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.

  • January 30th, 2015A Lesson from Thomas Mertonby Daniel J. Heisey

    It seems more and more people are living to be a hundred, and if he were alive, Thomas Merton would this year be among them.  Merton (1915-1968) remains the most famous Christian monk of the twentieth century, and his writings will engage scholars and others for some time to come.  His fame began in 1948, when his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, became an unexpected best-seller.  In England it was published as Elected Silence, a phrase from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “The Habit of Perfection.”

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  • January 30th, 2015The Best Biographies of William Shakespeareby Joseph Pearce

    I'm in receipt of an e-mail from someone who has read my biography, The Quest for Shakespeare, and is keen to investigate the evidence for Shakespeare's Catholicism still further. She requested other biographies of the Bard that I would recommend. Here's my reply:

    The biography of Shakespeare I would recommend above all others is The Life and Times of William Shakespeare, 1564-1616 by Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel (London: Chaucer Press, 2007). Unfortunately it's not cheap but it's a very handsome coffee table book with numerous illustrations throughout and 400 pages packed with solid scholarship.

    Others that I would recommend:

    John Henry De Groot, The Shakespeares and "The Old Faith" (Fraser, Michigan: Real-View Books, 1995). An excellent and thorough examination of Shakespeare's family, especially his parents, and the documentary evidence for their Catholic recusancy.

    H. Mutschmann & K. Wentersdorf, Shakespeare & Catholicism (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1952). This is not strictly a biography but a scholarly study of the evidence for Shakespeare' Catholicism from both the biographical and the textual perspective.

    Ian Wilson, Shakespeare: The Evidence (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1999). A solid biographical study that comes to the conclusion that Shakespeare was a Catholic. (Not to be confused with another biography by a Richard Wilson, which is problematic for a number of reasons.)

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  • January 28th, 2015Finding Freedom in My Prison Cell: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Loveby Michael Lichens

    Over at Catholic Exchange, Joseph Pearce recounts his time and prison and how it finally led him into the Grace of God. It's quite the beautiful reading and well worth your time. 

    Many good and worthy people in the past have found the experience of imprisonment a crucial and definitive period on their road towards faith and religious conversion, or as a means of deepening an already existing faith. Saint John of the Cross springs to mind, as does Miguel Cervantes, and the great Nicolae Steinhardt, whose book on his time in prison is called The Happiness Diary. We could also add the French poet, Paul Verlaine, the Irish writer, Oscar Wilde, and the iconic Russian Nobel Prizewinner, Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

    Read the rest here: http://catholicexchange.com/finding-freedom-prison-cell-journey-racial-hatred-rational-love

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  • January 28th, 2015Love vs. Nihilism in “King Lear”by Kevin O'Brien

    Over at the Christian Shakespeare, I've been given permission to reprint an essay from Logos by Shakespeare scholar Ken Colston on how sacrificial love redeems nihilism in Shakespeare's King Lear.  Colston sees Lear as a fully Catholic play, and unpacks its Christian elements, using C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton and Pope Benedict.

    Well worth the read!

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  • January 27th, 2015Selective Reading List for Catholic Inquirersby Kevin Kennelly

    A wise and scholarly friend recently drafted a superb list of books for use in responding to individuals who have expressed an interest in Catholicism. Included are Catholic classics of old ....Apologia Pro Vita Sua.....and excellent works of more recent vintage.....'Literary Converts' by Joseph Pearce.

    We encourage readers to add their own favorites to this excellent but not exhaustive list.

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  • January 27th, 2015Morality in the Market Placeby Joseph Pearce

    My latest article for the Imaginative Conservative is a review of A Catechism for Business:

    http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2015/01/morality-marketplace-catechism-business.html

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  • January 26th, 2015Linguistics vs. Languageby Dena Hunt

    There are those academics housed in English Departments who are called linguists and who maintain a staunchly scientific view of language that is often as rigid as the rabidly anti-intelligent design folks over in the Science Building. They’re not much interested in the Philosophy of Language (which is relegated to increasingly rare departments of philosophy), have little to no interest in literature as art (or in philology; e.g., Tolkien), except insofar as it provides opportunities to accumulate more data on evolutionary syntax or diction. Semantics is an interesting area, in that it provides so much opportunity for sociolinguists to extrapolate politically correct findings from exhaustive studies of the effects of colonialism on native cultures. They operate pretty much on the definitive formula language=communication, which places parameters around the field, protecting it from contamination by logos while opening up a world of dissertation possibilities along political/economic/sociological/anthropological lines, providing yet another chance of “proving” absolutely anything you want to prove via “data.”

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  • January 26th, 2015Tolkien, Catholicism and the Jackson Moviesby Joseph Pearce

    I've just received an interesting and encouraging e-mail from an admirer of Tolkien who asks for my opinion of the Jackson movies. Here's an abridged version of her e-mail and my reply.

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  • January 26th, 2015Chilling Thoughts for Tolkien Fansby Brendan D. King

    On this site, I have often gone on record as both critic and a satirist of Peter Jackson's Tolkien travesties. From letting the Catholic out of the Baggins to the dumbing down of the dialogue, Peter Jackson's film treatments would not have received an enthusiastic reception had the creator of Middle Earth still been alive. They would have prompted, at the very least, an outraged letter from Tolkien, who would have demanded that Peter Jackson "show a little respect for the author." (See "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien", #210, Tolkien's Comments on Morton Grady Zimmerman's 1958 Film Treatment for "The Lord of the Rings"). 

    Even so, the film industry has wreaked literary havoc well beyond Tolkien's Middle Earth Legendarium. From the Demi Moore adaptation of "The Scarlet Letter" to the Emma Thompson assault on "Brideshead Revisited", the hall of shame goes ever on and on. In fact, one shudders to think of how much greater damage an even less scrupulous director might have wreaked. For this reason, I have created the following examples as a reminder, both to myself and to my fellow Tolkien purists. It could have been worse. It could have been a lot worse...
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  • January 26th, 2015Chilling Thoughts for Tolkien Fansby Brendan D. King

    On this site, I have often gone on record as both critic and a satirist of Peter Jackson's Tolkien travesties. From letting the Catholic out of the Baggins to the dumbing down of the dialogue, Peter Jackson's film treatments would not have received an enthusiastic reception had the creator of Middle Earth still been alive. They would have prompted, at the very least, an outraged letter from Tolkien, who would have demanded that Peter Jackson "show a little respect for the author." (See "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien", #210, Tolkien's Comments on Morton Grady Zimmerman's 1958 Film Treatment for "The Lord of the Rings"). 

    Even so, the film industry has wreaked literary havoc well beyond Tolkien's Middle Earth Legendarium. From the Demi Moore adaptation of "The Scarlet Letter" to the Emma Thompson assault on "Brideshead Revisited", the hall of shame goes ever on and on. In fact, one shudders to think of how much greater damage an even less scrupulous director might have wreaked. For this reason, I have created the following examples as a reminder, both to myself and to my fellow Tolkien purists. It could have been worse. It could have been a lot worse...
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  • January 26th, 2015How to Find Communion in a Church that Doesn’t Careby Kevin O'Brien


    In the comment section of my most recent post on the clergy sex scandal, reader Michael R. asks ...

    Got any advice for a Catholic who doesn't know where to stand with the clergy?
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  • January 22nd, 2015C. S. Lewis & the Catholic Churchby Joseph Pearce

    A week or so ago I gave an interview to a Spanish magazine on C. S. Lewis and the Catholic Church. I'm delighted to see that this has been picked up by the Catholic News Agency, thereby ensuring that the interview has an English-speaking readership also. Here's the link:

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=3085

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  • January 22nd, 2015C. S. Lewis & the Catholic Churchby Joseph Pearce

    A week or so ago I gave an interview to a Spanish magazine on C. S. Lewis and the Catholic Church. I'm delighted to see that this has been picked up by the Catholic News Agency, thereby ensuring that the interview has an English-speaking readership also. Here's the link:

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=3085

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  • January 22nd, 2015Why Should I Learn This?by Joseph Pearce

    The Kindle and ePub versions of Why Should I Learn This?, published by Homeschool Connections, to which I contributed a chapter on Shakespeare, are now available. They are uploaded to the Homeschool Connections website and ready for download:  http://homeschoolconnectionsonline.com/free-ebook.

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  • January 22nd, 2015Tolkien on Mortality, Myth and Moreby Kevin O'Brien

    Here are some clips of an excellent special recently aired by EWTN, in which I portray J. R. R. Tolkien, and in which author Joseph Pearce describes the Catholic elements of The Lord of the Rings.  Everything I say as Tolkien are word-for-word quotations from his writings.  The special also features artwork by Jef Murray.  As you can see, this was a very well produced program, and is well worth the $10 EWTN is selling the DVDs for.

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  • January 20th, 2015Solzhenitsyn: Triumph of the Christian Willby Joseph Pearce

    I'm honoured to have been quoted today in an excellent article about Solzhenitsyn on the Investor's Business Daily's website:

    http://news.investors.com/management-leaders-in-success/012015-735309-alexander-solzhenitsyns-exposed-ussrs-prison-camps.htm?p=full

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  • January 19th, 2015Catholic Daughters on Catholic Giantsby Joseph Pearce

    I was pleased to see a review of my book Catholic Literary Giants in Share, the magazine of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas:

    http://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/CDA_Share_Winter_2014-15/#/38

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  • January 19th, 2015Eucatastrophe and The Hobbitby Joseph Pearce

    Having recently discovered a wonderful and wonder-filled new website, eucastrophe.com, I was especially gratified to discover that one of my own videos promoting the Catholic Course on The Hobbit has been uploaded to the site:

    http://www.eucatastrophe.com/?p=1133

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  • January 19th, 2015The Best of Ratzingerby Joseph Pearce

    Continuing my custom of sharing correspondence with my current and former students with visitors to the Ink Desk, here's the reply to a student asking for advice on which three books by Ratzinger (prior to his election as pope) I would recommend for special focus.

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  • January 19th, 2015Is Beauty Sacramental?by Joseph Pearce

    A former student of mine is currently embarked on a research project on the topic of "sacramental beauty". She sent me some questions related to her topic which are published here, together with my response.

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