Issues

Solzhenitsyn 1918-2018: A Centenary Celebration
StAR Nov Dec 2018 COVER

Solzhenitsyn 1918-2018: A Centenary Celebration

November/December 2018: Solzhenitsyn 1918-2018: A Centenary Celebration

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In the Camps: Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn –  Lee Congdon

It should come as no surprise that the spiritual awakening of both Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn occurred during their years of penal servitude. There were major differences between the tsarist katorga and the Soviet
GULag, but in both systems of detention reflective men were forced to confront themselves and their past as never before. Dostoyevsky’s past had been one of guilt, closely associated with a hatred of serfdom. In pleading for more money, he had, or so he believed, forced his father to increase pressure on his serfs, who murdered him in response. A Christian in a vague humanitarian sense, the young Dostoyevsky found himself drawn to utopian socialism and, for that reason, he joined the Petrashevsky Circle, a discussion group organized by Mikhail Petrashevsky, a disciple of Charles Fourier.

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The Feminine Genius of Jane Austen
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The Feminine Genius of Jane Austen

September/October 2018: The Feminine Genius of Jane Austen

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Jane Austen’s Novels: Reading and Revelation – Maria Devlin McNair

In Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Colonel Brandon meets with Elinor Dashwood for a private conversation. Elinor’s neighbor Mrs. Jennings overhears a few phrases of the conversation and concludes that Colonel Brandon has proposed. She approaches Elinor afterwards with a smile: “I assure you I never was better pleased in my life, and I wish you joy of it with all my heart.”

Elinor thanks her: “It is a matter of great joy to me; and I feel the goodness of Colonel Brandon most sensibly. There are not many men who would act as he has done. Few people who have so compassionate a heart!”

Mrs. Jennings is astonished (as many of us would be) at this reaction to a proposal: “Lord! my dear, you are very modest!” But the confusion is soon clarified. Colonel Brandon was, in fact, telling Elinor that he wished to offer the parish on his estate to Elinor’s friend Edward Ferrars, who had been disinherited by his family for refusing to break off an engagement of which they disapproved. This scene shows in miniature the larger strategy at work in Austen’s novels. Her books give us a better vision of reality first by showing us how our current vision falls short. We seek the truth more earnestly once we realize we don’t already have it.

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Gerard Manley Hopkins & the Grandeur of God
July August 2018_COVER

Gerard Manley Hopkins & the Grandeur of God

July/August 2018: Gerard Manley Hopkins & the Grandeur of God

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Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Blessed Virgin Mary – Bernadette Waterman Ward

The first time the poet Gerard Manley mentions the Blessed Virgin Mary is in a letter to his father, who is dismayed that his Oxford-educated son is on the verge of converting to the Catholic Church. Young Gerard writes:

I shall hold as a Catholic what I have long held as an Anglican, that literal truth of our Lord’s words by which I learn that the least fragment of the consecrated elements in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is the whole Body of Christ born of the Blessed Virgin, before which the whole host of saints and angels as it lies on the altar trembles with adoration. This belief once got is the life of the soul and when I doubted it I shd. become an atheist the next day (October 16–17, 1866).

The first words of Hopkins about the Blessed Virgin acknowledge her as the Mother of the Eucharist. Already the young poet understands the eternal relation of the Incarnate Creator to the world. Mary is the point at which the Eternal Creator chooses to take flesh from a creature. Because God is eternal, the unity of God with His creatures is not bound by time, or by place. No time is future to Him; no time is past. His spiritual relationship with His saints is always present to Him; and so His Body is always the Body mothered by Mary—wherever and whenever he chooses His Body to be present.

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American Literature & Catholic Faith
May June 2018_COVER

American Literature & Catholic Faith

May/June 2018: American Literature & Catholic Faith

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Orestes Brownson on the Natural Aristocracy – Geoffrey M. Vaughan

In 1813, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams engaged in a correspondence on the topic of the natural aristocracy in America. These two political enemies reconciled over the question of how the new nation might raise up leaders like themselves. More than a generation later the journalist, publisher, one- time Transcendentalist and notable Catholic convert, Orestes Brownson, would revisit this same topic.

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Misfits & Mystics: Flannery O’Connor and Friends
March April 2018_COVER

Misfits & Mystics: Flannery O’Connor and Friends

March/April 2018: Misfits & Mystics: Flannery O’Connor and Friends

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Grace and the Grotesque: Redemption in the Southern Literature of Flannery O’Connor – Veronica A. Arntz

To our softened, modern sensibilities, the stories of Flannery O’Connor are shocking. They are seemingly dark with despair, fraught with the destruction of the inno- cent, and devoid of happiness or joy. In a word, her stories are part of the Southern genre called “grotesque”, which radically contradicts the modern desire for positivity and uplifting sentimentalities. It may be even more shocking to some that Flannery is a Catholic author, especially as her stories seem to portray everything but the hope of Christ’s Resurrection. And yet, beneath the grotesque surface, Flannery is deeply theo- logical, and the mystery of Christ is a con- stant theme in her stories, even if it is veiled behind the sufferings of life. Understanding the baptized imagination of Flannery O’Connor requires us to see that the redemption from sin and suffering, won for us by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, is continually operative within her stories.

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True Love: Passionate Reason Versus Romantic Feelings
Jan Feb 2018_COVER

True Love: Passionate Reason Versus Romantic Feelings

January/February 2018: True Love: Passionate Reason Versus Romantic Feelings

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Anna Karenina: A Story of Untrue Love- Mary Leonarczyk

Recently, with the 2012 movie adaptation of Anna Karenina having been released, there has been an increasing interest in Leo Tolstoy’s classic Russian novel of doomed romance. On the surface, the book tells the story of Anna’s tragic affair with Count Vronsky in the midst of a world where such conduct is socially condemned. Many modern critics laud it as an appraisal of hypo- critical moral boundaries and a standard of male dominance in nineteenth-century Russian culture. Anna herself is envisioned as a sort of tragic hero who defies her circumstances to be true to herself and her love. In short, the doomed love in the story is widely seen as a positive thing.

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Faith and Physics: Fr. LeMaître and the Big Bang
Nov Dec 2017 COVER

Faith and Physics: Fr. LeMaître and the Big Bang

November/December 2017: Faith and Physics: Fr. LeMaître and the Big Bang

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Father Georges LeMaître: Introduction to a Great Priest-Cosmologist – John Beaumont

In 2015 I was privileged to be able to contribute to a special issue of StAR devoted to the late and great priest physicist, Father Stanley Jaki, OSB, with whom I had the great fortune to work for five years, from 2004 until his death in 2009. In that issue of StAR I both wrote an article and helped to edit a number of others written upon various aspects of Father Jaki’s work. Now, I have been again fortunate, thanks to the generosity of the editor of StAR, Joseph Pearce, in being able to help to put together a series of articles on another great priest scientist, Father Georges LeMaître and his outstanding achievement in formulating the Big Bang hypothesis. The year 2016 was the fiftieth anniversary of his death, so we are just behind with our tribute, but it is certainly one well worth making nevertheless.

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The Faith & the South
StAR Sept Oct 2017 COVER

The Faith & the South

September/October 2017: The Faith & the South

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Southern Catholics and Protestant Bias: Bishop John England’s 1839 Debate with Rev. Richard Fuller – Adam Tate

During every election season, articles appear discussing confirmation bias, pointing out that most people read news stories in ways that confirm their existing opinions while discarding pesky facts that challenge their beliefs. Writers realize that powerful narratives shape significantly what people hear and how they then act. Minority groups, however defined, often believe different narratives from the majority in order to make sense of their situation. They often find it difficult to be heard by the majority. Catholics in antebellum South Carolina and Georgia struggled to thrive as a small, poor, traditionally-mistrusted minority within a dynamic society. Largely, but not completely, Irish immigrants, they built churches, schools, and communities in the sprawling Southern landscape, usually in cities and small towns. The enormity of the material challenges combined with anti-Catholic prejudice presented a daunting task. Some historians have portrayed Catholic adaptation to life in the Old South as generally easy, recognizing Catholic collaboration with their neighbors and pointing out that most of the anti-Catholic violence during the antebellum period occurred outside the region.(1) But southern Catholics struggled mightily against deep prejudices. Many southerners believed history demonstrated that Catholicism was so corrupt and depraved that it precluded Catholics from being loyal, republican citizens. One logical response Catholics made, then, was to challenge popular historical narratives held by their non-Catholic neighbors.

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The Controversial Genius of Richard Wagner
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The Controversial Genius of Richard Wagner

July/August 2017: The Controversial Genius of Richard Wagner

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Richard Wagner’s Operas of Redemption and Salvation – by Henry Zeiter

Innumerable composers have written reli- gious music; to wit, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, and Bruckner’s Masses, Te Deums, Stabat Maters, Cantatas, Oratorios, and so on. They were all written for a few singers with a chorus. None of these works of religious art showed any dramatic motion, or acting out, making it impossible to consider them religious dra- mas, in the true sense of that term. Richard Wagner (1813–1883), during the late Romantic Period, filled that void with bril- liance.

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The World’s a Stage: The Drama of Faith
May June 2017 COVER

The World’s a Stage: The Drama of Faith

May/June 2017: The World’s a Stage: The Drama of Faith

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“Reverence for the Gods in Antigone: Beyond Greek Humanism” – by Veronica A. Arntz

“Give me glory! What greater glory could I win than to give my own brother decent burial? These citizens here would all agree, they would praise me too if their lips weren’t locked in fear.”1 Sophocles’ Antigone boldly argues against her tyrant uncle, Creon, who, after assuming the throne of her father, Oedipus, proceeds to give a proper burial to only one of her brothers who fought in the war. Creon’s reasoning is that Eteocles died fighting for him, while Polynices fought on the opposite side, making him a traitor. Creon goes further and forbids anyone from burying the body of Polynices, but Antigone, bolder than her sister Ismene, proceeds to bury her brother despite the law. After disobeying Creon’s law, Antigone fearlessly faces her uncle’s anger and his threat of death.

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