The Left has been used to getting what it wanted by judicial fiat. That no longer happens for them. So, they’ve decided to ruin the Supreme Court — and, by extension, our whole judicial system — by trying to scuttle it, pack it, or somehow make it a rubber stamp for their political objectives.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal last year, democratic-socialist historian David J. Garrow candidly and, I think, admirably observed that “you don’t have to be a Federalist Society member to see that the analytical prowess today’s justices demonstrate in opinion after opinion far eclipses the quality of the Warren or Burger Courts’ work product.”

Yes! Now you have justices who are actually engaged in analysis.

The majority of the current high court justices can be defined as originalists. An originalist reading of the Constitution has its drawbacks and limitations. The same approach taken by different judges can deliver conflicting results. There is not always a clear analogy between the legal challenges and cases of one era and those of another as one weighs precedent. But analyses undertaken according to the scientific method have the same limitations. The Left will tell you that that’s cold-hearted and fails to take “people” and their varied circumstances into account. Right!

But you can only go so far in taking individual grievances and circumstances into account in shaping law suitable for an entire nation. There have to be principles and standards and tests involved. An individual’s grievances belong before a state court or a legislature. State legislatures, under our Constitition, have a right to establish their own standards, if not their own radically different principles, and state courts can ratify them. The Supreme Court gets to referee questions of principle, but states continue to have considerable legal and political latitude. The Dobbs decision has underscored that symbiosis (speaking of science and the the scientific method) in the case of abortion.

Charles C.W. Cooke’s analysis of the Left’s legal program in the current National Review — I admit — prompted this essay and borrows heavily from his urgent and critical analysis. This is simply because I agree with his reasoning and because Cooke’s conclusions bears out what I’ve been saying for years, especially during the era the court was hamstrung by Roe v. Wade. I had said repeatedly that the liberal justices were obviously being required to retool and repurpose that decision in an effort to get it to work for the political sector and, in turn, the general public. It was a case of fashioning and re-framing or simply substituting “princples” in order to achieve a forordained desired result. The Dobbs decision pierced that balloon.

The Left and its legal apologists have been scrambling in terror ever since. They have watched their brand of jurisprudence and “critical studies” analysis go crashing to the ground — like that aforementioned deflating and tumbling balloon.

Cooke concludes that Left/Progressive legal activists no longer have anything to offer. Their creative approach to the text of the Constitution has been exposed as being without basis other than the ever-fluctuating whims of a political/judicial establishment that has been making it up as they went along.

I have a friend who is a fine and reputable legal scholar and law school professor. Some years ago he was challenged by a student who described the U.S. Constitution as a contract, suggesting that that student viewed our foundational document as containing fixed rules subject only to strictly and narrow interpretation or amendment. My professor friend’s retort was, “I didn’t sign it (i.e., the contract or social covanant that is the U.S. Constitution.)

No, he didn’t sign it. Neither did I. That’s why, in agreeing to be bound by it, we have far less leeway than we might imagine. For that kind of leeway, one needs, once again, to go to the legislature. That’s where Constitutional amendments are born.

Of course, should the Left’s political program ever fully succeed, we will be a very different nation. I submit that for such a nation, one no longer needs a high court, or, for that matter, ANY court. We would have a dictatorship of the masses.

God save the Court!


The Scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.-Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.

So, if you’re driving a Tesla these days, in addition to the likely possibility that you have done materially well in life, you are paying four-wheel, petroleum-free homage to an obviously very wise man who died amid the great mechanized insanity that was World War II. Nikola didn’t invent the electric automobile, but I’ll wager he was both a clear thinker and sane and just didn’t get around to it. Today, the world is full of deep thinkers who are arguably insane. They never fail to get around to making the whole world’s mental current AC/DC insane in their wild finger-in-the-electric-socket image and likeness.


I’ve salvaged this belatedly from a December 7, 2021 Facebook post regarding Pearl Harbor and a memorable Pearl Vet.


Remembering the man named Ray Walters. He was just one among the handful of Pearl Harbor veteran I met gathered around the flag pole out front of the Seminole, Florida VFW post back on December 7, 1991. These were guys who simply couldn’t make it out to Hawaii for the big 50th anniversary commemoration. I was doing a brief story about them for WTSP-TV, Tampa/St. Petersburg. Ray just happened to mention to me that he’d been at Scofield Barracks with James Jones, the author of From Here to Eternity which famously depicts pre-WWII Army life at Pearl and at Scofield which, to this day, is the Hawaiian Island’s largest U.S. Army installation and home to the 25th Infantry Division. It is 17,000 acres and adjacent to the U.S. Air Force’s Wheeler Field. It suffered collateral death and damage on December 7, 1941. The novel takes us up to that horrible Sunday morning the skies suddenly filled with Zeroes and stunned sailors, soldiers and airmen, some in the middle of breakfast, began dying in droves.

