Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

By Catholic Culture Podcast

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123—The Nature of Middle-earth—Carl Hostetter

Carl Hostetter, editor of a new volume of J.R.R. Tolkien's unpublished notes, The Nature of Middle-earth, joins the show to discuss Tolkien's metaphysics, his theology, and some of the startling revelations about Tolkien's creative process found in this and other books of Tolkien's notes and drafts.

122—Minor Indignities—T.C. Merrill

T.C. Merrill's debut novel, Minor Indignities, is an evocative portrayal of the vanity of undergraduate life at an Ivy League university. Its protagonist, a freshman consumed with what others think of him intellectually, socially and sexually, only makes a fool of himself the more he strains to impress. The novel ultimately becomes a richness of embarrassments whose final catastrophe illustrates the saying of St. Bernard: “Humiliation is the way to humility.”

The Glorious English Carol

Did you know that not just any Christmas song is a carol? The true carol, in all its earthy splendor, is a distinctive product of the Catholic middle ages. Yet our forefathers didn’t limit caroling to Christmas: they wrote carols for every season of the year covering the entire story of our Redemption, not to mention secular topics at times.

121—Catholic Jazz Legend Mary Lou Williams—Deanna Witkowski

Mary Lou Williams: one of the outstanding jazz pianists of all time, composer, Catholic convert, visionary, performer of works of mercy.

Highlights: Authority in marriage, anti-libertarianism, the scapular and more

This episode contains clips of highlights from episodes 45 and 47-49 of the Catholic Culture Podcast.

120—Maximilian Kolbe in Japan—Kevin Doak

Miracles is a semiautobiographical account of the author’s personal investigation into the miracles approved by the Vatican for Kolbe’s canonization. Her ambivalence towards her Catholic faith is challenged as she traces Kolbe’s steps from his childhood to his self-sacrifice in Auschwitz, with his time in Japan standing in between as the ascetic crucible which made him a saint.

119—Gilson on the One Secular World Order—Peter Redpath

Gilson's Metamorphoses of the City of God traces the quest of philosophers for a universal human society, as it gradually degraded from the heavenly city of which Augustine wrote.

118—Music for the Joyful Mysteries—Mark Christopher Brandt

Mark Christopher Brandt returns to the show to discuss his latest album, Joy, which is based on the structure of the Rosary. It features the family choir of Mark and his three daughters, accompanied by Mark on piano. The album has an amazing backstory, involving Mark's decision to end his public career as a jazz pianist to focus on his family, never expecting that he would one day make an album with his chilren.

117—Maritain’s Art and Scholasticism, Pt. 2

This is a crossover episode in which Thomas joins forces with Scott Hambrick and Karl Schudt from the Online Great Books Podcast, to discuss the classic essay Art and Scholasticism by Jacques Maritain. This episode covers beauty as a transcendental and its role in the fine arts, and intuition as the way we experience artistic beauty. The beauty of a work does not depend on the emotional effects it produces, nor can it be proven by analysis.

116—Maritain’s Art and Scholasticism, Pt. 1

This is a crossover episode in which Thomas joins forces with Scott Hambrick and Karl Schudt from the Online Great Books Podcast,  to discuss the classic essay Art and Scholasticism by Jacques Maritain.

115—A Bishop’s Stand on Gender Ideology—Fr. Stephen Schultz

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, recently issued “A Catechesis on the Human Person and Gender Ideology”. The document takes a strong unequivocal stance against transgender ideology, down to practical specifics like telling the faithful we must not use transgender names and pronouns. Beyond that, it excels in showing how the Church’s whole anthropology and theology are at stake in the transgender issue.

114—A Children’s Book About Accepting Your Nature—Matthew Mehan

Writer Matthew Mehan returns to the show to discuss his new children's book co-authored with painter John Folley, The Handsome Little Cygnet. This lovely tale about a family of swans in Central Park introduces children to the idea of accepting one's God-given nature. That is no small matter in a world which tantalizes the young with offers of a more exciting new identity just around the corner. But we need to know what we are in order to properly shape who we will become.

Is realism in modern fiction an aberration? w/ Joshua Hren

In this outtake from episode 113, Thomas asks Joshua Hren whether the turn to realism in modern fiction, a historical anomaly, is also a problem from a religious and philosophical point of view.

113—Can a Novelist “Create” a Saint?—Joshua Hren

In his new book How to Read (and Write) Like a Catholic, fiction writer and editor Joshua Hren lays out an approach to Catholic literature that spans all the way from St. John Henry Newman called “a record of man in rebellion” to the other end of the continuum, which is a representation of the Beatific Vision.

Apology and Retractions about the Vaccine Episode

This is an apology for and retraction of some things that were said in Episode 106 of the Catholic Culture Podcast, a discussion of the morality of COVID vaccines.

Highlights: Garrigou-Lagrange, Dana Gioia, Tolkien’s metaphysics, and more

Clips of highlights from episodes 38-41 and 44 of the Catholic Culture Podcast.

112—Walker Percy’s Angelic-Bestial Future—Jessica Hooten Wilson

"Now in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I came to myself in a grove of young pines and the question came to me: has it happened at last?" Literary scholar Jessica Hooten Wilson joins the show to give a general introduction to Walker Percy and one of his most beloved novels, the "panoramic satire" Love in the Ruins.

111—Sir Gawain and the Green Knight—Anthony Esolen

Today we discuss one of the greatest Arthurian tales, told by one of the most virtuosic poets in the history of English, an anonymous priest of the 14th century. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight tells us a lot about courtesy, original sin, and grace, all bound up in an enormously entertaining story about a giant, decapitation-surviving green knight. Poet and critic Anthony Esolen joins the show to discuss the poem, its Middle English dialect, and the tradition of alliterative verse.

110—Woke Idols, Woke Pathologies—Noelle Mering

Noelle Mering joins the show to discuss her new book Awake, Not Woke: A Christian Response to the Cult of Progressive Ideology.

109—A Catholic in the NYC Ballet—Claire Kretzschmar

Claire Kretzschmar, a dancer and soloist with the New York City Ballet, joins the show to discuss her path to becoming a professional dancer, the challenges and joys of being a Catholic in the ballet world, and the spiritual value of dance. She also discusses a beautiful dance film which she choreographed for the NYC Ballet this year.

108—Walker Percy’s Moviegoer w/ Nathan Douglas

Thomas is joined by Catholic filmmaker Nathan Douglas to discuss Walker Percy's first novel, The Moviegoer. They also look at how Binx searches for a deeper connection with reality through his moviegoing habits. Percy has some interesting descriptions of his characters finding moments of transcendent beauty in films, given that this novel was written just before the notion of "cinephilia" developed by French critics made its way to the United States.

Highlights: How men can help the angry feminist in their lives, and more

This episode features clips from episodes 34-37 of the Catholic Culture Podcast.

107—Prayer as a Political Problem w/ Brandon McGinley

Brandon McGinley joins the show to discuss an interesting little book from 1967 that has re-entered the discourse, Prayer as a Political Problem by Jean Danielou, SJ. Danielou insists that prayer forms a constitutive part of the temporal common good. Governments, therefore, have a responsibility to create conditions making it easy for the common people to conduct a spiritual life.

106—Abortion-Linked Vaccines: A Moral Analysis—Michael Pakaluk, Jay Richards

Michael Pakaluk and Jay Richards join host Thomas V. Mirus for a discussion of the moral issues involved with the production of vaccines using illicitly-obtained fetal cell lines, and the reasons for freedom of conscience for those who do not wish to take them.

105—Confronting an Unprecedented Church Scandal—Phil Lawler

Catholic Culture’s own Phil Lawler has written a new book addressing what he sees as flaws in the response of Catholic leaders and laity to the pandemic and advocating a different approach —Contagious Faith: Why the Church Must Spread Hope, Not Fear, in a Pandemic.

104—John’s Gospel, Mary’s Voice—Michael Pakaluk

Michael Pakaluk joins the show to discuss his new translation and commentary on St. John's gospel, making the case that this loftiest of gospels echoes the voice of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the evangelist's adopted mother) in subtle but profound ways.

Highlights: Feminism and ideology; intuition, temperance and art; Great Books; Tolkien’s visual art

This episode features highlight clips from episodes 26-30 of the Catholic Culture Podcast.

103—Pope Leo XIII’s NYC Hotel

Did you know there's a hotel in NYC named after Pope Leo XIII? The Leo House was founded in the 1880s as a boarding house for German Catholic immigrants, at the behest of the Holy Father, and is still operating today as a Catholic nonprofit hotel providing charitable hospitality at a discount.

102—Becoming Cultured Without a Bow Tie—James Matthew Wilson

Poet-philosopher James Matthew Wilson returns to the show to read poems from his new collection, The Strangeness of the Good, including his "Quarantine Notebook" series, and to discuss various topics in Catholic intellectual life.

101—The Non-Reactionary Tolkien—Holly Ordway

J.R.R. Tolkien is commonly perceived as a reactionary who totally rejected the modern world, and whose literary influences began and ended with the Middle Ages. Holly Ordway's new book, Tolkien's Modern Reading: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages, debunks that view of Tolkien's life and work.

100—The Singular—Samuel Hazo

We celebrate our 100th episode with the return of former Pennsylvania Poet Laureate Samuel Hazo. At 92, Sam remains prolific. In this episode Sam reads and discusses poems from his new collection, The Next Time We Saw Paris, a recurring theme of which is how each experience in time passes away, yet in passing away it becomes a singular whole which remains present as such in memory.

Episode 0—The Nightingale—Mark Christopher Brandt

Catholic composer and pianist Mark Christopher Brandt joined Thomas Mirus to discuss his classical album and suite The Nightingale, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Emperor and the Nightingale".

99—Ashes and Elitists—Gail Finke

There is a certain spiritual elitism which regards concern for the external rite, including the rare opportunity to explicitly witness to the faith in a public way, as the province of those of little or superficial faith, or even of the vain.

98—An Anglo-Saxon Bard—Benjamin Bagby

Famous for his chanted performances of Beowulf in the original Old English, Benjamin Bagby is the closest thing you'll find today to an Anglo-Saxon bard. Bagby joins the show to describe how he reconstructed Beowulf as a sung tale, giving a demonstration of his Anglo-Saxon harp which is modeled on harps found in burial sites from over a millennium ago. He also discusses the recordings of the complete works of St. Hildegard of Bingen made by his ensemble, Sequentia.

97—The Hierarchy of Being in Natural Science—Daniel Toma

Catholic geneticist Daniel Toma is the author of Vestige of Eden, Image of Eternity: Common Experience, the Hierarchy of Being, and Modern Science. He joins the podcast to discuss what natural science, including the fossil record, can teach us about the hierarchy of being and the liturgical structure of reality.

96—Hillbilly Thomists—Joseph Hagan, O.P.

The Hillbilly Thomists, a bluegrass group entirely composed of Dominican friars, have just released their second album, Living for the Other Side. Percussionist Fr. Joseph Hagan, who happens to be a priest at Thomas's parish, joins the show to talk about the new album, the connections between bluegrass and the Apocalypse, and music as an expression of the Dominican mission of preaching.

95—Fighting Pervasive Religious Indifferentism—Ralph Martin

Ralph Martin, whose new book A Church in Crisis: Pathways Forward is a comprehensive spiritual diagnosis of our present situation, joins the show to discuss the many factors contributing to religious indifferentism. These include theological doubts about whether anyone really goes to hell (thanks, Balthasar), the therapeutic culture which has lost any sense of sin and justice, the focus on legalistic analysis of culpability rather than the need to change, and fear of human respect.

The best books we read in 2020 (plus films, music, etc.)

It’s time for the annual article in which some of the Catholic Culture staff look back on their reading in the past year and recommend the best - plus films, podcasts and music.

94—Understanding Postmodern “Social Justice”—Darel Paul

"Woke" ideas that were only a few years ago complacently dismissed as the perennial agitation of a few campus loonies are now pervasive in the corporate world, mass media and pop culture. This is a discussion of the book Cynical Theories, a very helpful primer on the development of modern radical left activism from 1960s postmodernist philosophy.

93—An Introduction to Thomas Tallis—Kerry McCarthy

This is an episode about one of England’s greatest composers, Thomas Tallis (1505-1585). As a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, he composed sacred music for four successive monarchs, starting with Henry VIII and ending with Elizabeth.

92—Claudel’s Cosmic Vision—Jonathan Geltner

In his Five Great Odes, the great French Catholic poet Paul Claudel (1868-1955) offers a cosmic vision in which man, in his contemplative and poetic capacity, stands as mediator between God and all creation.

COVID and 9/11: the cure worse than the disease

The war on COVID is analogous in most respects to the War on Terror.

Happy birthday to Jacques Maritain!

Today is the birthday of the great 20th-century Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain. Maritain contributed to virtually every subfield of philosophy, was a major influence on the second Vatican council, and his legacy continues to be appreciated (and debated). This post will feature some of's Maritain-related resources.

91—The Temptation of St. Anthony—Elizabeth Lev

The trials of St. Anthony the Great (251-356 AD), as described in St. Athanasius's Life and the medieval Golden Legend, have been a favorite subject of Western artists since the Middle Ages.

90—Leo XIII on the State’s Duties Toward the Church—Thomas Pink

Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, Humanis Dignitatae, begins by noting that its discussion of religious liberty “has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society” and so “leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.” This episode is about discovering what that traditional doctrine was and is.

89—Mary and the Blues—Mike Aquilina

In addition to being the host of Catholic Culture’s Way of the Fathers podcast and the author of dozens of books on the early Church, Mike Aquilina is a poet who has written songs performed by the likes of Dion, Paul Simon, and Bruce Springsteen.

88—On Columbus—Robert Royal

Columbus was neither a genocidal maniac nor a saint; while he did not “discover” America, he did discover the world—as much for Native Americans as for Europeans.

87—The Jester Is Not The King—Jeremy McLellan

Jeremy McLellan is a Catholic stand-up comedian who, strangely, is huge is Pakistan. He joins the show to discuss the woke takeover of comedy, the nihilistic dogmas of many comedians, the relationship between comedy and suffering, and the ethics of the word “retarded”. Thomas describes his past experience doing open mics and Jeremy gives him some pointers.

86—Karl Marx, “Monster of Ten Thousand Devils”—Paul Kengor

There is the distinct sense of something demonic in Marx’s personal life. Those who knew him most intimately consistently described him in demonic terms: His son wrote to him as “my dear devil”, his father suggested that he was “governed by a demon”, and Engels referred to him as a “monster of ten thousand devils”.

85—Three-Fifths of Our Band Got Ordained—Luxury

There are many strange stories in rock history. But Luxury is surely the only band in which three out of five members ended up becoming Orthodox priests. Combining a hard-edged instrumental texture with sweet, melodious vocals and literary lyrics, Luxury has continued to record and perform sporadically since their beginning in the mid-1990s Christian punk scene. They have retained a loyal following and their latest album, Trophies, was released last year to much acclaim.

84—Disobey Lockdown Now—Douglas Farrow, Andrew Busch

Catholic theologian Douglas Farrow and Lutheran political scholar Andrew Busch join the show to discuss their recent essays on the coronavirus lockdown, and assess the reasons and prospects for civil disobedience.

Ep. 83—The American Founding’s Medieval Roots—Robert Reilly

Robert Reilly’s new book America on Trial: A Defense of the Founding argues that the Founding’s roots lie a few millennia further back than the Enlightenment. With superb scholarship, he examines the whole history of Western culture up to the Founding, beginning with the Greeks, Hebrews and early Christians, proceeding through the Middle Ages to the Protestant Revolt and the debate over the divine right of kings.

Podcast Highlights: The abuse crisis, acedia and more

This episode revisits some great moments from past Catholic Culture Podcast episodes.

Ep. 82—A Habitual Counterculture—Brandon McGinley

Brandon McGinley calls for Catholics to return to the essence of the faith, rather than to a previous era of Catholic "success", and so find creative ways to restore a robust and evangelical Catholic culture in the unknown years to come. 

Ep. 81—Love Like a Conflagration—Jane Greer

Jane Greer’s poetry is musical, fiery and accessible, and has received high praise from many of today’s foremost Catholic poets

Ep. 80—Bring Out Your Dead—Scott Hahn

The incarnation, death and resurrection of the Son of God changed how our civilization viewed the body, death and the afterlife. Unfortunately, even Catholics today treat dead bodies in a way that does not convey this reality.

Ep. 79—Three Marks of Manhood, Pt. 2: Scepter, Crosier, Cross—G.C. Dilsaver

This is the second half of an interview with G.C. Dilsaver on his book The Three Marks of Manhood: How to be Priest, Prophet and King of Your Family. Dr. Dilsaver discusses how the Christian husband and father must wield three staves: the scepter of authority, the crosier of co-episcopacy, and the cross of redemption.

Ep. 78—Three Marks of Manhood, Pt. 1: Patriarchy Purified—G.C. Dilsaver

In his 2010 book The Three Marks of Manhood: How to Be Priest, Prophet, and King of Your Family, the “father of Christian psychology” G.C. Dilsaver upholds the natural and supernatural basis of male headship while describing how it must be purified of pagan, dominating and selfish elements.

Ep. 77—Gene Wolfe, Catholic Sci-Fi Legend—Sandra Miesel, Fr. Brendon Laroche

After much popular demand, Thomas pays tribute to legendary Catholic sci-fi writer Gene Wolfe, who passed away last year. Though not known to the general public, Wolfe is a sci-fi author’s sci-fi author—a number of his contemporaries considered him not only the best in the genre, but in American fiction at the time (Ursula Le Guin said “Wolfe is our Melville”). Among today’s writers, one of his biggest fans is Neil Gaiman.

Ep. 76—Playing Jesus on The Chosen—Jonathan Roumie

Catholic actor Jonathan Roumie plays Jesus in The Chosen, the first multi-season TV series about the life of our Lord. He joins the podcast to discuss his approach to playing the God-Man, the spiritual impact of the series, its groundbreaking approach to funding and distribution—and his devotion to the Divine Mercy.

Ep. 75—Don’t Scapegoat the Nouvelle Théologie—Richard DeClue

A broad-brush approach to the nouvelle théologie has resulted in injustices, perhaps as much to theology itself as to some good Churchmen whose reputations have been tarnished.

Ep. 74—What Is Classical Christian Education?—Andrew Kern

Andrew Kern leads us through the profound basics of classical Christian education—offering a radically different view of the human person and of reality itself from that which predominates today.

Ep. 73—St. John Henry Newman’s Aesthetics—Fr. Guy Nicholls, Cong. Orat.

An overview of the role of beauty in St. John Henry Newman's life and thought.

Podcast Highlights: Music and morals, Tolkien and more

A look back through the Catholic Culture Podcast archive.

Ep. 72—Stabat Mater—Francesco Cotticelli

This episode explores the most famous and influential setting of Stabat Mater, completed by the 26-year-old Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) as he was dying of tuberculosis.

Ep. 71—Thick Skin, Weak Stomach—Timothy & David Gordon

Rules for Retrogrades is a reverse-Alinskyan playbook for conservatives and Christians who are sick of being outmaneuvered at every turn by the forces seeking the destruction of the Christian faith and the natural foundations of the social order.

Ep. 70—The Flannery-Haunted World—Joshua Hren, John Emmet Clarke

This episode features two young Catholic publishers who are doing cutting-edge work to preserve and carry forward the Catholic literary legacy, building on the accomplishments of the great Catholic writers of the 20th century in particular.

Podcast Highlights: Native saints, Operation Rescue and more

A look back through the Catholic Culture Podcast archive.

Ep. 69—Poetry of the English Martyrs—Benedict Whalen

The 16th and 17th centuries produced a number of men whose courageous faith was accompanied by prodigious learning and literary talent. he poetry of the English martyrs has been collected in an anthology called Lyra Martyrum.

Ep. 68—What I Learned From Making Music With Mark Christopher Brandt

Thomas recently had the privilege of playing piano on the latest album by Catholic composer Mark Christopher Brandt.

Ep. 67—“Why I’m No Longer A Catholic Feminist”—Melody Lyons

After growing up immersed in feminism and a dissident parish that left her deeply unhappy, Melody Lyons found truth and healing in the fullness of Christ's teaching on man and woman. Yet after decades of no longer considering herself a feminist, she started describing herself as a "Catholic feminist" in order common ground with secular women. Melody has recently realized that this strategy is counterproductive.

Ep. 66—Christopher Tolkien, 1924-2020—John Garth

This is a tribute to Christopher Tolkien, who passed away on Jan. 16, 2020. Without Christopher's decades of dedicated scholarship, most notably his editing and publication of The Silmarillion, our knowledge of J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional world and very real genius would be considerably disadvantaged. Tolkien scholar John Garth, author of the acclaimed biography Tolkien and the Great War, joins the show to discuss a father-son collaboration unique in literary history.

Ep. 65—Reason With Stories, Philosophize With Your Life (Vision of the Soul Pt. III)—James Matthew Wilson

Human life is imbued with an intelligible, narrative form, and we are capable of telling true stories about ourselves that reflect the actual story-form of our lives and history as a whole.

Ep. 64—Advancing the Faith in the Podcast Medium—Mike Aquilina, James T. Majewski

It’s Podcast Week here at, as we want to make more people aware of our audio offerings, particularly the two new podcasts we launched last October: Catholic Culture Audiobooks and Way of the Fathers with Mike Aquilina.

Ep. 63—Beauty Revealing Being (Vision of the Soul Pt. II)—James Matthew Wilson

It is in the nature of Being to reveal itself to us, and in the natural realm this is done preeminently through beauty. Aquinas mentions radiance, clarity and proportion as beauty’s three criteria. Proportion is arguably the most important in showing forth Being, as beauty reveals the plenitude of relations among all things: the relation of the parts of a thing, of the parts to the whole which surpasses them, of the whole object to all other things, and to its Maker.

Ep. 62—Overcoming Catholic Dating Hangups & Social Isolation

We’ve all heard the complaints about Catholic dating. Catholics have trouble with the concept of “casual dating” because they (rightly) see dating as oriented toward marriage but (wrongly) put all that weight on a single date. The “Catholic Yenta” joins the show to discuss the pathologies of Catholic dating and how to overcome them, and explains how she went from helping her friends find their spouses to making matches for Catholics across the country.

Ep. 61—Liberal Anti-Culture vs. the Western Vision of the Soul (Pt I)—James Matthew Wilson

This is the first of three episodes exploring themes from The Vision of the Soul. In this episode, after giving an account of the roots of liberalism and conservatism, and showing the emptiness of liberal “freedom”, “equality”, and “critical thinking”, Wilson lays out what he considers the six central insights of the Western (Christian Platonist) tradition, culminating in the contemplation of Being as our greatest excellence and happiness.

Episode 60—Princeton Hosts Event Dedicated To St. Cecilia

Princeton University recently hosted and paid for a very Catholic event as part of its annual Being Human Festival. It was a several-hour program dedicated to representations of St. Cecilia in poetry, painting and music, exploring how a conversation between these art forms can stir us to wonder and the contemplation of the Divine. The day’s events included singing the Salve Regina and a dinner in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast it was.

The best books we read in 2019

It’s that time of year again! As usual, I’ve invited the staff to list their favorite reading of the past year, not restricted to books published in 2019. And as usual, I’ve included some other media in my selections at the end of this article.

Episode 59—The Glorious English Carol

Did you know that not just any Christmas song is a carol? The true carol, in all its earthy splendor, is a distinctive product of the Catholic middle ages. Yet our forefathers didn’t limit caroling to Christmas: they wrote carols for every season of the year covering the entire story of our Redemption, not to mention secular topics at times.

Episode 58—A Hidden Life Film Review w/ James Majewski

Terrence Malick’s stunning new film, A Hidden Life, is about Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian farmer who was martyred for refusing to swear loyalty to Hitler. James Majewski joins Thomas to discuss the film. He reads excerpts from Bl. Franz’s letters and prison writings, to see how well Malick’s portrayal lives up to the real-life saint.

Episode 57—River of the Immaculate Conception—James Matthew Wilson

James Matthew Wilson’s new cycle of poems, The River of the Immaculate Conception, is a reflection on the history of the Catholic faith in the Americas, from Juan Diego to Elizabeth Ann Seton. Its title is the name given to the Mississippi River by the missionary Fr. Marquette. James reads four of the seven poems, explains their relation to the recent Mass of the Americas which inspired them, and discusses the challenges and delights of poetic form.

Episode 56—Vindicating Authority—Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P.

Modernity has attempted to do away with authority. It does this not most commonly by advocating anarchy. Rather, it justifies its own established powers in terms of a fictive self-rule, and purports to replace the arbitrary dictates of power--and much of what makes us human--with scientific rationality. But authority is necessary to human life, and not just as a medicine for weakness and evil. It arises from and serves what is noblest in us.

Episode 55—The Hundredfold—Anthony Esolen

Having honed his skills translating Dante, Tasso and Lucretius, well-known Catholic cultural commentator Anthony Esolen has now published his first work of original poetry. The book-length poem The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord is centered around twelve dramatic monologues set during and shortly after the time of Christ, complemented and illuminated by dozens of lyric poems and hymns.

Episode 54—Fostering Responsible Elites—Jonah Bennett

Today’s guest is Jonah Bennett, editor-in-chief of a fascinating new online magazine called Palladium which is devoted to constructing what could be called the post-liberal synthesis. Palladium Magazine seeks to foster the perspective of a responsible elite, with high-quality, non-ideological coverage of everything from geopolitics to video-game addiction to the crisis in Ivy League institutions.

Episode 53—God Made Us For Order and Surprise—John-Mark Miravalle

A conversation on our moral obligation to delight in beauty, why we are moved by the combination of order and surprise, and the proper way to delight in the beauty of the human body.

Episode 52—Off-Broadway play accurately portrays conservative thought: zoology or spiritual wisdom?

Is Heroes of the Fourth Turning a zoological exhibit for progressives to gape at, or something deeper? Is it ultimately more unsettling to a perceptive Catholic viewer, for whom Arbery’s troubled characters might function as an indictment of a Catholic conservatism that can be focused more on ideas and temporal concerns than on the reality of Christ?

Episode 51—Bringing Melody Back to Pop Music—The Duskwhales

Indie rock trio The Duskwhales formed almost 10 years ago at a small Catholic high school in Virginia. Over that decade, four albums and three EPs, they have forged a distinctly melodic sound in contrast to today’s joyless pop milieu....

Looking back on 50 episodes of The Catholic Culture Podcast

Last week, I published the 50th episode of The Catholic Culture Podcast. Back when I reached episode 25 I did a round-up of the most popular episodes thus far, and now I can say that from episodes 26-50, the five most downloaded episodes were: 48—Authority and Submission as Gift in...

Episode 50—A Catholic Composer in Queen Elizabeth’s Court, Pt. II—Kerry McCarthy

One of England’s greatest composers, William Byrd is a fascinating and complicated figure of Catholic musical history. A musician in the Royal Chapel of Queen Elizabeth, he associated with the highest ranks of the Anglican establishment...

Episode 49—A Catholic Composer in Queen Elizabeth’s Court, Pt. I—Kerry McCarthy

One of England’s greatest composers, William Byrd is a fascinating and complicated figure of Catholic musical history. A musician in the Royal Chapel of Queen Elizabeth, he associated with the highest ranks of the Anglican establishment...

Episode 48—Authority and Submission as Gift in Christian Marriage—Mary Stanford

“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in...

Episode 47—Our Lady’s Habit: Wearing and Loving the Brown Scapular—Fr. Justin Cinnante, O.Carm.

Many Catholics have worn the Brown Scapular at some point in their lives. Some of those people stopped wearing it for one reason or another. Others have continued to wear it but perhaps don’t appreciate its true depth as a sign of...

Episode 46—Sing With Your Children—Roundabout

Emma and Cecilia Black grew up in a large family that sang together constantly. Now these two sisters from Grand Rapids, Michigan, have made an album of folk songs for children. They want people to know that any family can start singing...

