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.

  • August 22nd, 2014Show Biz and the Divine Dramaby Kevin O'Brien

    Mark Shea has written a third installment in his series on the connection between Drama and Religion, which you can find at Catholic World Report.  Since I've written about this topic myself (mostly from the point of view of actors, or the analogy between Acting and the Faith), I thought I'd add a few things to the very insightful points that Mark makes.

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  • August 20th, 2014Twelve Angry Men and Shakespeare’s Catholicismby Joseph Pearce

    I've just received an e-mail from a correspondent in Australia about the play, Twelve Angry Men. The sort of evidence that is encapsulated in the paragraph he quotes is not only applicable to the case for Shakespeare's Catholicism but is the same principle for the evidence for Catholic Christianity that Newman employs in The Grammar of Assent. It's the healthy marriage of reason with common sense!

    Here's the text of the e-mail:

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  • August 20th, 2014The Unchosenby Dena Hunt

    We’re seeing the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, which, according to just about everyone there, have nothing to do with the shooting of a black robber by a white policeman, and we’re seeing the hideous massacre of Christians and others in northern Iraq by an army of Islamists—and this is just today’s news. The same news comes from Gaza, firing literally thousands of rockets into Israel and constructing tunnels by which to kill more, especially in schools, hospitals, and other sites where victims are most defenseless. This is not conquest, this is not a religious argument, this is not racism. It’s not a political or ideological revolution. There is no order to it, no organization, no sense of purpose. The looting in Ferguson has no aim to acquire money or consumer goods. It has no aim at all. This is not a descent into the law of the jungle—where animals kill in order to eat—this is a descent below that, where there is no law at all, no purpose except to take for the sake of taking, to kill for the sake of killing.

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  • August 20th, 2014I’m Just Down the Road from Ferguson, Missouriby Kevin O'Brien

    In fact, here's the cake in Ferguson, Missouri that Karen and I photographed in June.  It's in the revived downtown, which is filled with local shops, black and white owners, a charming area.

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  • August 20th, 2014Sacred and Satanic Violence: The Place of the Demonic in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connorby Kevin Kennelly

    Flannery O'Connor was thrice blessed: she was Catholic, she was southern and she was an Irish American. She also was one of the great writers of the 20th century combining an extraordinary ability to put words together in a pleasing way with a talent for developing stories and mesmerizing readers. Many of her writings are deeply Catholic. And she was a top drawer Thomist. The inestimable Ralph Wood, a scholar of the first order affiliated with Baylor University has written a thorough and fascinating piece dealing with "the place of the demonic" in O'Connor's writings.


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  • August 19th, 2014What I saw in Quebecby Marie Dudzik

    As Americans, the progressive version of history we are taught in schools wants us to believe that our ancestors were glad to throw off the shackles of the Old World. The Pilgrims were forced out of their homeland and the colonists of New England were happy to give good riddance to King George and old England. But the Canadian province of Quebec tells another story, one of a people so proud and enamored of their European homeland that they sought to create an extension of France, a New France, as Quebec was once called. I found this out first hand this July as I travelled to Quebec on a pilgrimage. Our chaplain was newly-ordained Fr. Nathan Caswell, SJC, a priest of the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius in Chicago and Canadian transplant.

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  • August 19th, 2014You Can’t “Program” Salvationby Kevin O'Brien

    In Flannery O'Connor's short stories, the grace of God is shown to operate in shocking and disturbing ways.  For Flannery, the door to salvation opens the moment our own selfish walls are cracked (usually violently), allowing God's grace to rush in - along with horror and remorse, which are aspects of Awe and of the Fear of God.  Indeed, horror and remorse can quite literally be the closet we come on this earth to experiencing God's love.

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  • August 18th, 2014Inaugural Lecture in Nashvilleby Joseph Pearce

    Next week, on Thursday, August 28, I will be giving my inaugural lecture as Director of the Center for Faith & Culture at Aquinas College in Nashville. The title of my talk will be "The Evangelizing Power of Beauty: Converting the Culture". If you live in the Nashville area or know people in the area, please try to attend and promote the event. Here are the full details:


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  • August 18th, 2014Who is Man?by Joseph Pearce

    Continuing my current preoccupation with questioning the definitive meaning of the most important things, such as civilization and Christendom, I continue this week with one of the most crucial of all questions: Who is Man?

    Read on: http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/08/man.html

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  • August 17th, 2014Alfred Hitchcock on Faith and Moralsby Daniel J. Heisey

    In December, 2012, Father Mark Henninger, S. J., wrote in The Wall Street Journal about his experience in early 1980 celebrating Mass at the home of Alfred Hitchcock.  Father Henninger sought to correct recent statements claiming that to the end of his days Hitchcock (1899-1980) was not religious.  Yet, Hitchcock had grown up Catholic, attended a school run by Jesuits, and had been married and buried within the context of the Catholic Mass.

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  • August 17th, 2014Iraq—The Failure of Modernityby Stephen Brady

    Is ISIS, the fanatical Islamist militia currently advancing across the ruins of Iraq and Syria beheading and crucifying “infidels” a throwback to the Dark Ages? Or is it instead an aspect of the very Western “modernity” the US and its allies sought to bring to the region by armed force? Is that “modernity”, indeed, quite what its advocates think it is?

    Those are the challenging questions raised by John Gray, Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics in his essay broadcast in July on the BBC radio programme A Point of View, the text of which is available here.

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  • August 17th, 2014Muzak for the Spiritby Kevin O'Brien

    I have been on the road with my actress Maria and her husband for a while now.  We are ending up a tour of nine shows in ten days in four states.
    Today we find ourselves in a small town in Minnesota off the interstate.  We made the mistake of going to Sunday Mass, as we are obliged to.

