This post is a brief personal introduction and something of a mission statement for this blog.
About me, and about this blog
I’m Simon; I’m originally from Gloucester, England, and became a U.S. Citizen in 2010. I’ve been married to my lovely wife Vicki since 2003, and we have a son (her biological my adoptive) getting ready to go to college. I like Joss Whedon shows (you’ll find me at various Browncoat events), some sci-fi (my latest obsession is Niven’s Ringworld), and I’ll try police procedurals if there’s an interesting twist (e.g. Castle or Mentalist). I really liked Yes Minister, and lament the absence of such sensibilities in American comedy. I’m an NPR junkie although their editorial line cuts against my ideological sensibilities; I like lefty talker Leslie Marshall and righty talkers Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved, and Dennis Miller, and I try to catch EWTN when I can, particularly if Patrick Madrid is on. I have pretty eclectic musical tastes, and from time to time I may post music—anything from from Palestrina to Bach to Saint-Saens to Yes to Eric Johnson to Richard Cheese. (I do like “praise music,” as a rule, but I adamantly oppose its use at Mass, and have called for a New Cecilian Movement to purify our liturgical music.) Organ and choral music particularly tickle my fancy, and I appreciate any recommendations you’d like to offer. Sometimes there will be gut-wrenching metal or classic rock n’ roll, but not very often. I’m a techie, although I don’t write about that stuff very often. I also homebrew and tinker with guitars; sometimes I post music I’ve recorded.
Since 2006, I’ve been a contributing editor at Stubborn Facts. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m interested in law; I spend a lot of time reading it, and sometimes I write about it. I’m not a politician, either, but I’m interested in politics. And I’m a conservative; that perspective shapes how I think about almost everything—but in this day and age, where political labels are a problem, that doesn’t say enough. From time to time, I therefore wax philosophical about conservatism and what kind of conservative I am. SF: Care and feeding of your conservative (June 3, 2011) and SF: Modernism in Politics (May 6, 2011) are probably the most comprehensive statements I’ve offered. Lastly, I’m a pedant. Or, less self-critically, I’m interested in and care about writing well. 1 That goes for my own writing and other people’s, and SF has a whole category of errata; when I get it wrong, I appreciate polite correction, and rarely hesitate to do the same.
I do not envision, however, that Motu Proprio will feature politics or law, which brings us to its raison d’être. I’m in the process of converting to the Catholic Church, and aside from the legal and political stuff, I write about Catholic and more broadly Christian topics, too. I envision that Motu Proprio will primarily focus on these. 2
So: Why are we here? Motu Proprio, as the title implies, is a purely personal journal. SF imposes no particular restraint on content, and I’ve written about religion there, but it’s not a religion blog, and as a matter of personal restraint, I’ve tried to avoid turning it into a pulpit. The upshot is that I’ve often ignored stories that I’d like to write about either because I perceive them to be “too ecclesial” for SF, or because the recent mix there has been too “Church-heavy.” MP was created as an outlet for those topics.
In summary, then: Motu Proprio is a personal blog focussed primarily on Catholic issues, with occasional forays into personal topics. If you like what you read here and would like to see roughly analogous treatments of political and legal topics, come over and join the fun at Stubborn Facts. Lastly, I do not expect this blog to be particularly high traffic; I invite and urge RSS subscriptions.
Three guideposts for notation and citation form
- For the most part, I hew to the bluebook’s citation rules, except when I think they’re dumb. I’m not as opposed to the bluebook as is Judge Posner, but there are a few points on which I dissent; if you’re at all familiar with legal form, you’ll figure it out as we go, and if you’re not, I think you’ll find it easy to pick up. As with writing errors, I appreciate polite notes about citation form; sometimes they will be declined, but sometimes I’m just getting it wrong. I use both footnotes and inline citations, depending on which I feel the situation calls for; discursive or tangential material will sometimes appear in footnotes, and a string cite or citation with a parenthetical quotation will almost invariably be moved to a footnote. On almost every question of form and style, I am pragmatic rather than dogmatic.
- Some posts will appear in the interlineated format popularized by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, because it’s convenient for me to write, and I find it convenient to read. This comes out of the toolbox when a story raises several points I’d like to respond to, but they are dispersed throughout the story and do not have a thematic link allowing them to be textually regrouped. You can see a typical example here.
- I crossreference previous writing quite often. Blog posts at Stubborn Facts will be cited in the format SF: [title] ([date]); blog posts at Motu Proprio will be cited in the format MP: [title] ([date]). For instance, you might see a citation like this: Compare SF: Modernism in Politics (May 6, 2011) with MP:Hypothetical future post (Jan. 14, 2012). When a post is subsequently referenced, I typically Shepardize the original post by adding an entry to an appendix titled (tongue in cheek) “post facto”; you can see an example of how that looks at the bottom of this post. (I started doing that because we were seeing a lot of traffic arriving via Google at posts whose content had been developed in subsequent writing, and I wanted to give readers a cue that they could explore further.)
Now you’re up to speed. 3
A word on comments
I don’t anticipate getting a lot of comments here, but I’ll preempt the issue by observing that we’re all grownups here. When a comment hits the “in” basket and its form implies the presence of an adolescent interloper of any calendar age—profanity, vulgarity, and the like—it will be deleted or redacted. SF has had a rule since day one, and I think it’s a good one: “Play nice and respect others. Opinions and debate are good, facts are better, name-calling and profanity/obscenity are Right Out. … We reserve the right to mock those who regurgitate knee-jerk talking points without independent thought, who ramble off into irrelevant rant, or who mistake opinion for fact and evidence.” That policy will remain in force at MP.
-Simon J. Dodd, June 3, anno nostrae salutis 2011
- Among the writers I particularly admire qua writers: Twain, Hemingway, Chesterton, Lewis, Forsyth, Ratzinger, Dahlia Lithwick, Rick Garnett, Chris Hitchens, Paul Morley, Ann Althouse, John Hart Ely, Chief Justices Rehnquist and Roberts, Justices Black, Jackson, and Scalia, and Judges Easterbrook, Evans, and Sykes. ↩
- You will wonder—fair game, since I said above that I’m a conservative and a pedant—whether I’m a “traddie,” and the answer is no: While I’m a small-t traditionalist and attend the usus antiquior when possible, I’m perfectly happy attending the novus ordo. I am, however, a “reform of the reform” type. ↩
- That’s a reference to Andy Richter Controls the Universe, one of my favorite comedy shows. It was quirky, funny, and enjoyable—and so it had to die, because those qualities are the kiss of death in an era when the networks want crude trash like Happy Endings. ↩