Thursday, January 26, 2017

Used Book Sale & Fundraiser

Over the year I have accumulated a tremendous amount of books - last time I counted I had around 1,200. Like most book hoarders, I always pick up books with the best intention to read them some day but then never get around to it.The time has come for me to clean out some of my collection. I was thinking I could get some of these books out there into the hands of people who would appreciate them and maybe fundraise a little money for the site (just to pay for the annual hosting fees and stuff for the domain name, etc).

Below are some books I am wanting to get rid of. If you are interested in any of these, please email me at uscatholicam[at] and just tell me which book(s) you want. I will respond and send you a customized PayPal link to purchase the book. First come, first serve. As the books are taken, I will mark them "sold" on the blog.

Shipping prices are rolled into the list price. All books are in great condition. I will ship international, but you're gonna have to pay extra for it.

The prices are roughly equivalent to what you would find on Amazon; I know some might be a tiny bit higher than Amazon (only by a few dollars) and that you might be able to find some of them cheaper elsewhere, but please remember part of this that its a fundraiser.

St. Thomas Aquinas' Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics, translated by John P. Rowan, preface by Ralph McInerny (Dumb Ox Books, 1995). ISBN: 978-1883357610. 870 pages paperback (yes, 870 pages). This is one of those books I have had sitting around forever, always meant to read, never got into it. It's in great shape. $42.00 SOLD

Historical Dictionary of the Third French Republic, Vol. I and II. by Patrick Hutton and Amy Staples (Greenwood Publishers, 1986). ASIN B01A0C556Q (Vol. 1) and B01K2QPFKG (Vol. 2). These two hardcover encyclopedias of the Third French Republic (1870-1940)  have been great resources for me, especially researching the anti-clerical laws of the early 20th century and their Masonic influence. $47.00

The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas by Etienne Gilson (University of Notre Dame Press, 1994) ISBN: 978-0268008017. 502 pages, paperback. Great work on the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas by one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. Been meaning to read it again for a decade by its clear I will never get the time. SOLD

Julian the Apostate by Abbot Giuseppe Ricciotti (TAN Books, 1999). ISBN: 978-0895556325. 300 pages, paperback. This is a great history on this enigmatic Roman Emperor; I used it for this article I did in 2016. Excellent read. SOLD

Dictionary of Mysticism and the Occult
by Nevill Drury (Harper-Collins, 1985). ISBN: 978-0060620943. 288 pages. I have used this book several times for reference when writing on matters relating to neo-paganism or the occult. It's a great research tool. I won't judge you if you buy it. $8.50.

by Ernst Breisach (University of Chicago Press, 1995). ISBN: 978-0226072784. 489 pages, paperback. Historiography is the study of historians and their methods. This is a neat introduction to the various schools of thought on the meaning and interpretation of history, including classical, medieval, and modern. SOLD

If you are interested in any of these books, email at uscatholicam[at] and just tell me which one you want and if its still available I will send you a Paypal link.

Thank you for your generosity and interest. God bless you.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Benefit of the Doubt Presumes Doubt

A lot has been going on in the Church in the past few weeks. Most of it has happened too fast for me to event digest let alone have any sort of cogent commentary on - and that's okay, because I don't feel any need to keep up with it all. As God lives, I rejoice that I don't. I recently posted an article on the sister site on the history of Eucharistic Adoration from the apostolic age to the year 1264 and that was much more edifying.

The other day I waded onto social media to see what some of the chatter-boxes were saying about a lot of these developments. It was very disappointing. I have never seen so many otherwise faithful and intelligent people sticking their heads in the sand about the present pontificate. "Maybe he is being misreported" they say. Ugh...I've been hearing that line since the days of John Paul II and I am so sick of it. It's been repeated ad nauseam for three pontificates. If the popes are so constantly being misquoted, you would think that once - just one time in three pontificates - at least one of those popes who are always being "misquoted" would have stepped up and corrected the misquotation.

"Hrum hrum...I would check the Vatican website. If it's not in an official publication of the Vatican, I wouldn't believe it", says the guy who didn't believe John Paul II said "May St. John the Baptist protect Islam!"...until I showed it to him on the Vatican website.


"Well, we always have to give people the benefit of the doubt." You know what, this is certainly true, and a very solid piece of Christian advice. We must always first seek to give someone the benefit of the doubt and interpret their words in the most charitable way possible. But the other day I heard an interesting corollary of this: instead of "always give people the benefit of the doubt", a priest said, "I can always find a benefit of the doubt." The difference is subtle but important. "Always give people the benefit of the doubt" means that before assuming the worst, we assume the best. Only if the best proves incorrect do we then assume the worst.

But saying "always give the benefit of the doubt" also implies that sometimes the benefit of the doubt is the wrong assessment of what is happening. Any rational judgment of a situation requires that we reserve the right to simply see what is going on - to acknowledge our first impression, while charitable, might be wrong. To say "I can always find a benefit of the doubt" seems to say "No matter what the truth of the situation is, I can always find some way to spin this to avoid confronting the truth." It is the difference between saying I will always offer a benefit of the doubt and "I know I can find a beneficial way to interpret this" - you see?

