Going to Purgatory With J.R.R. Tolkien

By |2020-09-03T15:27:03-05:00September 6th, 2020|Categories: Art, Christian Humanism, Christianity, Fiction, Imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, Joseph Pearce, Literature, Senior Contributors|

In his short story, “Leaf by Niggle,” J.R.R. Tolkien provides a much more colourful and comforting purgatorial vision than that afforded by Dante. Niggle, a personification of the Artist, recognizes the landscape as the perfect, living form of which his painting was but a shadow or a foreshadowing. J.R.R. Tolkien expressed a dislike for [...]

“Little Women”: A Gem of American Literature

By |2020-09-04T15:08:15-05:00September 4th, 2020|Categories: Family, Fiction, Literature|

Louisa May Alcott’s subtle insight into the enduring truths of human nature has been overlooked by academics, yet she deftly navigated the rapid current of change in her time to produce a valuable piece of literature that refuses to be relegated to the nursery as “just a children’s book.” Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women [...]

An Oaf’s Magnificat: On Kingsley Amis and “Lucky Jim”

By |2020-07-29T17:17:10-05:00July 30th, 2020|Categories: Books, Education, Fiction, Humor, Literature, Satire|

In 1954, “Lucky Jim” was a new planet: When Kingsley Amis wrote it, English satirical fiction had been for a third of a century a decidedly mandarin and highbrow business. Unlike his predecessors, Amis depicts representatives of the lower orders and the previously inaccessible university world that is not so much a garden of [...]

A Good Woman is Hard to Find: The “Racism” of Flannery O’Connor

By |2020-07-05T13:00:59-05:00July 5th, 2020|Categories: Catholicism, Christianity, Fiction, Flannery O'Connor, Joseph Pearce, Literature, Politics, Senior Contributors|

Some previously unpublished letters and postcards, only made available to scholars since 2014, reveal that Flannery O’Connor used “inexcusable racial slurs” in private correspondence. What, therefore, are we to make of this revelation of racism, however mitigated it might be by other factors, and how should it impact our reading and reception of O’Connor’s [...]

Abuse of Love: “Till We Have Faces”

By |2020-06-28T01:34:05-05:00June 27th, 2020|Categories: C.S. Lewis, Christian Humanism, Christianity, Fiction, Literature, Love|

In “Till We Have Faces,” the story of Orual and Psyche which Lewis weaves is so powerful because it presents us with the hope that even the greatest cruelty perpetrated by selfish love can be forgiven by true love. Picture the scene, cliché as it is: A young teenager’s parents have just refused her permission [...]

Beauty & Utility in Hawthorne’s “The Artist of the Beautiful”

By |2020-06-25T17:05:24-05:00June 26th, 2020|Categories: Beauty, Culture, Fiction, Literature|

Our modern lives need beauty, because, in the machine-like pace of modern life and the machine-like culture, there is not much beauty to be found. Nathaniel Hawthorne pointedly illustrates in “The Artist of the Beautiful” the cost of valuing the practical over the Beautiful. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Artist of the Beautiful,” [...]

“Hungary”

By |2020-06-28T19:53:00-05:00June 26th, 2020|Categories: Character, Christianity, Fiction, History, Imagination, Religion|

History’s tyrants and thieves remain with us, and if things get very dark sometimes, then my best hope is to do the right thing in the light of His Grace. That’s all I can hope to do, passing on that Grace whenever I can. It’s strange how I can’t remember this guy’s whole name [...]

Walker Percy’s “The Second Coming”

By |2020-06-19T11:29:29-05:00June 24th, 2020|Categories: Books, Culture, Fiction, Literature, Walker Percy|

During the last third of the twentieth century, Walker Percy was a force to be reckoned with, as essayist, philosopher, vocal Catholic, and, especially, as a prize-winning novelist, often best-selling. (He was considered a first-class stylist.) Describable, I think, as “psychological gothic” (and Southern, though he came to hold no truck with Faulkner), those [...]

Myth: The Door to the Transcendent

By |2020-06-19T14:09:02-05:00June 19th, 2020|Categories: Art, Culture, Fiction, Modernity, Myth|

Throughout history, cultures have always developed fantastical tales of heroes and gods and monsters and demons. Whether they are tales of the Greek Pantheon, Norse gods, or modern-day superheroes, these tales grasp the imagination and transport the hearer to a different realm full of possibility. The question then arises in my mind: Are these [...]

“Notes from Underground” in Lockdown and Isolation

By |2020-06-10T22:57:21-05:00June 10th, 2020|Categories: Books, Civil Society, Coronavirus, Fiction, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Imagination, Literature|

The fear of the coronavirus allows our governing bodies to keep us in isolation and the consequences of our permitting this act are more pernicious than we can imagine. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Notes from Underground” has never appeared less fictional. And why are you so firmly, so triumphantly, convinced that only the normal and the [...]

The Economics of Marriage in Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women”

By |2020-06-09T09:57:01-05:00June 9th, 2020|Categories: Culture, Fiction, Film, Literature, Marriage|

Director Greta Gerwig’s film “Little Women” ends as Louisa May Alcott’s novel does, with a family-centered fall festival at Plumfield. Perhaps unintentionally, Ms. Gerwig captures the spirit of Alcott’s beautiful ending to her novel. Not only has she married off the heroine, but she has shown marriage to be far more than an economic [...]

On Fishbowls, Tragedies, and Coronavirus

By |2020-06-08T00:42:32-05:00June 7th, 2020|Categories: Coronavirus, Fiction, Great Books, Literature, Modernity, Tragedy|

Far from calling for microscopic views of reality and fishbowls, tragedies call for us to shatter the fishbowls and throw out the microscopes, to stop obsessing about our vulnerabilities and on how to overcome them, to stop thinking of ourselves as helpless victims of wicked forces. It is a grey day today. The sun [...]

Questioning Chesterton’s Own Judgment of “The Man Who Was Thursday”

By |2020-05-28T15:29:37-05:00May 28th, 2020|Categories: Christian Humanism, Christianity, Fiction, G.K. Chesterton, Joseph Pearce, Literature, Senior Contributors|

The paradoxical heart of G.K. Chesterton’s “The Man Who Was Thursday” is the tension that exists between the childlikeness demanded by Christ and the childishness that St. Paul tells us to avoid. The first is the wisdom of innocence, or the sanity of sanctity, whereby we see the miracle of life with eyes full [...]

Messing About in Boats: Frederick Buechner’s “Brendan”

By |2020-05-20T15:58:05-05:00May 20th, 2020|Categories: Christianity, David Deavel, Fiction, Literature, Senior Contributors|

The Saint Brendan of Frederick Buechner’s novel is like all the saints who learn that the greatest journey is one that leads from the glorious but seed-like natural energy and strength of youth, to the final flowering of spiritual life and power that are only attained through prayer, surrender, and many crosses. For Roman [...]

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