This fact of Ray’s friendship with the late author and my interest in books and authors intrigued me to the point where I decided to do a separate subsequent TV news feature story about Ray. It amounted to a study of the paradoxes and mysteries surrounding one solitary, perceptibly embittered human soul who was quite obviously shaped, or secretly psychically mangled like so many of that generation, by the severe experiences of war. After surviving the attack, Ray went on to fight with the 25th Infantry Division at Guadalcanal where he suffered a serious head wound. I forget how he spent his post-service life but I believe he’d had a good job from which he was now retired.

Ray shared a fascinating document with me (I still have a copy somewhere): an abundently friendly, newsy letter he’d received from James Jones in response to a letter Ray had written him, when the author was in Hollywood acting as a consultant on the movie version of Eternity, which is still considered an early 50s cinema classic. Perhaps you saw it, with Bert Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine, etc.. Jones offers a few generlized, wry, cynical pronouncements on the Hollywood crowd, then goes on to inquire of Ray if he had any information –those ten years after the war’s end — about the fate of any of their fellow Scofield Barracks vets. That included one named ( was it Angelo?) Maggio, whom Jones had heard might have died in the battle over the Pacific island of New Britain.

Yes, to my astonishment, there WAS a real Maggio. In the novel, that’s the name a young Italian-American soldier from the Bronx who is also major figure in the narrative. Did James Jones merely borrow the name and intend no parallel with the real-life Maggio? Fellow barracks mate Ray recalls a very wild, saucy and entertaining figure who bore more than a superficial resemblance to the fictional Maggio. He shared newsclips with me in which this real-life Maggio (who, in fact, survived the war), had subsequently sued Jones in a New York court for defamation in the wake of the novel’s publication and the movie’s release — a sad postscript, given the author’s solicitude for his fellow G.I. evident in that letter., (He certainly should have changed his character’s name; you’ll recall that Frank Sinatra earned his one and only Oscar portrayiang Maggio in the movie.)

Jones’s novel, by the way, does contain the standard disclaimer – all characters are imaginary and any resemblance to actual persons is accidental. It remains a mystery, therefore, why he didn’t work harder to distance the real and imaginary Maggios. Did he somehow intend the portrait as an affectionate tribute to his fellow soldier whom he believed was likely dead from combat? Strange. Perhaps Jones’s biographer deals with this.

Ray said he’d met up with James Jones a number of times in the post-war years. He’d collected, and showed me, all his (probably )first and (probably)signed editions of all Jones’s novels (including The Thin Red Line, which follows Pearl vets into the horrible Guadalcanal battle in which Ray almost died). Yet he had a curious take on his old friend’s literary career — that he didn’t understand why people had to write books in such “flowery language” about factual events that could be told far more simply. Plainly Ray was no lover of fictive literature. (I’d add, though, that Jones’s style in Eternity is on the purple and sausage-fingered side even for my tastes. In Eternity and Red Line, the writing is often downright awkward and peppered with tortured metaphors, e.g., “(B)elow him under the blows of the February Hawaiian sun the quadrangle gasped defenselessly.” But there is also a kind of primitive power and authenticity throughout, especially in descriptions of battle and its aftermath, which ring disturbingly true. Jones was also master of military detail which can be fascinated to the non-military reader, or, conversely, to millions of veterans, especially World War veterans, for whom it recalls a once lived reality. Jones’s 818-page novel ( unlike the movie) also only slightly fudges the darker, profane, libidinous, bibulous and exploitative side of soldiering, especially their ages-old interactions with prostitutes. In 1950 this might all have seemed boldly innovative. Eternity did, after all, win the first-ever National Book Award from critics.

Asked how Scofield Barracks soldiers regarded Jones, the budding author in their midst, Ray said, “to tell you the truth, we all thought he was a fag.” (Not an uncommon intra-personal assessment of the seemingly more delicate among men in the coarse, crude ambiance of barracks life — speaking from experience. It is perhaps notable that Jones offers accounts of homosexual activity in his trilogy of books about the war. He himself married, had children, projected, in on-camera inerviews available on-line, a classic male machismo and also turns up drunk a fair amount of time.)