Episode 45—Libertarianism vs. Natural Law on Private Property

Thomas discusses his libertarian past, explains why he abandoned that political philosophy, and summarizes an article on the topic by the Catholic philosopher Edward Feser. Feser, himself an ex-libertarian who has written books on Hayek, Nozick...

Episode 44—Catholics Need Poetry. But Do We Want It?—Dana Gioia

Dana Gioia is one of the greatest Catholic poets working today. In this interview he discusses how Catholic attitudes toward the arts have changed in recent generations, and the revival of interest in poetry in the culture as a whole. Dana reads...

Episode 43—Teaching Children Self-Knowledge Through the Liberal Arts—Matthew Mehan

Mr. Mehan’s Mildly Amusing Mythical Mammals (M5) is a book of poems intended as an introduction to the liberal arts for children, helping them to grow in self-knowledge, virtue, and the art of charitable rhetoric. It is...

God works through friendship: the Easter that changed me

To Karina and James Majewski on their wedding day, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. I had looked forward to Easter 2019 for months, even before Lent began; for with it would come the baptism of my new friend—the fiancée of an old and dear one, who had brought her...

Episode 42—The Missionary of Wall Street—Stephen Auth

Stephen Auth is a highly successful investment manager on Wall Street. In his spare time, he hails down strangers on the streets of Manhattan and convinces them to go to confession. Links Steve Auth, The...

Episode 41—The Neo-Colonial West Is Forcing Abortion on Africa—Obianuju Ekeocha

Western governments and NGOs are pushing the Sexual Revolution on Africa, using strings-attached development aid. Of all the funds from Western nations going to “development” in Africa, the majority are for population control....

Episode 40—Tolkien and Aquinas—Jonathan S. McIntosh

Tolkien is well known to have been concerned with the internal consistency of his fictional world, from geography to history to language. But he was also concerned with another sort of consistency: metaphysical consistency, not only within the...

Episode 39—Composing Liturgical Music That’s Noble, Accessible... and Sacred—Paul Jernberg

Paul Jernberg is a composer of sacred music and director of the Magnificat Institute, which offers education in the patrimony of Catholic liturgical music. He tells Thomas about his career, including an interesting digression about gospel music...

Episode 38—Garrigou-Lagrange, The Sacred Monster of Thomism—Matthew K. Minerd

The name of Garrigou-Lagrange has long been a byword for a fusty, rigid Thomism of days gone by, allegedly more concerned with centuries of accretions built up by scholastic commentators than with the original teaching of the Angelic Doctor...

Episode 37—Sculpting Two Benedicts—Jago

The young Italian sculptor Jago is best known to Catholics for his marble bust of Pope Benedict XVI, which the Pope himself awarded with a pontifical medal. Upon Benedict’s resignation, Jago radically reworked the piece into its current...

Episode 36—Bridges to Hell or Heaven: “Toxic Femininity” and the Spirit of Anti-Mary—Carrie Gress

One of the core things that has gone wrong with our culture in the past several decades is the denigration of every virtue associated with the perfect woman, Mary. Gentleness, humility, (true) beauty and especially motherhood: these are all...

Episode 35—Moral Blindness and Abortion—Abby Johnson

Abby Johnson was the youngest clinic director in Planned Parenthood history. After witnessing an abortion on ultrasound, she quit, became a Catholic, and founded And Then There Were None, an organization which has helped over 500 workers leave...

R.I.P., Catholic sci-fi legend Gene Wolfe (1931-2019)

Gene Wolfe, sci-fi author’s sci-fi author, inventor of the machine that makes Pringles, and Catholic convert, passed away at the age of 87 on Sunday. While not well-known to the general public, Wolfe’s admirers have included some of the most famous names in speculative fiction, such as...

Episode 34—The Memoirs of St. Peter—Michael Pakaluk

Michael Pakaluk has written a new translation and commentary of Mark’s Gospel. Mark was relating very recent events, with details only an eyewitness (most likely Peter) would have mentioned. This earliest Gospel set the standard for what...

Episode 33—Structure and Freedom in Music and in Christ—Mark Christopher Brandt

The quest for freedom in structure is fundamental to Catholic spiritual life (particularly during this season of Lent). It’s also fundamental to musical improvisation. How can you be free and spontaneous without giving way to...

Episode 32—Antoni Gaudí, Patron Saint of Architects?—Gabriela Gonzalez-Cremona

For many people who have never been to Spain, their only image of the country may be the strange spires of Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia, designed by Antoni Gaudí. It is certainly the best-known building in Spain, despite still not...

Episode 31—Some Jazz You Should Hear

You may or may not know that I have a background in jazz piano (I wrote and performed the intro and outro music for this show, for example). In this episode I introduce you to about ten of my very favorite jazz albums. This is an experimental...

Episode 30—What Tolkien’s Visual Art Tells Us About His Creative Mind—John McQuillen and Holly Ordway

While Tolkien’s brilliance as a world-builder and storyteller is well-established, fewer people are aware of just how unique (and obsessive) his creative process was, or that he was a gifted visual artist. That is changing thanks to an...

“(Gimme Some of That) Ol’ Atonal Music”

I’ve been playing piano with a country band off and on for the past year and a half, so I enjoyed this spoof in which the country singer “Merle Hazard” remembers the good ol’ days of his father, an atonal composer. A great, pointed send-up of the movement which, by the...

Episode 29—Catholic Feminism: Should We?—Abigail Rine Favale

Today there is more pressure than ever before on both women and men to embrace feminism. In her outstanding memoir, Into the Deep, Abigail Rine Favale gives a resonant account of her journey from an evangelical childhood to a Christian...

Episode 28: An Introduction to Maritain’s Poetic Philosophy—Samuel Hazo

This episode is not to be missed! There is an ongoing and much-needed revival of Jacques Maritain’s philosophy of art. Accomplished poet Samuel Hazo makes a most valuable contribution to that revival with The World Within the World:...

Episode 27: Always Wanted to Study the Great Books? Here’s How You’ll Actually Follow Through—Scott Hambrick

Many people want to study the great books of the western world in a group setting, but are unable to study at a Great Books college like St. John’s, and it’s not easy to find people willing to commit to read and meet to...

Episode 26: The Arts, Contemplation and Virtue—Basil Cole, O.P.

Fr. Basil Cole returns to discuss what he has been teaching the student brothers at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., in a course on the arts, contemplation and...

Msgr. John Sanders, the priest who played with Duke Ellington

Update Jan. 8, 2019: Msgr. Sanders’s nephew wrote to me to let me know that his uncle has died. This article was first posted on Sep. 13, 2018. May God grant him eternal rest. Earlier this week, I made a visit to Our Lady Queen of the Clergy Retirement Home in Stamford, CT to interview...

Should women be “meek and mild” like Mary?

I’ve noticed a recurring theme among self-described “Catholic feminists,” to this effect: “I always heard about Mary being meek and mild and felt pressured as a woman to be that way, but that just isn’t my personality. Feminism taught me that I don’t have to...

Quick Hits: Dominican Friars video, a remarkable French mystic, a reformist imam and more

Some months ago I agreed to appear in a video produced by the Dominican Foundation to talk about the benefits of membership in a Dominican parish. It’s for a matching challenge fundraiser which ends Dec. 31, so I would have shared it earlier except that nobody sent the finished product to...

The top 5 most popular episodes of The Catholic Culture Podcast

Since its beginning on May 1st of this year, I have produced 25 episodes of The Catholic Culture Podcast! For those who haven’t listened to all of them, I thought I would highlight the five most popular episodes so far (in terms of downloads). In no particular order: Episode 18: Acedia,...

Every college student should read Sertillanges’ The Intellectual Life

The incomparably rich intellectual heritage of the Church needs no advertisement here. It is the treasure house filled first by the Holy Spirit, and by the great adventurers and plunderers who went before us. Their hard-won wisdom points us toward the highest truths about God and man, and away...

Episode 25: Phil Lawler, Dr. Jeff Mirus and Thomas V. Mirus on Our Favorite Books of 2018

Phil Lawler, Dr. Jeff Mirus, and Thomas V. Mirus discuss selections from their list of their favorite books and other media of 2018. Links Full list: The best books we read in 2018

The best books we read in 2018

Jeff, Phil and I thought it would be fun to do a review of our favorite reading of 2018—not only books published this year, but which we encountered for the first time or which made a new impression on us. This doesn’t only include the specifically Catholic material we would ordinarily...

Episode 24: Talking A Capella with VOCES8’s Barnaby Smith

VOCES8 is a critically acclaimed a capella octet from the UK, focusing on medieval and Renaissance works as well as their own arrangements of modern pop tunes. This episode is an interview with the...

Episode 23: How the Laity Must Respond to the Abuse Crisis—Fr. Roger Landry

Fr. Roger Landry returns to the show to talk about what the laity can do to address the abuse crisis. Along the way we discuss the concerns that might make even good bishops hesitant to remove bad...

Episode 22: Newman’s Idea of a University—Paul Shrimpton

St. John Henry Newman was, among many other things, a lifelong teacher. Not only did he found the Catholic University of Ireland and England’s first Catholic public school, he was a highly...

Episode 21: Gosnell, the Abortion Story No One Wanted Told—Ann McElhinney

The new feature film Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer, about the investigation, trial and conviction of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, has defied opposition from...

Quick Hits: Halloween, Hildegard, and Hugo Chavez

A few of the most interesting articles I’ve read online in recent weeks: Every year we get a spate of articles debating the Christian or pagan origins of Halloween, and this year Catholic World Report offers one of the most detailed I’ve read. Also at CWR: The musical legacy of...

Episode 20: Carl Schmitt, Painter of Vision—Andrew de Sa

The American Catholic painter Carl Schmitt (1889-1989) made fascinating innovations in the use of color. He wrote extensively on the artist’s vocation, arguing for seeking holiness through...

Episode 19: Understanding the Church’s Abuse Crisis—Fr. Roger Landry

The faithful have many questions about the ecclesiastical sexual abuse crisis: What did Church authorities do right in responding to the previous wave of scandals, and what did they fail to do? How...

Episode 18: Acedia, the Forgotten Capital Sin—RJ Snell

Once included among the capital sins, acedia has been identified with both sloth and sadness. St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, defined it both as “disgust with activity” and...

Episode 17: A Civics Lesson for Catholics—Bob Marshall

Many Catholics have become cynical about the possibility of changing the political landscape, but perhaps we’ve given up before we’ve really tried. It’s not just about electing...

Episode 16: Extremely Specific Middle-earth Q&A with The Tolkien Professor—Corey Olsen

In part two of my interview with Corey “The Tolkien Professor” Olsen, we discuss several extremely specific questions about Middle-earth, including: What is “magic” in...

Episode 15: Online Education with The Tolkien Professor—Corey Olsen

Corey Olsen, aka The Tolkien Professor, started out putting his college lectures out in podcast form, and ended up founding an online master’s program devoted to the study of imaginative...

Episode 14: Priest & Actor—George Drance, S.J.

What’s it like to be both a priest and a professional actor? George Drance, SJ is the artist in residence at Fordham University, where he teaches acting, a resident artist in La Mama’s...

Episode 13: Progressives Are Trying to Take Over Medieval Studies—Rachel Fulton Brown

The critical theorists and social justice warriors are trying to do to medieval studies what they’ve done to other disciplines, and if you don’t get on board, you’re a white...

Quick Hits: The year’s best articles so far

I’ve spent most of my time this year working on The Catholic Culture Podcast, but I haven’t neglected to collect some great articles from around the Catholic web to share with you. This is a long list covering the entire year up until now, so I’ve divided it into...

Episode 12: A Career in Poetry & Prose—Mike Aquilina

Mike Aquilina has been a highly successful freelance writer for over three decades. He is best known for his popular books on the Fathers of the Church, but he is also a poet and has co-written songs with the...

Episode 11: Music and Morals—Fr. Basil Cole, O.P.

Are music and morals connected? If so, what is the nature of that connection? Are certain musical sounds morally bad or good in themselves, or are they neutral? Could the influence of music on...

Episode 10: How to Start an Institutional Apostolate, Part 2—Jeff Mirus

This episode is for anyone who believes he is called to found a Catholic apostolate, or anyone who is overseeing one already. In this second part of a two-part interview,

Episode 9: How to Start an Institutional Apostolate, Part 1—Jeff Mirus

This episode is for anyone who believes he is called to found a Catholic apostolate, or anyone who is overseeing one already. You may know Jeff Mirus as the founder of, but he...

Episode 8: How to Stop Public Porn—Abriana Chilelli

Abriana Chilelli had to drive her children past a lewd strip club advertisement every day on their way home from school in downtown Denver. But instead of taking a fatalistic attitude and a detour,...

Episode 7: Inflation Is a Sin—Guido Hülsmann

It would not occur to most of us to imagine that monetary policy has a moral component. Catholic prelates are as silent about matters like fiat money, central banking and inflation and as are the...

Episode 6: 150 Years of Holy Preaching—Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P.

The Dominicans have just celebrated the 150-year jubilee of their ministry on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Fr. John Maria Devaney, OP, host of the Order’s Word to Life program...

Episode 5: Hospital Dreams—Chris Baker

One of the most creative rock bands around today is Virginia-based indie trio The Duskwhales. Drummer/singer Chris Baker joins me to talk about their new EP, Hospital Dreams, a set of...

Episode 4: The Marian Option—Carrie Gress

There is an easy, short, perfect and sure way to save our failing Western civilization that is often overlooked in the endless slew of books and articles penned by Catholic intellectuals: Turn to...

Episode 3: Native American Catholicism & the New Evangelization

The history of Catholicism in the native American nations is little known, but is rife with lessons for lay spirituality, inculturation, and the New Evangelization. Today’s guest, journalist...

Episode 2: The Largest Civil Disobedience Movement in U.S. History

Operation Rescue is the largest civil disobedience movement in American history. It even dwarfs the civil rights movement, with over fifty thousand people having been arrested between 1988 and 1992...

Episode 1: A Working Actor’s Working Faith

Tony Mockus, Sr. has been Catholic his entire life, and an actor for almost as long. He has worked with countless great performers including Henry Fonda, Elizabeth Montgomery, Robert De Niro and...

Quick Hits: Mary’s influence on culture, the need for digital independence, and more

At her blog, The Marian Option author Carrie Gress describes “Why Mary is the Best Promoter of Culture”. She quotes the Protestant Henry Adams: “The twelfth and thirteenth centuries were a period when men were at their strongest; never before or since have they shown equal energy...

Quick Hits: Jordan Peterson, Museum of the Bible, Way of the Cross for children and adults

If you haven’t yet seen the famous Channel 4 interview of Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson from last month, it’s well worth spending 30 minutes to watch what I imagine will be considered one of the most significant media moments of 2018. The interviewer, Cathy Newman, who espouses...

The Museum of the Bible is better in what it imagines than in what it preserves

When I was in the DC area celebrating Christmas with family, I visited the new Museum of the Bible with my parents. In the three hours we spent there we didn’t see everything it had to offer, but it made an overall good impression and we would certainly recommend it to Catholics. At Catholic...

Quick Hits: Star Wars, Mary in the Wisdom literature, and more

Bishop Barron annoyed many with his claim that Star Wars: The Last Jedi pushes feminism hard: “Every male character in The Last Jedi is either bumbling, incompetent, arrogant, or morally compromised; and every female character is wise, good, prudent, and courageous.” I basically agree...

The best books we read in 2017

Dr. Jeff Mirus, Phil Lawler and I thought it would be fun to do a review of our favorite reading of 2017. This doesn’t only include the specifically Catholic material we would ordinarily cover for this site, but also reflects our broader range of interests that our readers might not be aware...

Economics, religion and culture: how Luther failed, again

Though I am no longer a libertarian philosophically (having followed a similar path to Edward Feser), most of my past political reading has been from that camp. I am still in some respects a sympathizer, particularly in the realm of economic theory. Just for that reason, I found it helpful to get...

“A never-failing present”: Boethius on God’s eternity

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.” Isaiah 55:8-11 This proclamation by the prophet Isaiah over two-and-a-half...

Quick Hits: Composer-Doctors of the Church and more

Most Catholics know St. Alphonsus Liguori primarily for his pious meditations such as those in his Way of the Cross. His contributions to moral theology also gained him the title of Doctor of the Church. Far fewer people know that he was also a composer and harpsichordist (among several other arts...

Victimhood and responsibility: Fargo’s critique of feminism

Fargo, Noah Hawley’s anthology series inspired by the classic 1996 Coen brothers film, has been one of television’s most acclaimed dramas since it began its run on FX in 2014. It has rightly been praised for its innovative cinematography, surprising music choices, sharp writing and...

The Dominicana Spirit

Over the past year, through a number of friends and acquaintances connected with the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, I have become increasingly fond of what I think of as the “Dominican spirit.” Dominican thinking—I say based on no expertise but my limited...

Dangerous ideas at Google and the pain of Jordan Peterson

In June, Stephanie Gray was invited to Google HQ and gave just about the best pro-life talk I’ve heard, “Abortion: From Controversy to Civility”. Gray uses the Socratic method, drawing out the traits people admire in those who inspire them, and then showing how the traits admired...

Quick Hits: Getting away from pathological activism and pathological art

At his Bad Catholic blog, Marc Barnes recently commented on the self-indulgence and counter-productivity of Antifa’s methods of confronting white nationalists: “If justice is ‘fun,’ you’re probably not practicing justice. If works of justice fulfill elemental...

Quick Hits: Papal prayer intention for artists, cultural appropriation and more

Pope Francis’s prayer intention for August is for artists, so let’s pray for artists and give the arts our attention and support in a special way this month: The Catholic Creatives group has just announced 8beats, “an 8-part anthology film exploring the collision of the...

Uncaging The Nightingale: The Mark Christopher Brandt interview

The Nightingale, released last month, is the latest album and compositional project by Mark Christopher Brandt. It’s a 49-minute-long programmatic suite, inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story by the same name, and a truly beautiful and impressive work of art. The album seamlessly...

Quick Hits: Catholicism in the movies

I’ve long appreciated the movies of Joel and Ethan Coen, and finally got around to viewing their most recent, Hail, Caesar! The film is already among my favorites by the brothers—it’s one of their most warmhearted, a humorous portrayal of a Hollywood studio in the 1950s. I...

Quick Hits: Biochemistry of sex, native martyrs, music & film

There is so much we don’t know about our own bodies, and none of it gets taught in sex ed. For example: A man gets vasopressin, a bonding hormone, when he has sex with a woman. This is not up to him; whether he thinks it is no-strings sex or not, he is now hormonally bonded to that...

Quick Hits: the disappearance of melody, an app for chant, and more

Does it ever seem like there just aren’t any good melodies in contemporary pop music—say, since the 1970s? Or that there often aren’t any melodies at all? Well, it’s not just your imagination and you aren’t just getting old. Kurt Poterack, organist, composer and...

The Duskwhales talk about their new album, Sorrowful Mysteries

All photos courtesy of The Duskwhales. I’ve been a fan of The Duskwhales since their very first show. From the start, their strong melodies and lush, old-school vocal harmonies set them apart from most other contemporary rock and pop artists. Those virtues have only grown since they...

The Magdala Apostolate

At we are enthusiastic supporters of the similarly-named Institute for Catholic Culture, which provides outstanding lectures at the Church of St. John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia (these lectures are also live-streamed and archived at the Institute’s website). Now the...

Quick Hits: Lenten viewing, Feser on libertarianism, the religious roots of jazz

Martin Scorsese’s Silence is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD. Based on the classic novel by Shusaku Endo, Silence tells the story of two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries whose faith is tested by persecutions in feudal Japan. I can’t vouch for whatever extras may be on the DVD, but as I...

The givenness of things (a positive exchange on Facebook, for once)

Over the past few years, I’ve waged an ongoing and mostly successful battle with myself to reduce the number of Facebook discussions (or really, debates) I get bogged down in, especially with people who don’t share my basic worldview, no matter how annoying I find much of the opinion...

Lenten listening: two new Benedictine albums of Marian chant

Lent is an ideal time to get back in touch with the Church’s patrimony of Gregorian chant (particularly for those of us who aren’t blessed to hear it regularly at Mass). The penitential season motivated me to get caught up on a couple of recent albums—both, interestingly enough,...

Church Fathers: The Lesser Alexandrians

Though Clement and Origen were by far the most important members of the School of Alexandria, a number of other associated figures from the third and early fourth centuries are worth mentioning. Their writings are only extant in fragments, if at all. Ammonius was probably a contemporary of...

Quick Hits: Duruflé’s Requiem and more

Yesterday I was blessed to hear some of the most beautiful music ever composed in concert at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan (which happens to be the largest cathedral and the fourth largest church in the world, and a splendid place for music-making). The centerpiece of...

Pro-life crowdfunding and Catholic Netflix

I’d like to call our readers’ attention to two worthy new enterprises which look to fill significant gaps in the Catholic internet. First is a pro-life crowdfunding site called WonderWe. At first I wondered what the need for such a site would be, but as it turns out, mainstream...

