LONDON, ONTARIO – I rarely miss the Oscars even though it’s been about thirty years since I didn’t hate myself in the morning for handing over four hours of my life to preening narcissistic airheads who are not qualified to tell anybody how to think or live. By now I ought to have shed that impression formed in the first half of my life that this awards show has anything to do with artistic merit or glamour or entertainment. Sub-consciously I think I’ve known the gig was up for decades. How else to explain the self-sabotage which I only commit on Oscar night by pounding back a family-sized bag of potato chips – with French onion dip, no less – before we've even made it through the dullest of the technical awards?
LONDON, ONTARIO – It was some time in the fall of 1980 when I met Bill McGrath for the first time as he poked his head through the office doorway while I was dropping off my latest essay to Norm Ibsen, the London Free Press’ editor in charge of the opinion/editorial and book review pages. “We seem to be running something by this guy every week,” Bill said to Norm, indicating me with a nod of his head. “Isn’t it time we had a picture?”
Norm agreed and Bill took me out to the less cramped hallway and set me up against a clear section of wall where a reasonable amount of natural light leaked through and took my photo with his Polaroid.
LONDON, ONTARIO – As a bookend to a piece we ran last December commemorating the death of my father - we publish this essay to mark the hundred and first birthday of my mother - and, coincidentally enough, the eleventh anniversary of her funeral - this Wednesday.
LEAVING ST. JOSEPH'S HOSPITAL just after my father died in the early evening of December 13th, 2003, I couldn’t wait to pour memories, images and thoughts of our Dad down onto the page as a way of helping me come to terms with the grief of losing him. If Jack couldn’t be with us anymore, at least I could erect some sort of narrative monument to his memory and that would be something. With our mother’s death at 2:20 on Easter Saturday morning, 2009, the grieving process was not so sudden or straightforward.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Perhaps in this first week of Easter, you are casting about for some edifying literature; seeking out what Bertie Wooster used to call, “an improving book” or two or three. One of the best source books I know for picking up leads and cues about writers who are working in my favoured field of zealotry is Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief by Joseph Pearce (1999). Pearce accomplished something utterly new under the sun with this book which is nothing less than a running chronicle of twentieth century Christian conversion (mostly Catholic) among British literati. As interesting as the thumbnail sketches of everybody from Robert Hugh Benson and Ronald Knox to Malcolm Muggeridge and Graham Greene, was Pearce’s meticulous tracing of the threads of inspiration and influence which connect them all.
If you would like to contribute to the ongoing operations of Hermaneutics, there are now a few options available.
THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :