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.

  • October 30th, 2014The Evidence for Shakespeare’s Catholicismby Joseph Pearce

    I've received an e-mail from a student studying Theatre History who is doing a research project on Shakespeare's Catholicism. The student requested a list of books and essays offering evidence that Shakespeare was a believing Catholic.

    My Response:

    Regarding your question, you should check out the extensive five-page bibliography in my book, The Quest for Shakespeare. Books I would particularly recommend on Shakespeare's Catholicism (apart from my own three books on the topic!) are:

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  • October 29th, 2014Boorstin, Creativity, and Augustineby Daniel J. Heisey

    While nine of his twenty-two books are still in print, albeit in paperback, Random House, under its Vintage imprint, has brought out a new hardcover edition of Daniel J. Boorstin’s The Creators.  Boorstin (1914-2004) was a master of clear, succinct prose that went to the heart of any subject he chose to study.  Among his many interests was the theology of history presented by Saint Augustine of Hippo.

    Born in Atlanta, Georgia, but reared in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Boorstin began his career as a lawyer, having studied at Harvard, Yale, and Oxford.  A Rhodes Scholar, he distinguished himself by being admitted to the bar both in America and in Britain.  He then taught for twenty-five years at the University of Chicago, and his professional life culminated with service as Librarian of Congress from 1975 to 1987.  Between 1958 and 1973 wrote The Americans, a highly-acclaimed three-volume history of the United States.  In 1962 he wrote The Image, about the trend towards publicity and celebrity being dominant features in modern life.

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  • October 29th, 2014Painter of the Popesby Joseph Pearce

    I had the inestimable honour recently of interviewing the Russian artist, Igor Babailov, now resident in Nashville, who has painted official portraits of the last three popes, as well as celebrated portraits of George Washington, George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin and many others. Babailov, indubitably one of the greatest artists alive today, is a vociferous champion of realism and is critical of much of the nonsense in modern art. In short, he is a veritable breath of fresh air in a very stale environment!

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  • October 28th, 2014Light from the Dark Continentby Joseph Pearce

    In the days of yore, the days of discovery, exploration and empire, Africa was known as the Dark Continent. Today, as the so-called developed world falls into shadow, the continent of Africa is becoming a beacon of light and a source of hope. From an EWTN program called "The Vocation Boom," this statistic.

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  • October 28th, 2014R. H. Benson 1914 - 2014: A Tributeby Joseph Pearce

    I have just received an e-mail from an Argentinian journalist writing an article to commemorate the centenary of the death of the great literary convert, R. H. Benson. He sent me some questions, the answers to which I thought would serve as a suitable tribute to Benson on the Ink Desk.

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  • October 23rd, 2014A New Catholic Literary Revivalby Joseph Pearce

    Recent years have seen a significant increase in the quantity and quality of new Catholic fiction and poetry. This being so, it is gratifying to see that several new literature awards are being launched in response to this new Catholic literary revival. As Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College, I’m pleased to announce that we have initiated the Aquinas Award for Fiction, the first of which will be presented at a conference at Aquinas College in Nashville next autumn.

    The Aquinas Award and several other awards are featured in this article, just published in the National Catholic Register:

    http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/trend-of-cash-prizes-gives-major-boost-for-modern-catholic-literature#When:2014-10-23%2017:40:01

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  • October 22nd, 2014Sex Sex Sex Sex Sex Sex Sex - oh, and Loveby Kevin O'Brien



    Most modern people don't think highly enough of sex.

    That sounds crazy, but let me explain.

    One of my regular readers gets regularly mad at me when I make the analogy between adultery and "gay sex".  Her point is that a sexual orientation is something you just can't help, and it defines who you are, and it has nothing to do with sin.  She rejects the Catholic teaching that a homosexual orientation is intrinsically disordered and should be resisted with the virtue of chastity.

    But, interestingly, when Facebook friend Mark S. Schmittle posted this comment ...

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  • October 22nd, 2014Great Talks by Ralph Wood on Lewis and Tolkienby Joseph Pearce

    Last night I had the honour and pleasure to give a talk here in Nashville to members of the Catholic Medical Association on the theme of “Suffering, Addiction and Healing in The Lord of the Rings”. I was told that I was following in the footsteps of the wonderful and inestimable Ralph C. Wood who had spoken several months earlier on C. S. Lewis to the same group. During his visit he also spoke at Aquinas College on The Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately Dr. Wood’s visit preceded my own arrival at Aquinas College so we weren’t destined to meet on this occasion. The last time I met Professor Wood, whose work I greatly admire, was at the national Chesterton Conference in Reno, Nevada two years ago.

    My disappointment at missing Dr. Wood’s talks was mitigated by the fact that all three of the talks that he gave during his visit to Nashville were videoed and have been uploaded to the Catholic Medical Association’s website. This being so, I thought I’d share them with visitors to the Ink Desk:

    http://www.nashvillecma.org/cma_web_documents_016.htm

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  • October 22nd, 2014Marriage, Divorce and the Modern Mindby Kevin O'Brien

    The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article over the weekend that examines the case of a divorced couple, with the ex-husband seeking an annulment over the ex-wife's objections. 

    The ex-wife, a Protestant, is not at all bothered that her husband divorced her and "re-married", contrary to the clear teachings of Jesus Christ.  The thought of renouncing the vows you make to the person you promise to love for the rest of your life is apparently no big deal (by the way, for each of them it was their second marriage).  What bothers this woman is the thought that her second marriage "never happened".

