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 23rd, 2012Prince Charles and Bilbo Bagginsby Joseph Pearce

    Who would have guessed it? Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, is a great admirer of J. R. R. Tolkien! Here's the evidence.

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  • October 22nd, 2012The Best of London and Parisby Joseph Pearce

    A friend of mine has just written to ask for recommendations of places to visit in London and Paris this weekend. Considering that visitors to the Ink Desk might also be planning or hoping to visit England or France, I thought I'd share my recommendations here. This is my reply to my friend:

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  • October 22nd, 2012Pasternak on Shakespeare and Dostoyevskyby Joseph Pearce

    My friend, Brendan King, who has contributed regularly to the print edition of StAR has forwarded me this fine piece by Boris Pasternak on the similarities between Macbeth and Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment.

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  • October 22nd, 2012Pope Pius XII: Martyred by Mendacityby Joseph Pearce

    The great Pope Pius XII has been an inspiration to me ever since I read Pollock's Mind of Pius XII many years ago. Inspired by Pius' defence of social justice against the iniquities of communism, fascism and hedonistic capitalism, I continued to learn and explore the wisdom of Catholic social teaching on my journey to eventual conversion. The great pope is, therefore, one of the figures to whom I'm deeply indebted for bringing me to Christ and His Church. More recently, Pius XII has been the victim of a smear campaign based on lies, damned lies and propaganda. Much maligned by the enemies of truth, he has been martyred by mendacity. This being so, I was delighted to see an article in defence of Pius by Father Rutler in today's Crisis Magazine.

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  • October 18th, 2012God and Macbethby Kevin O'Brien

    There is in all of reality an inherent quality that we deny at our peril.  Dorothy L. Sayers calls it "judgment".  It is what tragedy is all about.

    Take Shakespeare's Macbeth. 

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  • October 17th, 2012Real/Unreal, and the Irrelevance of Either/Bothby Dena Hunt

    I make odd connections. I don’t do it consciously—it’s accidental rather than deliberate. For example, the neurosurgeon’s adventure into the afterlife, reported in Joseph’s recent post, synched oddly with “Hobbit Day” at a children’s school in Lancashire. The basis of the weird synchronicity may have been “real versus unreal” because it brought to mind an idea I once had long ago, which I dismissed at the time.

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  • October 16th, 2012Exposing Big Brotherby Joseph Pearce

    Eduard Volodarsky, the Russian screenwriter who died on October 8, was a powerful dissident voice in the Soviet Union whose work was banned for its depiction of the horrors of life in the Socialist Utopia. Defying communist propaganda and the deliberate falsification of Soviet history, Volodarsky collaborated with the dissident director Alexei German on several classic films that were banned until the dawn of the era of perestroika. Amongst his other achievements, Volodarsky played a significant role in the demythologising of Lenin, illustrating that the brutality of the Soviet system was initiated by its founder, not by his successor, Josef Stalin, the latter of whom merely built on Lenin's bloodthirsty legacy. Here's the obituary to Volodarsky in today's Telegraph.

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  • October 16th, 2012The Creed of Greedby Joseph Pearce

    The present economic and political crisis gripping Europe and the United States is first and foremost a crisis of morality. A lack of prudence and temperance, caused by a creed of greed and materialism, is at the root of the economic meltdown. Nor is the creed of greed restricted to one side of the conventional political spectrum. The greed of bankers and usurers, aided and abetted by the greed of credit-addicted consumers, is one half of the problem; the other half of the problem is the greed of Big Brother socialism, aided and abetted by the greed of welfare-addicted proletarians. Neither side is willing to face the moral cause of the problem because both sides are ultimately on the same side. Regardless of the extent to which the capitalists blame the socialists for the problem, or vice versa, the fact remains that both sides believe that self-indulgence is the goal of the "good life". In my book, Small is Still Beautiful (ISI Books), I echo the wisdom of the great economist and Catholic convert, E. F. Schumacher, who insisted that the practice of the cardinal virtues was the only path to genuine prosperity, for individuals and for society as a whole. The creed of greed leads to moral and material meltdown and the misery which is its consequence. A life of virtue leads to a better life here and now and to everlasting life in the hereafter. The choice facing each of us as individuals and all of us as members of a genuine brotherhood of man is not only simple but obvious. Choose virtue and we will live a free and full life; choose vice and we will find ourselves trapped in its vice-like grip.

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  • October 15th, 2012The Truth About Shakespeare’s Graveby Joseph Pearce

    I've received an e-mail enquiring about the relevance of Shakespeare's being buried in Holy Trinity church in Stratford. I'm quoting thre relevant part of the e-mail here. My answer follows below.

