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 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.» Continue Reading
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» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading
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."
By William Baer.» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading
October 14th, 2014Four Ways G. K. Chesterton Engaged His Culture and Why He Still Matters Todayby Kevin Kennelly
A big question presently on the floor is how Christians should or could engage the modern culture which has become wrong headed, vulgar and virulently if subtly anti Christian. The Christian roots of western civilization have pretty much rotted away. An Evangelical friend , upon returning from Sweden once said to me that over there .....should you mention Moses .....there is more chance that minds would direct to Moses Malone , the professional basketball player , than to the Moses of the bible. And post Christian Europe is slouching toward us.
In " Four Ways G K Chesterton Engaged His Culture And Why He Still Matters Today," Chesterton is shown to be a force of nature taking on the question of how to respond to the stuff that comes at us every day in the most weird ways. Economics, Art, Family, Politics , Human Nature .....and so on . We can not help but think .....where is today's Chesterton?» Continue Reading
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:» Continue Reading
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?» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading
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/» Continue Reading
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:» Continue Reading
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:http://news.holycross.edu/blog/2014/09/30/noted-catholic-author-to-discuss-capitalism-in-the-church/» Continue Reading
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:» Continue Reading
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:» Continue Reading
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.» Continue Reading
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?”» Continue Reading
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.”» Continue Reading