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Introibo ad altare dei, I will go to the altar of God, those are Buck Mulligan’s first spoken words in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Some critics say Joyce is mocking the Mass as that opening scene unfolds and the invocation of God is a mocking reminder that epics traditionally began with an invocation to a deity or a muse. There are many other ways to read it, of course. Perhaps Joyce is mocking his characters, or the critics, or himself. Or perhaps it isn’t mockery at all but a much more complicated mixture of psychological motivations.

Speaking of psychological motiotivations, why am I writing? I could sit here thinking about that, or I could move on to the next question: what am I writing about? Maybe I shouldn’t even ask such questions, just do it. Okay, here goes: Introibo ad altare dei . . .

I do not presume God’s inspirational blessing. In fact, I don’t take anything for granted when it comes to God. Yet neither do I despair. Not often, anyway.

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