Catholic Distance University

Once Upon the Ruins

Bernardo Aparicio Garcia 

The bitter blend of sweat and blood on her forehead glistened under the mid-afternoon sun as she darted between the mounds of brick and stone on the street. The sky was overcast with towers of smoke that watched like sad sentinels over a dead land that seemed to fade away down below. Now that the guns had been quiet for two hours, Sara could hear nothing except her own heavy breathing pounding in her ears like blows of thunder. [Read more...]

Catholic Classic Translated in New Dappled Things

The SS. Peter & Paul 2012 edition of Dappled Things has just been published, and among its many offerings, it includes an excerpt from the first translation since 1939 of a classic of Catholic literature: Leon Bloy’s The Woman Who Was Poor.  The issue also features an interview with the translator, DT Assistant Editor Joshua Hren, whose own literary work has been deeply influenced by Bloy. As Hren explains, The Woman Who Was Poor (La Femme Pauvre) played a crucial role in the conversion of luminaries such as Jacques and Raissa Maritain, and the painter Georges Rouault:

Raissa [Maritain] recounts how she and Jacques encountered Léon Bloy. Steeped in the intellectual nihilism of their times, troubled specifically by a scientific determinism the tenets of which they deeply understood and by which they were left in anguish, the two young geniuses, who were then courting, made a pact to commit suicide together on a given date, unless they should come in contact with absolute truth. If the world lacks absolute truth, as they had been taught, then existence, they concluded, is too cruel to countenance any longer. There is a remarkable earnestness to this proposition, even as it is extreme and dark. As their search for this truth ticked away, they happened to read a review of La Femme Pauvre that touted the novel as one of the only French works of the age that flashed with genuine metaphysical insights.

Upon reading the novel, they found themselves, “for the first time . . . before the reality of Christianity.”

We’re very excited to bring a portion of this classic back to print, and we hope you will relish it as much as we have. You can enjoy these and other offerings for free online, including the striking paintings of David Anthony Harman, but only  print subscribers get the full range of what we publish. And, as many new subscribers write to tell us after receiving their first issue, at only $19.99 a year you’ll only wonder why you hadn’t done it sooner.

Celebrating a Gifted Welsh Poet

The story of Hedd Wyn, one of the many artists killed in the Great War.

The judges of the Eisteddfod, which was held at Birkenhead near Liverpool that year, were unaware that Hedd Wyn had died of his wounds at the age of 30 on July 31 at Pilkem Ridge during the battle of Passchendaele.

At the award ceremony the archdruid rose to summon the poet, in the traditional fashion, to come to take the chair, calling him three times to make himself known. But it then had to be revealed, to the consternation of the gathering, which included the prime minister, David Lloyd George, that Hedd Wyn had fallen while fighting with the Royal Welch Fusiliers “somewhere in France.” The empty chair was draped with a black shroud, and the festival of that year has ever since been called Eisteddfod y Gadair Ddu (The Eisteddfod of the Black Chair).

Micah Mattix discusses Rilke in the Wall Street Journal

We spotted Dappled Things contributor Micah Mattix reviewing Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters On God, and critiquing his individualized, humanist take on Christianity:

In this second letter, written in 1922 in the guise of a factory worker and addressed to the deceased poet Emile Verhaeren, Rilke asks: “Who is this Christ that is meddling in everything?” For Rilke, Christ is holy to the extent that he embraced death and, therefore, life. He is an example of a life fully lived. “I cannot believe,” the poet writes, “that the cross was meant to remain; rather, it was to mark the crossroads.” People who worship Christ, Rilke writes, are “like dogs that do not comprehend the meaning of an index finger and think they have to snap at the hand.”

Still, whatever Rilke’s lack of orthodoxy, “The Birth of Christ” (included in the Sophia Institute Press anthology O Holy Night) is one of the loveliest of Christmas poems.

Welcome, Bad Catholics!

