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.
December 22nd, 2014Christmas in the Cradleby Joseph Pearce
My good friend, Fr. Benedict Kiely, priest, Englishman and regular columnist with the St. Austin Review, was a guest last week on EWTN's The World Over with Raymond Arroyo. He was discussing his passionate mission to succour and support the persecuted Christians in the Middle-East, who have seen their lives in the cradle of Christian civilization transformed into a hellish existence in the cauldron of Islamist hatred. Here's the full ten-minute interview:» Continue Reading
December 22nd, 2014No Room at the Inn: Celebrating in the Stableby Joseph Pearce
My latest piece for the Imaginative Conservative has me musing on the spirit of Christmas:» Continue Reading
December 22nd, 2014It’s Not the Abuse Crisis - It’s the Neglect Crisisby Kevin O'Brien
The Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church, horrible as it is, is simply the flip side of the Neglect Crisis in the Catholic Church.» Continue Reading
What do I mean?
I mean that Neglect is a form of Abuse, and for the past fifty years, bishops, priests and lay Catholics have been neglecting the Faith, and the Vatican has accommodated this by neglecting the Neglect. A predominantly homosexual clergy, covering and enabling a large number of child molesters, is simply one symptom of this Neglect.
December 21st, 2014On the Duty of a Monarchby Brendan D. King
Many years ago, my father asked my grandfather, Scottish immigrant Laurence Joseph King, about the abdication of the Duke of Windsor. My dad was then a teenager with Marxist ideas and considered it ridiculous that an abdication was insisted upon by the British Government. To Dad's shock, Grandpa Larry responded, "He could not be King because he would not do his duty." It took many years for my Dad to realize the wisdom of his father's words.
I must say that I agree with my grandfather. It is very dangerous when the Crown rests upon the wrong head and my grandfather's words apply, not only to the Duke of Windsor, but to many other Royals from many nations and centuries. Queen Elizabeth I of England, Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria-Hungary, and the last Shah of Iran definitely bear this out.» Continue Reading
December 21st, 2014The Radical Catholic: An Interview with Cardinal Burkeby Kevin Kennelly
What to make of Cardinal Burke's steady opposition.....I do not think that too strong a word to use.....to the vector of Catholic belief and/or action being set by Francis? The good cardinal refers to having grown up in " a very beautiful time in the Church." If those days were beautiful than the present time is not ....one must conclude. One respondent writing about the interview says "Why aren't there hundreds of bishops in the church like Cardinal Burke? Why?" Not a bad question.» Continue Reading
December 19th, 2014God or Mammon? Preview of the Next Issue of the St. Austin Reviewby Joseph Pearce
The January/February issue of the St. Austin Review is now winging its way to the printer.
The theme of the next issue is “God or Mammon? Choosing Christ in a World in Crisis”.» Continue Reading
December 18th, 2014Tolkien on EWTNby Joseph Pearce
The latest Tolkien special that I have written and presented for EWTN was aired this week. For those who missed it, or those who would like to see it again, it is now available on DVD:» Continue Reading
December 18th, 2014Elves, Hobbits, Men and DVDsby Kevin O'Brien
There are two projects I've done with EWTN that, in my opinion, are the best things the Network has done, from a production and creative point of view. The first is our Father Brown movie, The Honor of Israel Gow. And the second is the show I mentioned the other day, Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings": Elves, Hobbits and Men.» Continue Reading
It turns out the latter is available on DVD from the religious catalog - for only ten bucks! Well worth the price. You can order it here.
December 18th, 2014Man, Religion & Tribalismby Joseph Pearce
My latest piece for the Imaginative Conservative looks at the crucial difference between religion and tribalism. It begins in the Ukraine, proceeds to Northern Ireland and ends in the trenches of World War One. Read on:» Continue Reading
December 18th, 2014The Catholicism of Middle-Earthby Joseph Pearce
Earlier this month I gave a talk on "The Catholicism of Middle-Earth" for the Faith and Reason Institute at Gonzaga University. This was filmed and is of excellent quality. As such, I'm supplying the link to the talk for those who might be interested: http://youtu.be/tgxHDCIU1Hw» Continue Reading
December 17th, 2014Five Books Every Catholic Should Readby Joseph Pearce
My personal selection of the five indispensable books that every Catholic should read has just been published by Pete Socks on the Catholic Book Blogger. Check it out:» Continue Reading
December 17th, 2014Sorcha Ni Ghuairim, A Voice from Across a Thousand Yearsby Brendan D. King
Sorcha Ni Ghuairim (1911-1976), a native of the Connemara Peninsula of Western Ireland, is probably one of the greatest Irish Gaelic vocalists ever recorded. Hers was a voice that seems to echo across a thousand years. After decades of fighting for the preservation of the Gaelic language and its musical tradition, Sorcha decided in the 1950s, that she had failed. She moved to London and remained a virtual recluse until her death in 1976.
