Friday, October 28, 2005

GKC in Gheon

I bought an old copy of Henri Gheon's Secrets of the Saints, a four-in-one volume that contains The Secret of the Cure D'Ars, The Secret of the Little Flower, The Secret of Saint Margaret Mary, and The Secret of Saint John Bosco. For $11.00, including P&H, I was pretty pleased at the prospect of it arriving.

And when it did, I discovered that there was an added bonus: An essay by Chesterton, "The Challenge of the Cure d'Ars," which was written as an epilogue to the first English edition of The Secret of the Cure d'Ars. The publishers of my newly-acquired 1954 edition said it's "too good to be omitted in this collection." I read it, and I agree. The first line alone may have been worth the entire $11.00:

"The Catholic Church is much too universal to be called international; for she is older than all the nations."

For Friday: Guinness & Golf

Chesterton wrote the column "Our Notebook" for The Illustrated London News from 1905 to 1936. Here is an advertisement from a 1930 edition:

Playing Marbles

Chip Scanlon wrote yesterday at Poynter Online:
The story [Mark Maremont. "The CEO's Private Golf Shuttle". WSJ. 1 Oct 2005] showed in exacting detail how members of the business elite take advantage of corporate planes meant to save time and ensure the security of CEOs. This way, they get free transportation to golf courses where they can indulge their passion for a pastime G.K. Chesterton defined as "an expensive way of playing marbles."

Dear Reader: Do you know the source of this GKC quotation?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thursday on Thursday, no.17

"I regret to inform you that your remarks convey no impression to my mind. Perhaps if you were to remove the remains of your original forehead and some portion of what was once your chin, your meaning would become clearer. Mental lucidity fulfils itself in many ways."
- Gabriel Syme, in GKC's The Man Who Was Thursday

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Belloc as Historian

I missed this article by Michael Hennessy about "Belloc as a Catholic Historian" at Seattle Catholic in early September. But yesterday's reprint in Spero News alerted me to it.
If Belloc most wanted to be remembered for his serious verse — although he thought its quality too slight to merit the devoted attention of posterity (a judgement from which I, for one, demur) — he is perhaps best known today as the author of the humorous "Cautionary Verses for Children", and for his historical works. Although he was a historian by training, having read what even then was dubiously referred to as Modern History at Balliol College, Oxford (in between bouts of orating, throwing port, belittling unbelievers, singing, presiding over the Union and walking here and there at tremendous pace with a bottle of wine in one pocket and chunks of bread and cheese in the other), he often felt more duty than pleasure in writing his numerous histories.

Friday, October 21, 2005

For Friday: Guinness for Strength

Chesterton wrote the column "Our Notebook" for The Illustrated London News from 1905 to 1936. Here is an advertisement from a 1930 edition:

(speaking of heroic virtue ...)


Thursday, October 20, 2005

No Opportunity for Heroic Virtue?

Paul Burnell, writing in a BBC News article about the putative miracle and possible canonization of Cardinal Newman, asks why there are few English Catholic saints:
Catholic writer Dr William Oddie said it is difficult to pinpoint the reason.

"In a lot of ways England is a bit of a backwater in the Catholic Church - we're really pretty small beer.

"It could be there has been less opportunity to live a heroic life in the modern era."

The former Editor of The Catholic Herald added: "Maybe the English haven't been holy enough."

However Dr Oddie is quick to nominate another English candidate for sainthood - the writer GK Chesterton.

"He was a man of immense holiness - he would also be the first journalist to be canonised."

Less opportunity to live a heroic life in the modern era? Perhaps Dr. Oddie is a hermit and has no contact with the modern world. How else to explain his ignorance of the opportunity provided by the world today? We still have family, work, and culture (and I think England does as well) -- all of which are attacked by the modern world. Yes, that is where virtue comes in to play.

Thursday on Thursday, no.16

"I am more than a devil; I am a man. I can do the one thing which Satan himself cannot do -- I can die."
- Gabriel Syme, in GKC's The Man Who Was Thursday

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Family Friendly Violence

Steve Tilley of the Edmonton Sun writes:
Traveller's Tales' latest title will try to walk the fine line between intense action and teen-friendly fun, with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe mixing puzzle-solving and exploration with copious amounts of monster slaying. The game hits stores Nov. 15, just ahead of the Disney flick's Dec. 9 release.

As a bit* of a lark, the developers temporarily added computer code that instructed the game to show blood splatters with every impact of sword or arrow on monster flesh, and the screen was soon awash in red as the game's quartet of kid heroes had it out with waves of critters.

But that's not what Narnia is about, said Burton [director of game development studio Traveller's Tales]. "I don't think it glorifies violence," he said. "It's not like you're getting into a car with a prostitute, sleeping with her and killing her to get the money back." [a reference to Grand Theft Auto]

Perhaps if Hollywood makes a new Thursday movie we'll get a spin-off video game of bomb-throwing anarchists.

* Yes, a bit, it may be just a single bit in the computer program. What's the difference? Mr. Burton correctly sees the difference is enormous. One little bit is not as good as another; it is the fine line between the right and wrong solution.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Pride Before Ignorance

Craig A. Boyd, Professor of Philosophy and Director of Faith Integration at Azusa Pacific University, invokes GKC in a recent blog post:

G. K. Chesterton, one of the past century’s most brilliant and witty thinkers, believed that arrogance was really a sign of insanity. The arrogant person lives in a world of her own creation, makes herself God and fails to see the world from a perspective other than her own, self-assumed superiority. Chesterton addresses the “madman” by saying, “So you are the Creator and Redeemer of the world: but what a small world it must be! What a little heaven you must inhabit, with angels no bigger than butterflies! How sad it must be to be God; and an inadequate God! Is there really no life fuller and no love more marvelous than yours; and is it really in your small and painful pity that all flesh must put its faith? How much happier you would be, how much more of you there would be, if the hammer of a higher God could smash your cosmos, scattering the stars like spangles, and leave you in the open, free like other men to look up as well as down!”


