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.

  • February 22nd, 2015A Little Lenten Storyby Dena Hunt

    It’s about excess and about privation.

    Today, some acquaintances and I went to another town to visit a priest who used to be in our parish, one we admired and loved. I’d had difficulty making petsitter arrangements and commented on that recurring problem.

    “Dogs?” scoffed an elderly lady, widowed twice. “I don’t want any dogs, no pets, no responsibilities.” Understandable. She’s blessed with family and friends who love her a great deal, but at this point, being able to go anywhere anytime at will is what’s most important to her. I’ve seen this attitude in other elderly friends. It’s especially understandable if a mate suffered a long illness before passing, but even if that’s not the case, just having raised, more or less successfully, a number of children is cause for feeling that one deserves freedom from perceived “responsibility.” They’ve had excess of a kind and are more than ready for a little privation.

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  • February 22nd, 2015How to Readby Dena Hunt

    Joseph’s post (“How to Read Great Literature,” Feb. 15) reminded me of a mini-lecture I used to deliver to students at the beginning of Intro Lit, a course that met the humanities requirement of many students who were not English or Humanities majors. How does one wade through and comprehend literary texts when one hates reading even modern fast-paced thrillers? How does one find a purpose sufficient for motivation when one’s only real purpose is to somehow get through this course with a decent grade? Most of them were science/technology or business majors. I summarized Donald Hall’s classic “Four Ways to Read,” adding a twist by linking it to intellectual development.

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  • February 19th, 2015Pilgrim Journalby Dena Hunt

    The intrepid young Bronwen McShea, Columbia history professor, has just notified me that a new Lenten edition of her online journal is up. If you have not yet visited PILGRIM: A Journal of Catholic Experience, you’re in for an enriching and perhaps surprising experience of excellent art, essays, poetry, and fiction:


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  • February 19th, 2015Hope in the Ashesby Joseph Pearce

    I am gratified and humbled by the people with whom I am blessed to work at the St. Austin Review. Since StAR's official launch, four days before 9/11, I have been joined by a noble band of brothers and sisters in our shared labour of love to bring the evangelizing power of beauty to a world in desperate need of the presence of the Divine. Today I am especially honoured to highlight the work being done by StAR columnist, Fr. Benedict Kiely, to help the persecuted Christians of the Middle East. Here's a link to a recent news report on the charity that he's launched:


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  • February 17th, 2015“Fifty Shades of Grey” and the Islamic Stateby Kevin O'Brien

    I think there is a connection between Fifty Shades of Grey and the Islamic State, and it's not the obvious one: the fact that devout Muslims, like devout Christians, would see sexual perversion and pornography as decadent and sinful.  No, there's something deeper than that.

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  • February 17th, 2015What is Science?by Joseph Pearce

    Why is scientism unscientific? Why is Aristotle right about science and why is modernity wrong? These and a host of other questions are asked and hopefully answered in my latest article for the Imaginative Conservative:


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  • February 17th, 2015A Little of Lothlorien in the Heart of Barcelonaby Joseph Pearce

    There's a good and thought-provoking article by Cardinal Pell in the UK Catholic Herald about Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona:


    I had a private tour of this wonderful basilica last year and, like Pell, was converted by its theological and aesthetic charm from my previously skeptical position. I have a couple of books on the architect, Antoni Gaudi, a devout Catholic. His vision might best be described as elvish, in the sense that he endeavours to express the organic life of the Church in his eschewing of straight lines and strict geometry in favour of the arboreal. The interior looks almost like an ossified Lothlorien, with tree-like columns ascending to the heavens. There is also an abundance of profound symbolism to the whole design. Agreeing with His Eminence, I see this truly edifying edifice as a symbol of Europe's resurrection.

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  • February 16th, 2015Gerald Ford and Kenneth Clarkby Daniel J. Heisey

    In Conservatism (1956) Peter Viereck noted that British thinkers tend to see conservatism as “an inarticulate state of mind.”  He explained, “The liberal and rationalist mind consciously articulates abstract blueprints; the conservative mind unconsciously incarnates concrete traditions.”  Although Viereck did not cite him, Stanley Baldwin summed up this view by saying, “I would rather trust a woman’s instinct than a man’s reason.”

    In twentieth-century American political history, Gerald Ford (1913-2006) represented that inarticulate frame of mind, not only because as a boy he dealt with a stammer or as an adult could not pronounce certain words, so that, for example, professors and other intellectuals were to Ford “acamedicians.”  The United States’ thirty-eighth President knew he was not eloquent, and he liked a line written for him:  “I am a Ford, not a Lincoln.”

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  • February 15th, 2015How to Read Great Literatureby Joseph Pearce

    Over the past few years I've been teaching on-line courses for Homeschool Connections. I am currently in the midst of teaching a course on The Merchant of Venice, having previously taught courses on Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet and King Lear. In late June and early July I'll be teaching one of the courses in the Homeschool Connections Summer School. My course will be on "How to Read Great Literature" and will look at the literary techniques employed in great works, such as the Iliad, the Odyssey, Beowulf, the Divine Comedy, the Canterbury Tales, the plays of Shakespeare, and the works of Tolkien, Lewis, Hopkins and Eliot. The course is open to people of all ages. Please follow this link for further details: 

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  • February 12th, 2015When the Devils Winby Kevin O'Brien

    I had just come from an experience that preyed upon me in ways that are hard to describe.  I had seen a common sight - the true Faith knocked down and a false one set mockingly in its place.  I often see this at suburban Masses, but today I saw it up close, outside of Mass.  I won't go into details, but it had disturbed me.

