Welcome to the Ink Desk

Enjoy the ponderings of the Star's contributors and add your own thoughts. As this section develops, we hope it may become a medium for an exchange of ideas among those who are working towards the cultural revival.

  • November 25th, 2014Conferences, Performances and Events in 2015by Kevin O'Brien

    In addition to the murder mystery dinner theater shows, which I perform somewhere in the U.S. every weekend, you can catch me doing things that are a bit more dignified, such as ...

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  • November 25th, 2014Think Thanksgiving is a Puritan holiday?by Dena Hunt

    Think Thanksgiving is a Puritan holiday? Actually, it’s Catholic:

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  • November 25th, 2014Francis Thompson: Hounded by Heavenby Joseph Pearce

    The great Victorian poet Francis Thompson has always been a favourite of mine. I named one of the chapters of my biography of Oscar Wilde "Hounded by Heaven" to illustrate the parallels between Wilde's flight from God and that of Thompson, whose own flight is recorded in his wonderful poem, "The Hound of Heaven", lines from which served as the epigraph to the Wilde chapter. Last week, I was delighted to be able to host "An Evening with Francis Thompson" at Aquinas College in Nashville, along with those with whom I worked on the film documentary of Thompson, for which I served as historical consultant. I'm delighted to see that the documentary is beginning to receive the attention it deserves in the wider Christian world. Follow this link for more: 

    http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/26453

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  • November 25th, 2014Jorge Luis Borges on Verse Translationby Brendan D. King

    During the late 1960s, Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges gave a series of Harvard Lectures about the subject of poetry.

    Recordings of the lectures surfaced in the 1990s. They were then transcribed, annotated, and published in 2000 under the title "This Craft of Verse" by Harvard University Press.

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  • November 25th, 2014The Hobbit Prime Ministerby Daniel J. Heisey

    In the published letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, there is a gap between the years 1925 and 1937, and so most of the years when Stanley Baldwin served as Prime Minister are missing.  Although our shelves of Tolkien thus lack the professor’s thoughts about that politician, we do have four volumes of Baldwin’s collected speeches.  From them we can glean what a hobbit gone into Parliament might be like, Tolkien and Baldwin having grown up in the same neck of the woods.

    Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947) now gets at best a mediocre press.  He is overshadowed by his great contemporary, Winston Churchill, and Baldwin’s reluctance to re-arm Britain has been damned as criminal failure to prepare against the ravenous National Socialism of Adolf Hitler.  To be fair to Baldwin, he was part of a nation grieving because of the Great War:  John, the only child of his cousin, Rudyard Kipling, had been among the millions killed in the war.

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  • November 24th, 2014Cajun Chestertonby Joseph Pearce

    I've just received an excellent promotional video about next spring's Chesterton Conference in Louisiana, at which I'll be speaking alongside Dale Ahlquist, Chuck Chalberg and Kevin O'Brien. The short video is fun to watch, and suitably edifying, even if you are not planning to attend the conference.

    Here's the link:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-flBud6Nno

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  • November 24th, 2014“The Internationale”, the Anthem of Marxist Revolutionby Brendan D. King

    "The Internationale," which may be seen and heard in the footage below, dates from the brief seizure of power by the Paris Commune during the Franco-Prussian War. It has since been translated into scores of languages and adopted as the anthem of militant Marxism, particularly as interpreted by Vladimir Lenin.

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  • November 24th, 2014What ‘America’s Ratzinger’ would like to ask Pope Francisby Kevin Kennelly

    I've always found Cardinal George very bright and.....and in comparison to most American bishops .....orthodox ( if not firm). In the accompanying interview , it is difficult to tell precisely what he is doing but it would appear to be a veiled criticism of Francis. Who among us has not wondered what in the world Francis means at times but then again who am I to judge?

    http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2014/11/16/what-americas-ratzinger-would-like-to-ask-pope-francis/

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  • November 24th, 2014A (True) Thanksgiving Storyby Dena Hunt

    It was 1991. I commuted to teach at a high school some 45 miles away, and my car was old, starting to have problems. I had asked the mechanic who kept patching it up to let me know when it was time to worry about actually breaking down for good on the unpopulated roads I had to travel to work, and he’d just told me the week before—Dena, it’s time for a new car. Oh, no! I had no place in my tight budget for a car payment. Moreover, I’d overspent on my credit card and was about 2,000 in debt there. (That’s a big deal for someone on my budget. I could only pay the interest.)

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  • November 23rd, 2014Vibrant and Vivacious New Writing on Chesterton, Belloc and Flannery O’Connorby Joseph Pearce

    Earlier this month I paid a flying visit to Minnesota to give four talks in a little over 24 hours. I gave talks at a Lutheran church, at Chesterton Academy, at the University of Minnesota, and at the Catholic Cathedral in St. Paul. After the first of the talks, at the Lutheran church in Plymouth, I retired to a local pub/restaurant with the Lutheran pastor, Tim Westermeyer, and his friend Tod Worner, a recent convert to Catholicism who writes regularly for Patheos. Having enjoyed the lively conviviality and enlightening conversation during my visit, I have since discovered Mr. Worner's excellent articles. Here's a sampler of his writing on Chesterton, Belloc and Flannery O'Connor.

