Papa Z's Views and Comments

Location: Wisconsin, United States

I am a convert to the Catholic Church after serving in ordained ministry for more than nine years in another denomination. I hold a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in historical theology, and another in systematic theology, and am currently working (very slowly) on my doctorate. I work in Christian Education and Formation and teach at the University level. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and eight great kids! When I'm not studying, reading, or blogging, I enjoy eating and drinking! Like Bilbo Baggins, I have been specializing in food for many years, and my table has a high reputation!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give thee thanks for Clive Staples Lewis, whose sanctified imagination lighteth fires of faith in young and old alike.  Surprise us also with thy joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Traditional Proclamation of the Birth of Christ

The twenty-fifth day of December.

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world
from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;

the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;

the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;

the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;

the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king;
in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;

the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;

the whole world being at peace,
in the sixth age of the world,
Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception,
was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary,
being made flesh.

The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.


Friday, November 22, 2013


Fifty years ago today, Clive Staples Lewis departed these Shadowlands for his eternal home.  A memorial plaque is being dedicated today in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey in London.

O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give you thanks for Clive Staples Lewis, whose sanctified imagination lights fires of faith in young and old alike. Surprise us also with your joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Clive Staples (Jack) Lewis, pray for us! (November 29th 1898 - November 22nd, 1963)


Papa Z.

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Friday, September 06, 2013


My friends, it is with an incredible sense of grief -- and loss -- that I must report that the Rev. Fr. Robert Farrar Capon died yesterday at the age of 88.

I never met Fr. Capon, although I corresponded with family members 2 or 3 times over the last 5 years (although, not with him, as he had retired from public correspondence, and was not the "e-mailer" of the family.)

Those more erudite than I can parse bits and pieces of his theological perspectives . . . and I have no doubt that he, like all of us, was a sinner in need of Christ's redemption.  I make no claim to embrace all nuances. 

But . . . 

But . . . 

In spite of all . . . 

His 1968 "The Supper of the Lamb:  A Culinary Reflection" has meant the world to me.

A brief quote.  More will be forthcoming.

To raise a glass, however, is to raise a question.

One honest look at any real thing—one minute’s contemplation of any process on earth—leads straight into the conundrum of the relationship of God to the world. The solution is hardly obvious. For something that could not be at all without God, creation seems to do rather well without Him. Only miracles are simple; nature is a mystery. Autumn by autumn, He makes wine upon a thousand hills, but He does it without tipping His hand. Glucose, fructose, and Saccharomyces ellipsoideus apparently manage very nicely on their own. 

So much so, that the resolving of the conflict between the sacred and the secular (or, better said, the repairing of the damage done by divorcing them) has been billed as the major problem of modern theology. 

Permit me, therefore, glass in hand and cooking Sherry within easy reach, the world’s most interrupted discourse on the subject. In vino veritas.   Take the largest part of that truth first. God makes wine. For all its difficulties, there is no way around the doctrine of creation. But notice the tense: He makes; not made. He did not create once upon a time, only to find himself saddled now with the unavoidable and embarrassing result of that first rash decision. That is only to welsh on the idea of an unnecessary world, to make creation a self-perpetuating pool game which is contingent only at the start -- which needs only the first push on the cue ball to keep it going forever. It will not do: The world is more unnecessary than that. It is unnecessary now; it cries in this moment for a cause to hold it in being. 

It was St. Thomas, I think, who pointed out long ago that if God wanted to get rid of the universe, He would not have to do anything; He would have to stop doing something. Wine is --the fruit of the vine stands in act, outside of nothing -- because it is His very present pleasure to have it so. The creative act is contemporary, intimate, and immediate to each part, parcel and period of the world.   

Do you see what that means? In a general way we concede that God made the world out of joy: He didn’t need it; He just thought it was a good thing. But if you confine His activity in creation to the beginning only, you lose most of the joy in the subsequent shuffle of history. Sure, it was good back then, you say, but since then, we’ve been eating leftovers. How much better a world it becomes when you see Him creating at all times and at every time; when you see that the preserving of the old in being is just as much creation as the bringing of the new out of nothing. Each thing, at every moment, becomes the delight of His hand, the apple of His eye. 

The bloom of yeast lies upon the grape skins year after year because He likes it; C6H12O6=2C2H5OH+2CO2 is a de­pendable process because, every September, He says, That was nice; do it again.   Let us pause and drink to that. 

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Sunday, August 25, 2013


What do you make of Joseph Pearce?

Greetings and salutations to the stadium-sized crowd that follows this blog!

I have a question directed primarily at two groups:  my Catholic friends, and my English Literature friends -- realizing that there is a fair amount of overlap!

Joseph Pearce is an English author currently residing in the United States.  He is a convert to the Catholic Church, having formerly been active in a rather nasty white supremacist group in the UK prior to his conversion.  His specialty is, allegedly, English (and usually Catholic) literary biography.  He has been featured on EWTN; has published with Ignatius Press (a publishing house I greatly respect) and has an upcoming autobiography about to be published by TAN Publications -- a VERY conservative and quite traditional Catholic publishing house.

I first came across Pearce around 2000 when I posted a review on regarding his book "Tolkien:  Man and Myth" -- a book which I found to be unoriginal -- at best; relying extremely heavily on uncited material from Humphrey Carpenter's authorized biography  Frankly, I don't think that sections of the book would pass muster with -- the anti-plagiarizing software I use in my university classes.  Another reviewer who goes by the name "FYI" reviewed the same book -- and went into a great deal more detail in documenting word-for-word plagiarism in numerous circumstances.  (FYI, if you read this, please feel free to jump in!)

