An Afterglow Candidate

R.S. Mitchell

“At 03:34:30 UT, the Swift Burst Alert Telescope
(BAT) triggered and located GRB [gamma ray burst]
060218. . . . Swift slewed immediately to the burst. . . .
There is an indication of an afterglow candidate. . . .”

Think of those days of earthly incarnation
as a fixed point in human history
but also a cosmic epiphany,
like a burst of gamma radiation.
[Read more…]

Storytelling, Kill Bill, and the Kingdom of God

Matthew Lickona

Can I tell you something? I get tired of talking about Flannery O’Connor. I get tired of talking about Walker Percy, J.F. Powers and even Evelyn Waugh. I get tired of talking about that remarkable mid-century stretch when books with explicitly religious (sometimes explicitly Catholic) characters and themes were garnering national attention. Take an easy barometer: The National Book Award. Powers—nominated in ’57, won in ’63 for Morte D’Urban. (Edwin O’Connor won the Pulitzer the year before for another book about priestly life, The Edge of Sadness.) Percy—won in ’62 for The Moviegoer, nominated again in ‘73. O’Connor—nominated in ’56, won in ’72 for The Complete Stories. After that? Not so much. [Read more…]

On Truth and Trade: Economics and the Catholic Vision of the Good Life

Bernardo Aparicio García
President, Dappled Things

“It’s the economy, stupid.”

It is a phrase most people associate with Clinton and capitalism, but I find it equally worthy of Marx: all human realities are ultimately reducible to economic ones. It is also a cliché, by the way, and one so popular that it has spawned counter-clichés of its own. One of my favorites goes “It’s the culture, stupid,” which perhaps is not surprising given my involvement in this literary journal. Man—the lover, the poet, the builder, the philosopher, the worshiper, even the murderer—is a far larger and more mysterious reality than homo economicus. Yet for all that, it would be vain to deny, especially after the financial disasters of the last few years, that the economy (like other realities) has a powerful influence over the manner in which human beings live their lives, organize societies, and develop cultures. Hence, for those of us trying to pursue a Catholic vision of the good life, and a society that is compatible with it, economics is not a subject we can afford to ignore. [Read more…]

Truth and Goodness Will Follow: A Conversation with Andrew Wilson Smith, Sculptor

Matthew Alderman

Andrew Wilson Smith is one of the most talented and inventive of the rising generation of classical sculptors. He has studied in Florence and apprenticed under luminaries such as Anthony Visco, Miklos Simon, and Scotsman Alexander Stoddart. His work can be seen in locations from California to Switzerland, and he has undertaken numerous commissions for churches, academic institutions, and private clients. He has worked in stone, wood, and bronze. Most notable are a series of eight over-life-sized marble busts depicting the great poets of history created for the California State University campus at Stanislaus. His most unique commission must be a bust of musician Johnny Cash inspired by classical depictions of Orpheus, created while he was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art. He currently lives on the grounds of Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma where he is engaged in carving a pair of Romanesque capitals depicting the Annunciation and other biblical narratives for the complex’s new monastic church. Smith has taught art and art history at St. Gregory’s Academy and Wyoming Catholic College. [Read more…]

Achilleus Now: Core Texts, the Good Life, and Democratic Society

Robert T. Miller

When I was in graduate school at Columbia University, I taught a section of a course called Literature Humanities, a year-long course in western literature required of all first-year students in Columbia College. Beginning with Homer and the Greek dramatists and historians, the syllabus continues with the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and then moves on in the second semester to Virgil, Augustine, Dante, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Austen, Dostoevsky, and others in the twentieth century. The first text on the syllabus is the Iliad. Although I am now a law professor at Villanova University, this fall I lectured on the Iliad to the first-year undergraduate students of a friend of mine who teaches Villanova’s Augustine and Culture Seminar, a course very much like Literature Humanities. Teaching Homer again after almost a decade—and teaching him to college freshman—reminded me of the nobility of my profession as a teacher. [Read more…]

The Age of Faith and Reason

Michael F. Flynn

It is through reason that we are human. For if we turn our backs on the amazing rational beauty of the World we live in, we should indeed deserve to be driven therefrom, like a guest unappreciative of the house into which he has been received.
— Adelard of Bath, Quaestiones naturales

It is often said that until the Scientific Revolution Islam was far ahead of the Christian West in the natural sciences. This belief is a reaction to an earlier age of Western triumphalism that overlooked the genuine achievements of the Islamic philosopher (faylasuf); but like many reactionary movements, it overcompensates and praises a golden age that never quite was. Europe was never quite the dark age of ignorance that the “enlightened” philosophers pretended. [Read more…]

A Fix for Catholic Music

Jeffrey Tucker

There is a sense in which everything is nobler when sung. It would never occur to us to light the candles on a birthday cake and parade into the room while reciting the words: happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, dear John, happy birthday to you.

John would probably suppose that this was some kind of cruel joke. [Read more…]

When the Eagles Don’t Fit in Capistrano

Matthew J. Milliner

But ask now . . . the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee.
– Job 12:7


The 1950’s, for those who didn’t live through them, can’t help but bring to mind stereotyped images of Red Scare paranoia and dull, domestic misery. Films from The Front to The Hours, from Mona Lisa Smile to Pleasantville have done their work. It was a black and white decade of suburban servitude, absent the living color of limitless personal autonomy we currently enjoy. [Read more…]

A Man of Culture: Reflections on the Papal Visit

Pope Benedict XVI, the pundits tell us, is not living up to his image as God’s Rottweiler. One almost senses a hint of disappointment in their voice. Admittedly, many recent articles have featured generally positive portrayals of the Holy Father, but they have also given rise to the cliché that Pope Benedict is a “mystery.” This seems to have been the default media position during his recent visit to the United States. How is it, they wonder, that this strict disciplinarian—this former Panzerkardinal—now seems more interested in talking about love and hope—as he has at length in his two first encyclicals—than in hunting down heretics, sinners, and unbelievers? Has he gone soft? Is it a public relations move? So far the media refuse to imagine that the caricature of the pope they themselves created upon his election may have been mistaken in the first place. [Read more…]