Books

Hilaire Belloc Revisited

Trying to encapsulate the scope of Hilaire Belloc’s achievement in a brief essay is akin to trying to capture the immensity of the seas that he sailed in the finiteness of the flagons from which he imbibed.

434.25 Books Until I Die

Besides the final disposition of my soul, what is much on my mind is what I should be reading before I one day die.

Must Christmas Be Magical?

In making Christmas the most magical time of the year, it feels like our sad, post-Christian culture is clinging, like a lost child with a tattered teddy bear, to some sort of nostalgic longing for the supernatural.

The Weaponization of Loneliness

No one wants to be alone. It is, at heart, a terrifying prospect. And so, this is the great fear played upon by those trying to impose their ideology.

Fr. James Schall on Books and Teaching

“Nothing is more disconcerting, it seems to me, than to enter a home or apartment in which there are no books and no place for books, no sign a book had ever been there. It always seems like a kind of desecration to me, even though I am perfectly aware that bookless people can also … Read more

The Philosophy of Book Buying

For some considerable time I have been living, as regards books, with the minimum of comfort and decency—with, in fact, the bare necessaries of life, such necessaries being, in my case, sundry dictionaries, Boswell, an atlas, Wordsworth, an encyclopedia, Shakespeare, Whitaker, some De Maupassant, a poetical anthology, Verlaine, Baudelaire, a natural history of my native … Read more

What Was Mr. Bennet Reading?

“Books—oh no! I am sure we never read the same, or not with the same feelings.” “I am sorry you think so; but if that be the case, there can at least be no want of subject.” ~ Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen As a family, we watch Simon Langton’s BBC version of Pride and Prejudice at … Read more

Summer Books for a Billionaire

When Bill Gates announced his 2016 summer reading list, geeks rejoiced. As in previous years, it’s a stack of books full of a lot of long words and sentences. No James Patterson or Stephen King for him; certainly no Austen or Dickens. To his credit, there is a novel, a sci-fi one that does look … Read more

The End of the Affair

It is officially over. I should admit that publicly, shameful and embarrassing though it may be. It pains me to think back over these years. When I first met her I cannot exactly recall (I had heard her name before I met her). I think I saw her first walking away from the library. In … Read more

Books for Christmas

If memory serves, this past year saw electronic books top printed books in the sales figures at Amazon.com. Be that as it may, books—real books—still make wonderful Christmas gifts. Here are some recently published (and read) titles I can recommend with enthusiasm. The Union War, by Gary W. Gallagher (Harvard University Press): As the Civil … Read more

The Bliss of Solitude

A Pelican in the Wilderness: Hermits, Solitaries, and Recluses, Isabel Colegate, Counterpoint Press,  320 pages, $25   When the English novelist Isabel Colegate, author of the acclaimed The Shooting Party, discovered an abandoned hermit’s cell in her garden, she restored it and thereby acquired an interest in the subject of hermits and solitaries. The result … Read more

What’s So Great About Catholicism?

With its divine foundation, sanction, and mission, nothing could be more glorious than the Catholic Church. But, of course, many people — even many baptized Catholics — don’t see it that way. Yet when the sins of men — secular material progress, or our own self-centeredness — blind us to this, they blind us to everything. The Renaissance, a … Read more

Is Multiculturalism Evil?

Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus? The Proust of the Papuans? I’d be glad to read him. – Saul Bellow.   In asking about the Papuan Proust, novelist Saul Bellow summed up the core problem with the twin idols of our age, Multiculturalism and Diversity. For the ideology of Multiculturalism—now dominant on most college … Read more

The Witness of Whittaker Chambers

Whittaker Chambers: A Biography, Sam Tanenhaus, Modern Library, 1998, 638 pages, $20   It was early December 1948, and Congressman Richard Nixon was in the midst of the first of his “six crises.” For the moment this particular crisis was in recess, and a supremely satisfied Nixon was posing for pictures. In his hands was … Read more

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

Redeeming the Dreary

One of the fundamental characteristics of modernism, that cultural shift in the way we see the world, ourselves and our condition, was the celebration of the ordinary – ordinary life, ordinary work, ordinary people and the ordinary things they do. Not everything about the “modern movement” – which began over a hundred years ago – … Read more

On this Crock

Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit, by Garry Wills, (2000) Doubleday, 328 pages, $25   When Pope John Paul II summoned Catholics to a “purification of memory” by facing up to faults, he spoke of a process that should engage us all. This stripping away of delusion and self-deception will be difficult, but it will be … Read more

Exploring the Supernatural

Things in Heaven and Earth: Exploring the Supernatural, Harold Fickett, ed., Paraclete, 1998, 230 pages, $14.   We are now living through a third Great Awakening. It is, of course, a far cry from anything Jonathan Edwards could have imagined. The television show, Brimstone, depicts a damned soul released from Hell with the mission of … Read more

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