My EWTN Interview on The American Founding

peggy ewtnI had a wonderful time talk with Peggy Normandin.  She’s an excellent interviewer.  Here’s her writeup:

Independence Day presents an excellent opportunity to reflect on the blessings of our American heritage. In the Call Me Catholic Countdown, Peggy presents her top five interesting facts about Catholic American history. Author Bradley J. Birzer discusses the legacy of the patriot Charles Carroll, the subject of his biography “American Cicero.” The only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, Carroll had great influence over the early legislation of religious tolerance and freedom in our country. Award winning author and illustrator, Demi, talks about her charming new children’s book “George Washington: His Legacy of Faith, Character and Courage.” In Chatting with Catholics, Peggy takes her microphone to a local summer bible camp and asks the young campers who their favorite superhero is.

If you’re interested in listening, please click the link below:

Though J.R.R. Tolkien arrived at Exeter College as a Classics (Great Books) scholar, he found his real passion resided in Germanic and Northern language and myth… 1,523 more words via Tolkien at Exeter College — The Imaginative Conservative

Tolkien at Exeter College — The Imaginative Conservative

The Elf King, Tom Timely, has finally released his new (old?) single on Youtube. Previously, I’d only found it on Facebook. Glad to see it more accessible. Here’s what he wrote about it: I’ve been a prog fan,… Read More

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Forgetting that there exists such a state as salutary dread, modern man has become spiritually foolhardy. The God-fearing man is rare… Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords our readers the opportunity to join Russell Kirk as… Read More

The Rarity of the God-Fearing Man — The Imaginative Conservative

Will we ever see Tolkien’s Aotrou & Itroun in Deluxe Edition?

A Tolkienist's Perspective


It has become a nice tradition that with every new release of a Tolkien book, we get the hardback edition and its deluxe equivalent.

Which got me thinking …

What happened with the deluxe edition of The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun?

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Happy 20th Anniversary, Dedra!


The eyes!  Reflections of eternal grace.

As of tomorrow, my wife, originally known as Dedra Shawn McDonald, and I have been married exactly 19 years and 365 days.  Way back on June 27, 1998, we promised to love, honor, and obey each other in a small Lutheran church in Texas.  New Sweden, Texas, to be exact.  Yes, I know that Texas and small do not go well together, but in this case, it’s true. Small, though, does not mean without might.

And, yes, I know that I, a Roman Catholic, married in the Lutheran Church.  I did have the permission of the local Roman Catholic bishop. As far as I know, our marriage has been a mighty fortress, indeed.  Again, remember that bishop’s approval!  And, yes, I know that the promise to love, honor, and obey went well beyond the confines of that Lutheran parish.

Martin Luther, though, has never really been absent from our lives.  Even when I asked Dedra Shawn McDonald to marry me, around 11:35pm, under a full February Montana moon on the steps of St. Helena’s Cathedral, I had posted 95 reasons why she should marry me on the cathedral doors.  She said yes after reading the first four or so.  95 might have been overdoing it.  That is, in our case.  (No Lutherans need be triggered by this.)

And, here we are, 20 years later.  Older, but definitely not necessarily wiser.  At least in my case.  Dedra, I think, was born wise.  It’s in the calm, the restraint, and the beauty of every thing she does.  I noticed this on the second day I knew Dedra.  It was those unbelievably deep and steady green eyes of hers. I’ve been blessedly lost in those eyes for well over two decades.

I can’t say our marriage has been perfect, but it has always reached toward perfection.  Amazingly enough, we’ve hardly ever fought, and most of our fights (I can count the number of fights on only two hands over the two decades; one every two years or so) last just a bit.  Our fights almost alway begins with me being moody, realizing, a few hours later, I’m being an idiot.  She never has to tell me I’m an idiot.  She just wisely accepts and forgets.

I’ve seen her give birth to seven children.  In each, she seems to pass on a bit of her grace, and, yet, her own grace only grows, never diminishes.  I even saw her give birth to a child that had died in her womb after a perfectly healthy nine months, only to get wrapped in her own umbilical cord two days after her due date.  Paradoxically or not, that day of horror and that delivery were my wife’s finest moment.  Her strength sustained us both.  It’s this kind of strength that builds not just marriages, but entire civilizations.

After two decades of marriage, permit me to offer a few tidbits of advice, though I have learned these things through experience and trust and my wife’s steady fortitude.

First, God wants you to marry the right person.  You should never doubt this.  If, while dating someone, that someone makes you hesitant, or uncomfortable, or insecure, run like mad.  That someone is not for you.