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  • October 22nd, 2014Here it is…by Dena Hunt

    About two years ago, I posted a suggestion that the Church get out of the marriage business as soon as possible. I proposed that it’s actually a violation of the Constitutional separation of church and state that clerics of any sort should have the authority to perform legally binding ceremonies, which are actually a function of government and not of religion. (The emphasis here is on “legal,” not on “marriage.”) Couples could have a religious ceremony if they want one and if the clergyman is willing to perform it, but the clergyman should not have any legal authority to make such a ceremony binding in any way. All couples would have to enter into a government-composed binding contract in order to be legally married.

    I remember that a couple of comments were appalled by the idea that the Church should surrender any influence at all on public civil life.  Here’s the reason:

     http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/christian-ministers-told-to-perform-gay-weddings-or-face-jail-time-74865/

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  • October 22nd, 2014Arguing with G. K. Chestertonby Joseph Pearce

    Having had the foolhardy audacity last week to argue with C. S. Lewis about “love”, I have picked a fight this week with another giant, G. K. Chesterton, this time about the “common man”.

    Watch the fight here:  

    http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/10/vulgar-mob-arguing-g-k-chesterton.html#more-51601

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  • October 20th, 2014Tolkien on Lewis’s Christianityby Joseph Pearce

    I write from Nashville, where I’m currently teaching my class on “Modern Christian Writers”. Today we were tackling Chesterton’s Man Who was Thursday. Returning to my office from the classroom, I came across an e-mail in my in-box enquiring about Tolkien’s attitude to Lewis’s conversion to Anglicanism. The exact wording of the e-mail is given below. My brief response follows.

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  • October 18th, 2014On St. Luke’s Feastby Dena Hunt

    I’ve heard that St. Luke’s Gospel is the favorite of women. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s my favorite and I’m a woman. Men prefer St. John’s, so I’ve been told, which might be a little surprising, since St. John’s is called the “poetic” Gospel.

    I never knew why I liked St. Luke’s best, but one minor bit of obscure history may help a little to explain it. The testimony of women is notably absent in the New Testament. That’s because the women’s testimony was never permitted – never deemed credible – in the Jewish society of Jesus’ time. It may be noted that Mary Magdalen’s testimony that Jesus was risen, that she had seen him and spoken with him, was disbelieved by the apostles, still in hiding, on that Easter morning.

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  • October 18th, 2014Approaching what is Real: Don Quixote, God, and the Rest of Usby Kevin O'Brien

    For they had bartered the reality of God for what is unreal, and had offered divine honors and religious service to created things, rather than to the Creator--He who is for ever blessed. Amen. (Rom. 1:25)


    As we drive around the country performing murder mystery dinner theater shows, my actress Maria Romine and I listen to audio books.  We've lately been listening to Don Quixote, the unabridged version, read very well by George Guidall.

    It's a 40 hour long production, and we're only about five hours into it.  But we're listening to parts that I've never read (my printed version is abridged). 

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  • October 16th, 2014Hobbit-Sized Saxonsby Joseph Pearce

    A friend of mine in England has just started a hobbit-sized business making miniature figures of Anglo-Saxon warriors. Tolkien would certainly approve! If you're able to support this noble venture by starting your own miniature army of warriors, please do so!

    http://saxonminiatures.com/

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  • October 16th, 2014Sausage-Making at the Synodby Kevin Kennelly

    It has been described as the most embarrassing document in the history of the Catholic Church. We refer to the ....words fail....disastrous , tragicomic "Relatio" released by Francis' synod. Three interpretations present themselves: a) by the modernists - the liberal view of things has triumphed . Get on board or be left behind by HISTORY. Homosexual relationships can be a "gift;" b) by real Catholics - the document is ipso facto corrupt, a historical slap in the face to all good Catholics in what is the previously civilized Judeo Christian civilization. And "c" wherein Father Robert Barron of "Catholicism" ( the TV series) fame says "....take a deep breath." Have a sense of historical perspective , read the whole document and have faith that the whole thing will play out in a productive way. It is a given that Catholic moral theology is a form of three dimensional chess ....not checkers.....but the angst remains. Oremus pro invicem.

    http://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2014/10/15/sausage-making_at_the_synod.html

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  • October 15th, 2014Chesterton On Demandby Joseph Pearce

    I've just received news of an exciting development from the American Chesterton Society. All of the lectures from the 2013 Conference held at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, are now available on-line. These include talks by Dale Ahlquist, Peter Kreeft, Yours Truly and many others.

    For more details: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/acs2013/107585826

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  • October 15th, 2014“American Literature and Christian Faith”by Joseph Pearce

    Preview of the Next Issue of the St. Austin Review

    The November/December issue is on the theme of “American Literature and Christian Faith”.

    Featuring Articles on Herman Melville, Henry James, Willa Cather, Flannery O’Connor, Jack Kerouac, Walker Percy , and Raymond Carver.

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  • October 15th, 2014William Baer on the Craft of Verseby Brendan D. King

    The following selections are from "Writing Metrical Poetry: Contemporary Lessons for Mastering Traditional Forms" by William Baer. Writer's Digest Books, 2006.

    "What Distinguishes Poetry from Prose."

    Pages 3-4,

    By William Baer.

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  • October 15th, 2014The Decline and Fall at 250by Daniel J. Heisey

    If, as Alfred North Whitehead said, the European philosophical tradition is but a series of footnotes to Plato, all of history about Rome is but footnotes to Gibbon.  From the time the first of the six volumes of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire rolled off the press (in 1776) until now, historians writing about the Roman Empire have had to take into account that smug, pudgy, eloquent little man’s version of ancient people and events.

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What are your thoughts on the subject?