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.

  • May 27th, 2014The World’s Greatest Scandalby Kevin O'Brien

     And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. (Luke 7:23) KJV
    And blessed is he whosoever shall not be scandalized in me. (Luke 7:23) Douay-Rheims

    This is one of the most amazing things Jesus ever said.  Only a sinless man could say it.

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  • May 26th, 2014The Pornography of Sentimentby Kevin O'Brien

    The older I get the less I trust sentiment, the less I think sympathy is genuine.

    We love having our feelings stirred up.  Much of religion is like this.  For many, religion is like a romance novel or like a Hallmark movie without the horses.  Prayer is only valid if you "feel" it; worship only worthy if it "moves" you.  Of course, there's nothing wrong with feeling or with being moved - but such things are supposed to indicate something deeper: faith, love, loyalty.  And often they don't.  Often we have feelings for feeling's sake.  Sentiment is supposed to be a means to an end, not an end itself.

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  • May 25th, 2014Let’s Pretendby Kevin O'Brien

    The old man he plays let's pretend

    When e'er his friends come by

    And all his friends, not to offend

    Pretend, affirm, and cry,

    "Oh, yes, old man, oh what a friend

    Both you and trophy wife are!

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  • May 24th, 2014Those Other Godsby Dena Hunt

    In my little faith-sharing group yesterday, we had a discussion of “other gods” (for want of a better name for it), and I thought some of it worth passing on. First, there was talk of superstition. The Church condemns consulting horoscopes, palm-readers, and all that sort of thing as “sorcery,” and most of us think it’s silly, anyway. Yet we also recognize the reality of demonic possession, even in its varying degrees. It occurred to me afterwards that part of the confusion lies in our being the children of the Enlightenment, which denies the reality of all such notions, not selectively, but categorically.  We are so well-schooled in rationalism that our dismissal of these ideas is now an unconscious intellectual reflex. Horoscopes, we say, are nonsense; ditto, palm-readers and fortune-tellers. We don’t take them seriously, and we think that’s because we are Christians, but it isn’t—it’s because we are enlightened rationalists. Two conclusions came out of this discussion:

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  • May 21st, 2014In California, Smug is Worse than Smogby Kevin O'Brien

    Here'a s provocative article at the Imaginative Conservative about Steve Jobs.  It's not so much about Jobs or Apple as it is about the Smug (which is similar to the Smog) that has been choking us for a few generations.  For instance ...
    ... California ... it was a place people moved to get more money and better weather, and where being the first one on the block to recycle, or get a fancy car, was more important than staying married and taking care of your kids, let alone showing common decency.
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  • May 19th, 2014Truth, Beauty, and Comic Booksby Michael Lichens

    I've been on a writing binge (well, my kind of binge). My newest piece over at Ignatius Press Novels is about the three greatest things that have shaped my life: comics, GK Chesterton, and a wise teacher.

    Similar to G.K. Chesterton’s fine defense of fairy tales, it is not hard to find a defense of the classic comics that first spark many a child’s imagination and teach him virtues such as kindness, fortitude, and strength in adversity. Comics, like the older brother fairy tales, contain, as Chesterton quipped, more truth than many modern novels. “Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey,” Chesterton remarked, “What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey.” In the same way that a child doesn’t need to be told about suffering and adversity, they know it far too well, but they are often introduced to how to overcome it and turn it into something beautiful on the colourful pages awaiting them at a comic shop.

    Read the rest at Ignatius Press Novels... 

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  • May 19th, 2014In Vino Veritas: Chesterton Proposes a Toastby Joseph Pearce

    Here's my latest piece for the Imaginative Conservative:

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  • May 19th, 2014Black Dog Days: How to Deal with Depressionby Michael Lichens

    My latest piece is over at The Catholic Gentleman, wherein I offer some practical advice on how to struggle with a particular issue I have and that I note is widespread. While my condition is as much chemical as it is psychological, I hope I can give a hand to my brothers in Christ and help raise awareness. Find it here: http://www.catholicgentleman.net/2014/05/black-dog-days-how-to-deal-with-depression/

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  • May 17th, 2014Stratford Caldecottby Robert Asch

    One of our own is dying. Stratford Caldecott - and his wife Leonie - have been with us since the beginning: since our first editorial meeting; since the idea of StAR was taking definitive shape as a nascent journal; and as friends of ours before StAR was anything at all. 

    Strat is a man of rare kindness, much wisdom, and unusual knowledge; he is also perhaps the fairest-minded intellectual I have ever known, in or out of the Church; and his untimely departure is to me like the prospect of Elrond disappearing from Middle Earth. 

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  • May 17th, 2014Interview in Spainby Joseph Pearce

    Last week I was in Barcelona and Madrid promoting the Spanish edition of my book, Race with the Devil. I gave several press interviews, the link to one of which I'm posting here. The journalist who interviewed me informed me that the published interview received 4,000 visits within the first 24 hours of publication. Here's the link:  http://www.religionenlibertad.com/articulo.asp?idarticulo=35576

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  • May 16th, 2014Over at Catholic Laneby Michael Lichens

    I'm over at Catholic Lane today to give a brief reflection on the Pope's latest audience. This week, we are discussing fortitude, a necessary but misunderstood virtue.

