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 13th, 2014How Many Loves? Arguing with C. S. Lewisby Joseph Pearce

    In may latest article for the Imaginative Conservative, I have the temerity and some might say foolhardiness to argue with the great C. S. Lewis about the meaning of love. Am I mad, or merely arrogant, or do I perhaps have a point?

    Read on:

    http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/10/how-many-loves-arguing-with-cs-lewis.html

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  • October 13th, 2014Did Oscar Wilde say Dracula was the best novel ever written?by Joseph Pearce

    I've just received an inquiry from a Spanish journalist working in Barcelona for a cultural quiz show for Antena 3, a Spanish Television Channel (the equivalent of NBC’s ‘Who’s still Standing?’).

    Her work consists in writing the questions and checking if they are correct  and well formulated, in order to be as precise as possible and make sure that the show doesn’t spread wrong information to its contestants and audience. She was seeking to verify the question: Did Oscar Wilde say Dracula was the best novel ever written?

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  • October 12th, 2014Shylock the Puritanby Brendan D. King

    I first read Father Peter Milward's conclusions about Shylock, the Jewish antagonist of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" in Claire Asquith's "Shadowplay." According to Father Milward, a staunch believer in the Catholic Shakespeare, Shylock was a thinly disguised Puritan rather than a Jew. In arguing this conclusion, Father Milward strengthened a belief I had already held about Shylock for quite some time.

    Among my many consuming interests is a fascination with Jewish culture. As a result, I had already read scores of Modern and Medieval Jewish folktales, proverbs, and memoirs before reading "The Merchant of Venice". When I finally did so, I was shocked to find Shylock's whole range of expression completely foreign to me.

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  • October 12th, 2014Chesterton on the Bayouby Joseph Pearce

    It seems that Chesterton Conferences and Chesterton Academies are springing up all over the country. Regarding the former, I have spoken at three Chesterton conferences in the past two months. In August, I was one of numerous speakers at the American Chesterton Society's national conference in Illinois, and last month I spoke at two separate Chesterton conferences in Upstate New York, one in Buffalo and the other in Rochester. 

    As regards Chesterton Academies, there are several being founded around the country following the model established in the Twin Cities.

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  • October 12th, 2014Confessionby Dena Hunt

    I used to turn on the news on my kitchen TV every day at four o’clock when I started to cook supper.* It was, I thought, a way of catching up with the world, of finding out what was going on, but I discovered too often that I had to stop and lag behind where I actually was just in order to find out where the world was, and I grew weary of listening to people’s political opinions of what was going on. Speculation having replaced reporting some time long ago, the news channel has pretty much lost any real value.

    I remembered a news broadcast made on Christmas Eve (I think) back in 1980 (I think). Roger Mudd, a major news anchorman of the time reported the evening news from the Eternal City on some pronouncement or other made by Caesar, comments made by this or that senator, the quashing of some uprising someplace in the empire, etc.—all well researched and all major news events of the day, and toward the close of the broadcast, he reported on a minor phenomenon discovered by court astronomers of an unusually bright light that appeared in the night sky in a little village in the southern part of a province known as Judea.  It was very well done. Since then, attempts have been made to replicate the original broadcast, but none have been so successful. The message was very clear.

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  • October 10th, 2014The Mischievous Spirit of Oscar Wildeby Joseph Pearce

    Yesterday, at the hotel in Worcester, Massachusetts, at which I was staying during my visit to Holy Cross College, famous to Chestertonians for GKC's filmed visit there during the dark days of Prohibition, I found a few moments to read this excellent article by Sean Fitzpatrick on Wilde's "Canterville Ghost". It's a delightfully rollicking piece of writing.

    My only criticism is Mr. Fitzpatrick's quoting of Wilde's iconoclastic "moral or immoral book" aphorism without balancing it, as is surely necessary, with the other aphorisms from the same Preface (to Dorian Gray) which contradict it.

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/canterville-ghost-oscar-wilde-well-written-hell-raising

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  • October 9th, 2014Colson & Neuhausby Kevin Kennelly

    Chuck Colson and Richard John Neuhaus were each giants spiritually and in advocating the Christian world view in the realm of public policy.....what Neuhaus called the "Public Square." Colson regularly spent Easter Sunday in various prisons presenting Christ to otherwise hopeless men. His Prison Ministry lives on. Father John Neuhaus was a Lutheran priest who became a Catholic priest and one of the most brilliant and revered Christian public intellectuals  in the Unites States .On the side he was a very holy man. His deeds live on in the form of the journal First Things wherein he brought together high church Protestants, Evangelicals, real Catholics and believing Jews. In concert with Colson and others he  created a serious, balanced and deeply thoughtful movement representing the Judeo Christian tradition in the public square.

    In "Ghosts of Colson and Neuhaus ", the well-known and productive Rod Dreher reports on a recent seminar put together by Rusty Reno at the office of First Things. Mr .Dreher gracefully does not "over report" on who participated in the meeting or what was said except to the extent that certain talks are to be published in First Things and are therefore of a public nature. These talks .... by Michael Hanby, George Weigel and by Dreher ...... are vividly described by Mr. Dreher in "Ghosts." We have traversed from Ozzie and Harriet to The Simpsons to Family Matters ......not a good vector.

    The full article is found here: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/ghosts-chuck-colson-richard-john-neuhaus-first-things/

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  • October 6th, 2014Sassoon Resurrectedby Joseph Pearce

    In my book Literary Converts I wrote about the many major writers in the twentieth century who embraced Catholicism. Many of these, such as Newman, Chesterton, Eliot, Waugh, Greene, Tolkien and Lewis, receive the attention they deserve. Others such as Belloc, Baring, Campbell, Noyes and Benson are unjustly neglected. There is one poet, however, whose current neglect is nothing less than scandalous. I refer to that marvelous writer, Siegfried Sassoon, whose portrait is the centrepiece of a triptych of portraits gracing our living room (he is flanked by Belloc and Chesterton). 

    One of my ambitions is to publish an edition of Sassoon's poetry, interlaced with my own biographical and literary musings, charting his long and ultimately triumphal path to Rome. Since this project will be a labour of love and is unlikely to be financially remunerative, I am seeking a good old-fashioned patron to finance the project. Catholic benefactors, please bear it in mind! In the interim, I'm delighted to learn that Cambridge University has made Sassoon's diaries available on-line:

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/the-compulsive-chronicles-of-siegfried-sassoon-1411419810?KEYWORDS=Max+egremont

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  • October 6th, 2014Catholicism and Capitalism: Friends or Enemies?by Joseph Pearce

    Always willing to court controversy, I'm speaking this Thursday evening at Holy Cross College in Worcester MA on the contentious topic of the Church's social teaching. I hope that any readers of the Ink Desk within driving distance of Holy Cross will come and see the fun or join the argument:

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  • October 6th, 2014Voting for the Devilby Joseph Pearce

    In my latest article for the Imaginative Conservative, I offer an Englishman's perspective of Scotland's recent referendum:

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  • October 6th, 2014The Dominican Optionby Joseph Pearce

    As I continue to settle into my new position as Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College, I am getting a deeper insight than ever into the role and place of Dominican spirituality in the modern world. The College is part of the multifaceted apostolate of the Nashville Dominicans, the work of which I have admired for many years. As I contemplate my own small part in this work, I was intrigued by an article on "The Dominican Option" in First Things. It suggests that the Dominican Option might be a better model for the renewal of Christian culture than the oft-touted Benedictine Option. Read on:

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  • October 6th, 2014TOLKIEN, MINAS TIRITH AND THE FALL OF CONSTANTINOPLEby Stephen Brady

    I have always liked Orthodox Church music and now find it is on the Internet in English.  This is a Hymn to Maria Theotokos, Mary Mother of God.

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  • October 1st, 2014It’s Like Kaddishby Dena Hunt

    Every Sabbath, Jewish services conclude with the Kaddish prayer for the dead, recited when someone dies and every year thereafter on the “yahrzeit,” or anniversary of their death.

    Kaddish, if I’m not mistaken, simply means praise.

    Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

    “My father,” Isaac says to Abraham, who holds the knife poised above him, “Is there nothing your God may not ask of you?”

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  • October 1st, 2014On Heroesby Matthew Elam

    Gilbert Keith Chesterton once said, "We may, by fixing our attention almost fiercely on the facts actually before us, force them to turn into adventures; force them to give up their meaning and fulfil their mysterious purpose." Unfortunately, the "facts actually before us" are the things which get the least of our attention. What we call extraordinary is often merely novel, while the mundane contains amazing things. In fact, the most amazing things are precisely those things which seem to us most ordinary.

    The divergence between what is novel and what is truly amazing can be demonstrated in the case of Superman. Superman can fly. No doubt, the prospect of flying is exciting, but the idea that a superhuman creature can fly offers me no hope of doing it myself. There was, however, one time when I was deeply impressed by a man flying. The most amazing thing about him wasn't that he wore tights and a cape and came from outer space; the most amazing thing was that he dressed like any other man, save that he wore tiny golden wings pinned to his lapel. He even gave me a pair of wings like his, as if to say, “You, too, can fly.”

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  • September 30th, 2014The Hound of Heaven in Hollywoodby Joseph Pearce

    As readers of the Ink Desk might recall I've been involved in a multi-media re-presentation of Francis Thompson's superb poem, The Hound of Heaven. My own involvement has included the role of consultant and participant in the 30-minute documentary on Thompson's life, and also as the writer of the introduction to a new published adaptation of the poem. There have also been an animated film of the modern adaptation of the poem and even a new country-style song inspired by the poem.

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  • September 30th, 2014Hope at Hopeby Joseph Pearce

    Three weeks ago I had the privilege and pleasure of giving talks on consecutive days at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids and at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. I am extremely gratified to have just received a delightful report of the visit to Hope College, written by a student with whom I had lunch. The report also contains links to videos of two of the talks that I gave at Hope:

    http://saintbenedictforum.org/2014/09/18/being-transformed-by-the-true-the-good-and-the-beautiful-joseph-pearce-speaks-to-hope/

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  • September 27th, 2014Kairos and Chronosby Dena Hunt

    Msgr. Charles Pope posted this brief reflection on, as it turns out, my birthday. I’d been hoping for some kind of little present from the Lord, and I think this may be it. Msgr. Pope says,

    I have considered the task that God has appointed for the sons of men to be busied about. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done (Eccles 3:10-11).

    “Somewhere in our hearts is something that the world cannot, and did not give us. It is something that is nowhere evident in the world, and yet, though not perceiving it, we still know it. This passage from Ecclesiastes calls it ‘the timeless.’ We also often refer to it as eternity, or even infinity.”

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  • September 26th, 2014Little Gidding’s Comedyby Daniel J. Heisey

    More than forty years ago Russell Kirk wrote Eliot and His Age, and in it he argued that future literary historians will see the twentieth century as the Age of Eliot, since “what Dante was to the fourteenth century, or Shakespeare to the sixteenth, Eliot became to the twentieth century.”  Recipient of the Nobel Prize and the Order of Merit, T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) still has his ardent admirers, but the jury remains out on whether he dominated an era and will have his name attached to it.

    For example, despite occasional revivals of Murder in the Cathedral or The Family Reunion, Eliot’s verse dramas might not endure as long as Shakespeare’s.  Meanwhile, Eliot’s other poems tend to feature in high school and college reading lists.  Eliot himself said that the world of poetry divides between Dante and Shakespeare, and Dante especially holds the key to understanding some of Eliot’s poems.

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  • September 25th, 2014Good News from Aquinas Collegeby Joseph Pearce

    I’m heartened by a news report, just published in Catholic Education Daily, which shows the success of Aquinas College in Nashville in providing a top-quality education. As readers of the Ink Desk might know, I was appointed as Director of the Aquinas College Center for Faith and Culture in July and it is from my office in Nashville that I now write. It’s good to be part of such a dynamic Catholic college. Here’s the link to the article, which also provides information about other Catholic colleges who are performing well:

     http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/CatholicEducationDaily/DetailsPage/tabid/102/ArticleID/3550/Colleges-in-Newman-Guide-Rank-Well-with-U-S-News-and-World-Report.aspx

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  • September 24th, 2014New Signs of EU Meltdownby Joseph Pearce

    One of the most encouraging trends in global politics in the past few years has been the rise of euro-skepticism, the term applied to those resisting the undemocratic tyranny of the European Union. I was in London when the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) shook the corrupt political establishment in Britain to its foundations by winning the country’s European Election. It was a political earthquake which caused my heart to leap with seismic abandon! The same resistance to Euro-Tyranny has swept through other parts of Europe, even those parts of the so-called Euro-Zone which were considered the very core of its power. The Front National, under the charismatic leadership of Marine Le Pen, is now leading the polls in France with its demands for the restoration of the French Franc and the abandonment of the Euro. Now, in recent elections, there has been a similar upsurge in Euro-Skepticism in Germany, traditionally the most pro-EU of all the nations in the Euro-Tyranny. It can only be hoped that this is the beginning of the end for the multinational monolith at the darkened and decaying heart of Europe.

    For more details about the German uprising against the Euro, click here:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/11117482/Germanys-Ukip-threatens-to-paralyse-eurozone-rescue-efforts.html

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What are your thoughts on the subject?