But her belief as proved premature. Sorcha's surviving recordings have played and continue to play a major role in Irish traditional music. Among the modern vocalists who have cited Sorcha Ni Ghuarim as a major influence is Roisin Elsafty, a fellow native of the Connemara.» Continue Reading
December 17th, 2014A Nod To Distributismby Kevin Kennelly
Does Small Is Beautiful still work? Luke Johnson believes so ....and probably anyone who has had to interact with a "call center" or a government office (can you say Health Care) this Advent season does also. Modern life has become madness. Mr. Johnson ,in a recent issue of the Financial Times , suspects there is a better way and that such way happily should appeal to capitalist and socialist alike ..... and most everyone in between.» Continue Reading
December 17th, 2014Flora MacNeil, the Voice of Gaelic Scotlandby Brendan D. King
Flora MacNeil, OBE, (born 1928) is probably the greatest Scottish Gaelic vocalist ever recorded. A native of the Isle of Barra in the Hebrides, she was first discovered and recorded in 1951 by American musicologist Alan Lomax, who was then attempting to document the folk music tradition of Europe. She played an enormous role in the Scottish folk music revival of the 50's and 60's and continues to have an enormous influence upon more recent vocalists like her daughter Maggie MacInnes, Capercaillie's Karen Matheson, and, most recently, Julie Fowlis. Despite being in her eighties, Flora continues to perform publicly and is regarded as a national treasure.
The recording below dates from Flora's vocal prime in the 1950's is one of "The Big Songs" as they are called in Gaelic. It is a lament composed by the wife of William Chisholm of Strathglass, who was killed in action while bearing the standard for the Chisholm Clan during the Jacobite Uprising of 1745.
In the lament, his wife rebukes Prince Charles Edward Stuart, saying that his cause has left her desolate. She then expresses her devastation at the loss of her beloved and names every quality which she loved about her husband.
To those who love Celtic music and who are curious how it sounds in its traditional form, I present the following:» Continue Reading
December 17th, 2014Old England in New Englandby Joseph Pearce
One of the most rumbustious and rambunctious evenings that I've enjoyed in many a year was at the founding meeting of the Chesterton Society of the Abenaki Lands during one of my regular visits to New Hampshire to teach at Thomas More College. I am, therefore, honoured to be a founding member of this irrepressible and quirkily quixotic band of brothers. The GKCSAL, as it is known acronymically, has now gone live on the American Chesterton Society's website. Those wishing to know more about this band of brothers, who are truly Menalive in the full Chesterbellocian sense, should check out the link:» Continue Reading
December 17th, 2014Elves, Hobbits and Menby Kevin O'Brien
I just saw one of the very best things EWTN has ever done.» Continue Reading
"Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings: Elves, Hobbits and Men", hosted by Joseph Pearce and featuring yours truly as J. R. R. Tolkien, with artwork by Jef Murray, directed by Michael Masny, is a brilliant production. Sadly, if you didn't catch it or record it yesterday, Dec. 16, when it aired, you'll apparently have to wait until the DVDs come out, as it's not scheduled to be rerun any time soon.
December 16th, 2014Class Reunions and Adventby Dena Hunt
This past summer I got in touch with a childhood friend from the eighth grade. (That’s a very long time ago!) Since she didn’t live far away, I drove up to see her and have lunch together. We had great fun reminiscing about that time. I didn’t graduate with her class because I moved away after that year, but I will definitely go to their class reunion next spring. The year I spent in that little country town was one of the happiest years in memory.
But I’m almost afraid to go to the reunion, not because I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed in the people I see there—how we’ve aged and changed—but because of all I hear and read about reunions in general. Specifically, old scores that demand to be settled, old humiliations that must be atoned for, old competitions still unconceded; the awful desire some people have to get even, to triumph, and even a kind of macabre desire to see how age has changed those we might have envied—as though we actually want to see some people brought down, as though we want to see some beauty queen become old and wrinkled, or some football hero as a fat and bald old man. Why? Do we imagine it would somehow make us feel better about ourselves by seeing time’s ravages on others?» Continue Reading
December 15th, 2014Venerable Songs and Quiet Eveningsby Daniel J. Heisey
Snow fell, and the tea steamed; the clock ticked as the man turned the pages of his book. Five years ago appeared a new edition of selected poems by Wallace Stevens, and it offers a handsome format for savoring the words of this great poet. Stevens once described himself as “a dried-up Presbyterian,” and there is some controversy whether on his deathbed he converted to Catholicism. For appreciating his poetry, however, that question has no bearing.
Stevens (1879-1955) was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, and following undergraduate work at Harvard, he studied at New York Law School. After posts with the American Bonding Company and the Equitable Surety Company, he took a job in the fidelity and surety claims office of a new firm in Connecticut, the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company. There he stayed, retiring as a vice president. His life as a poet tended to occur after hours: as he walked to work, words formed in his mind, flowed around and assembled themselves; upon returning home to his white gabled house, he went to his desk and began to write» Continue Reading
December 12th, 2014Join Me on the Pilgrimage to Englandby Joseph Pearce
For those who might be interested, there’s still room on the Pilgrimage that I am leading with Fr. Dwight Longenecker to England next summer. Over a ten day period, we will follow in the footsteps of the English Martyrs, visiting priest holes and places where the English Martyrs were imprisoned and put to death. We will also be visiting places of Catholic literary interest connected with Shakespeare, Tolkien, Lewis, Belloc and Chesterton. Father Dwight and I will give talks on the bus journeys between the sites. The registration deadline is February 28 with the final payment due by March 31. For more details phone (800) 290-3876 or visit www.catholicheritagetours.com/ACFC.» Continue Reading
December 12th, 2014What Is “What-Is”?by Kevin O'Brien
Here's something Flannery O'Connor said,
"What the fiction writer will discover, if he discovers anything at all, is that he himself cannot move or mold reality in the interests of abstract truth. The writer learns, perhaps more quickly than the reader, to be humble in the face of what-is. What-is is all he has to do with; the concrete is his medium; and he will realize eventually that fiction can transcend its limitations only by staying within them."» Continue Reading