Archive for June, 2009

The Brand of Silence continues, after several months of neglect by me. (You can listen to the first three parts over at the story’s page at archive.org.) I know it may seem to have worked up a bit slowly, but bear in mind that this was originally a serial novel, IIRC. The first four chapters would have been the first month’s installment. So it’s really my fault for reading it so slowly, instead of in more chapters per week. I’ll try to repair this error.

Chapter 4: A Foe and a Friend.



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Giving In to Pressure

Air pressure on my sinuses, that is….

I’m sorry, folks. Yesterday was a near total wash, thanks to all these fronts moving through, and I’ll probably be spending most of tonight curled up with my sinus medicine, too. With any luck, I’ll be able to post something tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, you can always check out Amazon’s free music downloads or celebrate the feast of St. Cassius of Narnia (Narni, Italy = Narnia in Latin), or something else fun.

If you’d like something historical, you can listen to this very seasonal excerpt from Tacitus, as he gives the pagan Roman viewpoint on the terrifying nightmare that was the Great Fire, and thus on the First Martyrs of Rome, whose feast is tomorrow. It starts with some very non-worksafe recounting of Nero’s actions right around that time.

You can also listen to the Bowery Boys podcast on the Great Fire of 1835 in New York.

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An Introduction to the Devout Life continues, as I impatiently wrap up Book 1 in a single installment. (I’ve changed the track numbers of the first few chapters of Book 2, accordingly.)

As St. Paul said, all sins are wrong, but not all sins are deadly. Deadly sins = mortal sins. Not deadly = venial. As you will hear, however, Catholic teaching doesn’t regard venial sins as something to sneeze at, and even faults and bad tendencies are stuff you’re supposed to try to fight. Your mom the Church doesn’t want you getting away with anything! And in this case, Mom really does know best. (Yeah, yeah, I know I don’t do a good job with this. But do what the podcaster says, not what she does!)

We’ve talked about “attachment” before; it was a big topic for St. John of the Cross in The Ascent of Mount Carmel and its sequel, The Dark Night of the Soul. Basically, any time you get too wound up in a thing or even a person, and treat that thing or person like your own little god instead of what it really is, you are attached to it. The thing or person isn’t bad, or even bad for you; your attachment is what’s hurting you. So basically, a lot of the job of becoming holy is finding and unwinding the silly little attachments you have somehow managed to twist yourself into, so that you can be free to love God, and so you can love all His creations for what they are, and not what they aren’t. So again, St. Francis de Sales isn’t saying that fun stuff is evil. He’s saying that maybe his young friend Philothea gets herself a little too worked up about some fun stuff, and may therefore have to avoid it for her spiritual health.

Book 1, Chapters 22-24.


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Since there’s no super-cool fannish letter column yet in this, the second issue of the magazine ever, and since I do not really feel like reading the huge amount of copy included in a typical 1930’s magazine ad — of which there are a gazillion in the issue — this is the end of my audiobook version of the February 1930 issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science. “The Thief of Time” has a nice solid ending, and I think you’ll find it satisfying. If you like Carnes and Bird, Meek wrote a whole series of stories for them, all of which appeared in the Bates-edited Astounding.

Sterner St. Paul Meek really did achieve the rank of Captain in WWI; he eventually became a colonel in the US Army. (Hence the “U.S.A.” after his name in some of his bylines.) You can find bibliographies of his works at ISFDB and Fictionmags.

Since track is mentioned, I think it fitting to wish my dad, a former track coach (though he never goes on the Internet) a happy birthday, and many returns of the day. I should also assure everyone that my dad hadn’t been born yet when this issue hit the drugstores!

“The Thief of Time”, Part 2.


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We’ve finally come to the last story in the February 1930 issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science: “The Thief of Time” by Captain S.P. Meek, aka Sterner St. Paul Meek. Yes, we’ve already had a story by him in this issue, “Into Space”, under another pseudonym.

This story, like the other one, relies on a science fictional device. But this one is a bit less dark, and a bit more realistic, within the fantastic framework. I’m a card-carrying member of the New Space Princess Movement, of course; but I like this sort of “urban science fiction” pulp approach, too.

(Assuming of course that you take “urban fantasy” to mean “fantasy in a realistic contemporary urban environment” and not “fantasy Gothic romance, with werewolves instead of Mr. Rochester, and sex partners instead of dance partners”. As a Spacer-American Princess, I don’t believe in putting up with the latter.)

“The Thief of Time”, Part 1


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Free Music!

The happy people at the Church Music Association of America (CMAA) Colloquium in Chicago have been posting recordings of their various Masses and Liturgy of the Hours services. (The idea is that you go to classes and workshops about sacred music, but you also go to Masses and prayer services where you sing and play the music. The other idea is that the music gets more complex and there’s more Latin as the week goes along.) You’ll find all sorts of different eras of composition to listen to.

Obviously not everyone will be interested in this music for its sacred qualities, but I think any music lover would be interested in hearing pieces of music in the context for which they were intended. (And if you are interested in music as worship… you’ll appreciate it much more.) But the point is to give this music to God as part of worshipping Him, and hence to make the music as good and suitable as you can. Beyond that, it is to help other people participate in worship as they hear it.

