“Quantitative Judgments Don’t Apply”: Foyle’s War, Series Seven

By |2014-01-12T15:16:42-06:00October 18th, 2013|Categories: Daniel McInerny, Mystery, Television|

At the beginning of the third volume of Evelyn Waugh’s masterful World War II trilogy, Sword of Honor, Guy Crouchback, a British Catholic officer entering a disillusioned middle age, has a conversation with his elderly father in which he disparages the Lateran Treaty. Gervase Crouchback rebukes his son’s irascibility. “My dear boy,” he said, “you’re [...]

The Magnanimous Pontiff

By |2014-01-23T09:22:11-06:00October 6th, 2013|Categories: Daniel McInerny, Pope Francis|

Naïve. Imprudent. A “Jesuit.” Such are some of the negative attributes that have been imputed to Pope Francis in the worried emails and dismayed blog posts that have come across my laptop screen in the week since the English publication of the Holy Father’s interview with Antonio Spadaro, S.J. Why such consternation from those who number themselves [...]

Natural Law at the Dinner Table

By |2019-06-06T12:17:24-05:00September 17th, 2013|Categories: Daniel McInerny, Natural Law|

Would that I had received the education of my children! Last night at dinner our family enjoyed an unusually rich conversation prompted by a question that had arisen during my wife’s homeschooling history lesson with our seventh-grade son. In recent days these two have been working through the major thinkers of the Enlightenment using an [...]

The Neglected Art of Muriel Spark

By |2014-01-15T14:24:25-06:00August 31st, 2013|Categories: Catholicism, Daniel McInerny, Literature|

An elderly woman picks up a telephone and a strange voice says, Remember you must die. “Who is that speaking, who is it?” the elderly Dame Lettie demands, but the caller, “as on eight previous occasions,” has already hung up. So who is it that is calling and saying these foreboding words to the cast of [...]

The Good Sense of Sensationalism

By |2013-12-20T17:49:45-06:00August 19th, 2013|Categories: Books, Daniel McInerny, Mystery|

The only thrill, even of a common thriller, is concerned somehow with the conscience and the will.– G. K. Chesterton A book I much admire is the detective writer P.D. James’s little book, Talking About Detective Fiction, a distillation of the author’s insights into the genre she has practiced so well for nearly five decades. [...]

Blandings Castle: The Genius of the Place

By |2013-12-20T18:07:08-06:00August 10th, 2013|Categories: Books, Daniel McInerny|Tags: |

I write today in celebration of P.G. Wodehouse’s sublimely mirthful Blandings stories, one of literary history’s greatest achievements in comic art. I want to submit that the genius of Blandings Castle is its resemblance to the Garden of Eden, the terrestrial paradise. In submitting as much I make no pretense of originality. It was Evelyn [...]

Literature and Transcending Order

By |2019-02-05T16:16:39-06:00August 2nd, 2013|Categories: Daniel McInerny, Imagination, Literature|

In 1961 the philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch published an essay in Encounter entitled, “Against Dryness.” In it, she laments the way in which our “scientific, anti-metaphysical age” has left us with “far too shallow and flimsy an idea of human personality,” an idea which, for Murdoch, has had a debilitating effect on modern literature: [...]

Putting the Arts into Practice: Renewing Western Culture

By |2016-07-26T15:17:20-05:00July 23rd, 2013|Categories: Art, Culture, Daniel McInerny, Whit Stillman|

At the crescendo of his stirring cri de coeur, “Word and Anti-Word: A Christian Humanist Meditation,” Bradley Birzer asks how we might best undertake the renewal, inspired and grounded in the best intellectual traditions of the Christian West, that is so badly needed in our ever-darkening times. For an answer Dr. Birzer turns to Russell [...]

Movie Review: Monster’s University

By |2014-01-23T09:30:24-06:00July 9th, 2013|Categories: Daniel McInerny, Film|Tags: |

In a recent post here on The Imaginative Conservative I claimed that popular entertainment has a crucial political role within a democracy, because popular entertainment is the venue where most citizens gather to contemplate their collective self-understanding. If contemplation of the good life is going to occur on a mass scale, involving a wide spectrum [...]

The Humanities in a Digital Age: Online Higher Education

By |2016-07-26T15:35:11-05:00June 28th, 2013|Categories: Daniel McInerny, Education, Featured, Humanities, Technology|

Raphael’s School of Athens The humanities in American higher education are in deep crisis, and the cry of alarm released on June 18 by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences will probably contribute little to a renaissance. How deep is the crisis? Here a few warning signals. According to the New York [...]

Is American Theater Really Dead?

By |2014-02-06T14:41:28-06:00June 15th, 2013|Categories: Culture, Daniel McInerny, Theater|

Bank of America Theatre Did anybody catch the 2013 Tony Awards? I thought so. Actually, I didn’t watch the whole thing either. And I don’t think we missed much. The spectacle was largely banal and the nominated plays and players, for all I knew them, could have come from the Kabuki Theater. Kinky [...]

After Mamet: Limits of “The Secret Knowledge”

By |2016-07-26T15:59:29-05:00June 5th, 2013|Categories: Daniel McInerny, Free Markets, Libertarianism|

David Mamet is the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, film and television director, and author of many books of essays, most recently, in 2011, of the crackling libertarian manifesto, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture. The target of Mamet’s book is an updated version of Rousseau’s noble savage: a 21st-century peace-loving tribesman whose Eden it [...]

“Poetry” as Political Concern: Aristotelian Tragedy

By |2019-11-08T16:01:20-06:00May 24th, 2013|Categories: Aristotle, Classics, Daniel McInerny, Philosophy, Tragedy|

Greek tragedy grew up and was cultivated within the context of religious festival, but these play-festivals of Dionysus, as Paul Cartledge has written in The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy, “served further as a device for defining Athenian civic identity…exploring and confirming but also questioning what it was to be a citizen of a democracy.” [...]

Gatsby and the Grandeur and Poverty of Eros

By |2018-01-31T15:39:11-06:00May 10th, 2013|Categories: C.S. Lewis, Christianity, Daniel McInerny, Film, Literature, Modernity|Tags: |

With Baz Luhrmann’s garish 3D hip-hop adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby rolling into theaters this week, my thoughts turn to a piece from last June’s Guardian in which novelist Jay McInerney (no relation) reflected on why Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel has become an American classic–and more than a classic: “a defining document of [...]

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