But it was clear Ray felt a strong bond with Jones whose bonds seemed to grow stronger with literary types. He produced many, mostly forgotten books, enjoyed the praise of the likes of luminaries such as Mary McCarthy and Joan Dideon, lived much of his life in Paris, the darling of that literary crowd, wound up on Long Island with authors for neighbors, and died tragically early in his 50s from heart failure after many hard-drinking years, having more than once written of how the trauma and terror of the Pacific War left men hollowed out and broken, including perhaps, Jones himself. (The film version of The Thin Red Line makes vividly plain the dark Guadalcanal experience for terrified American and starving Japanese soldiers alike).

After doing my story on Ray, we had no contact. I don’t recall if he had children. He told me his wife had left him years before — gone off to “find herself,” he told me bitterly. He was a tall, substantial man, appearing youngere than his years. But no Bay Area vet I ask has any knowledge about him. It is most likely that he is gone, with James Jones and almost all the others.

One of the last things Ray shared with me was both intriguing and disturbing. He said just days before the Japanese attack, one Scofield Barracks soldier, consumed by an anxious premonition, went berserk, screaming that something terrible was going to happen. He was carted off, never heard from again. Then came the bombs and the death.

What on earth was that all about? Ray didn’t know, and went on wondering….He doubted, as do I, that that soldier had any special knowledge. And From Here to Eternity makes plain that well before the Japanese attack, Pearl Harbor soldiers and sailors knew war was coming. They just didn’t know it would come in that way, and directly to them. James records that the trauma of the attack left him and his fellows feeling caught up very intimately in history and civilizational danger and uncertainty.

Ray, wherever you are, thank you for your service and for the chance to tell your story. James, I pray for you and, through Ray’s letter, felt for a moment as if I knew you. I must get a copy into the hands of those who go on preserving your literary legacy.

And God Bless all Pearl Harbor vets, living and dead.


Here’s a story for Easter, the Season of Light. I’ll call it Mom Against Darkness, after my late mother’s uneasy fascination with a famous 1948 magazine article called, “Man Against Darkness.” It was a Princeton scholar’s unsettling thesis that God and religion are illusions, that we’re basically riding a big dirt ball (earth) spinning in the night of space and that it’s time to get used to it and liberate ourselves accordingly. I confess I think that way sometimes. “I’m not the only one,” as the late John Lennon sang. Why else would his “Imagine” be so popular, even at high school graduations? No heaven, hell, or religion, hence, no wars, greed or hunger..yoo-HOO, ooh-ooh. Good luck, grads!

Of course, John L was romping in a dreamy Elysium. Mom was marching into a nihilistic Apocalypse. She was 55 in 1958 and subscribed to The Atlantic Monthly, that once fine journal destined to morph into a glossy monthly repository of trendy “progressive” twaddle. (My opinion.) For their 1957 centenary, Atlantic editors published a hardbound 100-year collection of “reflections on our national life.” In effect, their ‘greatest hits.’ I recently discovered Mom’s battered copy, autographed by the editors, with a penciled notation that she started reading it 1/10/58, doubtless going cover-to-cover. Mom was a reader. James Russell Lowell, Mark Twain, Walter Lippman – they’re all represented in the volume. But only the page number of the September, 1948 “Darkness” article is circled, with mom’s inked addendum, “I enjoyed this,” her note for posterity. What did she find so enjoyable in so dark a vision?

The opening paragraph would have caught her Catholic eye: “The Catholic bishops of America recently issues a statement in which they said that the chaotic and bewildering state of the modern world is due to man’s loss of faith, his abandonment of God and religion.” W.T. Stace, the author, adds, intriguingly, that he “ entirely agree with the bishops,” but for decidedly different reasons. In those cold, dark post-WWII, post Atom Bomb days, he believed our morals and ideals were “our own invention,” and the world around us “nothing but an immense spiritual emptiness.” (I see Mom reading this in her parlor rocking chair while my devout father is off at a Knights of Columbus, my teenage siblings rocking and rolling in those late 50s and me upstairs memorizing Baltimore catechism Lesson 5: Question: What is man? Answer: Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made in the image and likeness of God….

