in setting up the Church there as a tower overtopping all pagodas, failed partly because his followers were accused by their fellow missionaries of representing the Twelve Apostles with the garb or attributes of Chinamen. But it would be far better to see them as Chinamen, and judge them fairly as Chinamen, than to see them as featureless idols merely made to be battered by iconoclasts; or rather as cockshies to be pelted by empty-handed cockneys. It would be better to see the whole thing as a remote Asiatic cult; the mitres of its bishops as the towering head dresses of mysterious bonzes; its pastoral staffs as the sticks twisted like serpents carried in some Asiatic procession; to see the prayer book as fantastic as the prayer-wheel and the Cross as crooked as the Swastika.

Then at least we should not lose our temper as some of the sceptical critics seem to lose their temper, not to mention their wits. Their anti-clericalism has become an atmosphere, an atmosphere of negation and hostility from which they cannot escape. Compared with that, it would be better to see the whole thing as something belonging to another continent, or to another planet. It would be more philosophical to stare indifferently at bonzes than to be perpetually and pointlessly grumbling at bishops. It would be better to walk past a church as if it were a pagoda than to stand permanently in the porch, impotent either to go inside and help or to go outside and forget. For those in whom a mere reaction has thus become an obsession, I do seriously recommend the imaginative effort of conceiving the Twelve Apostles as Chinamen. In other words, I recommend these critics to try to do as much justice to Christian saints as if they were Pagan sages.

—G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

(Paragraph breaks added for convenience in online reading. —T.S.)

SCI PHI JOURNAL #2: Preorder now!

Issue #2 of Sci Phi Journal is now available for preorder on Amazon.

Get yours here.

The issue features John C. Wright and other mighty fine writers. Your Obedient Servant had the honour to contribute an article, ‘The Making of the Fellowship: Concepts of Good in The Lord of the Rings’.

You will note that Yr. Obt. Svt.’s name appears first in the list of contributors on the cover. This is not because I am a Very Important Pundit, but for a much more valid and compelling reason: aesthetics. The contributors’ names are stacked to form a neat pyramid on the page, and mine, being shortest, gets to perch on top.

They called me mad at the Academy. Even the other madmen called me mad: they said I was doing it wrong. ‘Tom Simon is no name for a mad scientist,’ they said, and they pointed and laughed. Yet my name comes above that bounder Ben Zwycky, for my name is one letter shorter than his! After all those years of suffering at the end of alphabetical lists, he plotted to come first in this; but I have foiled him! Revenge! Muah-hah-hah!

*twirls moustache*

[Read more…]

What’s that you say? Something sold?

To my astonishment, to say nothing of crogglement, confustication, and gobsmackosity, I have sold an essay to Sci Phi Journal: and for actual money, too. With a speed hitherto unknown to magazine-kind, it has been scheduled for publication in the upcoming issue.

Look for Sci Phi Journal #2, containing ‘The Making of the Fellowship: Concepts of the Good in The Lord of the Rings’, coming soon to an ebook store near you.

In other news, I am still filled with doubt and concern about Where Angels Die. The first chapter seemed to be a rousing success, but the second has met with dead silence so far, and frankly, I don’t know what to make of that. Are my 3.6 Loyal Readers still waiting for more? Or have I done something dreadful, on a par with the infamous Klingon practice of farting in airlocks? Please advise.


In a recent essai, I mentioned the chorus from The Frogs of Aristophanes: a thing I have done before. The keenest eyes among my 3.6 Loyal Readers (if 3.6 readers have 7.2 eyes, I should not expect the 0.2 of an eye to be the keen one) may have noticed that I quoted it (with pedantic correctness) as brekekex koax koax. In the past, I made it brekekekex koax koax: for the simple reason that I had never read the Greek original, but was only familiar (and that but vaguely) with the English translation. An extra ek was inserted into the English version, because it fitted the metre of the translation better; whereas it would have spoilt the rhythm of the Greek. This is poetic licence in its finest form.

In fact, the English translation of that chorus is such a very fine bit of English verse, it was cheerfully sung by the Tommies in the trenches of the Great War: a thing that, so far as I know, has never happened to any other Greek poem, and few English ones. I suppose they thought that by ‘frogs’ the poet meant Frenchmen, as they would have done in his place. Anyway, I recall the song well:

Brekekekex koax koax,
Brekekekex koax koax,
Brekekekex koax koax,
Go kiss a frog if a Prince attracts,
Hinky, dinky, parley-voo!

You’re welcome.

Where Angels Die: Episode 1, chapter 2

A preview of my serial in progress.


The story so far:

The Summons

Chapter 1: The Taken


Chapter 2

A Battle of Souls



Jandi pressed the dagger harder against the Taken’s throat, drawing a drop of wine-red blood. ‘These monsters destroyed my village.’

‘He’s not a monster,’ the Badger said sharply. ‘He’s a human being. Getting possessed by a demon wasn’t his idea.’

Revel pinned the grey man’s right side, hands on shoulder and thigh, knee on the captive’s wrist. ‘I’m sure you mean well, Badger-brock, but this isn’t exactly the place I’d choose to deal with it.’

The Badger knelt to the grey man’s left. ‘Who said anything about choosing? —Hold his legs, Jandi, and put that toy away. You take the dice the way they fall, Revel. These horses won’t carry a possessed man. Would you kill him in cold blood?’

‘I would,’ Jandi muttered, but the Badger ignored him.

‘Have it your own way,’ said Revel. ‘Fix him if you can. But how will you keep him from going toes-up as soon as the demon is gone? Who’s going to give him his own life back? That’s an Angel’s job, and much as I’d like to say otherwise, I haven’t got one hidden under my cloak.’

The Badger eyed the younger man disapprovingly. ‘What babies the Order is sending out nowadays! Never done it in the field, have you, boy? Put a demon in a nice clean circle in a nice quiet room, with nice neat wards and an Angel standing by, and you can play knucklebones with it and make it jump through hoops. Well, this is how we did it in the last war, and you’ll do plenty more like it in this one. You stand in for the Angel.’ [Read more…]

The Publishing Executive’s Prayer

Oh God, grant me the power to delay the things I cannot change,
The PR budget to confuse the issue,
And a sweet job in a completely non-related industry before this all goes completely to Hell.

R. E. McDermott, in a comment on The Passive Voice

(Also applicable to politicians, football coaches, and skirt-chasing TV preachers.)