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 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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  • 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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