A Million Thanks

Those of you who follow me on social media know that yesterday afternoon this blog hit one million visits!  I want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of my readers over the years, as well as fellow writers in the blogosphere who have encouraged me from the beginning and continue to do so.  That so many of you subscribe or take the time to drop by this site, when there are far better writers than I whom you could be reading, is both humbling and a great honor to receive.

As regular readers know, I do not make a living from my writing – although if you are an editor or publisher let’s have a chat, shall we?  This blog is just something I do, usually five days a week, and in my spare time.  I bear the costs of running and hosting this site, and I do not expect that is going to change, for however long it continues.

Someone told me recently that I am more of an essayist than a blogger; this is probably true.   I do not break stories, and I generally do not share a link unless I have commentary to accompany it.  Often a news item is merely something which I treat as a jumping-off point to discuss something else entirely.

Also, the length of my average scribbling on these virtual pages is generally far longer than the typical 300-500 word post.    To date, I have written the equivalent of roughly fifteen 100K word novels.  That is a lot of thinking, typing, and editing over the years, but fortunately I work pretty quickly.

As to the “Why?” of what I do, I hope that I serve as a voice for culture, in a society which has largely forgotten what that word means.  The temporary trends of political tit-for-tat, and the needs of a celebrity-hungry media do not hugely interest me, since I take the long view.  While I criticize where warranted, I also hope that I seek to build up, not simply tear down.  Encouraging my readers to learn more about our world, and Western culture in particular, but also to look at popular culture in ways which might not otherwise occur to them, is the real raison d’être here.

By way of conclusion, I quote the patron of this blog, Count Castiglione, who in his “Book of the Courtier” rather neatly sums up what I have tried to do thus far, and will continue to do here on this blog for as long as I am able, and for as long as people are interested in reading it.

I say, then, that since princes are today so corrupted by evil customs, and by ignorance, and mistaken self-esteem, and since it is so difficult to give them knowledge of the truth and lead them on to virtue, and since men seek to enter into their favour by lies and flatteries and such vicious means, the Courtier…should try to gain the good will and so charm the mind of his prince, that he shall win free and safe indulgence to speak of everything without being irksome. And if he be such as has been said, he will accomplish this with little trouble, and thus be able always to disclose the truth about all things with ease; and also to instil goodness into his prince’s mind little by little, and to teach continence, fortitude, justice, and temperance, by giving a taste of how much sweetness is hidden by the little bitterness that at first sight appears to him who withstands vice; which is always hurtful and displeasing, and accompanied by infamy and blame, just as virtue is profitable, blithe and full of praise.

Detail of "The Suitor's Visit" by Gerard ter Borch (c. 1658) National Gallery, Washington DC

Detail of “The Suitor’s Visit” by Gerard ter Borch (c. 1658)
National Gallery, Washington DC




Announcing the Giveaway Winner (And More of You to Come!)

Thanks to all of you who read my recent post on Scott Hahn’s new book, Angels and Saints from Image publishing as part of the blog tour celebrating the publication of his latest volume, and to the dozens of you who entered the giveaway contest for a free copy of the book. I’m pleased to announce that the winner is Mike O’Connor, of Orland Park, Illinois!  Thanks for reading the blog, Mike, and hope you enjoy the book, which will be wending its way to you soon!

If you missed out on this particular giveaway, do not fret.  Next week, I’ll be reviewing another new book – and yes, there will be another chance for you to win a free copy via a giveaway on the blog.  This time we’ll be taking a look at The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home, by David Clayton and Leila Marie Lawler, recently published by Sophia Institute Press.  It’s a great look at how to make your house a place of prayer, something which many of us find difficult to do.

And if you end up missing out on THAT giveaway, I’ll have another one coming up the following week!  On that occasion the subject will be a new CD release from the world of popular classical music, which I think you will enjoy.  So be sure to stay tuned for more details.

I love having the chance to share good work with my readers, particularly ones that speak to our culture, whether Catholic or secular.  So if you’re an author or publisher with a book, film, or CD that you’d like me to take a look at for a possible review on the blog, please feel free to use the Contact tab to get in touch.  I’m happy to help out if you have a good product that you want to share with a wider audience.

Most importantly however, thank you again, gentle reader, for your patronage of this blog, which for me is really the prize to be won; I greatly appreciate your continued support of what I do here!

Prague Nike

Statue known as “The Golden Muse”, Prague

Results Are In: More Capes, No Pancakes

Thanks to everyone who participated in this week’s poll, regarding what to put in the new Photos section of this site.

The three most popular vote-getters were “Pictures of Objects the Author Likes”, “Pictures of Places the Author Has Visited”, and a fill-in “Other”, which I’ll explain in a moment.  As to objects I like, I probably could have defined that better.  Argyle socks, for example: would you really want to see my extensive sock collection, rivalled only by that of President George H.W. Bush?  And as far as places are concerned, right now I’m not traveling a whole lot, but perhaps that could be built up over time.

Among the “Other” category entries, I left a blank space for people to offer suggestions.  Quite a few want to see more comic pics of yours truly dressed up as “Superman Around the House”, a series of photos I did on Twitter last year.  Although that was a fun project, it was also time-consuming. Using a self-timer to take a dozen or more pictures until one without the top of my head being cut off appeared was not the easiest thing in the world.  However I’ll consider it, provided I can find a photographer friend to do it for free [hint, hint.]

Several very good suggestions I received involved the art I often feature in the posts.  Many of you like the images I choose to illustrate the posts on the blog, particularly if they are paintings, sculptures, etc. that you have never seen previously.  Since that ties in nicely with the idea of this project serving as a tool to encourage you to go out and learn more about Western culture, I’ll run with it.  I’m going to choose one image from each week’s posts, and place it in a section on the Photos page, along with title and description information, and link that back to the original post in which it featured. That way, you can either enjoy the image on its own, or see the post it came from if you happen to have missed it.

Other suggestions I received were less helpful.  Some were admittedly amusing, e.g., “bunnies with pancakes on their heads”.  And apparently no one wants to see pictures of “Grumpy Cat”, although I can’t promise I’ll always stay meme-free.

In any case, thanks again for your votes, your readership, and support – and remember that if you have any suggestions on making this site better, please feel free to use the Contact form any time.

Oolong Bunny Pancake Head

Oolang’s one and only appearance on this site