Halloween in the Poetry Corner

It may be set “in the bleak December,” but I think “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe deserves its spot in the Poetry Corner for Halloween. It blends generic spookiness with the remembrance of the departed that lies at the root (or at least the trunk) of All Hallows’ Eve. If there’s a poem that does that better, I can’t think of it.

By the way, I’ve always been a little suspicious of Halloween, and I confess some sympathy with the people who deplore its celebration, even if their fervor frightens me nearly as much as the occult does. For now, I overcome my doubts about the social practice by observing the innocence of my own children’s delight in it. But if my daughter ever follows the pre-teens featured in this Post story (H/T to Fitz), I may change my tune.

But I digress. Here is “The Raven”: Read the rest of this entry »


A word from the Love Monkey-in-Chief

One of the unexpected pleasures of handling the administrative functions for this blog has been the opportunity to look at daily reports on how people find us on the Internet. Many still find the blog by typing in the address, or by subscribing to an e-mail feed, or by using a feed reader like Google Reader. However, as the posts and comments on the blog have increased, so has the traffic generated by search engines. I was reminded of this on Oct. 29, when someone found Reasonable Minds by searching for “amateur love monkeys.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Arts and Letters, Blogs, Media. Comments Off on A word from the Love Monkey-in-Chief

Presidential Candidates on the Political Compass

I have paid very little attention to the presidential campaign so far, but a post on Chris Abraham’s blog reminded me of The Political Compass, and that in turn led me to this graphic showing where the presidential candidates stand relative to each other if we chart their political stances in two dimensions rather than a simple left/right “spectrum.”

US Primary Candidates on the Political Compass

(Spoiler alert: If you want to take the test, you can find it here, and you might want to take it before proceeding to the discussion below the fold.) Read the rest of this entry »

Moderation in Ill Repute?

For some time now, I’ve been paying attention to the way people talk about moderation, and I don’t like what I hear. In politics, at least, there are clearly a large number of people who associate moderation with half-measures, philosophical inconsistencies, and perhaps even fecklessness. No wonder extremism is such a dominant element in our rhetoric. I think there is some home-spun (Texan?) idiom about nothing good ever being found in the middle of the road — if you know that one please put it in the comments.

Half-measures and fecklessness may characterize a certain sort of “moderation,” the sense of which is perhaps captured by our contemporary usage of the word “temporizing.” But that is certainly not the only form moderation can take, and I think it is not even the most common. Read the rest of this entry »

Gospel Reflection for October 21

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel (Lk 18:1-8)

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'”

The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”


In Jesus’ time, we can only imagine how hard it was to be a widow. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Education, Gospel Reflections, Parenting, Religion. Comments Off on Gospel Reflection for October 21

A Common Word Between Us and You

I paid almost no attention to last year’s flap over Pope Benedict’s speech in Regensburg that offended so many Muslims; I gathered only that some fairly esoteric reference to a medieval emperor had set off rioting. However, Pat O’Donnell has brought to my attention an open letter from 138 Muslim leaders to Pope Benedict and other Christian leaders. The open letter, entitled, “A Common Word Between Us and You,” represents an expansion upon the response that a smaller number of Muslim scholars made to Pope Benedict in October 2006, one month after Regensburg. The latest letter deserves more notice than it seems to be receiving. Read the rest of this entry »

Speaking of debatable scientific hypotheses . . .

The October 1, 2007 issue of New York magazine informs us that there is practically no scientific evidence for the proposition that increased exercise is an effective long-term strategy for fighting obesity. Read the rest of this entry »