The Telos of a University

Mark C. Henrie

Why go to college?

Here is a peculiarity of American life today: The young man or woman in high school invests enormous time and energy in the process of choosing and applying to the best colleges and universities within reach. Guidebooks are consulted, campus visits made, prep courses for the SAT or ACT taken with genuine zeal. Essays are honed and polished beyond anything ever written for a class assignment. Applications are placed in the mail, and students then fret day and night about the status of their case. [Read more...]

Cinemanemia or Revenge of the Bloodsucked

Eleanor Bourg Donlon

“I didn’t like it. It wasn’t serious enough.”

It was a reasonable enough comment out of context, but with my knowledge of the subject under discussion (i.e., the virtues and vices of a raucously goofy film about melodramatic vampyres, ancient curses, and heroes and heroines acting in a highly improbable but impassioned manner) the moment was rather piquant. Why would one go to a film about vampyres and expect it to be serious? Isn’t that rather like expecting a profound and coherent sociological message from Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein? [Read more...]

Orders of the Analogical Imagination: An Introduction to ‘Catholicism and Modern American Poetry’

James Matthew Wilson

Some years ago, while I was still an undergraduate student of modern poetry, a professor of mine, who was an observant Jew, came to class one afternoon in a mood either pensive or disturbed. On the agenda for the day was discussion of Wallace Stevens’ (1879-1955) most beautiful early poem, “Sunday Morning.” That particular work fell with a certain irony on the course calendar, said the professor, for he had himself just spent two days in synagogue celebrating Rosh Hashanah. How discomfiting, he confessed, to return to the classroom, having just meditated on God’s dynamic romance with human beings, in order to discuss the great poem of modern atheism. [Read more...]

Our Essential Disfigurement and the Reparation of Fiction

Joshua Hren: First of all, short of a plenary indulgence, I can think of few gifts better than good fiction. On behalf of Dappled Things, many thanks to Tuscany Press for the gift of the finely crafted short-story “Eyes that Pour Forth,” which was recently published, along with the other prize-winning entries, in the short story collection you edited.

Joseph O’Brien: On behalf of our publisher Peter Mongeau, I thank you very much for the kind words. However, your readers should know that long before Tuscany Press came on the scene, Dappled Things has been almost single-handedly holding up the standard for budding Catholic writers. The fact that there is an interest these days among young Catholics to write fiction is due at least in part—and maybe even large part—to the presence of Dappled Things. [Read more...]

“The Splendor and the Wackiness”: An Interview with Heather King

Katy Carl

After living on both coasts of the United States, working jobs as diverse as waitress and lawyer, surviving alcoholism, cancer, and divorce, and undergoing a life-altering conversion, Catholic writer Heather King might be said to have seen it all. Her most recent memoir, Redeemed, strives to set down these experiences and more as viewed through the fresh eyes of a new Catholic. In her writing, King expresses a truth that her heroine Flannery O’Connor described: that, though faith may seem to some a “peculiar and arrogant blindness,” it can be an “extension of vision” when the believer engages and records reality with honesty and clarity. Or, as King puts it herself, faith enables us to see in a unique way “the meat and the splendor and the wackiness and the grittiness” of the world and of our experience. [Read more...]

Many Faces, One God: Many Languages, One Prayer

John Rogers


Some years ago, I volunteered at the San Miguel school where for the past ten years the LaSallian Brothers have run a low-cost middle school in the center of Chicago’s most violent area, giving Latino children from low-income families the opportunity to receive a quality education. San Miguel is run out of an ancient parish building, all brick walls and tile floors. Classrooms are cavernous and musty, ripe with the scent of old chalk and cleaning agents. Windows dimmed with years of dust and grit overlook the school’s tiny parking lot, which is framed by a rusty chain-link fence. The dilapidated building sat unused for years until the Brothers moved in, and as time has passed, art classes have brightened it with murals and paintings. One such work of art is a ten-foot image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, painted in vibrant blues, greens, and yellows, watching lovingly over the main stairwell. [Read more...]

Naming Sin: Flannery O’Connor’s Mark on Bruce Springsteen

Damian J. Ference

Not so long ago Bruce Springsteen made a surprise visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland to take in an exhibit dedicated to his life’s work.1 The exhibit, which took up two entire floors of the museum, was filled with artifacts from Springsteen’s life, including guitars, clothing, hand-written lyrics, and walls of photographs. One of the photographs was of an eight year-old Springsteen, standing with hands folded in front of the high altar at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Freehold, New Jersey—Springsteen’s first communion picture. [Read more...]

Personalist Bioethics: A Translator’s Reflections

John A. Di Camillo

Art and science are inextricably intertwined. Despite the attempts of modernity to split the human person apart and reduce him to mechanistic cascades of causality, the fundamental intuition of transcendence imbued by art has not been stricken. As a pre-medical undergraduate student steeped in the hard sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, I kept an artistic escape valve for my sanity: a second major in Italian studies. The gap between the often reductive world of the sciences, which I eagerly dissected, and the expansive and nostalgic world of Italian language, culture, literature, and history, which I dearly loved, threatened to one day expand and consume the one or the other. The void seemed unbridgeable. [Read more...]

Book Review: Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age

Joseph O’Brien

Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age
by Gregory Wolfe
ISI Books, 2011
278 pp., $29.95 (hardcover)
ISBN: 1933859881

One look at any art museum and the numberless portraits of the Madonna and Child, or depictions of the Nativity, the Crucifixion or the Last Supper that invariably hang there will demonstrate exactly how successful the relationship between the Church and the artist has been in the history of Western civilization. [Read more...]

No Vague Believer: The Specificity of the Person of Christ According to Flannery O’Connor and Benedict XVI

Damian J. Ference

The Onion, America’s favorite satirical newspaper, featured a story with the headline, “Pope to Ease Up On Jesus Talk; Pontiff Trying Hard Not To Be So In- Your-Face With That Stuff.”1 Of course, the title is funny because it’s not true—it is actually the furthest thing from the truth. The article was published just as Benedict’s second volume of Jesus of Nazareth was being released, a work in which the Holy Father continues his life-long project of understanding the person of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world. Yet this is how satire works—it exposes the truth in a backhanded sort of way, disclosing what is present by means of what is absent. [Read more...]