Forgetting Allen Tate


Today Allen Tate is remembered—if at all—as a Southern Agrarian or New Critic. His name barely registers in discussions of “Catholic” writers. It was not always so. Tate’s 1950 conversion from atheism to Catholicism was so well celebrated that Marshall McLuhan would say that his was “the nearest American equivalent to Newman’s conversion.”Why do we hear so little of this American Newman? I started to wonder recently why do we not hear of his going to Mass with Ernest Hemingway in Paris, his pilgrimage to see T.S. Eliot in London, his correspondence with W.H. Auden? Why had I not heard of his time as poet-in-residence at Princeton where he spent countless hours discussing the Catholic faith with Jacques Maritain – who would eventually become his godfather? A friend who knows his work said to me, it is because he wrote the poem “Ode to the Confederate Dead,” and because we think he defended an old South that we are keen to expunge from our stained memory. Continue Reading »

The Indomitable and Effective Cardinal Pell

Shortly after George Pell was named Archbishop of Melbourne, he instituted several reforms at the archdiocesan seminary, including daily Mass and the daily celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, both of which had fallen by the wayside in the preceding years. The seminary faculty, enthusiastic proponents of Catholic Lite, thought to call the archbishop’s bluff and informed him that, were he to persist in such draconian measures, they would resign en masse.The archbishop thanked them for the courtesy of giving him a heads-up, accepted their resignations on the spot, and got on with the reform of the Melbourne seminary—and the rest of the archdiocese. Continue Reading »

George Herbert in Lent

The Anglican pastor and poet George Herbert died of tuberculosis on March 1, 1633, just one month shy of his fortieth birthday. Like his famous contemporary and friend John Donne and his nineteenth-century American echo Emily Dickinson, Herbert did not publish his poems during his lifetime. From . . . . Continue Reading »

The Vision of Father Neuhaus

In his insightful new biography, Richard John Neuhaus: A Life in the Public Square, Randy Boyagoda recounts the extraordinary journey of the man who many believe was “the most consequential public theologian in America since the days of Reinhold Niebuhr and John Courtney Murray.” Born . . . . Continue Reading »

Hesburgh and Rice

Notre Dame’s former president Theodore Hesburgh and law professor Emeritus Charles Rice, who died within days of each other earlier this year, were often at odds. Rice wrote about his “strong disagreements” with Fr. Hesburgh, but also about how highly he respected him, noting that he had . . . . Continue Reading »