Mom graduated from Worcester’s Commerce High, 1922 – no Princeton scholar. But she knew about darkness, being Irish-born, suffering bouts of Keltic melancholy, alternately rebellious and, retiscent, given to anti-clerical erruptions while writing light devotional verse for pious Catholic journals, all the time wondering if life really had any meaning, especially after my father died so young. She loved Robert Frost but, but, like him, was “aquainted with the night.” And here she was reading some guy telling us to “put away childish things and adolescent dreams, grasp the real world as it actually is, stark and bleak,“ give up our “romantic, religious illusions” or else “sink back into the savagery and brutality from which we came, taking a humble place once more among the lower animals.” Woe! Sounds like a joke that begins, “Nietzsche and Hobbes walk into a bar….”

So what was Mom thinking, reading this? Well, she loved toying with ideas, all kinds, but remained as skeptical of eggheads as she was of crowned and mitred heads. I believe she always wondered “why do the heathen rage?” (Psalms 1-12) In 1956, she wrote a poem called, “The Search” that ends with her in “His arms outstretched to bless!” Go figure.

“Darkness” author, Professor Stace, checked out of this “chaotic and bewildering” world August, 2 1967. Mom followed,August 5,1986. Maybe they’ve met by now. They’d have a lot to talk about. I’ll bet they know who rolled that big rock away from the tomb on Easter morning.


In or around 1957-58, I was a 5th grader at St. Ann’s parochial school on Neponset Avenue in the Dorchester (specifically, the Neponset) section of Boston. We were learning our catechism. I still have my Baltimore Catechism of Christian Doctrine, as it was called. Millions of Catholic children across the nation were instructed from the identical volume which was in a question-and-answer format.

I still have my copy. The Sisters of St. Joseph were our teachers — our catechists.

In our class — 5B– we were asked to protect our catechism copies by stapling on a sturdy light red cover made of material like oil cloth, which has helped preserve my copy’s deeply yellowed, fragile and flaking 131 pages these 65 years.

Sadly, my catechism has survived far better than the Sisters of St. Joseph, which was among those Catholic religious orders sadly decimated by its wayward, culturally conforming superiors in the seductive post-counciliar period of the 1960s and into the 1970s. It was those more senior St. Joseph nuns (though I believe “nun” is supposed to refer to cloistered not teaching orders) who insisted the order’s legions of devout women uniformly come out of their uniform, which was the “habit” — from the Latin habere, or habitus, referring to “condition or state of life.”

I’d wager that the majority of the subordinate sisters of that era still embraced their “condition of life” and welcomed its centuries-old outward manifested of a white linen coif and wimple and black full-length black tunic. It certainly set them apart, and they knew it would be their sacrifice. I once interviewed three aged St. Joseph sisters — forget just why — and they told me they didn’t want to give up their traditional dress but were ordered to do so. The habit had been their visible message to the world of their complete devotion to Christ. Sounds corny to modern ears.

Now, of course, we don’t need a “uniform” to tell the world we are Christian. But priests, nuns and sisters are consecrated religious. It had long been understood and accepted that religious garb identifies the individual’s consecrated state. Clothing is such an identifying mark across religions. Consider the Buddhist monks. (Get a bunch of tattoos and dye your hair purple and you’ll have declared outwardly your inward conversion to our age of expressive individualism that is no longer quite so individual.)

For sisters and nuns, I submit that the shedding of the religious habit began the outward manifestation of a different, more worldly theology and, ultimately, of inward conversion to a multitude of secularized, “liberalized” attitudes and beliefs. They often came, if they remained in the order, social workers more consecrated religious. The ranks of confused, disoriented sisters and nuns commenced to expand disastrously. The world welcomed them, but did this calm their inner storm? Some adjusted, many left. It was not a happy time for the rest of us who were once inspired by their visible sacrifice.

Things also went morally, socially, culturally disastrously awry for multitudes of plain Catholics and their children throughout the same period. I count myself in that number.

The first chapter of that Baltimore Catechism is The Purpose of Man’s Existence. (Guess that should be a Person’s Existence, if we’re to be political correct.) The last chapter is Prayer.

It’s almost Holy Week.

Keep praying.


Christian Wimin is a talented poet and long-suffering spiritual seeker whom I discovered through his book, My Bright Abyss: Meditations of a Modern Believer.

