Tom Howard

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

recent articles

Ashes to Ashes: Decay Invades My Bones

There’s an inauspicious title for us all to mull over. Is it a complaint about lupus or osteoporosis? Is it the cry of someone reaching for a metaphor that will somehow answer to the despair that has overtaken him? Is it just a (slightly tedious) bit of hyperbole? Its candidacy for any of these options … Read more

Ashes to Ashes: Vuppies

About 50 years ago, we began to come across neologisms that had been cobbled up to designate sociological categories. The beatniks came first, I think. Then hippies. Then yuppies. Then dinks (Double Income No Kids). After that, I lost track. But I have one that needs to be added to the list—yuppies. Very Unimportant Persons. … Read more

Ashes to Ashes: The Times, They Are a-Chayynne-jin

When I came back to the United States after two years of teaching in England in the mid-1960s, the words and tune of that song, sung with Bob Dylan’s ersatz-Appalachian whine, were reverberating through the air at the University of Illiniois at Champaign-Urbana, where I was about to begin a master’s degree in English. I … Read more

Ashes to Ashes: Saturday Morning, April 2

I was in my study in Manchester, Massachusetts. It was 10:30 on Saturday morning, April 2, 2005. I, like the rest of you, checked the television (I use Fox) as soon as I had gotten up earlier that morning. The Holy Father was still in extremis—still bound in this mortal coil, and none of us … Read more

Ashes to Ashes: On Watching the News

I never watch the news if I can help it. On the surface of it, this would seem to be at least an ostrich-like attitude: Shouldn’t we, as responsible citizens, be au courant of things? A more somber rejoinder from someone who heard me might be that such an attitude is un-Christian: Shouldn’t we, as … Read more

Ashes to Ashes: One’s Prayers

I suppose it is to be expected that any Christian will find his efforts at daily prayer to be ambushed, beleaguered, and booby-trapped with all the devices hell can muster in order to harry the operation, since the prayers of Christians are among the activities hell most dreads. There is an awful painting of poor … Read more

Ashes to Ashes: My Spiders, Moths, and Earwigs

My wife and my (grown) children chuckle at me over the painstaking tactics to which I resort in order to rescue bugs from windowpanes, bathtubs, curtains, and corners. I am not a Hindu. These little creatures are not, in my view, worthies from earlier incarnations. One would hate to be found squashing, say, Ivan the … Read more

Ashes to Ashes: Is the Jig Up?

When I was small, back in the 1940s, there was a lovely weekly magazine called the Saturday Evening Post. It was the publication that ran all of those Norman Rockwell covers that had the art critics breaking out in pustules and carbuncles. They grimly dismissed Rockwell’s entire oeuvre as insupportably sentimental—a little grandmother, say, at … Read more

Ashes to Ashes: Gods, Heroes, and Arthur Miller

Having taught English literature and the Greek classics for about 40 years, I have found myself from time to time mulling over some of the questions that seem to arch over the whole enterprise. One likes to let one’s mind run along some of the thunderous questions of ultimacy that roll across the heavens under … Read more

Ashes to Ashes: The Church as Participatory Democracy

The Catholic Church has traditionally thought of itself as having been constructed hierarchically. Jesus Christ, for example, is the head of this Church: He is not the chairperson of any revolving ad hoc caucus of the whole. He picked twelve men and endowed them with the unction to carry on His ministry in His Church … Read more

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