What’s New in This Week’s Inner Sanctum

Please consider supporting my work by subscribing to the Inner Sanctum. Every week, at least three new podcasts are posted, as well as the weekly “Ladydale Diary” and other features. Here is the new content posted this past week:
Home is Where the Hearth Is: Continuing the podcast series on What Every Catholic Should Know About Literature, we look at the poetic vision of Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Revisiting Old Favourites: Continuing the selection of some of Chesterton’s finest essays, you are invited to listen to my discussion and reading of “The Diabolist”.
Poem of the Week: Concluding our mini-series of war poems, I read and discuss “Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen.
Ladydale Diary: The lockdown of our chickens and ducks continues in fear of the returning fox, and the saga of the beard that hasn’t disappeared.
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Arguing with Chesterton about The Man Who was Thursday

Dare we question Chesterton’s own judgment with respect to the greatest of his novels? Can Chesterton be wrong? Well, it depends on which Chesterton we’re talking about? Here I argue that Chesterton is arguing against himself in arguing against his novel. Which Chesterton should we believe? All is revealed in this essay published in celebration of Chesterton’s 146th birthday:

Reflections on Beethoven’s Nine Symphonies

The Imaginative Conservative has published a wonderful “symphony” of reflections on each of Beethoven’s symphonies, as part of its ongoing celebration of the 250th anniversary of the great composer’s birth. My contribution was to reflect on the Sixth Symphony. Here’s the full article, with contributions by nine different writers:

What’s New in the Inner Sanctum This Week

Here’s the new and exclusive content added to the Inner Sanctum of my personal website in the past week:
Home is Where the Hearth Is: Continuing the series on What Every Catholic Should Know About Literature, I discuss the Romantic Poets.
Revisiting Old Favourites: Continuing the selection of some of Chesterton’s finest essays, listen to the discussion and reading of “What I Found in My Pocket”.
Poem of the Week: Continuing our mini-series of war poems, I read and discuss “Lepanto” by G. K. Chesterton.
Ladydale Diary: Day to day musings on life at home with the Pearce Family.
Personal Correspondence on diverse matters, including St. Edward the Confessor, Shakespeare’s sonnets, and nihilism.
Please consider supporting me and my work by becoming a member of the Inner Sanctum. Got to for further details.


I have a neighbor and friend who brings me groceries during this pandemic. Today she squeezed in a grocery run between other errands, and we had a conversation when I picked up the groceries. She had to pick up grandchildren earlier, and I mentioned that she’s always having birthday parties, or celebrations of various occasions; she’s always doing something for her children and grandchildren.

“You are very blessed, you know,” I said.

She smiled. “Yes, I know.”

Years ago, when I was teaching at UNO, the university was what was called, at the time, an “open admissions” campus. No admission requirements. There were students literally clogging the remedial English classes. Some of them had taken the course several times. Every member of the English faculty had to take a turn instructing these classes. We all accepted this rotating duty with good grace because we believed—or tried to believe—in the open admissions policy.

One day during my turn I was trying my best to explain to a student what was wrong with the subject and predicate of “She don’t swim.” He was taking remedial English for the third time, and he couldn’t register for other courses without passing it. Finally, I asked him what he wanted to be when he graduated. “A nuclear physicist,” he answered, smiling broadly. I asked him what gave him the idea of going to UNO to reach this goal, and he answered, “The recruiter! He come to our school and told us we could be anything we wanted to be.” I went back to my desk thinking, Somebody ought to take that ‘recruiter’ out and shoot him. Here was a young man who’d been set up for failure by a liar who cared only about his own success.

And you hear it everywhere still today, as we watch the fruits of that deception on evening news: You can be anything you want to be! Well, no, you can’t. You can only be what God made you to be. And if you try to be anything else, you’ll fail, you’ll be unhappy, you’ll make other people unhappy, and you may even cause harm. But people, especially the young, believe the false advertising of those who have a vested interest of one kind or another in getting them to believe what is really a lie, using their vanity or their sense of inferiority to seduce them.

I always wanted to be a wife, mother, and grandmother. But the truth is that we can’t always choose what happens in our lives. In other words, we can’t be anything we want to be. In pursuing an identity he did not intend for me, I was no different from that student who wanted to be a nuclear physicist. When I surrendered my own will to his, all my frustration and disappointment vanished.

And I thought of all this when my friend was telling me about her errands today.

“You are very blessed, you know,” I said.

She smiled. “Yes, I know.”

And so, I added: “Your greatest blessing is that you know you are.”

She’s very wise—and a wonderful grandmother. It may be that God blesses us all equally and each of us differently, and those who are most blessed are those who know they are.