imagination

Anniversary Reflections on the Last Days of King Louis XVI

Early on the morning of January 21, 1793, King Louis XVI heard his last Mass. Following Mass, the king was taken from his prison to the Palace Louis XV, where he would suffer the same fate on the same date as Agnes of Rome, the ancient martyr commemorated in the Mass of the day. This [...]

Cultural Renewal Requires Dreamers and Visionaries

One can tell the state of the society by its dreamers. When a society is comfortably decadent, few dare to imagine a world beyond the surrounding material comforts. In such a society, most people are content with the mediocrity of a superficial world in which those who dream are stifled and silenced. However, when a [...]

Defining Doctrine Protects Divine Mystery

The Western Church is often accused by outsiders of being overly definitive. Even other traditional churches, such as our separated Eastern brethren, consider us to be too tied up in theological formulas. To be fair, Roman Catholics do place a much greater stress on dogmatic definitions than, for example, the Greek Orthodox. The Eastern churches [...]

Beyond Newspaper Chewing: Why it Matters What is Read in High School (Part I of II)

In many American high schools, the teaching of literature is in the sere and yellow leaf. One reason for this decay is the unsatisfactory quality of many programs of reading; another is the limited knowledge of humane letters possessed by some well-intentioned teachers, uncertain of what books they ought to select for their students to [...]

The Anatomy of Sloth

Among the capital sins, sloth easily captures the pride of place as being the least offensive. Great, notorious heroes of lust, anger, greed, pride, and the other capital sins will easily come to mind—Don Juan, Achilles, Midas, Satan, etc. But who would we characterize as a hero of sloth? Nero, for fiddling while Rome burned? [...]

The Liberal Arts: Dawson’s Prerequisite for the Reconstruction of Christendom

One of the greatest Catholic intellects and writers of the twentieth century, Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), worried deeply about the ideological, political, and cultural crises of the western world during the entirety of his adult life. The root of the problem, Dawson had come to believe between the two world wars, was the fundamental decline in [...]

On the Dangers of Reading the Bible as a Kid

Other than regular Sunday readings and occasional rumblings heard as an altar boy, I first began to read the Scriptures at age 12 in the spring of 1963.  It was Lent.  Our teacher, a formidable Dominican nun in full white regalia, laid it down as a project for 7th grade religion that all students should [...]

Beauty Won’t Save the World Alone; Not Without Truth and Goodness

The title of Gregory Wolfe’s excellent collection of essays, Beauty Will Save the World, is based on a much-quoted line from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. In its context it appears only in indirect speech, being attributed by one of the other characters to the “Idiot” of the title, Prince Myshkin. Thus in its original context its [...]

Our Tradition: Southern Conversions

Shortly before the Civil War, Henry Timrod lamented the fate of the "poor scribbler so unfortunate as to be born south of the Potomac," for it was a firm conviction in the North, he said, that genius "is an exotic that will not flower on southern soil." His judgment, of course, was premature, for it [...]

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