Throne and Altar maintenance

  1. I’ve paid WordPress $30 to keep tasteless ads off this site for another year.
  2. I’ve shut down comments on posts older than 2 weeks.  A trickle of comments have continued since I discontinued this blog, and I’ve lacked the time and energy to respond.  Leaving comments open carries with it an implicit promise that I don’t feel able to honor.  If you’d like to contact me, I still check the email account about once a week.  If you’d like to engage in a public argument or conversation with me and conservatives of my stripe, please move on to the Orthosphere, a “live” blog to which I occasionally contribute.  Comments on this post will be open for two weeks–not that I think there’s a lot to say about it.

Personal updates

  1. My 3rd-year review application is in, and I don’t feel very good about my prospects in this job.  I have several major research projects finishing this winter, just a few months too late to help me.  In terms of publication rate, this is going to be the most productive year of my life, but it may well be my last year as a research scientist.  Now I’m wishing I had bothered to pick up some marketable skills these past two decades.
  2. Julie is over two years old now.  She is fascinated with fans (weird but true), other babies, and the moon.  (I’ve already boasted to my introductory astronomy class that she can identify full and crescent moons.)  She had some trouble with dry skin this winter, and now she’s always insisting that her dolls have “skin rash” and need “creamie”.  She talks a lot and likes to repeat everything she hears.  After church today, she told me that her dollie had “temptations”.
  3. Parvina and I are getting older.  If we’re ever going to have another baby, it needs to be soon.  Like before our first, I worry about creating new humans when their chances of escaping corruption, apostasy, and ultimate damnation are so small.  Three years ago, I remember deciding that, since the atheist Left has won the entire culture so definitively, the proper thing for the remaining Christians to do would be to spend the rest of our lives in continence and mourning so that at least we don’t increase the number of reprobate souls.  Obviously I changed my mind.  Not that I ever found anything wrong with my original reasoning.  As far as I can tell, having children in today’s world mostly just increases the population of hell.  Something in me just rebelled at such a morbid conclusion, and I decided that when my reasoning gives crazy results like that, something must be wrong with it, and I don’t even have to figure out what.  So I got to work doing the sort of thing that God expects of ordinary laymen and trusted Him to make it work out somehow.  Call it a leap of faith.

7 Responses

  1. Bonald@
    I’m sorry to hear that you fear that your third-year review will be, at best, a very close-run affair. If it’s any reassurance, I know of several faculty who failed a third-year or tenure review and went on to better jobs. In some cases it was better for them, in others absolutely better. I understand that it is hard to do important research in modern physics outside a Research 1 university, but there’s no reason to suppose that a negative decision will be an unmitigated disaster. You have a real gift for explaining difficult ideas, and in the long run this will count for something.

    I’m trying to remember when, apart from the “Our Father,” I last heard the word “temptation” in mass. We seem to focus on the need to “listen to our hearts.” Ralph Waldo Emerson in a surplice, if you know what I mean. Let’s just hope that Julie’s dollie doesn’t develop feminist consciousness and career ambitions.

    I hope you’ll go ahead with another child, and a few more after that. The Devil and his minions have always been abroad upon the earth, and corruption, apostasy, and damnation are as old as the hills. Anyhow, what is in your hands to give is the possibility of infinite bliss. Your calculation is to balance the value of a >0 possibility of infinite bliss against 0 possibility of infinite bliss. You’re right to think that we are walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but that has always been the case, and you and your children can still hope to reach the Still Waters.

    When you have the time, it would be good to see more of your posts at the Orthosphere. You’re good at topical commentary, and they have too little of that. The blog format is unique, and not always suited to formal essays.

    In any event, God bless you and yours, particularly if it turns out that there are unusual trials ahead; and thanks for all the good work you did at this site.

  2. Hello JMSmith,

    Nice to hear from you again. Yes, there are quite a few blog posts already written in my head, but I haven’t had the time to type them up, and these things are sometimes time-sensitive. For example, by the time I’m able to tell the world what I think of the pope’s retirement, we’ll already have a new one so there won’t be any point. The dilemma of being a blogger is that we really want to write big, formal essays (and here I thought that was my strength), but no one really wants to read them.

    Yes, we’ve found a pretty decent church now, although we had to cross the border into Idaho to do it. I left my old parish when the new priest decided to give a homily on the evils of sexism and homophobia. While he was going on about how wrong it is to by “prejudiced” against the homos, I stood up, baby in hand, said “By God, that’s enough!” in a voice loud enough that my wife is still embarrassed by the memory, and stormed out. The priest at our new parish is a little bit goofy at times, but his heart seems to be in the right place. In that homily that taught my daughter the word “temptation”, he was telling us to remember each morning that the devil is going to tempt us that day, so be prepared. That’s right– the devil. When’s the last time you heard that word in church?

  3. Yes, we’ve found a pretty decent church now, although we had to cross the border into Idaho to do it. I left my old parish when the new priest decided to give a homily on the evils of sexism and homophobia. While he was going on about how wrong it is to by “prejudiced” against the homos, I stood up, baby in hand, said “By God, that’s enough!” in a voice loud enough that my wife is still embarrassed by the memory, and stormed out.

    Bonald, you must blog about this.

  4. Bonald,

    Sorry to hear about bleak prospects on the job front. With JMsmith, I’m hoping that it will turn out for the better, and that perhaps it really is not all that bleak.

    I’m also hoping to see more of your posting at Orthosphere, though I feel gratuitous in requesting it considering how much I gain from reading your thoughts compared to how little I am able to give back in return.

    I understand your concerns with having more children, and what appears to be the likelihood that they would fall away. It is a difficult prospect to deal with, and there really is no assurance that it wouldn’t come to pass. In all honesty I feel foolhardy, as we are now expecting our fourth child, of whom it would tear my heart out to see fall from faith, and renounce all I hold dear, just as it would any of the other three. There is good reason to think I am an idiot to continue on like this, and yet I remain committed to this “idiocy” if for no other reason than St. Peter’s meager one: “To whom shall we go…?”

    I read these simple, stark and candid words from St. Josemaria last night:

    After the initial enthusiasm, there began the doubts, hesitations and fears. You are worried about your studies, your family, your financial situation, and, above all, the thought that you are not up to it, that perhaps you are of no use, that you lack experience in life.

    I will give you a sure means of overcoming such fears — temptations coming from the devil or from your lack of generosity! Despise them: remove those recollections from your memory. The Master already preached this unequivocally twenty centuries ago: “Don’t look back…”

  5. Hi buckyinky,

    Thanks for understanding. Us always getting our asses kicked by the Leftists wouldn’t bother me so much if I thought we had secure families and neighbourhoods into which we could safely retreat, but as it is, they seem poised to win everything and everyone. We must trust God in the absence of any visible reason for hope, but that is difficult. At least, it is very difficult for me.

  6. Well, there’s not much else to tell.

  7. Not to flatter you, or make you overconfident (little chance of that!), but it is apparent to me that your arm of faith is stronger than you appear to think.

    I guess it doesn’t really matter what my opinion of your faith is as regards your struggle, but I do think you’ve got what you need to keep going.

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