My fellow Register writer Jennifer Fulwiler is inspiring people to post pictures of their desks, which is one of those silly little things that always interests me. I have two desks. This drop-down desk is in my bedroom, and it’s the one I use most often. It closes up nice and neat so I have to put things away at the end of the day, and so I don’t run into in it the dark on the way to the bathroom.

Click to embiggen.

The other desk is in the office I share with my wife (who also works at home), and it’s where the gaming rig, server, printer, file cabinets, theology books, games, and all the rest are located. Like a lot of writers in the laptop age, however, I work at the kitchen table or on the couch just as often as I’m at the desk.

We’ve also converted the garage into a library. Here’s half of it:

Continue reading

Child Gets Death Threats For Marriage Views

Mark Shea found this story about Sarah Crank, who is facing death threats for her testimony for the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of traditional marriage.

Here’s what Sarah said:

Yes, I know. I can feel the pure hatred just radiating off her.

And here’s how the Forces of Tolerance(TM) reacted:

From YouTube:  “My god I hate people like this. Most (not all) Americans are [expletive] retards.  If I ever see this girl, I will kill her.  That’s a promise.”
Other entries:  “Her parents should be exterminated.”

“The [sic] is why abortion must stay legal – to prevent little bigots like this from being Born…”

“Kill this child and his [sic] parent, for my 11 birthday would be a wonderful gift, thanks.”

“Her belief is hurting other people.  I will attack her as much as I please.”

“Parents like hers should be sterilized…”

“I’m gonna kill ‘er!”

Of course, I remember all those traditional marriage supporters who threatened children with death for speaking in front of a legislature for a couple of minutes. Here are their hated-filled, spittle-flecked comments:





Just remember the dominant narrative: we’re the “haters.”

The Talmud Finally Gets an Index

From a story at Vatican Insider:

For the first time in history, an alphabetical index has been compiled for one of Judaism’s most sacred writings: the Talmud. The index is the work of American immigration lawyer, Daniel Retter, who has created a tool that “allows you to navigate the entire length and breadth of the Talmud and locate specific source material with ease,” the publishing house said.

Hamafteach: Letalmud Bavli, A-z Subject Indexed Reference GuideThe Talmud consists of 63 volumes of discussions among rabbis. According to the Babylonian Talmud’s (Talmud Bavli) publisher, the text has been lacking an alphabetical index for 1,500 years, rendering this latest work a pioneer “literary achievement”. The Talmud was intended for oral transmission and has no paragraphs or punctuation. There are online websites, electronic tools and methods to help readers navigate through this labyrinth-like work, but most of them are very expensive o rather difficult to use. As previously mentioned, the author is not a rabbi but a 63-year-old lawyer, who arrived in New York as a child after World War II. He worked on the index, entitled The Key (HaMafteach) for seven years “I don’t understand why the Talmud didn’t have an index… I am a lawyer and if I need to look up something about a law, I use the index,” he stated recently. “So many volumes, so many topics, so many Sages” were needed in order to find one’s way through the “sea of the Talmud,” the index’s publisher Feldheim Publishers said. HaMateach has almost 6,600 major subject entries, 27,000 sub-entries, and 42,000 Talmudic references. There are two versions of the Talmud: the Babylon Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud, both ultimately compiled around the 6 AD. The first print edition appeared in Europe in the 16th Century.

Vatican Insider only just picked up the story, but The New York Times covered it back in December. This fascinates me, since I had no idea there was no exhaustive index of the Talmud. I’ve been spending some time with the Sefer Ha-Aggadah (The Book of Legends), which is a compilation of non-legalistic literature from the Mishnah, the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds and the Midrash literature. Aggadah has a lot of folklore, homiletic material, advice, and illustrations, and makes for fascinating reading.

h/t Jonathan Sullivan, via Twitter

Buy The HaMafteach at

Reading John in the Light of the Wisdom Tradition

“Light & Bread: A Sapiential Reading of Two I Am Statements in the Gospel of John” is an essay I wrote for a class on John. I was able to express some of my fascination with the wisdom tradition–the place where Jew and Greek meet in the Old Testament–in this essay, as well as draw upon a tiny slice of the vast, fascinating body of Jewish literature labeled as “Pseudepigrapha”: the non-canonical writers produced from about 200BC to about 200 AD.


Bread is associated with Wisdom throughout the Old Testament, and into the New. We hear it in the words of Sirach 15:3: “She [Wisdom] will feed him with the bread of understanding, and give him the water of wisdom to drink.” In Amos 8:11, the prophet draws a parallel between the hunger for food and the hunger for wisdom: “Behold, the days are coming … when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” In a passage like this, Christians make a connection between a hunger for bread and the incarnate Word. This was the kind of pedagogy Jesus was offering to his listeners, and to Christians down through the ages to our own day.

Christ has come into a Jewish world that understands two paths of knowledge: that of the philosophers, and that of the law. [3] These are both a kind of bread that feeds the people. We see in the feeding of the 5,000 examples of both kinds of bread. First, Phillip says that “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” (John 6:7) Thomas Aquinas sees this as an image of wisdom acquired through philosophy, which must be purchased through “experience and contemplation,” and yet will never fully nourish. [4]

The other kind of wisdom is the Law, represented by the five barley loaves, which are a symbol of the Pentateuch. [5] This, too, is not enough to nourish, and must be multiplied by the Lord. Thus, we see that wisdom derived from philosophy and wisdom derived from the law are insufficient until multiplied and completed by the coming of Wisdom in the form of Christ.

With this as our background, we begin to understand what Jesus means when he says “I am the bread of life.” This is a new bread, which neither the Jews nor the Greeks have ever encountered. Money—even 200 denarii—is useless for purchasing this kind of wisdom. As we read in Isaiah 55:1-3, we come to eat and drink at the banquet of the Lord “without money and without price.” We should not spend our money for “that which is not bread” and “which does not satisfy.” The “bread” of this passage is not literal bread, but the Word of the Lord, which you must “hear, so that your soul may live.”

Read the whole thing at The Journal of the Dead Philosopher’s Society.