I admire people who seek for the truth and understand offering benefits to facts that may seem unflattering. I despise it when people have already determined they have found their narrative when it runs counter to everything else that we know. I will always extend our pontiff or any other clergyman the benefit of the doubt - but hell, sometime the facts are so manifest there is no more doubt. If some local politician says "African Americans commit a disproportionate amount of crime in our city," that comment could be interpreted in a racist manner (blacks commit more crime because they are inherently disposed to violence), or it could be interpreted in a non-racist manner (conditions of poverty and lost opportunity disproportionately affect black neighborhoods and result in a cycle of crime); in such a scenario, I would give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant it in the latter sense. I can do this precisely because there is a doubt about what he means.

But sometimes there isn't a doubt. If the same politician (sorry to be crude) were to say, "Damn, I seriously hate those [N-word]"..well, there would really be no "doubt" left to give him the benefit of. In such a case, one must simply accept the truth, unpleasant though it is. The guy is racist. That's all there is to it.

However, suppose one of our brightsiders approaches the problem with characteristic head-in-the-sand logic. "Perhaps when he said the N-word he wasn't referring to black people", or, "Well, yeah, he says he hates them, and used the N-word, but if you ignore that one statement and look at all the other non-racist statements he made, you'll see he's not really racist at all", or "Maybe all those media outlets misquoted him when he said he hates them, even though neither he nor his office have offered any clarification suggesting otherwise" or "Well, reality is very complex and I am sure there was much, much more to the story than just saying he 'hates' blacks and used a racial slur, and since I don't know every single last fact I can't possibly make any judgement."

In other words, to give the "benefit of the doubt" in the face of plain evidence to the contrary becomes no longer a benefit accorded to a doubt, but rather wishful thinking of the most fantastical sort.

Please, I am not referring to any one issue or statement or action of the pope or anyone else. I just talking about...the same stupid ho-hum-fingers-in-the-ears-nothing-to-see-here-twelve-things-to-know-and-share-nobody-can-know-all-the-facts-nothing-new-who-made-you-judge? sort or nonsense.

Ugh. I am so sick of it.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Favorite Posts of 2016

Happy New Year everybody! We have wrapped up another 365 days at Unam Sanctam Catholicam, and my what an interesting year it has been!

It has become cliche to say that 2016 was awful. I didn't find it such at all. For me it was a year of amazing new things and wonderful opportunity. But I was also busier than I have ever been; I was so busy blogging kind of fell by the wayside. I barely published on the sister site all year and my movie reviews lapsed totally. 

Part of this was working on some personal projects; I published an excellent little edition of The Life of St. Columba by St. Adomnan. with a new 30 page introduction and an appendix containing all the hymns and prayers attributed to this great saint. I also put out an ebook on Laudato Si, with 40 concise chapters on various questions relating to this encyclical (here is a brief review of the ebook from "Musings of a Pertinacious Papist"). 

But what kept me most busy was some mainstream writing work that I have been blessed to have obtain recently; 2016 saw the publication of the first volume of my middle school textbook series from TAN, as well as the publication of TAN's Manual on Marian Devotion, which was written in part by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist but which I edited and compiled most of the citations.

Beside the busyness, I was also relieved to be able to just step back a bit from trying to keep up with the craziness coming out of Rome. I often chime in on current events, but I don't want to be part of the professional 24-7 commentariat who consist entirely of following and commenting on the events in Rome (see "I Give Up", April 22, 2016). Not that there is not a place for that, but I have always valued the freedom to not post if I don't want to or can't, as well as to post on obscure things that are probably outside the pale of current events. 

Anyhow, thanks again to everyone who helps with this website. Noah, John (both Johns), Chris, Amanda, and all the others. May the Lord bless you and keep you! May the Lord make His face to shine upon you! May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you peace.

+AMDG+ favorite posts of the year! 

Deaconess Commission: Building the Momentum: The push to study women's deacons is dangerous - and not because we might actually get women's deacons.

NCR Firings: Martyrs or Loose Cannons? The NCR firings of Shea and Simcha were not martyrdoms for unpopular political opinions but the responsible termination of loose cannons.

The Woman Caught in Adultery: What were the Pharisees trying to do when they brought Jesus the woman caught in adultery?

Alien Civilizations: Statistics prove there have been over a trillion alien civilizations? Not so fast.

Miracle at Mont-St. Michel: A short, sweet little story about the Blessed Mother saving a pregnant woman from drowning in the Middle Ages.

The Phantasm of Fiat Continuity: Continuity does not exist merely because someone says it does.

On Avoiding Servile Labor: My thoughts on what is and is not proper on Sundays and Holy Days.

Pope Francis and the Sin of Saul: Pope Francis says the sin of Saul was that he was afraid of novelty. It's more the opposite.

Identity Based Outreach Ministries Blur the Line Between Overcoming Sin and Celebrating It: Ministries catering to "the LGBT community" walk a very thin line.

Doubt and Christian Faith: The relationship between doubt and faith.

Tradition On the Ground: Conservative Catholic naive trust in the power of documents while ignoring what is happening on the ground.

Julian the Apostate and Religious Liberty: One of the weapons that Julian the Apostate used to attack the Christian Church was religious liberty.

Francis and Kirill: Smoke and Mirrors: The strong ecumenical statements between Francis and Kirill are much ado about nothing.