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 7th, 2014Tolkien in Rotterdamby Brendan D. King

    The news is now spreading, and causing great excitement throughout Middle Earth fandom, that a long lost recording of J.R.R. Tolkien's voice has surfaced in The Netherlands. In 1958, the creator of Middle Earth made his first and last visit to a "Lord of the Rings" fan convention in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Unbeknownst to all but a few, Tolkien's speech for the occasion was recorded and still survives. In honor of this truly exciting news, I have decided to post Tolkien's own description of the event, which shatters the myth that the 1950s were a decade of mindless conformity. More information on the recording and the plans to digitize it may be found at the following link:


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  • August 6th, 2014Louis L’Amour and the Moral Imaginationby Daniel J. Heisey

    Nearly twenty years ago in The New York Times Magazine, Frank Gannon wrote an essay, “Spillane Also Writes,” demonstrating that it is often difficult to distinguish passages of prose written by Ernest Hemingway and Mickey Spillane.  Within the republic of letters, what elevates one writer to the lofty realms of Nobel laureates while consigning another to the slums of pulp fiction remains a profound mystery.

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  • August 6th, 2014Some Good Catholic Men Answer the Question, “Where are All the Good Catholic Men?”by Kevin O'Brien

    There were some very thoughtful comments on my post Where are All the Good Catholic Men? - and some are on my blog, but others were on Facebook.  Here are some highlights.

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  • August 6th, 2014God Provides: Good News from Englandby Joseph Pearce

    When I lived in England there was much talk of a vocations crisis. There was a dangerous shortage of priests and the seminaries were largely empty. The doom-mongers predicted the end of the Church as we knew Her, prophesying that the gates of hell were about to prevail. Then, beyond all apparent hope, almost 400 new priests seemed to fall on the the Church in England like manna from heaven. The cause was the disintegration of the Anglican church in the wake of its decision to ordain women and the conversion of hundreds of Anglican clergy to the Catholic Church.

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  • August 5th, 2014Where are All the Good Catholic Men?by Kevin O'Brien

    Having witnessed a few mating dances at the Chesterton Conference this past weekend, the weird and distressing situation among single Catholics mystifies me.
    A Facebook friend has drawn my attention to an article by Devin Rose entitled Single Catholic Guy - Wake Up!

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  • August 5th, 2014Last Night’s High Massby Fr. Simon Henry

    Thanks to everyone who came to High Mass last night for the centenary of the First World War - servers, assisting and visiting priests, music department, congregation and helpers in the kitchen afterwards!  

    It seems we were all too busy praying for anyone to have taken any photographs so the remains in the sacristy are all that's left this morning. It was wonderful to see so many people come along (we were turning altar servers away!), especially parishioners who don't usually attend the traditional Mass. Obviously, the centenary has engaged many people.  One or two even brought along photographs of their relatives who had fought in the First World War - very appropriate as it was for them that we were offering the Requiem Mass. The unadorned chant of the Requiem Mass provided a suitable atmosphere of reflection (although we did sing Chesterton's "O God of earth and altar" at the conclusion of the Mass.  Not that all that solemnity stopped us from enjoying one another's company afterwards (not a single sandwich, pork pie or quail's egg was left for me to enjoy as supper in the house later!)

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  • August 5th, 2014The Relevance of Distributismby Joseph Pearce

    I've just received an e-mail from someone enquiring about the contemporary relevance and practical applicability of distributism. I'm posting the pertinent part of the text of the e-mail below. My response follows.

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  • August 5th, 2014What is Civilization?by Joseph Pearce

    Are we approaching the end of civilization as we know it? If so, what exactly is the end of civilization as we know it? And can we know that civilization is ending unless we know the ends which civilization serves? In short and in sum, what exactly is civilization? This question is asked and answered in my latest article for the Imaginative Conservative: 

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  • August 5th, 2014Flannery After Fifty Yearsby Dena Hunt

    For the innumerable fans of Flannery O’Conner, Dr. Regis Martin writes eloquently in Crisis:


    And for fans of the interminable discussion of Catholicism in fiction, a friend identifies what she calls “the money quote” from that essay:

    “The Catholic novel,” she wrote, “is not necessarily about a Christianized or Catholicized world, but one in which the truth as Christians know it has been used as a light to see the world by.”


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  • August 5th, 2014The Catholic Writers Guild Conferenceby Dena Hunt

    I just returned from the CWG conference in Chicago, not so much fired up to write as restored by the camaraderie of other writers. True, there were workshops on writing, publishing; there were “pitch” sessions with a few publishers (which don’t mean a thing to me, since I couldn’t sell water to someone dying of thirst.) There were panel discussions and presentations on such topics as handling rejection, maintaining perseverance—or on philosophical topics such as composition of art vs. representation. But, for me, the great benefit of the CWG conference is the chat, the constant conversation with people who are as lop-sided as I am, who spend too much time reading, who can’t resist story-telling, people who are the best audience in the world for other story-tellers because they are natural critics—those who have a natural reflex to edit, augment, suggest, in ways that are always constructive. There is an indescribable feeling of benevolence amongst Catholic writers. We actually crave each other’s success.