In 2003, he wrote a book on CS Lewis, trying to uncover why Lewis never converted to the Catholic Church -- and that book, too,  has had its critics, mostly regarding facts about Lewis that Pearce conveniently ignored, or emphasizing what Lewis minimized (and vise verse)

In 2008, he wrote a book arguing the evidence that William Shakespeare was, in fact, a recusant -- a "closet" Catholic in anti-Catholic Elizabethan England.  A number of scholars have strongly suggested this possibility, and there has been an academic debate on this matter for years.  Shortly after the book was published, a negative review was published by "First Things" magazine.  Pearce wrote an absolutely vitriolic piece against the reviewer which was, functionally, little less than an ad hominim attack.  This appears to have continued to be his modus operandi with scholars who disagree with him.

More recently, a "biography" of GK Chesterton has been published -- immediately on the heels of the publication of the foremost academic and critical biography of Chesterton ever written (by the noted scholar Fr. Ian Ker.)

Pearce seems to be quite popular in the world of Catholic apologetics; he has spoken in many venues, on topics like Tolkien's Catholicism and its influence on "The Lord of the Rings" (I suspect that Tolkien would be rolling over in his grave with the ridiculous allegorical implications Pearce insists on finding) and Shakespeare's likely Catholicism (an opinion with which I am reasonably sympathetic, but not fully convinced).  In his upcoming autobiography, TAN Publications lists Pearce as "the world's foremost Catholic biographer" which is, in my view patently absurd.

Here's the rub:

What are Pearce's scholarly credentials?  Of course, one does not need to be a scholar to have an informed opinion -- but if one is going to attack and ridicule other scholars in the field, one really should have the credentials to do so.  I have scoured the web, and have been unable to come up with any scholarly background which would make me want to take him seriously -- much less as an expert.  (Especially as an expert on Tolkien -- a subject I know just a bit about!)  He has been affiliated with a number of very small (and extremely conservative) Catholic colleges as a "writer-in-residence" -- but even on the website of the college with which he is currently affiliated (St. Thomas More College of Liberal Arts) no academic or scholarly credentials are provided.

Call me crazy -- but somehow, this does not pass the "smell" test to me.

Anyone have any insights?

Vigorous discussion desired; flame-throwing will be moderated.


Papa Z.

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Monday, May 27, 2013


Today is Memorial Day.  

Today we honor the men and women who served in the Armed Forces of our nation; especially remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Last night, as I watched the National Memorial Day Concert on the Mall in Washington, DC, tears came to my eyes (as they do each year) in thanksgiving and remembrance.

I don't know how many people actually follow this blog anymore; but if you do, please comment with the names of those whom you wish to honor on this day.

My partial list:

  • Charles Joseph Zampino; United States Army; World War II; wounded in action
  • Mildred Claire Zampino; United States Army; World War II
  • Philip Lon Fritts; United States Merchant Marines; KIA at sea, just before Pearl Harbor
  • Murphy Joseph Soirez; United States Army; immediately prior to Korea
  • Robert Marshall Aiken; United States Navy; killed while on active duty, in a civilian plane crash

Anyone else?


Papa Z.

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Friday, February 22, 2013


From "The Wisdom of Soloman" 3:1-9

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.

In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be an affliction,

and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.

For though in the sight of men they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.

Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;

like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.

In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,
and will run like sparks through the stubble.

They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord will reign over them for ever.

Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his elect,
and he watches over his holy ones. (Revised Standard Version)

Today, I would like to honor the life of Kenneth Paul Jablonski. 

Ken died 20 years ago, sometime between the hours of 4 and 8 AM on February 22nd, 1993. He was 34 years old. Ken had suffered from severe kidney disease, leading to total kidney failure (and two failed transplants). He had survived more than 20 years of kidney dialysis. He was also, for the many years that I knew him, totally blind. Early in the morning of February 22nd, 1993, while waiting for the taxi to take him to his thrice-weekly dialysis treatment, he suffered what appeared to be a fatal heart attack. When the taxi company called the authorities to report his non-appearance that fatal morning, the police found his body on the living room floor, reaching for the phone.

At the request of his family, I was in charge of his funeral arrangements, and the disposition of most of his material goods.

Ken was a unique man. In spite of his physical disabilities -- and his blindness -- he was a musician of extraordinary skill -- on the piano, the guitar, and the electric guitar -- as well as being a gifted composer. He had one of the most profound -- and funny -- senses of humor that I have ever encountered in my life. Reading from a Braille manuscript, he proclaimed the Old Testament Lesson at my wedding, and remained very interested in my family life until his untimely death. (He died when my oldest son was 2 1/2 years old, and one month before my oldest daughter was born.)

Ken was an honest man; a generous man; a giving man; and a godly man. To the very end of his life, he was concerned about the needs and hurts of others. Upon his death, one of the tasks which fell to me was to "clean out" his computer -- and I found many more examples of his kindness and decency about which I had no knowledge -- even as his closest friend.

One final example: about four months prior to his death, Ken had the opportunity to meet the severely retarded and disabled daughter of my wife's best friends. She was only a small child at the time. After my wife's friends had returned home, Ken penned a letter to this little girl: a letter gripped with love and emotion. Some years after Ken's death, this little girl died as well -- and at the visitation for family and friends, Ken's letter was posted prominently by the casket. I don't believe I've ever met a more compassionate person in my entire life.

Ken, while a devout Christian, often joked about giving up "religious ritual" for Lent! And, true to form, he died just two days before Ash Wednesday! Today, while a day of abstinence, a part of me will be strongly tempted to give up -- in Ken's honor -- my Lenten disciplines -- just for a day!

Ken, my brother, -- may you rest in peace! May your friends be as lucky as you, to remember you so faithfully! And if, perchance, I should (in your honor) stray on Friday, please intercede to the Almighty on my behalf!

Papa Z

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