He has forced me to do something I did not anticipate when I picked him up to read: I rejected him — or a good part of him, or, at least, what I take to be him, or, if not him, his spiritual thesis, to the extent that I understand it. I can only go by what I read, and I read the following on page 111:

The minute any human or human institution arrogates to itself a singular kowledge of God, there comes into that knowledge a kind of srtychnine pride, and it is as if the most animated and vital creature were instantaneoulsly transformed into a corpse. Any belief that does not recognize and adapt to its own erotion rots from within. Only when doctriine itself is understood to be provisional does doctrine begin to take on a more than provisional significance. Truth inheres not in doctrine itself, but in the spirit with which it is engaged, for the spirit of God is always seeking and creating new forms.

So, everything is relative, or “provisional”? Even God? Really? What use is a “provisional” or ephemeral or conditional, here today/gone tomorrow God?

Well –okay. I think I get what he’s saying. Such feelings have led me and multitudes to a kind of agnosticism in which the nature of God eludes us, or we suffer from God’s silence. Or, when it comes to orgnized religion and orthodox Christianity in particular, everything always seems, sooner or later, to ossify into stale praxis in musty old buildings or cold glassy ones, both eminating spiritual emptiness, clericalism where genuine spirituality is smothered by clostrophobic bureacracies, all supported by heaps of dry, demanding documents we call “doctrines” and “dogmas.” We’ve often been heartened by the bumper sticker slogans that proclaims them to be dubious and worthy of death (e.g., “my karma ran over my dogma.”)

(By the way, the default religion of the modern soul seems to be Buddhism –until you read the disenchanted testimonials of disaffected Buddhists disavowing Buddhist orthodoxy, or any claim that there is just One Path — or any limit to the numbers of paths to enlightment. Self-will is forever the bus running over any dogma, however orthodox or heterodox.)

What sent Wimin off on this heterodox tilt was a quote from that unendingly renowned spiritual culture hero, the late Thomas Merton. . That statement was: “The reason why Catholic tradition is a tradition is because there is only one living doctrine in Christianity: there is nothing new to be discovered.”

There is much to like about Merton. I like much about him. I once owned both his Seven Storey Mountain (read it and was moved by it) and The Sign of Jonah, his late 1940s jounal of his early monastic years. He somehow seems to maintain great popularity among self-identifying “liberal” Catholics who identify as “spiritual” but reject dogma and doctrine. Merton, before his untimely death in 1968, was plainly off on a tilt of his own, becoming topical and rather political over issues of war, peace and nuclear armament and more interested in eastern religious traditions and seemingly less willing to be bound by his once-vital vocation as a Trappist Monk happily embracing Christian orthodoxy or the centuries-old Benedictine rule.

That’s fine, to a degree. Everybody, even the best, now and then take a spiritual walk around the block. But I believe during Merton’s particular walk, his once rich vocation was sheered away as, more and more, he felt the need to become socially “relevant” but less orthodox within the silence of the cloister. That, in itself, made him popular with a less orthodox fringe of the Church eager to shake off what it percieves or experiences to be the rigidity of doctrine.

Wimin’s sour verdict on that quote of Merton’s is that it amounts to “a little bit of death from a thinker who brought the world so much life.”

Oh, dear!

Then he goes on to write, “To be fair, Merton himself certainly realized this later in his life, when he became interested in merging ideas from Christianity with Buddhism.”

Ah, sweet syncretism! A kind of srtychnine pride (to borrow a phrase from Wimin) of the agnostic dabbler. It did not, in my opinion, enrich Merton. It diverted him — pridefully.

I long ago, during a period of “searching,” read Merton’s Mystics and Zen Master. I don’t doubt that mystics (some of them Christian) and Zen Masters might find some common spiritual ground. But I would enter the exalted company of the likes of G.K. Chesterton and suggest that Christian tradition and orthodoxy has not failed but really never been tried — that the nature of our search is, with the help of God’s grace, to be more Christlike, amending our lives accordingly. And while there might be nothing truly left to discover doctrinally, there is much to learn. Our understanding of doctrine can grown and develop, just as we come to know and better understand the nature of an oak tree as it grows from a seed to a flourishing mass of branches and leaves and, organically, resists any effort to become a banana tree. And thre is, in fact, really much to re-discover in the spiritual realm, especially in the search after a greater knowledge of our individual selves and our relationship to the one-and-only true God based on the earthly actions and pronouncements of the Second Person of the Trinity. This, I submit,m is a divine adventure, full of thrills and spills, darkness and light.