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  • August 4th, 2014Belloc’s Grandson, Dom Philip Jebb, RIPby Joseph Pearce

    Having just returned from this year's rambunctious Chesterton Conference, I was pleased to receive an e-mail from Kirk Kramer, giving his own personal reminiscences of Hilaire Belloc's grandson, Dom Philip Jebb, who entered into his eternal inheritance a few weeks ago.

    I also had the honour and pleasure of meeting Dom Philip at Downside Abbey as part of my research for my biography of his grandfather. Apart from speaking with fondness and eloquence about Belloc, he offered some delightful anecdotes about the great convert poet, Siegfried Sassoon.

    I've been meaning to write my own tribute to Dom Philip Jebb but my travel commitments have prevented me from doing so. As such, I'm grateful to Kirk for sending his own memories and also two obituaries from British newspapers, all of which I'm pleased to post below.

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  • August 4th, 2014The Cult of Chesterton and the Grace of Godby Kevin O'Brien

    MYSTICISM in its noblest sense, mysticism as it existed in St. John, and Plato, and Paraceleus, and Sir Thomas Browne, is not an exceptionally dark and secret thing, but an exceptionally luminous and open thing. It is in reality too clear for most of us to comprehend, and too obvious for most of us to see. Such an utterance as the utterance that “God is Love” does in reality overwhelm us like an immeasurable landscape on a clear day, like the light of an intolerable summer sun. We may call it a dark saying; but we have an inward knowledge all the time that it is we who are dark. - G. K. Chesterton

    Every year The American Chesterton Society Annual Conference is filled with grace.

    "Be imitators of me as I am of Christ," said St. Paul (1 Cor. 11:1).  But a certain 300 pound cigar smoking saint could have said the same.  And that is why we love him and his writings.

    There is no way to describe the blessing these conferences are.  I have tried in the past and I always fall short.  But this year a few things struck me.

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  • July 30th, 2014When Nice Turns Nastyby Joseph Pearce

    Is nice nasty? Is it nasty to be nice? All is revealed in my latest piece for the Imaginative Conservative:


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  • July 30th, 2014The Mysterious Grace of Conversionby Kevin O'Brien

    I was an atheist at age nine.  I was spiritual but not religious at age 18.  I had a surprising and profound conversion experience when I was 36.  And on July 30, 2000 - fourteen years ago today - my wife and I were received into the Catholic Church.  I was 39 at the time.

    I later learned that that was the same date that G. K. Chesterton was received into the Catholic Church, 78 years prior, in 1922.  More than any other person, Chesterton, by God's grace, and his writings, had made me a Catholic.  So the fact that Divine Providence arranged for me to come in, unwittingly, on his anniversary was a great and humbling honor.

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  • July 30th, 2014Word on Fire and Beauteous Truthby Joseph Pearce

    I'm pleased to announce the publication of my interview with Jared Zimmerer for Fr. Robert Barron's website, Word on Fire:


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  • July 28th, 2014Beauteous Praise from the Heart of Belloc Countryby Joseph Pearce

    I have been greatly heartened by some fulsome praise for my latest book from the very heart of Belloc country, i.e. Sussex in England. I hope that visitors to the Ink Desk will permit me the self-indulgence of sharing it.

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  • July 28th, 2014Beauteous Truthby Joseph Pearce

    Having just returned from a mini-speaking tour of northern California which culminated with my participation at this year's Napa Institute Conference, I'm delighted to find this review of my latest book on Randy Hain's Integrated Catholic Life website: http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2014/07/randy-hain-joseph-pearce-and-beauteous-truth/

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  • July 25th, 2014A “Gay Catholic Romance Novel”?by Dena Hunt

    I’m particularly gratified with this review of The Lion’s Heart from Aletia. The novel is new, and while reviews have been good, it’s always a pleasure to hear from a reader who just seems to “get it,” regardless of how they title their reviews:


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  • July 24th, 2014Parsing Tolkien’s Letter on Love and Romanceby Kevin O'Brien

    Tolkien's amazing letter to his son Michael deserves a closer look.  Here it is again, with some commentary by me in boldface.  


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  • July 22nd, 2014Joseph Conrad’s Prince Romanby Daniel J. Heisey

    Thirty-one years ago in the journal Conradiana, C. F. Burgess had an essay, “Conrad’s Catholicism.”  As Burgess noted, critics tend to dismiss the notion of Joseph Conrad’s Catholicism, preferring to see him as a secular unbeliever.  As with any great artist, Conrad can get projected onto him the image of many of his admirers.

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