Tom Howard

Tom Howard is retired from 40 years of teaching English in private schools, college, and seminary in England and America.

recent articles

A Portrait of Dietrich Von Hildebrand

The name Dietrich von Hildebrand is not, perhaps, as well known as it should be among intelligent and literate Catholics — or, for that matter, among Christians of any ilk. He is a man whom Pius XII referred to as “a 20th-century doctor of the Church.” Those who remember this pontiff will recall that he … Read more

A Note from Good St. Bernard

From time to time, as my wife and I pray the Breviary in the afternoons, we come across a petition that asks the Lord to aid us “in our work of building the earthly city.” I think I know what was in the minds of those who wrote these prayers. The Church must enter fervently … Read more


Most of us, unless we have been steeping ourselves in Greek drama lately, will draw a blank when we come upon that word. Themis. Not really a household word nowadays. But it ought to be. It bespeaks, really, the whole shape of life for the Greeks. For them, it constituted the touchstone by which a … Read more

Finding the Way In

Every once in a while I pull out of its shelf my worn copy of Milton’s poetical works. What can one say? To embark on any given line of Milton is to find oneself in a thunderous domain where language becomes the very avatar of bliss. Paradise Lost is, of course, Milton’s crowning achievement, with … Read more

Newman and Lewis on the Limits of Education

The philosophical map has altered. We live in a world wholly different from the world known by C. S. Lewis, or by John Henry Newman before him, or by Francis Bacon in the Renaissance or Robert Grosseteste in the Middle Ages. Whether we wish to locate the wellspring of this latter change in the eighteenth … Read more

Open to Experience

Some years ago I heard a young man — actually, he was a teenager at that time — remark that he wanted to be “open to all experience.” I am pretty sure that I know what he meant. He was an intelligent fellow and eager to distinguish himself from people whose minds were, he felt, … Read more

Searching for Holiness and Glory

It has fallen to my lot recently to teach classics in a small high school not far from my house that offers courses for homeschooled students. Most of them come from Christian households, so one may take it for granted in the classroom that traditional moral values are in place. This is convenient in an … Read more

The Other Inkling

We all know about the Inklings, that astounding coterie of men who met twice weekly for some years in the l940s and 1950s at Oxford to drink beer and talk about everything. J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis are, of course, by far the best known of the group. But there was another … Read more

Real and Imagined Stories

That watercolor picture in Peter Rabbit of Old Mrs. Rabbit coming along a sandy path in the woods with her red kerchief and market basket may have stuck in the memory of readers. Certainly it has in mine. The Beatrix Potter books drew my young imagination into a world that seemed to cast a warm … Read more

Despondent Converts

  I receive, not infrequently, inquiries by mail from recent converts to the Church who, after a year or so as new Catholics, find themselves wondering about this and that. All of these letters are from former Evangelicals who have read themselves joyfully into the Church. With their earnest, muscular, biblically oriented background in the … Read more

Redrawing the Moral Map

I have found myself in a brisk correspondence in recent weeks with a Calvinist friend from my school days 60 years ago. The topic touched on in our correspondence entails the redrawing of the moral map of the universe, which has been undertaken in the West since the 1960s. That redrawing arrived on the crest … Read more

Rethinking the Global Village

I happened upon a strange television show recently. (Like every man of a certain outlook, I have to hurry in here and urge that “I never watch TV,” which is true, actually.) It was a Disney production, I think, and it had been prepared for children. It was set in a sort of Hogwarts school … Read more

On Answering Questions

  We never know what curiosities former students will come up with. Eric Wind, an ex-student long interested in the history of Georgetown College, found for sale on eBay an old examination given at Georgetown in January 1929. (Let me note that this test was not Schall’s, as in January of 1929, he was but … Read more

A Portrait of Dietrich von Hildebrand

In this Crisis Magazine classic, Thomas Howard sketches the life and work of Dietrich von Hildebrand — often considered a 20th century Doctor of the Church.    The name Dietrich von Hildebrand is not, perhaps, as well known as it should be among intelligent and literate Catholics — or, for that matter, among Christians of … Read more

Dr. Oz and the Fountain of Youth

The melancholy truth of the matter is that history has now taken us all quite beyond the tranquil days of fountain pen and writing paper and quiet hours at one’s desk. One has to have that gray machine, with all of its ancillary machines, dominating one’s study. I have managed to limit things to a … Read more

The Barber Shop

Our local barber shop is run by a cheery woman named Pearl who knows everyone in town. She waves at them all as they walk past the big window where you sit to have your hair cut. Pearl’s assistant is Ethel. Some months ago I noticed a Bible in an open cupboard at her end … Read more

Harmonizing Athens and Jerusalem

I have just been re-reading an old book. Not old in the sense of its being 18th century — it is Dacre Balsdon’s Oxford Life, which came out in the early 1950s. One does not have to have been a scholar or a commoner at one of the colleges in Oxford in order to find … Read more

The Carolina Wren and Others

Running across the back of my house here in Manchester, Massachusetts, there is a narrow porch leading to a deck that looks out onto a lawn surrounded by hemlocks and rhododendron. My father was an amateur ornithologist — he thought of himself simply as a “bird-watcher” — so all six of us children, now in … Read more

Ex Aegypto

Ex Aegypto vocavi filium meum. “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” We all know this quote from having heard, year after year, the Gospel readings in connection with Christmas and the events that follow it. The Holy Family had to flee to Egypt from Herod, who was about to mount the Slaughter of … Read more

The Good Doctor Donne

Beethoven, Shakespeare, and the rest — how we extol them. “Oh, I do love his 7th Symphony so much!” Or, “Oh yes — ‘To be or not to be. . .’ — so powerful. So immeasurably profound.” The thing about all of this, of course, is that once one has graduated from school, the chances … Read more

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