    At any rate, I was walking and feeling better, but something was nagging at me, a little devil, the kind of devil who has gained the world but lost his soul.  Devils who do this get very smug.  If you show any kind of faith around them, they smile condescendingly at your naivety.  If you show any kind of enthusiasm, they patiently endure your childishness.  They sneer at hope, since the only emotion for the truly sophisticated is a tired cynical ennui.  Belief and trust in anything is simply the symptom of immaturity and a lack of education, you see.

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  • February 12th, 2015Is Britain Dead?by Joseph Pearce

    The question is asked and answered in my latest article for the Imaginative Conservative:


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  • February 12th, 2015The Feminine Principle, cont.by Dena Hunt

    Continuing the discussion (February 2nd) of the destruction of the feminine principle of Being by the masculine principle of Doing, I should mention again the absolute necessity of balance and harmony of those two modes of all existence. Nature, indeed all of life, depends on it.  Ironically, the abstraction is easier to grasp for less intellectual, more agrarian cultures than for our modern more sophisticated times. Only when we recognize that this balance goes all the way back to pre-mythology of mother-earth and father-heaven can we understand the cataclysm of its destruction.

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  • February 12th, 2015White Gloves and Methodismby Kevin Kennelly

    If the attached picture were given a title it might be  "Civilization." Ladies in white gloves and gentlemen ( GENTLEMEN!) coming out of church .... that's what people used to do ,before football took over, on Sunday morning. While I am Catholic , my sainted mother was a Methodist and I will be forever grateful for the beauty of spirit that once great Christian church instilled in her. Can they get it back ? Oremus.

    See the attached image and the article here: http://juicyecumenism.com/2015/01/28/fifty-years-since-methodism-grew-in-america/

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  • February 9th, 2015Hobbits, Elves and Menby Joseph Pearce

    The latest Tolkien Special that I've written and presented for EWTN is now available for purchase on DVD. It's an hour long feast celebrating the Catholicism to be found in Tolkien's masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. Featuring the acting talents of Kevin O'Brien, the artistic gifts of Jef Murray, and the production and editing skills of the team at EWTN, this latest DVD, the third that we've recorded, is entitled Hobbits, Elves and Men.

    Here's the link to the DVD on the EWTN's website:


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  • February 9th, 2015Storm Troopers of Secularism: Lessons for Today from the Nazi Pastby Joseph Pearce

    The next issue of the St. Austin Review is winging its way to the printers. The theme of the March/April issue is “Storm Troopers of Secularism: Lessons for Today from the Nazi Past”.

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  • February 9th, 2015R. H. Benson versus G. K. Chestertonby Joseph Pearce

    I've received an e-mail from a high school principal asking my advice on whether R. H. Benson's Lord of the World would be suitable reading for his senior honors classes as a theology text. Here's my response:

    I love Lord of the World but I have mixed feelings about whether it should be a set text for high school students. It's very dark and could be misread as being defeatist, in the sense that the secular/demonic forces appear to emerge victorious and are only defeated offstage, i.e. after the novel's end, by a deus ex machina, i.e. the Apocalypse. I know that you would prevent a misreading but I'm still concerned that spiritually and emotionally immature teenagers could see the book as suggestive of the world's omnipotence and the Church's impotence. A more theologically uplifting work of fiction, me judice, would be Chesterton's Ball and the Cross.

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  • February 6th, 2015Church or State: Who Should Genuflect to Whom?by Joseph Pearce

    A friend has sent me a photograph of representatives of the Orthodox Church opening the Greek Parliament. He described this as an "effective merger of state and church" which "does not speak well for Greek Orthodoxy". I begged to differ.

    Here's my response:

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  • February 6th, 2015Fiction Prizeby Dena Hunt

    It’s that time again. Tuscany Press offers prizes for unpublished Catholic fiction. See the link below. Over $13,000 waiting to be won.


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  • February 2nd, 2015The Feminine Principleby Dena Hunt

    I’ve written on this topic before, so if I am a bit tedious, I apologize.

    "Everything is like sex, except sex.” That’s an expression I’ve heard more than once. Literally everything in nature, everything in the physical world (and the spiritual, as far as the human imagination can muster), whether created by God or man—is like sex. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis, is universal: The positive (active, male) and the negative (passive, female) are united and something/someone new is made. At its most elemental, pre-mythological level, earth is soil, watered by heaven, to bring forth life. From there, allegories emerge.

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  • February 2nd, 2015More Big-Hearted Big Businessby Joseph Pearce

    A few weeks ago I posted the link to a wonderful TV commercial for a grocery chain in the UK celebrating the Christmas Truce in the Trenches of World War One. Today I'm delighted to post another commercial by a big-hearted big business, this time Pampers, which celebrates the joy of life, especially the joy of openness to life:


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What are your thoughts on the subject?