That’s a compliment, not an insult. We’re delighted to welcome all of you who are coming from Marc Barnes’s BadCatholic blog. Some of you may already be familiar with Dappled Things, but for those who are not, we want to point out some things that will help you know us better. Dappled Things is the only English-language Catholic journal in print today that not only features intelligent commentary on contemporary culture, but is actually engaged in the production of culture by publishing creative work that is informed and inspired by the Church’s tradition. We publish short stories, poetry, plays, interviews, and articles on any number of issues. Here’s a sampling of pieces published in previous editions that we invite you to check out:

We hope you enjoy your visit. If you like what you see, we invite you to follow us through Facebook, Twitter, and our RSS feed, and to subscribe to our gorgeously printed quarterly edition in order to enjoy all of our content.

John Watson and the Holmesian Mythos

John Watson Martin Freeman SherlockKindly permit us to indulge in a bit of pop culture, albeit highbrow.

Friend of Dappled Things Joseph Susanka considers how the character of John Watson, as “neither the bumbling fool so often portrayed in the early years nor the superfluous sidekick,” is a spiritually significant figure in the BBC’s latest update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective.

Without him, the gulf between the dazzling, irksome Holmes and his audience would prove too difficult to navigate; we might respect him as the world’s most brilliant consulting detective, but we would never be able to love him. With the help of Watson the Reliable Narrator, however, we can bridge the gap between what we know of Holmes through our own experience and what his friends see (and love) in him. Without Watson, Holmes would be little more than a freakishly gifted alien; with him, he becomes a troubled, troubling, redeemable human being.

Does Watson take on new significance in light of the Incarnation? Read the whole thing and decide for yourself! And if you haven’t checked out the BBC’s Sherlock yet, delay no longer! If you’re a Netflix subscriber, it’s currently available via their streaming service, and the first two seasons are also out on DVD.

Call for Papers: Shakespeare and the Memory of a Lost Religion

To follow up on the the recent call for papers we posted, a friend recently sent us a second call that may be of interest to some of our readers:

2012 SAMLA CONFERENCE CALLS FOR PAPERS November 9-11, 2012 Research Triangle, North Carolina Special Focus: Text as Memoir: Tales of Travel, Immigration, and Exile.

Panel: Shakespeare and the Memory of a Lost Religion.

Recent scholarship has drawn attention to the critical trend of the past dozen years commonly referred to as “the turn to religion in Shakespeare criticism.” An important element of this “turn” has included attempts to uncover the remnants of a forgotten Catholicism in Shakespeare’s oeuvre, e.g., Stephen Greenblatt’s Hamlet in Purgatory (2001) and Eamon Duffy’s “Bare Ruined Choirs: Remembering Catholicism in Shakespeare’s England” (2003). This panel is not intended as a forum for arguments about Shakespeare’s own personal religious predilections, but instead, papers should address the ways in which the Bard employs Catholic motifs in his writings, effectively creating texts of religious memory, a memory that may be defined as historical, critical, nostalgic, a dramatic tool—the list goes on. Special attention can also be given to the conference themes of travel, immigration, and exile as they lend themselves to Shakespeare’s efforts at remembering a lost English Catholicism. By June 30, 2012, please submit abstracts of 300 words to Paul Stapleton, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

The End of the Twentieth Century

Jonathan Potter, whose poetry has appeared in Dappled Things, and whose collection of poems was reviewed in DT a few issues ago, reads from that book in a very striking video:

Each word precious Like Benjamins that you spent.

On the lighter side, we got a kick out of this video tribute to The Elements of Style from Jake Heller and Ben Teitelbaum. Rather than explain, we’ll omit needless words and let you watch for yourself: Enjoy!

The Elements of Style from Jake Heller on Vimeo.

DT at the AWP

Dappled Things will have a table at the AWP Conference in Chicago from February 29th to March 3rd. Come and see us at table F13 in the Hilton Chicago, Lower Level, Southwest Hall. The book fair is free and open to the public on Saturday. If you subscribe to DT at the conference, you will get a free back issue for every year you subscribe!