| | Comments (6)

Interview Questions graciously offered by Jay of

Flos Carmeli Questions
1) As you eloquently stated in Gross Incivility, “every story is told from a point of view”; What is your personal ‘point of view’?
My point of view is that of humble pilgrim who has been wrong much more than he has been right. So I know full well that it is possible in good will to hold very bad and incorrect notions of the ways things are and should be. I write as a father who waited a very long time to become a father and who is delighted with that grace perhaps more than anything in my life. I write as one who has no real home here and no place that I really call my own. My point of view is that of deliberate outcast, involuntary participant in much of the madness of society and one who wishes more than anything else to truly make present the reality of the love God has for each person.

2) You blog seems to focus a great deal on spirituality. Who has had the greatest impact on your personality spiritual journey (besides the Trinity)?

This is a surprisingly difficult question. I think the answer might be St. Paul. Every other saint or spiritual writer I have read has been a kind of footnote to the revelations Paul granted us about the working of God's grace and the necessity of prayer. When I read St. John of the Cross, St. Thérèse, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Louis de Montfort, any Saint postdating Paul, I hear his words echoing and reechoing. While doctrine has become broader and more nuanced, it seems that everything is present inthose epistles Paul wrote. And a close runner-up is St. John of the wonderful Gospel, and the Letters--again, whatever has been said about God's love, was said there first--it seems. (Oh, and I really like St. James, possibly because Luther had so little liking for him.)

3) Can you explain more fully the lay Carmelite order for those of us with lesser knowledge (I’m a convert also, so I have some claim to ‘ignorance’)?

A lay Carmelite is a member of the Carmelite order who has pledged to live out the Carmelite vocation in ordinary life. We follow a seperate rule, tailored for people who have families and workaday concerns, but we share in the spirituality and the gifts of Carmelite Spirituality. Any Catholic in good standing eighteen years of age or older may become a member of the Carmelites, eitehr OCDS (discalced or reformed Carmelites--St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila) or T. O. Carm. (Carmelites of the Ancient Observance--most prominently St. Mary Magadalene da Pazzi).

4) How does a Palentologist with an interest in fractals and chaos know so much about poetry and Catholic literature?

When I first went to college, I went with no idea of what I was doing there except collecting degrees and learning. So I received a Bachelor of Arts in English, studied for an MFA in poetry, a Bachelor of Science in Geology and went on to graduate school to continue study in Geology, Medieval and Renaissance Literature, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and seventeenth Century Poetry. Ultimately unable to make up my mind I did my PhD work on "Non-linear dynamics and the periodicity of extinctions with a consideration of Silurian Reef Paleoecology." My master's thesis was on "The Functional Morphology of the Platycrinitid Stem." I've published a number of papers on crinoid functional morphology and delivered a number of talks on the question of the proper analysis of the supposed peridocity of extinctions observed in the fossil record.

5) Who would you like to see as the next Pope (I couldn’t resist)?

I can only say that I am enormously relieved this question is one that I need deal with only in theory. I would like to see as the next Pope a man informed by the teaching of the Church who heeds the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I would like to see a person who has the courage of his convictions, rightly formed, in the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Church. I would like to see a man who does not have as part of his agenda the "reformation" of the Church according to a modernist/postmodernist agenda. In short, I would like to see as Pope the man whom God will give us, who will guide, nuture, and protect the Church against the onslaught of the world and who will speak boldly and stridently against the present evils of the world.

In accord with the agreement made in answering these questions, I offer to interview anyone who cares to ask. E-mail me or leave a note in the comments box, and I will happily try to think of five reasonable quesitons to send to you. (Or unreasonable questions. I have been known to ask interviewees their favorite read-aloud for children with reasons why.)

Bookmark and Share


Excellent answers, Steven. Congratulations on becoming a father. I'll leave the study of peridocity to you - especially as it cocerns fossils. I've read enough chaos theory to understand the complexities involved.

By the way, you seem to be a renaissance man - do you play an instrument? ;-)


I really enjoyed your answer to number 1.

Dear Jay,

Yes, actually several--several species of clarinet and saxophone--none of them particularly well, and ultimately none of them what I really wanted to play--so perhaps I'll learn piano with my son--never be a virtuoso, but perhaps enough to amuse myself.




I liked your answers. I am intimidated by what you might ask of me in an interview like this. You can ask; I may or may not answer!


Please, please, please consider the harpsichord first. Without the gimmick of dynamics, one develops a much more refined sense of phrasing. Then, when you tackle the piano, you will have a much better understanding of what makes keyboard music work.

Dear Erik,

You have good points and speak to my preference in the matter--Alas, the purchase of a harpsichord is beyond my means, the pursuit of a teacher where I live highly unlikely, and I somehow doubt there's a harpsichord outside a concert hall to be had for at least fifty and probably more like 200 miles from where I live. I think I may be trapped by circumstances. But, then, that will be the way. However, know that what I do I do because the alternative is beyond me, not because I think you're wrong.





About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 26, 2003 8:23 PM.

A Report from the Front Lines was the previous entry in this blog.

Kathy the Carmelite Interview is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll