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 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:» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading
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.”» Continue Reading
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:» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading
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.
February 12th, 2015Is Britain Dead?by Joseph Pearce
The question is asked and answered in my latest article for the Imaginative Conservative:» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading
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/» Continue Reading
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:» Continue Reading
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”.» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading
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:» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading
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:» Continue Reading
February 2nd, 2015Looking for God in King Learby Joseph Pearce
I received this e-mail from a friend about the apparent lack of God in Shakespeare. The text of the e-mail is given here in italics. My response follows.
Was watching King Lear the other night and it hit me as wondrous how little there is of God in Shakespeare..... Certainly , He is lurking in the background in the guise of death, life, joy , tragedy, despair , mystery, etc ...but.... it is not overt. I thought "I'll run this by Joseph. He'll know." But then I thought ... better think this through .... might be a stupid question . Then.... I pick up Flowers From Heaven:A Thousand Years of Christian Verse by the venerable Pearce and .... mirabile dictu .... not one entry by Shakespeare. So.... what gives?» Continue Reading
February 2nd, 2015Tolkien, Trees and Traditionby Joseph Pearce
What do Tolkien, trees and tradition have in common, apart from the fact that they alliterate? All is revealed in my latest piece for the Imaginative Conservative:» Continue Reading
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.”» Continue Reading
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.)» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading