SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Arts
October 17, 2019
Benjamin Ivry
An enduring paradox of American literature is that a Protestant author, Willa Cather (1873–1947) wrote novels with Catholic themes that have been ardently acclaimed by critics and readers alike for generations. There is Catholic subject matter throughout Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), which describes attempts by clergy to establish a diocese in New
October 17, 2019
Carl Curtis
It’s ironic that many series on television today are rated “MA” (mature audiences), when realistically they should be labelled “AA”, for adolescent audiences – or adolescent minds. Consider the gratuitous sex and explicit language (which would once have earned films an “X” rating) of Peaky Blinders, The Last Czars and Carnival Row. Aren’t such shows
October 10, 2019
The Catholic Herald
In 1863 John Henry Newman was sent a copy of an article that attacked his character. It had been written by Charles Kingsley, the popular novelist and Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge, and it said that “truth, for its own sake, had never been a virtue with the Roman clergy. Father Newman informs
October 10, 2019
Peter Davison
Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) is often caricatured as an establishment figure, while in truth he was a sensitive outsider. Born near Worcester into a lower middle-class family, his mother took the unusual step of converting to Catholicism, insisting her children be brought up in the faith. Her husband, who was the organist of St George’s
October 03, 2019
The Catholic Herald
What makes an agnostic composer, with no strong connections to any faith, devote eight years of his life to composing a symphony requiring – at its most recent live performance in 2011 – nearly 1,000 players on (and off) stage, the bulk of it an hour-long setting in Latin of the Te Deum laudamus? The
October 03, 2019
Carl Curtis
Carnival Row (Amazon Prime drama series) opens with a prologue, as a tale of strange places, peoples and creatures must. It’s spoken by Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne): “For generations we thrived peacefully in a land called Tirnanoc. We are fawns, trolls, centaurs and the stewards of riches and secrets your people will never know. We
September 26, 2019
The Catholic Herald
Next time you are listening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or Mahler’s Second, imagine what it would have been like to be there for the first performance. Imagine the excitement of buying a ticket to hear a new Beethoven or Mahler symphony. Think of the impact that concert might have had on you, and then imagine
September 26, 2019
Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith
The BBC’s Inside the Vatican relies, we are told in its somewhat breathless publicity, on unprecedented access to the inner workings of the Vatican City State. But viewers hoping for a fly-on-the-wall documentary that would tell them something they did not already know, or which could not be gleaned from other readily available sources, would
September 19, 2019
Francis O’Gorman
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) is one of the most celebrated poets in English. And one of the most difficult to talk about in relation to belief. He was born into a Protestant Ascendency family. His grandfather had been the Church of Ireland rector of Drumcliff in County Sligo. And Yeats himself tells a familiar, almost
September 19, 2019
David V Barrett
William Blake lies in Bunhill Fields cemetery in London, a couple of hundred yards away from the Catholic Herald’s office. His grave was recently rediscovered, and a new memorial stone laid a year ago, bearing lines from his poem Jerusalem. Touchingly, there is always a vase of freshly cut flowers at his grave. The new
September 12, 2019
Peter Davison
In the early 1980s, I was lucky enough to sing evensong four times a week with the Chapel Choir of Jesus College, Cambridge. It was always a thrill whenever we performed the music of Herbert Howells (1892-1983). His ethereal harmonies seemed to float into the chapel’s high spaces with spine-tingling intensity, often supported by an
September 12, 2019
Deal Hudson
Audiobook publishing is booming. Last year publishers took in nearly a billion dollars, up 28 per cent from the previous one. The smartphone has made it easy to listen anywhere. But the accessibility of the audiobook accounts for only part of its dramatic growth. There’s a unique power in hearing a good book read well,
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