I’ll own that Christian Wimin’s intense strivings toward what we might call enlightenment or even sanctity are authentic and heroic. He has long battled a painful form of bone cancer, and kept on searching and writing through pain and multiple operations. He is a most admirable and talented and insightful soul. But I just hate to see him falling, in this particular instance, back on a pedestrian agnosticism and spiritual relativism, suggesting (as he seems to) that Christian doctrine is a product of pride and is infinitely protean, as is the God who is its subject. And he does so in vivid, concrete, almost disdainful terms: we must view God as “provisional” and as ever elusive, or our faith becomes a “corpse.” Ouch! That makes us gods, right? We’ve seen this movie before — from Eden on. It is a war on certitiude that seems to sanctify doubt. Wimin might (I could only hope) profit from the admonition of St. John Henry Newman, which was offered to me at an especially painful, grief-filled, confused and doubting period of my youth — that “a thousand difficulties do not constitute one single ‘doubt’.”

But I know that’s a thesis always destined to be rejected by those who simply don’t ever want to be common travelers with observant or orthodox Christians of any stripe.

The Christian religion, being codified and administered according to the divergent practices and beliefs of infinitely splintering congregations and denomination, can turn people away. To wit:

I was just in the company of a woman who attented the Southern Baptist funeral of a friend’s son who’d struggled his whole life with drug addition and recently died of an overdose. As she tells it, there was no divine conslation to be had at the preacher’s hand or from his mouth. He spoke in roaring fashion only of the possibility that the young man, a sinner like all of us, might or might not have found his eternal destiny in heaven and hell was alway a possibility. (Undeniably true.) Disenchanted in the extreme, she vowed never again to enter a Southern Baptist Church. Well, I might point out that that stuff from the preacher (again, as she tells it) ain’t orthodoxy. That’s heresy, in my Catholic book (and catechism). It’s Calvin, Zwigli and Luther working by their dreary, benighted, human lights.

It is worth noting that Christian Wimin, a bright an inquisitive soul, had an intense pentacostal upbringing in Texas and probably didn’t encounter an unbeliever until he got to college — and realized he was faking his salvation. Wouldn’t that be a bitch? Same sort of thing happens with Catholics. To an extent, it happened to me. When I realized my faith had gone unchallenged, it nearly dissolved under pressure.

But according to Catholic belief, we must persevere to the end, through the dark valley, depending on God’s supportive grace and mercy which are always available through our prayers, the prayers of our loved ones and, especially, through the sacraments, those visible signs of grace. We are saved or condemned by our own actions and we see now only “through a glass darkley.”

Yeah, I’m talking voodoo to a lot of non-believers. But, as that old sinner Kurt Vonnegut might have said, “so it goes.”

So, again, we are various grades of stumblers, and all children of the one God who can save us, lift us up after we fall. We have only to ask and, exercising free choice. Offered for our guidance, which we are free to reject, is what comes to us through centuries-old….doctrine.We seek love, understanding and forgiveness from one another if we are functioning normally and properly according to that “bright”-ness that illuminates Christian Wimin’s abbys. Could it be otherwise with the God we claim to believe and whom we don’t, out of love, wish to offend as we find Him in other people, even our enemies? God reaches us or is defeated in us in this very frail and human way.

Of course, I often love my sins, even the memory of them, more than I love God. I admit it. So I shouldn’t mind it when conscience begins blinking its red warning light. We CAN fall from grace. And I’m not preaching here. Just whistling in the abyss, and hoping it stays “bright” for me. And for you. For all of us.

Christian Wimin has written a short poem that reads:

My God my bright abyss

into which all my longing will not go

once more I come to the edge of all I know

and believing nothing believe in this:

(Yes, he ends with a colon — a fill-in-the-blank ending, still, at the volume’s end, blank.)

Let me be clear:

But note: Christian Wimin’s subtitle tells us he IS a believer. And he is a poet. So much of the Christian Bible is written in poetry, much of it beautiful. And from Job to the psalm writer, there is much anguished questioning. (Any actual readers of this blog might go back to the entry called, “On Serious Earth,” a meditation on atheist poet Philip Larkin’s poetic meditations while exploring a church buiding. Read Job while you’re at it. And Lamentations….)

In conclusion: G.K. Chesterton from his classic, Orthodoxy:

The orthodox Church never took the tame course or accepted the conventions; the orthodox church was never respectable. It would have been easier to have accepeted the earthly power of the Arians. It would have been easy, in the Calvinistic seventeenth century, to fall into the bottomless pit of predestination. It is easy to be a madman; it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficulty thing is to keep one’s own. It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob….