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  • October 12th, 2012Wine and Verseby Joseph Pearce

    My latest sojourn at Thomas More College is drawing to a close. Earlier today, having hiked in the autumnal splendour of northern Massachusetts, I returned to campus for the latest Traditio lecture, at which the entire student body assembles to watch me and college President William Fahey argue about a suitably contentious topic. Last time we discussed Waugh's classic novel, Brideshead Revisited; this time the topic was the Poetry of Faith.

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  • October 12th, 2012Hobbits in Lancashireby Joseph Pearce

    Lord David Alton has forwarded a charming link to a local television report in Lancashire about a special "hobbit day" at St. Mary's Hall of Stoneyhurst College. The young students are decidedly cute as hobbits and the teacher dressed as Gandalf exhibits the apporpriate degree of amiable eccentricity. For lovers of Tolkien, I can safely predict that this will be the happiest two and a half minutes of their day. Enjoy!
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  • October 12th, 2012What Should Children Read?by Joseph Pearce

    Today's Crisis Magazine has a rare essay by Russell Kirk on children's literature. It's an interesting piece of writing in its own right but it might prove particularly useful as a guide for parents of young children.

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  • October 10th, 2012More Popular Than Jesus?by Joseph Pearce

    Back in the 1960s John Lennon claimed that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. In this, as in so little else, he could be seen to be a prophet. It was, for instance, sickeningly noteworthy that the closing rite of the London Olympics culminated in Lennon's imagining that there was no religion.

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  • October 10th, 2012The Afterlife: A No-Brainerby Joseph Pearce

    There's nothing more shocking to our materialistic culture than a scientist who insists that he has proof of the truths of religion. One can imagine, therefore, the tremors that have accompanied the disclosure of a leading neurosurgeon that the materialistic presumptions about the function of the brain have been disproved definitively and that the after-life is an actual and spiritual reality.

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  • October 10th, 2012GKC in Londonby Sophia Mason

    London in November doesn't sound like much fun I know (unless you're one of those crazy people, like your humble servant, who positively enjoys rotten weather); but I would defy anyone not to want to be in London this November for ... drumroll please! ... The G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture's conference on "Chesterton @ the Daily News."

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  • October 10th, 2012The Stepford Serversby Joseph Pearce

    Recently I found myself at LaGuardia airport in New York, waiting for a connecting flight. With time on my hands I was drawn to a restaurant which had individual ipads at each table. Wishing to check my e-mails, and having not brought my laptop with me, I took a seat and waited in vain for a server to approach me.

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  • October 10th, 2012Brother Wine and Sister Laughterby Joseph Pearce

    This week I am in New Hampshire, teaching at Thomas More College and Mount Royal Academy.

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  • October 10th, 2012Used to Beby Sophia Mason

    So I was driving home Sunday night, listening to 88.5 FM as usual, and heard that Andy Williams had died.  Aside from the fact that he was a good singer, in the mode of Bing Crosby or Dean Martin, I knew (and still know) next to nothing about him.  But Ed Walker played a couple pieces of his that started me thinking.

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  • October 9th, 2012Faith and Freedomby Joseph Pearce

    In an unprecedented manner, I have decided to release the editorial for the forthcoming issue of StAR prior to its customary first publication in the journal itself. Having released it for exclusive first publication in Crisis Magazine last Friday, I am delighted to see that it has also been published on the Acton Institute's website and also on the Catholic Education site linked below. Although my editorials have never been published on the web before and are usually only available to those who subscribe to the print edition of StAR, I thought that the proximity of the forthcoming Presidential election made it prudent to publish it earlier than its scheduled publication in the November/December edition. Since it's already spreading through cyber-space, we might as well publish it on the Ink Desk also. Here's the link: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/philosophy/ph0115.htm

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  • October 9th, 2012Quiet is Better than a Karaoke Partyby Kevin O'Brien

    My wife Karen has me read to her the daily Mass readings, followed by commentaries from two different books.  The one book, as I've pointed out earlier, sometimes has dreadful commentaries.  Today's was pretty bad, for example.  Taking "you knit me together in my mother's womb" from Psalm 139, the commentary has the reader imagine his own birthday party, with God stepping up to the microphone to tell the reader how good the reader is and how God thinks about him all the time and can't take His eyes off him and thinks he's just grand, and so forth.  Yes, I know, I'm thinking what you're thinking.  Why does God need a microphone?

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