    “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.” –GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy
    Continuing his Catechesis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis used this week’s lesson to discuss the gift of fortitude. When we consider the Gifts of the Spirit, fortitude is rarely one that any of us would call to mind. It is an interior virtue that is only manifest during times of trial...
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  • May 15th, 2014Common Sense on the Ukraine Crisisby Joseph Pearce

    There has been so much nonsense written and said about the crisis in the Ukraine that it is both rare and refreshing to read a balanced analysis of the problem. Here is such an analysis, recently published in the National Catholic Register:


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  • May 14th, 2014Treason’s Winby Dena Hunt

    A friend sent me an email last Friday telling me about Treason’s win of the gold medal in religious fiction in the Independent Publishers Annual Book Awards (mentioned in Michael Lichens’ post yesterday). Within seconds, I emailed three people: the publisher, Sophia Institute Press, who took a chance in publishing this novel—it’s not their sort of thing; Joseph Pearce, who is very probably the busiest person I’ve ever met, but who took the time to support me in my efforts to get the novel published and even volunteered to write the introduction; and Ellen Hrkach, an amazing woman, writer, editor, publisher, president of the Catholic Writers Guild, wife and mother, and heaven-knows-what-else, who read the book, loved it, contacted the publisher and set about doing all she could to promote a book she had nothing to do with. One of the things she managed was to get it entered as one of the 5,500 entries in the competition. Let me put this differently: They had no stake in Treason’s success or failure. Why did they do it?

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  • May 14th, 2014Tolkien’s Catholicism: An Interviewby Joseph Pearce

    Here's my latest for the Imaginative Conservative:


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  • May 13th, 2014Chesterton in the Pewsby Daniel J. Heisey

    Somehow the luncheon conversation turned to hymns.  The diners were two cradle Catholics and two Protestant converts to Catholicism, and they agreed that what one of them called “The Yoo-hoo Song,” meaning “Eagle’s Wings,” didn’t quite get their blood stirring.  One of them, a former Presbyterian, remarked how odd it was that the 1955 Presbyterian hymnal he had used every week had a hymn by G. K. Chesterton, but while that hymn had featured in Presbyterian worship, he had never encountered it in Catholic liturgy.  The other three said almost at the same time that they never knew Chesterton had written hymns.

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  • May 13th, 2014“The Lord of the Rings” meets “Star Trek”by Brendan D. King

    It has been said that the greatest test an author's popularity is how often their work has been spoofed. This is especially true of Gene Rodenberry's "Star Trek" and J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth Legendarium. 

    Some time ago, I created the following parody of both "Star Trek" and "The Lord of the Rings." I hope that those who read it have as much fun as I did creating it.

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  • May 10th, 2014The Futility of Evil: the Knot of the Naughtyby Kevin O'Brien

    The other day I posted a thread from Facebook that led me to the brink of despair

    Here's one that proves that Facebook can be a source of light as well as darkness.  A friend of mine, Paul from Pluto (Pluto, Mississippi), writes the post, and Cory Dupont and I share some thoughts as comments ...

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  • May 8th, 2014StAR Features Another Award Winnerby Michael Lichens

    We at Saint Austin Review are very proud to announce that our own Dena Hunt's Treason is the recepient of the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards Gold Medal in Religious Fiction. Out of roughly 4000 enteries in 78 categories, Dena's excellent novel was chosen as the best representation in religious fiction. You can view all the winners on the IPPY's press release here

    As well, if you haven't read Treason yet, you can order the now award-winning novel on Sophia Institute's site

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  • May 7th, 2014The Wandering Joeby Joseph Pearce

    With so little time at home, I've also had very little time to post anything to the Ink Desk. I thought, therefore, that a brief explanation of my absence from both home and the website might be in order.

    Last week I was in New England, first at Thomas More College in New Hampshire and then at a Catholic parish in Stowe, Vermont.

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  • May 7th, 2014A Meeting with Father Jakiby Joseph Pearce

    By Peter Milward SJ

    SJ House, Tokyo, May 7 2014

    Like Joseph Pearce (as mentioned in his introduction to the new issue of StAR), I, too, only met the great philosopher-scientist Father Jaki once.  I had already been introduced to him, if only by name, by my scientist friend Dr Peter Hodgson of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.  It was he who linked for me the names of Stanley Jaki and Pierre Duhem, as upholders of the medieval origins of modern science in the persons of Buridan and Oresme.  Yet already the name of Pierre Duhem I had come across in the writings of Christopher Dawson, especially his Progress and Religion.  I also helped to introduce the writings of Peter Hodgson to the academic world of Japan in the form of two booklets of his, one on “Science and Christianity” (with an emphasis on the work of Buridan) and the other on “Nuclear Energy”.

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What are your thoughts on the subject?