However, bear in mind that while there’s a strong core group of highly experienced and knowledgeable singers, many of the attendees are absolute beginners at chant, absolute beginners at choirs or singing (whether or not they have expertise in other musical areas), or are even absolute beginners at attending Mass or Christian worship. So it’s a lot more like going to Mass with “here comes everybody” than some incredibly flawless album. (Especially when people are singing Morning Prayer or Mass before breakfast, and while unacquainted with the Loyola chapel’s acoustics; or while their voices are feeling rusty after a long journey and an early morning.) For learning about a musical tradition through participation, though, this is just what you want. You don’t learn Celtic music from listening only to virtuosi at the perfect moment. In fact, musical traditions usually live only because lots of mediocre musicians are able to do a serviceable job within it, even when feeling cruddy and sounding less than their best. 🙂

Recordings at :chant.dierschow.com, Vox Feminae (see widget in the sidebar on the right)., and at The Recovering Choir Director. Eventually, there’ll be more stuff up at the CMAA site. You can also download the official Colloquium music packet and follow along in it; it’s all public domain stuff. To paraphrase one organizer, “This is an open source music conference.”

UPDATE: The Authentic Update is also providing sound files of the Colloquium. You can hear Haydn’s Orgelmesse here.

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This series of assorted letters by St. Jerome continues, as he keeps giving good advice to his young friend St. Eustochium, a patrician Roman teenager and consecrated virgin. Her mother, St. Paula, was all for her daughter’s calling; her other non-Christian and even Christian family members, not so much.

Letter 22, Part 3


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On Christian Doctrine continues. In this installment, we get some short, easy rules about interpreting specific words and expressions which appear more than once in the Bible. We also learn that it’s safer to interpret a work from passages inside it than by reason.

Now, I know this sounds like “Turn off your brain when reading the Bible!”. But we are reading Augustine here, who never met a syllogism he didn’t like. All he’s saying is that the primary way to understand any literary work is studying the literary work itself, and that includes the Bible.

You might logically argue that Pip in Great Expectations is really Johnny Appleseed. (Pip means seed, right? So oranges, apples, pomegranates, same thing….) But the greater logic would be in recognizing that Dickens is the primary source for understanding Dickens, and that logical argument should draw on Dickens more than on itself if it wants to point to a true interpretation. Only then do you move to outside sources like history, linguistics, other authors of the time, literary journal articles, and “this is what I think; see if it makes sense.”

Book 3, Chapters 24-29


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On Christian Doctrine continues, with more info on scriptural interpretation for Fun and Profit. In this installment, we learn that if you think the Bible is telling you to do evil things, you’re wrong. Also, that just because they jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge (figuratively speaking) in Old Testament times doesn’t mean you have to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, too. Also, that it might be worse for you to jump into a ditch than for them to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, if they were jumping out of necessity and you’re doing it to hurt yourself.

It’s getting funnier and funnier, how today’s Internet discussions of the Bible are so often about this same stuff that had been run into the ground in St. Augustine’s day. To be fair, it’s not like you get to read this kind of explanation book when it would be useful (like junior high or high school). Our educational system saves all this basic material until college or grad school, and then our religious leaders are all surprised that people pull crazy stuff out of the air to replace the info they didn’t get. You can’t think and feel sensibly about something you have no structure for understanding. Sigh.

Book 3, Chapters 16-23


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The February 1930 issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science is coming close to its end, as the next-to-last story, “Mad Music” makes its final bow!

You can find out where to find more stories by Anthony Pelcher at ISFDB and Fictionmags.

“Mad Music”, Part 2


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The penultimate story in the February issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science begins with a crash. So if stories about building collapses in New York City bother you, this isn’t the story for you. (But I guarantee the stuff that happens in this story is pretty different.)

Part 1 of “Mad Music”.


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Next Week

Now that The Beetle Horde is done, there’s only two short stories left in the February issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science. So I’ll be finishing that up this coming week. We’re also done with the daily meditation phase of Introduction to the Devout Life, so that will be moving back to Saturdays. I’ll start trying to finish up unfinished projects and getting back on a more normal podcast schedule. This still means a reduced schedule, but I want to do at least four days a week.

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An Introduction to the Devout Life continues.

There are three more chapters in Book 1, and then we’ll move back to Book 2 and a more linear approach. The rest of Book 2 is more about learning how to establish and maintain a regular prayer life. (Sorry for all the messiness, but I’m really trying to reduce confusion to the listener, I swear!)

Book 1, Chapter 21: Conclusion of the First Purification.


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An Introduction to the Devout Life continues, with a little prayer to say as an act of contrition during Confession.

In St. Francis de Sales’ time, people often were comforted by prayers that sounded like legal binding contracts, because it stopped them having to worry about contingencies. Since he’d been a lawyer, he could pour on the legalese for worrywarts as much as they liked. (But if you don’t find this sort of language helpful, just say any other Act of Contrition prayer or make one up.)

Book 1, Chapter 20: A protestation for fixing in the mind a resolution to serve God after Confession.


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An Introduction to the Devout Life continues, with more informational chapters on how to continue purifying yourself after the ten days of meditations. Not surprisingly, he wants you to go to Confession. But as you’ll hear, a “general Confession” asks you to tell the priest about your entire past life, weaknesses as well as sins. So if you want to make a general Confession, you’ll want to make an appointment with a priest so you’ll both be able to take your time.

Book 1, Chapter 19: Concerning General Confession.


UPDATE: Links fixed.

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