Tolkien the modernist: a glimpse of a unique creative process

[My work is] fundamentally linguistic in inspiration…The invention of languages is the foundation. The ‘stories’ were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse. To me a name comes first and the story follows. That Tolkien’s creative work...

Scorsese’s Silence is a contemplative masterpiece

Warning: this review contains spoilers. I also wish to note that this article grew out of conversations with two friends, to whom I owe many of the points made below. Perhaps the most frequently noted characteristic of Silence—both book and film—is its ambiguity. Some revel in it,...

Quick hits: the illusion of Catholic feminism and more

Pro-life feminist groups have been in the news this week because of their pointed exclusion from the Women’s March on Washington. While we should reach out for common ground with anyone who is fighting abortion, the idea of Catholic feminism is problematic. The Catholic feminist movement is...

A cinematic rendering of the Ten Commandments

I had the opportunity to see Dekalog, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s acclaimed series of ten hour-long films based on the Ten Commandments, when it was released in theaters in a newly restored version last fall. Made for Polish television in 1989, Dekalog is generally regarded as his best work...

A unique Advent/Christmas album sets the O Antiphons to music

As Jennifer Gregory Miller has noted, tomorrow begins the O Antiphons prayed at Vespers for the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve. Few enough even among practicing Catholics are probably aware of the O Antiphons that it is a pleasant surprise to see that an album largely based around them has...

Quick Hits: Friedkin, Scorcese, Tolkien, Lewis

Several things that caught my eye over the past two months: Some big names in the world of film have been getting an inside look at Catholicism. Earlier this year William Friedkin, who directed 1973’s The Exorcist, received permission from the late Fr. Gabriele Amorth to witness and...

The Morality of Money, 6: Social Consequences of Inflation

We have seen the damage inflation does to the common good primarily in terms of its strictly economic impact. But in The Ethics of Money Production, Hulsmann enumerates a great many ways in which inflation has been corrosive of social and moral life in the past two centuries, and it would not do...

The Morality of Money, 5: Moral Hazard and Malinvestment

Fractional-reserve banking depends on the assumption that the bank’s clients will not all try to redeem their notes at once: that there will not be a “run” on the bank. But as Hulsmann and other Austrian economists have argued, even if one banker is cautious in the degree of his...

The Morality of Money, 4: Manipulation by the State

Fractional-reserve banking and inflation can happen on a free market, but only on the fringes. In The Ethics of Money Production, Hulsmann argues that it is government that allows inflation to become widespread, either protecting it by legalizing the falsification of money, or itself perpetrating...

The Morality of Money, 3: Money, Banking, and Inflation

A crucial period of transition between natural and forced money in the West was the emergence of banking as we understand it today—that is, fractional-reserve banking. In The Ethics of Money Production, Hulsmann details the development of banks from mere money warehouses to money-creating...

The Morality of Money, 2: Natural and Forced Money

It is easy for us in the twenty-first century to take for granted that our money has no value whatsoever other than as a medium of exchange, and that it works as such simply because our governments imbue it with value—hence the term “fiat money.” If money derives its value solely...

The Morality of Money, 1: The Problem of Money Production

It is not uncommon to hear of Popes or bishops strongly criticizing the global economic order, and calling for the creation of new institutions to implement financial and monetary reform. Pope Benedict XVI, for example, suggested that a “true world political authority” was needed to...

Norcia just before the earthquakes: My time with the monks

Last week I spent two nights in Norcia, Italy, the birthplace of St. Benedict, the father of Western monasticism. I was blessed with a rare personal encounter with the monks of Norcia, joining them in both prayer and work, an opportunity seldom offered to pilgrims. My glimpse of their way of life...

Quick Hits: secularism, liturgy, and belief

The influential Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor suggested that living in a secular age means not so much that people are less religious but that even for those who consider themselves religious, truth itself seems unstable, uncertain, up for grabs. James K. A. Smith, another philosopher who...

Quick Hits: Cosmo lauds virginity, mastery of the tongue, underrated ceilings, the Chancellor and the Bard

Astoundingly, the degenerate-by-default Cosmopolitan has published a young woman’s article about the beauty of the consecrated life. (Yes, the piece was originally published in Good Housekeeping, but it’s still remarkable.) In “I Am Happily Married to God—as a...

Quick Hits: a 700-year-old tattoo parlor, voting for Jesus, the Tolkien Professor

In this country, tattoos have always been associated with alternative lifestyles of various kinds. But you should know that for a a lot longer than that, getting some ink has traditionally denoted the alternativest of lifestyles: that of the medieval pilgrim. If you don't...

A Catholic sci-fi classic: Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun

Published in four volumes between 1980 and 1982, Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun is considered by many to be the greatest science fiction novel ever written, and by some to be one of the great works of twentieth-century literature. It is also well known to be a significantly Catholic work....

Holy Week viewing: Pasolini's Gospel According to St. Matthew

How is it that a man who was an atheist, a Marxist, and homosexual came to make what is considered by both secular critics and the Vatican to be one of the greatest Jesus movies ever made? It was the fruit of Pope St. John XXIII’s invitation to dialogue with non-Catholic artists. Inspired...

Church Fathers: Origen’s Theology

It is appropriate to begin this brief summary of Origen’s theology with a reminder that many of the more imaginative aspects of his “doctrine” were presented as his personal speculation and distinguished from the truths taught by the universal Church which all were obligated to...

Quick Hits: St. Patrick's in the Caribbean, the formality of ancient liturgy, recovering holy friendship

Did you know that on an island in the Caribbean, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated as a public holiday for a whole week? At the Register, Peter Jesserer Smith tells the story of how many of the Irish who were forced into indentured servitude under Cromwell were put to work in the British...

The “common good” de-perplexed

A dictum of Catholic social thought that has perplexed and occasionally frustrated me for some time: the common good, we're told, is not just a collection of individual goods. So, we probably assume, it must be the good of the whole (which is somehow not reducible to the sum of all...

Four responses to the human condition

"Every great moral in reality an effort to ask man, in one manner or another and to one degree or another, to go beyond his natural condition in some way." So writes Jacques Maritain in his 1964 book Moral Philosophy. In the concluding remarks of this work, he examines...

Quick Hits: Seven Gifts, female spirituality, Escape from Nihilism, Thomistic Evolution

Catholic pianist-composer Mark Christopher Brandt has now released the second in a series of four fully improvised piano recordings. Seven Gifts (available as a CD or DVD) is based on the same concept as the first installment, Seven Moons, so you can visit my review of the earlier...

Quick Hits: the myth of believers in a flat Earth, Europe’s failure to evangelize Japan

This week brought us two worthwhile articles about Christianity in secular outlets. In the wake of rapper B.o.B. claiming that the earth is flat, Newsweek points out that people didn’t even believe this in the Middle Ages. It’s a myth made up in the nineteenth century to make...

Church Fathers: Origen’s Works

Origen’s prodigious literary output was encouraged by his wealthy friends, in particular one Ambrose whom he had converted from Valentinianism. Out of his own pocket, this benefactor stationed in Origen’s lecture room “more than seven shorthand-writers, who relieved each other at...

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