The Screwtape Letters

(by C.S. Lewis) Lewis was unsurpassed in winkling out a small dark corner of the soul and blowing it into toxic glasswork.  Here we have one-way correspondence from a demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, Wormwood: a how-to manual for those who would catch our souls.  Exquisite, even for those without the gift of faith. My favourite lesson concerns the lady who quails at that offered, wheedling for “all I want…”.  Screwtape’s comment: “Because what she wants is…less…than what has been set before her, she never recognises as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others.” This…

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The Problem of Knowledge

(by A.J. Ayer) Ayer is a blind alley, albeit a convincing one.  Yet logic and semantics will take us only so far and reading him, one thinks, “you’re too clever by half…..too clever for our good.” We recently had a comment (by someone with the nom de plume “Butt Books”, has commented fit for posterity: “True – logic and semantics will take us only so far. The analytic tradition won’t venture into the realm of speculative metaphysics, obscurantism, and autofellatio. One must turn to the continental tradition for that.“

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The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

(by James Hogg) The protagonist, Robert Wringhim, finds himself spiraling deeper into a vortex of evil. Luckily there’s a mysterious but nice young chap to ‘guide’ him on his way. A towering, fascinating ‘mystery’ novel, revealing how dangerous it is to mix Calvinism and Old Scratch.

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The Origins of the Inquisition

(by B Netanyahu) Definitive, immense and profound work on the causes and motives of the Spanish Inquisition. Inquisitiana [Note that TVC recommends the following: Torquemada himself would be impressed with Wakefield & Evans, Heresies of the High Middle Ages (1991) and Lu Ann Homza’s The Spanish Inquisition 1478-1614; An Anthology of Sources (2006), which is a very valuable resource of primary documents. The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision (1998) by Henry Kamen, is a good general volume (TVC has a pretty Folio edition). The Spanish Inquisition (1937) by Cecil Roth is a superior general academic treatment. The Inquisition of the Middle…

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The Last Confession

Karol Józef Wojtyła was born on May 18 (1920) and we take the opportunity to remember The Last Confession, a papal election drama that suggests mere mortals can somehow connive their way to the right result… (by Roger Crane) (Australia, 2014) The Pope is dead.  Long live the Pope.  And his election shall be the wish of God, even if the processes seem all-too awful and human. This is a fascinating account of the serpentine path to that puff of white smoke which signals the supposed will of God.  These Cardinals are wily, sly, two-faced and yet somehow, they seem to genuinely…

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