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  • November 17th, 2014The Sacramental in Tolkienby Joseph Pearce

    I’m in receipt of an e-mail from a student working on a thesis on the Sacramental in Tolkien, and what it means to have "Sacramental Vision".  The student requested a list of “any helpful articles, books, quotations, etc. regarding the Sacramental, Imagination, Tolkien or Chesterton, and so on”.

    Here’s my brief response.

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  • November 17th, 2014The Suburban Parish and the Heresy of Inconsequentialismby Kevin O'Brien

    I have come to a conclusion.  Most Catholics don't believe in God.
    At least they don't believe in the Christian God, the God who became man to save us from sin and who died on a cross and rose again, calling us to participate in a life of sacrifice until He comes to call us to participate in his resurrection by raising us bodily from the dead at the Last Judgment, where some will find they've chosen eternal life, others eternal damnation.

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  • November 12th, 2014Little Things Mean a Lotby Dena Hunt

    We all know that we make big decisions that determine the course of our lives, like choosing a college major or choosing a mate, perhaps the decision to commit our lives to Christ or to join a church. These are momentous choices; we remember them and probably reflect often, especially as we age, on how they affected our lives.

    But it’s the little decisions, the ones we might not even notice, that really determine everything. The 23rd psalm is an example. Actually, this psalm has been prayed by literally everyone, whether they’re conscious of it or not, because it’s not a prayer but a choice everyone makes. “I shall not want….” is not merely a line in verse; it’s a decision. To want means to not have. One chooses to want or not to want. It should not be mistaken for, I shall get or not get, achieve or not achieve, but I shall have, or else, I shall not have. The sole action involved is the decision itself. They are mutually exclusive terms and mutually exclusive conditions; therefore, we have to choose between them. We cannot both have and want.


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  • November 11th, 2014Contemporary Catholic Fiction Free E-Book Offerby Joseph Pearce

    As we're always keen to promote contemporary Catholic literature on the Ink Desk, I thought I'd mention that, for a limited time, Ignatius Press is giving away a free e-book by author T.M. Doran.

    The free e-book being given away is Doran's novel, Terrapin. Also included is his new short mystery story, The Linden Murder Case Mystery. This giveaway will only be available until November 24. 

    Here is a link about this limited time offer:

    http://www.ipnovels.com/blog/2014/11/terrapin-available-as-a-free-e-book 

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  • November 11th, 2014Two Generals, Three Popesby Daniel J. Heisey

    On two successive pages of a recent weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal appeared book reviews of new biographies of two famous generals, Napoleon Bonaparte and George C. Marshall.  The juxtaposition in those pages gives the historian pause for thought.  Each general stands as a symbolic figure, one embodying the worst, the other the best in his respective century.

    Napoleon (1769-1821) is admired by his newest biographer, but the dictator who sought to conquer Europe, from the Iberian Peninsula to the Ural Mountains, deserved his exile to a remote island in the South Atlantic.  Marshall (1880-1959), whose new biography apparently tries to cut him down to size, deserved the many honors recognizing his service during war and his peacetime restoration of a Europe ravaged by the war begun by National Socialist Germany.

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  • November 11th, 2014In These Dark Days, the Church Needs Her Menby Kevin Kennelly

    Msgr Charles Pope has written a superb article entitled " In These Dark Days , The Church Needs Her Men To Be Men." If I could wave a magic wand and pick one thing that ( I think) would benefit our society the most it is this: That men go back to being men and women go back to being women. The romance of men and women .....they way they interact, the different strengths and weaknesses they have, the way they look after each other , accept each other's foibles,  take different risks for each other , see the world (somewhat ) differently.....the whole amazing lovable cocktail.....is a great gift of God.

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  • November 6th, 2014The Distributism of the Shireby Joseph Pearce

    My latest article for the Imaginative Conservative takes up where my recent post on "Tolkien, Belloc and Political Force" left off. As I suspected, it has caused an element of controversy and a good deal of discussion. Read it here:

    http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/11/distributism-shire-political-kinship-tolkien-belloc.html

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  • November 6th, 2014A New Catholic Revival in the Artsby Joseph Pearce

    I am increasingly excited by the signs of a new Catholic Revival in the arts. There are several very gifted novelists writing today and an increasing number of small Catholic publishers willing to publish new Catholic fiction. As a response to this new springtime for Catholic literature, the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College in Nashville, of which I am the Director, has launched the Aquinas Award for Fiction. Apart from fiction, there is also a host of exciting new Catholic poets. We do our best to publish this new verse in the "New Voices" feature in the St. Austin Review and will continue to do so. In addition, Kaufmann Publishing has an impressive catalogue of new volumes of Catholic verse by an exciting new generation of poets.

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  • November 5th, 2014Agreeing with G. K. Chestertonby Joseph Pearce

    A week or so ago I wrote an article for the Imaginative Conservative in which I argued with Chesterton about the nature of the vulgar mob. Feeling a little guilty for disagreeing with the great man, even though I think I'm right and the he is wrong, I have written another article (possibly in penance!) in which I agree with him on the perversity of so-called philanthropy:

    http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/10/man-men-misanthropy-agreeing-g-k-chesterton.html

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  • November 5th, 2014My Dear Weedrotby Edward Lawrence

    Inspired by, and written in honour of, C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters

      My Dear Weedrot,

    I’ve been meaning to write to you for some time about the dangers and opportunities presented to us by the Internet. The recent events at the Synod have given me a marvellous and delightful chance to talk about the opportunities. The dangers I will discuss another time.


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