It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands.

And, really, isn’t that basically what good old Thomas Merton meant and never truly ceased meaning, even as he now and then fell — and rose again? That we arrive home and recognize it for the first time. We discover that the truest thing has already been discovered. Isn’t it the truest and worst pride to be be found in the impulse to think otherwise?

Keep searching, Christian Wimin. You are well-named. I’m with you in that abyss. Whistling when it gets dark. Listen for me. It may be that we are home and don’t want to say so. Believing nothing believe in this – that there is nothing new to be discovered, just a difficult love to be embraced. Reliable sources have told me that that way lies joy and freedom.

I’m not there yet. How about you?


In America there is more space where nobody is than where anybody is –that is what makes America what it is. –Gertrude Stein

Though popular historiography has stressed the ‘Age of the Robber Barons’ and deplored the gross materialism of the epoch (i.e., the closing decades of the 19th Century), this hostile view is not borne out by the facts, which display a panorama of general progress in which all classes shared and in which all intellectual and cultural interests were abudently displayed — a panorama, indeed, highlighted by the emergence of quintessentially American geniuses.

-Paul Johnson, A History of the American People

Gertrude Stein, probably viewing her homeland from Paris, Brit Paul Johnson viewing it from a nearly equal distance in England. Views of our homeland, over a century or more later keep tumbling and rearranging kaleidoscopically as our social and cultural realities advance or, perhaps, retrogress. Less open space, for sure, more or less materialistic, as ever. People pouring across the border; geniuses, variously engaged in the culture, still seemingly in good supply,quirky Gertrude Stein among them, now a memory. But again, an ex-patriate. We lost people, we gained millions more. We shift about, restless, angry, anxious. America, the Beautifully Open and Complex and Troubled.

Our future uncertain, as ever. God help us.


The literary movement of the (eighteen) nineties had, at the turn of the century, brought the American face to face with the age of science. As industry herded him from the farms where he was responsible to the weather and the earth into the cities where he took his orders from steam and electric power, wheels and cogs, even the average unthinking man was forced to some sort of revaluation of his basic concepts and values.

Robert Spiller, The Cycle of American Literature

To which I’d add…

The literary movement of the (nineteen) nineties, at the turn of the century, brough Americans face to face with, among many other things, terror — including terror over the placement of — pronouns.


And what, then, is belief? It is the demi-cadence which closes a musical phrase in the symphony of our intellectual life.

American philosoper Charles Sanders Peirce, from How to Make Our Ideas Clear

The word “God,” so “capitalised” (as we Americans say), is the definable proper name, signifying Ens necessarium*; in my belief, really creator of all three Universes of Experience.

*Necessary Being

Charles Sanders Peirce, A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God, 1908


At the 1st Synod of Westminster held at Oscott, England in 1852, St. John Henry Newman preached his famous sermon called, The Second Spring. It was delivered during a period of rabid religious persecution and controversy. It was a beautiful appeal for peace and tolerance.

What follows are the sermon’s rhapsodic beginning lines:

We have familiar experience of the order, the constancy, the perpetual renovation of the material world which surounds us. Frail and transitory as is every part of it, restless and migratory as are its elements, never-ceasing as are it changes, still it abides. It is bound together by a law of permanence, it is set up in unity; and, though it is ever dying, it is ever coming to life again….one death is the parent of a thousand lives. Each hour, as it comes, is but a testimony, how fleeting, yet how secure, how certain, is the great whole. It is like an image on the waters, which is ever the same, though the waters ever flow.

So the subject here is obviously of a historical religious nature. But Newman’s words amount to a longing for spring, rebirth, peace and order — and they have an eternal ring and application. In 2022, we are ever so much in need of a Second Spring on every mortal front, from your house to the Ukraine.

It might seem a trite sentiment on the tongue — saying we long for spring. But, then, abiding natural truths when we voice them, or, if you will, taste them, in contrast to their evil opposite (like all spoken supernatural truths AND evils and ALL benevolent realities that struggle to life like spring blossoms despite threatening tangles of malign, poisonous vines) — yes, these, put into words, often DO sound trite. Yes, they do.

But forgive, please, me while I torture another metaphor and say, as this difficult winter in the world draws to a close, that we are longing for that old taste of spring. We fear it may have a stale taste. We like to think it would taste much better if we could only truly bite into it.

In the Ukraine, however, our fear is that it would taste like ashes.