Second, sometimes you actually know you’re meant to be together for life in just the first twenty-fours of knowing one another.

Third, once you know no. 2, don’t wait.  Getting the finances in order or wanting to age a bit before marriage or gain some experience in life, etc.—these are ridiculous excuses.  People in love don’t give a flirk about any of these things.  Those in love just want to experience the world together for as long as they possibly can.

Fourth, even if you and your intended are of different religions, don’t worry—God is Love, and Love makes the stars stay in their orbits.  If Love can do that to the stars, you should never doubt what it can do for your marriage. (The same is also true whatever your parents may think or tell you).

Fifth, don’t hesitate to have kids, immediately and often.  Sure, kids can be frustrating.  I was a kid once, and I’m sure I frustrated many an adult.  (Even as an adult, I probably frustrate many another adult, although kids seem to like me!)  Kids can be expensive, too.  The joy of each one—made in some way from you and so well beyond you—is, however, incomprehensible and endlessly glorious.  Remember, above, where I noted that the grace my wife imparted to each one made her (and them) greater, not lesser?  It’s quite true.  Besides, on a practical level, I always have my own little party and posse, wherever I go.

So, here’s to 20 years with Dedra Shawn McDonald Birzer.  Thank you, my love.  And, thank you, God, for making Dedra.  And, thank you, Dedra, for reminding me in every look, every smile, and every wise reflection that God is Glorious and that God is Love.

Librarians without Chests: Dedra McDonald Birzer on Laura Ingalls Wilder and Her Small-Minded Opponents


Laura Ingalls Wilder

So, my first wife–now of 19 years and 364 days–is brilliant. Here’s her response to the idiocy of the bibliobureaucrats who are trying to ruin Laura Ingalls Wilder’s reputation.

Librarians without Chests!
The ALSC’s renaming of the Wilder medal to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award erases the fundamental role Wilder played in creating the genre of juvenile fiction. Wilder’s work and its lasting impact on every generation of children since the publication of Little House in the Big Woods(1932) served as the impetus for the establishment of the award. It would be more honest for the ALSC to just scrap the award altogether and start afresh. The stated “core values” are vague enough to allow the group to take this award in any direction the wind happens to be blowing. What is “responsiveness” in children’s literature, anyway? Responsiveness to what? And just who is included when “inclusivity” is touted as a core value? Whatever happened to children’s literature that told good stories that sparked children’s curiosity about history? Wilder’s books have certainly done this and more, inspiring a multitude of related works, both fiction and non-fiction.
To keep reading, please click below:

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God is the Best. We can only get better by becoming more like the Best, knowing that we can never be the Best. This is the way of virtue which transcends relative trivialities such as virtuosity… 831 more words… Read More

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ICYMI: Anne Lamott and more

elizabeth hamilton

As some of you know, I’ve taken a hiatus from the world of writing since the beginning of the year. This wasn’t planned. If ever you think you know the trajectory of your life, think again. Someone once told me: Life usually turns out far better and far worse than you imagined it would. Since last October, when I first felt the dull edge of pain that would blossom into what I now call my “weird” illness, I’ve found this to be true.

My life took a turn: pain in my neck, my back, and my hands so excruciating I couldn’t use the mouse for my computer, sometimes couldn’t turn my head, most of the time wore heating pads stuck to my spine. Fatigue so extreme, I would go out to dinner with friends only to leave early because I feared I would be too weak to drive myself home…

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It was Talk Talk’s final track, “Time it’s Time,” that fully brought me back to my long neglected Christian faith in 1988.  And, with lots of help from some guy I met in Morocco and with hours upon hours of discussions with Kevin McCormick.


Art by the magnificent James Marsh.

Nobody knows how long
Rustling leaves unrhyme
Lullaby breeze unsung
Babel of dreams
Unwinds in memory
As bad as bad becomes
It’s not a part of you
And love is only sleeping
Wrapped in neglect

Kissing a grey garden
Shadow and shade
Sunlight treads softly
As bad as bad becomes
It’s not a part of you
Contempt is ever breeding
Trapped in itself

As bad as bad becomes
It’s not a part of you
The wicked and the weeping
Ramble or run

Now that it’s over
Rest your head


–Mark Hollis, 1986

Mark Hollis, MARK HOLLIS (Polydor, 1998). Tracks: The Colour of Spring; Watershed, Inside Looking Out, The Gift; A Life; Westward Bound; The Daily Planet; and A New Jerusalem. If Mark Hollis wanted to show that he was no… Read More

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