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  • August 15th, 2014Islam, Jihad, and the Massacre of Christiansby Brendan D. King

    The current massacre of Iraqi Christians by adherents of Radical Islam has caused a great deal of speculation about what kind of religious believer could commit such acts. Whenever I have been asked this question, I am forced to remind people that it has happened before -- almost a century ago and in the same part of the world.

    During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire, though officially a constitutional monarchy, was actually governed by a political party known as the Ittihad-ve Terriki, or Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). The CUP's platform was a mixture of Turkish racial supremacy, Classical Liberalism, and Radical Islam. Christians and Non-Turkish Muslims were to have no place in the Greater Turkey which the CUP dreamed of building. When the Ottoman Empire entered the Great War as an ally of Imperial Germany, the Christian Armenians of Constantinople made no secret of their sympathy for the Allied Powers.

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  • August 14th, 2014Nothing New about Terrorismby Dena Hunt

    I received from a friend who is interested in the English Deformation a blog post by Dr. Joseph Shaw, Oxford-based, I believe, who is described as: “a Catholic academic with strong views not for those of a sensitive disposition.” Dr. Shaw writes an essay in which he compares ISIS to historical “Anglican terror.” That’s hardly a politically correct point of view, but Dr. Shaw raises some very interestingly unexpected comparative points. Not surprisingly, his essay met with pretty hostile comments. His response was to post a second essay, even less apologetic than the first.



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  • August 14th, 2014A Wizard’s Calendarby Joseph Pearce

    I've just enjoyed watching a short video of StAR's artist in residence, Jef Murray, promoting his 2015 Wizard's Calendar. The experience was like stepping through a magic window into the heart of the Shire!


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  • August 14th, 2014A Soul Mate from your Zip Codeby Kevin O'Brien

    Re. the Catholic Dating thing.  A reader wrote to suggest that by using the term "non-sexual hook-up", I could be inadvertently doing some damage, as many guys and gals who at least have friendships with one another will now begin to second-guess themselves.  "Oh no!  This could be a non-sexual hook-up!  Maybe it's not a simple friendship!  Maybe I shouldn't be enjoying myself having coffee with Mindy!"  But, then again, that's part of the problem - this eternal second-guessing.

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  • August 14th, 2014Depression Does Not Discriminateby Michael Lichens

    In my latest piece at The Catholic Gentlman, I go into some more details with my struggle with MDD and also try to bring home the fact that mental anguish touches a lot of people, the Catholic, the non-Catholic, and even the successful. 

    Depression doesn’t give a damn about your status, vocation, race, or financial situation. Yet, neither does Christ. If we want the mentally afflicted to find the peace that surpasses all understanding, we need first to open the doors and to let it in, and that is what Christian charity ought to do.

    If someone in your life is suffering mental anguish, I can tell you from experience what works and doesn’t work. Don’t try to cure them unless you are a doctor or a real wonder-worker, and for heaven’s sake do not try to tell them, “But how can you be depressed!” Instead, let them know that they do have a friend, who is willing to carry a lot of their pains if necessary, and accept it if silence is their only response. Then, pray for help and that grace will be sufficient to get them through, but be aware that you probably are called to be an instrument of that grace. It means some work, but love demands it.


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  • August 13th, 2014The Sign of Peaceby Fr. Simon Henry

    One of the liturgical practices that has most often landed me in hot water over the years and earned approbation, condemnation and censure has been the Sign of Peace.  Over the years I have come to offer the instruction to the congregation to exchange the Sign of Peace less and less, so that now it is a great rarity in for me to do so in the OF of Mass.  This has, of course, been accompanied by catechesis but because of the prevalent mode of exchanging the Sign of Peace, no matter what catechesis was given, it always became the occasion for something that it is not meant to be.  I have deemed that as it was not taking place properly, the legitimate option to omit it should be taken.  Although, of course, it is verbally exchanged between priest and people, whether the action is included or not.

    Now, finally, the Congregation for the Sacraments has issued a letter which makes it clear that all those things which I have often been criticised for not doing or not allowing are, in fact, ABUSES which it will be "definitively necessary to avoid." (to quote Cardinal Canizares.)

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  • August 13th, 2014Depression and the Great Lieby Kevin O'Brien

    The suicide of Robin Williams has led to a number of posts on the internet about depression.  Both this one and this one are well worth the read. 

    It may be presumptuous of me to add anything, as my own personal pain has been quite mild by comparison.  Not that I don't have "mental issues", as my friends and regular readers will no doubt be happy to tell you!  But my own struggles have mostly been with anxiety and with demons of a different stripe.

    However, I did experience one long dark night, a period of what could be called depression or despair or murkiness, a mixture of anger, hopelessness and listlessness that lasted for about two full years and that only recently ended.  Many of the posts on this blog were written in the midst of it.

    It was "situational" for me - dealing with some very dark truths of human nature brought about by two situations that somehow managed to plumb the depths of who I was as a person. 

    And by far the worst thing about it - and perhaps this is true of all who suffer from chronic depression - was the lie.  The great lie.

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  • August 13th, 2014Pumping Iron for Christ!by Joseph Pearce

    Now that's not a headline that you see every day! It is, however, relevant to a Catholic website for which I have just given an interview. "Strength for the Kingdom" is a blog by Jared Zimmerer, on "nutrition, fitness and spirituality". Jared and I are keen weight trainers and I enjoyed sharing my thoughts on the "healthy trinity" of prayer, reading and fitness. Here's the interview: 


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What are your thoughts on the subject?