04 April, 2018

#AtoZChallenge: D is for Dystopia

Dystopian stories are all the rage right now, especially in young adult fiction. For some background, a dystopia is defined as an undesirable, often frightening, community in decline. It is the antonym of a utopia, the ideal society. Dystopian universes in literature and movies are usually set in the future and feature totalitarian governments, environmental destruction, the dehumanizing of people, and other cataclysmic societal events. It's usually supposed to have been a utopian ideal that has gone very wrong due to one - or several - flaws.

The most famous examples include Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, George Orwell's 1984, and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Also think of movies like Soylent Green, Running Man, and the Blade Runner.

New stories are published every year about this kind of universe from the Hunger Games to Divergent and, while I enjoyed these, I often find myself wanting something more complex, deeper, richer. Here are two dystopian novels I have discovered that do just that:

The Lord of the World - Robert Hugh Benson

In this 1907 novel, secular humanism has replaced God, Catholics are a tiny minority, priests and bishops are falling away, and the world is in a sort of chaos. One charismatic man promises peace in these hard times in exchange for unquestioning obedience. All who resist are subjected to torture and even death and this tyrannical voice is made leader of the world. In the tiny remnant of faithful, another man, this one a priest, guides his tiny flock through the disintegration of the country, inevitably bringing him into conflict with the Lord of the World. It has been hailed as a prophetic and compelling novel with deep theological insights and a well-written story.

A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M. Miller, Jr.

While slightly more on the post-apolocalyptic side, it's close enough to warrant mention as a dystopian novel. Published in 1959, it is the only novel Miller published during his lifetime. It is a masterpiece. The story follows an order of Catholic monks, centuries after nuclear war wiped out most of the population, who preserve scientific, theological, and other knowledge  for when humanity is again ready to use it properly. Combining history, faith, allegory, science fiction, and no small amount of sarcastic insight, this novel warns the reader of a future born of a cataclysmic disaster that is bound to repeat itself...over and over and over again if we do not heed the past and our own natures.

What are some dystopian novels you enjoy or are looking forward to reading?


This is a post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, which involves writing one post every day for the entire month, using the alphabet as a theme. I hope to see you tomorrow for the letter E!

03 April, 2018

#AtoZChallenge: C is for Chesterton

If you have not read G.K. Chesterton's writing or, worse, if you have not even heard of him, you are missing out on one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. G.K. Chesterton is one of those writers that has been sadly neglected and yet was an absolute genius. Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was born in London, went to art school but not college, was asked to write a few articles on art criticism, and went on to write hundreds of books, poems, short stories, plays, and novels. He considered himself primarily a journalist with an additional four thousand newspaper essays and decades' worth of weekly newspaper columns.

Though his prolific writing alone would be staggering, the fact that all of it is good is astounding. He wasn't merely writing words but expressing thoughts that were sound and intelligent and worth every stroke of the pen. Chesterton's style is markedly recognizable: witty, paradoxical, and always consistent. He knew literary criticism as well as theology and influenced many well-known names: C.S. Lewis, Michael Collins, and Mohandas Gandhi. He debated many relativist and skeptical intellectuals of his time and usually emerged victorious, to the ironic affection of his opponents. Chesterton argued against many of modern ideas today from materialism to agnosticism and showed why both socialism and capitalism are the enemies of freedom and justice. He instead defended the common man and the poor and the family. He advocated real beauty and argued eloquently for Christianity and the Catholic Church.

Since first discovering him about three years ago, I have poured through his writings, learning, puzzling, astonishing, and, best of all, laughing. This man will make you laugh again and again and that, I think, is a real mark of a great mind.

Here are just a few of my favorite quotes to whet your appetite:


“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” 

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” -What's Wrong with the World


“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”  


“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” -G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Give G.K. Chesterton a try. You won't be disappointed.


This is a post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, which involves writing one post every day for the entire month, using the alphabet as a theme. I hope to see you tomorrow for the letter D!

02 April, 2018

#AtoZChallenge: B is for Blessed

Hello, blogging world! I'm back to my own little corner of the internet after a three-year hiatus. I honestly cannot believe it has been that long. Many things have changed and most for the better. This post is, more or less, a re-introduction to me and my writing, and, I hope, the beginning of a new chapter for this dear little blog.

Three years ago, I had just entered the Catholic Church. I wrote infrequently online but had stories in the works, including a couple of novels, and I worked at the library. I had also just experienced my second miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured and sent me to the hospital. This last was, I think, the source of my declining, and eventually nonexistent, online presence. Losing a baby was hard and it took months to heal properly. I didn't know then that God, in His goodness, was preparing one of the greatest joys I've ever known.

As you can probably guess from the picture, we had a baby! I got pregnant near the end of 2015 thanks to the help of a superbly knowledgeable napro doctor and Little Guy was born in July. The moment I heard his rather husky cry, my heart grew more than I ever imagined. My time has hardly been my own since his appearance, since this tiny human never stops, but even the difficult moments have been worth it. I decided to quit my job for his sake and have never regretted it, even when times get a bit tough with just my husband's income.

All has not been rosy, however. My writing has languished, first from the overwhelming responsibilities of a newborn, then from further sorrow. I got pregnant again last summer but it ended in my third miscarriage just a few weeks later. Little Guy's presence was truly a Godsend then because my grief was very dark and heavy this time. I truly believe my growing faith and having someone outside of myself to take care of was all that kept me from sinking.The baby's due date was in February and, since then, I have felt a lightening of the burden and some life creeping back into my stagnated writing life. That included online writing.

I knew I still wanted to keep this blog, this dear old thing that's been with me for about seven years now, but as to what I want to do with it after so much change remains to be seen. I guess that's why I jumped at the April blogging challenge once more after so long. There will probably be changes appearing on the blog over this month. My passion is still with science fiction and fantasy but as to how that is expressed, who knows?

I am truly blessed, even with the sorrow, and I'm excited to see where this new life and all its changes leads my writing (which will, apparently, never leave my heart no matter how long I step away from it).

If you're also doing the blogging challenge, what is your reason for participating? 


 This is a post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, which involves writing one post every day for the entire month, using the alphabet as a theme. I hope to see you tomorrow for the letter C!

01 April, 2018

#AtoZChallenge: A is for Alleluia

Resurrection of Christ by Hans Rottenhammer

Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere!
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

In the Christian world, today is not just April 1 but the most important day of our year. Indeed, it is the entire reason for calling ourselves Christians. This is the day that we commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his glorious sacrifice for us all. In the original Greek and in most romance languages, it is known as Pascha, from the Hebrew Pesach, referring to the original Jewish Passover. The English-speaking world has the slightly different Easter from the Old English Ēastre, which in its turn is denoted from the Old English goddess, Ēostre. As the Church converted the Anglo-Saxons, as it has done in so many other cultures, it found that it was easier for the newly converted peoples to use an old term for their new faith and practices.

"Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated 'Paschal month,' and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance." Bede, Anglo-Saxon monk, 8th century

In the Catholic Church, this is the day we celebrate our Lord's great victory with many alleluias. We always sing alleluia in the Mass except for times of mourning or repentance. Lent, the 40 days before Easter, was a repentant season, heavy with the knowledge of the sacrifice to come and our own part in its necessity. Rejoicing would not have been appropriate, given its gravity. But now, Jesus is risen, and the joy of the alleluias rings out from every Mass. It is an instinctive exclamation of ecstatic joy, a form of ovation and praise that carries Christ's victory in every note. Its very meaning from the Hebrew use has not been changed, a literal "All hail to Him Who is!"

I hope this Easter Sunday brings you and your loved ones that same great joy and much celebration. From my family to yours, Happy Easter and Alleluia!


 This is a post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, which involves writing one post every day for the entire month, using the alphabet as a theme. I hope to see you tomorrow for the letter B!

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