Commitment, Continuity, and Conversation

The particular spirituality of the Appalachian Riders For Our Lady is based on our three foundational principles of commitment, continuity and conversation in addition to the general Catholic evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability adapted to a lay context. The Riders strive to promote a conversational culture, proclaiming Christ crucified, authentically Christian and Catholic, in the midst of a world largely lacking culture of any sort.  Our vows of commitment, continuity, and conversation do not necessarily mean that we have any natural inclination or talent in these areas. My own investigations center around the apparent paradox of Christologies seeming to be close together when their related Ecclesiologies are far apart. My booklist (each Rider, during their novitiate, settles on at most 24 books of primary importance) is:

  • Bible, unabridged Revised Standard Version
  • The Liturgy of the Hours, unabridged
  • The Confessions; by Saint Augustine
  • Dante’s Divine Comedy; Anthony Esolen
  • Sixteen Plays;  by William Shakespeare
  • Poems; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Collected Poems & Prose; Robert Frost
  • Dylan’s Visions of Sin; Christopher Ricks
  • The Lyrics 1961-2012; by Bob Dylan
  • Kristin Lavransdatter; Sigrid Undset
  • The Chronicles of Narnia; C.S. Lewis
  • Camille Saint-Saëns and His World
  • March 1917; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Veritatis Splendor; Saint John Paul II
  • Ezekiel commentary; Robert Jenson
  • Jesus of Nazareth; Pope Benedict XVI
  • Compendium of the Catholic Catechism

Essential to the culture of the Appalachian Riders For Our Lady is participation in daily Mass at our particular parishes (7am Mass at St Ambrose in Salt Lake City  in my case) and our encouragement of increasing use of the Liturgy of the Hours.


Thomas Gwyn and MaryAlice Dunbar

Christian Perspectives

The foundation of everything is Christ Jesus, and him crucified. However, beyond the personal aspects of that, what are the implications for our social relationships?

I want to commend the Catholic perspective to you. Of course, that raises several questions:

  • Is it reasonable to speak of THE Catholic perspective?
  • Is my characterization of this perspective warranted?
  • Can one also speak of THE Protestant perspective, especially given the range of protestant ecclesial bodies?

I propose that the protestant perspective is that the Christian life is best lived and considered from the primary viewpoint of the individual or, at most, the congregation. On the other hand, I commend the Catholic perspective: the Christian life is best lived and considered from the primary viewpoint of the universal Church, the Bride of Christ, extended in spacetime and militantly subsisting in the Catholic Church whose chief steward is the bishop of Rome. Besides addressing those preliminary questions, I intend to commend the Catholic perspective in three aspects:

  • better able to cope with adversity
  • more resources for spiritual formation
  • closer alignment with the scriptural canon

All these points are controversial; however, I intend not to argue for them but rather to chew on them.  The difference between a primarily individual perspective and a primarily ecclesial perspective also has a significant political component since the State desires no competitor to its hegemony (see, for example, Alan Jacobs biography of The Book of Common Prayer which documents how this worked out in England) and hence is inclined to favor an individual perspective which it can divide and conquer.

I’m also assuming that the more alive an entity, the more applicable the principle that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. In addition, whenever possible I’d like to phrase matters sociologically rather than ecclesiologically. A major advantage of a perspective more social than individual is that one can “check one’s answers”– the boredom of, for example, discussion about end-time scenarios or sectarian doctrine being that one can not check one’s theory in one’s day to day life and interactions with others as one can, on the other hand, regarding ethics and how to live in community.

On a personal level, I think the core of the Protestant error centers on the attempt to place faith above love (see Luther’s commentary on Galatians) contra Saint Paul and the Catholic tradition.

Aside from religion, the most important public matter is

The Demographic Imperative: For any tribe to survive, some of its women must have at least three children.

Posted in Church, Currents | Tagged | Leave a comment


The goal of advertising is to persuade folks that stuff they don’t care about is, in fact, important. This extends far beyond, say, the selling of toothpaste.   Furthermore, since only some many matters can be considered important, advertising also has a secondary goal to persuade folks that stuff they do consider important is, in fact, not important.

Consider any major media source nowadays and the main thing advertised is: Politics is important; Religion is not important.

Posted in Church | Leave a comment

On Baptism

As an infant, I did not choose my food. I ate the good food given and was healthy.

An infant does not choose its name, body or basic personality. Rather, to be healthy one later consciously accepts these, as given.

The effectual work of the sacraments depend on God, not on us. Thus, as the Church teaches, infant baptism is entirely appropriate but, as the Church also teaches, the later conscious acceptance of this baptism is essential for one’s spiritual health.

In the office of readings of the Liturgy of the Hours for today, there’s a reading from Saint Justin, Martyr. In his first Apology, written around 156AD, he writes:

I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to God when we had been made new through Christ; lest, if we omit this, we seem to be unfair in the explanation we are making. As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, “Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Now, that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their mothers’ wombs, is manifest to all. And how those who have sinned and repent shall escape their sins, is declared by Esaias the prophet, as I wrote above; he thus speaks: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from your souls; learn to do well; judge the fatherless, and plead for the widow: and come and let us reason together, saith the Lord. And though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white like wool; and though they be as crimson, I will make them white as snow. But if ye refuse and rebel, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

And for this [rite] we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to the layer the person that is to be washed calling him by this name alone. For no one can utter the name of the ineffable God; and if any one dare to say that there is a name, he raves with a hopeless madness. And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. And in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, he who is illuminated is washed.

Posted in Church | 1 Comment

Seeing Unexpected Events

Unexpected events are difficult to see, even after the event. Several years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I was reading Professor Pundit and thought, “Wait a minute, though he’s one of the foremost experts on Eastern Europe, the event caught him totally by surprise. So, why should I listen to him now?”

Recently I’ve observed this more closely with regard to Trump’s campaign and election. I was pleased with President Trump’s election, and with being able to sell my Predictit shares on the election and purchase a purebred standard poodle.  Whether a pundit was for or against Trump, if they didn’t see his election coming, why pay attention to them now?

Of course, the massive elephant in the room with regard to unexpected events is the resurrection of Jesus, foreseen only in the Hebrew scriptures. That changes everything.

Posted in Church | 1 Comment

Six Extensive Essays

I’ll take as an introduction to all six articles (thanks to Sandro Magister for the links, and background)  by these distinguished Catholic lay persons, an admonition from Anna Silvas:

What kind of prophet do you want to show you the times? Hananiah or Jeremiah? Choose.

Douglas Farrow (about):

The Roots of the Present Crisis

Anna M. Silvas (about):

A Year After “Amoris Laetitia”. A Timely Word

Claudio Pierantoni:

La necessaria coerenza del magistero con la Tradizione. Gli esempi della storia

Thibaud Collin:

Discerner en conscience?

Jürgen Liminski:

“Co-créé avec l’Homme”. Pourquoi l’indissolubilité du mariage est une bonne chose pour la société

Jean Paul Messina:

Lecture d’”Amoris Laetitia” pour l’Afrique et les Églises d’Afrique



Posted in Church | Leave a comment

John 3:16-18

John 3:16-18

Revised Standard Version
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

New Jerusalem Bible
16 For this is how God loved the world:
      he gave his only Son,
      so that everyone who believes in
            him may not perish
      but have eternal life
17 For God sent his Son into the world
     not to judge the world,
     but so that through him the world
             might be saved.
18 No one who believes in him will be judged;
      but whoever does not believe is
             judged already,
      because that person does not believe
      in the Name of God’s only Son.

New American Bible
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Posted in Church | Leave a comment


Silence is a beautiful movie. As with all good art, it presents truth that can not be summarized in a few propositional statements. Seemed to me to move quickly though it is almost 3 hours long as one is prompted to think about: Christ, and him crucified; the relation of the sacramental to faith; the work of God’s mercy and nature of the Church.

 Some related links:
And here is a secular review:
Posted in Church | 1 Comment