I should mention The Lamp.
This newcomer is smart, appears to be well-funded, and takes its Catholicism seriously without getting bogged down in it.
Exhibit A: The review-essay from its current issue by Joseph Epstein that I wrote about last week. Epstein is Jewish, I doubt he wrote it without a significant paycheck, and he’s smart.
I’m an Epstein enthusiast (long-time TDE readers, “Enthusiast?! Scheske, you might as well have a crush on the guy”).
I devoured the essay then turned my attention to the other essays. In the back of my mind, I harbored the suspicion, “They splashed on a big name writer like Epstein. The rest of this stuff will be second-rate.”
I was wrong.
Like, really, really wrong.
The prose in The Lamp is superb and, my nose tells me, carefully edited. The subjects in The Lamp are curiously and grandly varied. The current issue features essays on a scissor-wielding ghost that started appearing after a Lutheran didn’t call a priest for a dying Catholic; living in the semi-ghost town of York, Pennsylvania; a monk whose homosexual brother died of AIDS; Henry Benedict Stuart, the Jacobite Duke of York and the last legitimate male in the Stuart dynasty (written by the excellently-named Minoo Dinshaw, who apparently wrote a biography that I’m now dying to read). There’s also an essay on wedding cakes (which cost, on average, $500 in the U.S.). I have no idea why I read it, but it grabbed me.
The manual craftsmanship of The Lamp, it’s worth noting, is also impressive. When Marie saw the issue arrive, she said, “Wow. That must cost them a lot of money to print.”
Indeed. Everything about the journal screams, “well-funded,” which is another way of screaming, “Take us seriously. We’ll be around a while.”
It’s also a way to justify the very expensive price tag. At $60 annually ($10 per issue), it’s a splurge.
But one that is, based on the two issues I’ve read, worth making.
After the Publisher’s introduction and Correspondence, The Lamp features a series of diminutives. I used to write a similar column when I edited Gilbert Magazine (“Tremendous Trifles”) and, to be honest…