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 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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  • August 13th, 2014Preview of the September/October Issue of the St. Austin Reviewby Joseph Pearce

    The theme of the next issue of the St. Austin Review is “Recusants and Martyrs: English Resistance to the Tudor Terror”.


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  • August 13th, 2014Spayed Sentiments and Sterilized Sex: More on Catholic Datingby Kevin O'Brien

    I'm going to tie together some threads that have been hanging loose in my posts on Catholic Dating

    Remember what Chesterton said ...

    To love a thing without wishing to fight for it is not love at all; it is lust. It may be an airy, philosophical, and disinterested lust… but it is lust, because it is wholly self-indulgent and invites no attack. 
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  • August 12th, 2014What is Christendom?by Joseph Pearce

    After last week's article for The Imaginative Conservative, which asked the question, "what is civilization?", this week's article asks the related question, "what is Christendom?" Learn more:

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  • August 12th, 2014Of Bonds and Bondageby Dena Hunt

    Having been declared by both secular and religious social philosophy to be The Meaning of Life, human relationships, the bonds we have with each other, are the areas of our lives that receive everyone’s closest attention. At every turn, we are prompted to cherish, to revere (even to worship), what we’ve identified as God, namely, Love. “God is love” quoth the religious and “Love is god,” saith the secular humanist. And thus we see how handily, how easily, we can dispose of divisive notions of deity when we unite around a god called “Love.”

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  • August 10th, 2014The Day I was Almost Murdered - and What It Taught Me about Loveby Kevin O'Brien

    He was a violent man.  And he tried to kill me. 

    It was the first time a murder almost happened during one of our murder mysteries

    He had been raised in one of the most culturally depraved parts of Missouri, and his family history included a bit of everything, even incest.  His father used to get in fist fights with him and his brothers - in public.  In the parking lot of the restaurant they owned and ran.  In front of the customers.

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  • August 7th, 2014Catholic Dating and the Death of Erosby Kevin O'Brien

    My two posts on the challenges of Catholic dating (Where are All the Good Catholic Men? and Some Good Catholic Men Answer the Question, "Where are All the Good Catholic Men?") have touched a nerve.  There are many thoughtful comments on my blog, and many more on Facebook.

    On Facebook, one of the comments connects the trouble in Catholic relationships with Pop Catholic Culture in general.  On the blog, reader JVC is more specific, naming the Charismatic Renewal and Hipster Catholics as examples of the problem.

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  • 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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