Friday, October 14, 2005

For Friday: Guinness & Lobster

Chesterton wrote the column "Our Notebook" for The Illustrated London News from 1905 to 1936. Here is an advertisement from a 1930 edition:


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Another GKC Confession

Yet another blogger tells us how he came to love GKC's writings and shows that there are a lot more GKC friends out there than we mention on the front page of this blog. Link.

I read some excellent books, such as "Handbook of Christian Apologetics" by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli. I also read some easier reads like "Mere Christianity" by C. S. Lewis and "Why Do Catholics Do That?" by Kevin Orlin Johnson. While reading these, as well as many other tracts, articles, booklets, etc., I noticed a common theme emerging. (BTW, might I recommend the articles in "This Rock" magazine, as well as the booklets "Confession of a Roman Catholic" and "The Catholic Church Has the Answer" by Paul Whitcomb - excellent, quick reads that help demolish most objections.) That common theme (aside from, of course, the fact that Catholics are not only Christian, but the first Christians) is that each authors all kept quoting this one apologist: Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

Thursday on Thursday, no.15

"Well, it seems that we have all the same kind of morality or immorality, so we had better face the fact that comes of it."
- Gabriel Syme, in GKC's The Man Who Was Thursday

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mystical & Prophetic Dimension of a Culture

Jaime AntĂșnez Aldunate, editor of the Chile-based Catholic review Humanitas, was recently interviewed by Zenit. The first part of the interview was published Oct 11, 2005 (LINK). An excerpt:
Borrowing a word from that great British thinker of culture and history that was Christopher Dawson, one could say that when the mystical and prophetic dimension of a culture declines, its very religion also "becomes secular, is absorbed in the cultural tradition to such a point that it identifies with it, and finally it becomes only a way of social activity and perhaps even a slave or accomplice of the powers of this world." Much of this is also happening in the present day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Need of a Philosophy

G.K. Chesterton gave a lecture to the Lyceum Club in March 1923. Notes taken from this lecture were published in The Philosopher during the same year. Russell Sparkes provided the lecture report to The Chesterton Review; TCR republished it in the most recent issue (Vol XXXI, Nos.1&2, Spring/Summer 2005). Here is one quotation from GK's lecture:
"The utilitarians did assume that man had a special duty to man but the modern view is different -- modern duties must now be equally guided by our relations to animals. The rights of animals is the subject of much controversy, and discussion on the point is undetermined. Some people will eat fish and not meat. There was a man who would eat lobster sauce because it was at the cost of only one life, while he would not eat shrimp sauce because that was a holocaust. In any case it has been well put, that if animals have no rights man has duties to them."

Today you might meet a man who will eat a tomato. The tomato is given by a plant that continues to live after the fruit is plucked. But this man will not eat a carrot because harvesting the taproot is an act of violence destroying the plant. I do not agree with this man, but at least he is arranging an order to his thoughts and he can begin to explain them.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Anchoress on GKC

The popular blogger, The Anchoress, has re-produced thirty GKC gems on her blog. It's worth a look. Link.


A new philosophy generally means in practice the praise of some old vice.-Illustrated London News 1906

Pride is a weakness in the character; it dries up laughter, it dries up wonder, it dries up chivalry and energy.- Heretics

Friday, October 07, 2005

Oct 7: Lepanto & Our Lady of the Rosary

The Battle of Lepanto by Paolo Veronese (c.1528-1588)

Apart from the signal defeat of the Albigensian heretics at the battle of Muret in 1213 which legend has attributed to the recitation of the Rosary by St. Dominic, it is believed that Heaven has on many occasions rewarded the faith of those who had recourse to this devotion in times of special danger. More particularly, the naval victory of Lepanto gained by Don John of Austria over the Turkish fleet on the first Sunday of October in 1571 responded wonderfully to the processions made at Rome on that same day by the members of the Rosary confraternity.
[LINK. Catholic Encyclopedia. 1912]

Vivat Hispania!
Domino Gloria!
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!
[LINK. Chesterton. Lepanto. 1915]

Thursday, October 06, 2005

No One Took Their Place?

The guy at Shackblog laments:

It seems telling that there are no voices of reason and intelligence standing out in all of the Christian publishing industry like Lewis or Chesterton did at one time. If there were somebody out there smart enough and reasonable enough to actually have something to say, he/she is constantly feeling pressure to "write more little books about Christianity", which, of course, will never make any impression on anybody outside of the Church's walls.

I think he's right, but it's more the fault of the reading audience than a lack of ability among the writers. The folks at Touchstone tread in this tradition, as do a number of blogs. Believe it or not, I intend my other blog, The Daily Eudemon, to do so, but it would be difficult to discern it from day-to-day. If I were to attempt (attempt!) to write like Lewis and Chesterton, I would lose readers faster than a stripper loses clothes.

Thursday on Thursday, no.14

"All the blue devils in blue hell contributed to my blue funk!"
- Gabriel Syme, in GKC's The Man Who Was Thursday

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Relics of Chesterton & Friends

The Marion E. Wade Center of Wheaton College, Illinois, houses a major research collection of the books and papers of seven British authors: Owen Barfield, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams.
[The] Wade Center has a museum where such pieces as C.S. Lewis's family wardrobe and writing desk, Charles Williams's bookcases, J.R.R. Tolkien's desk, Pauline Baynes's original map of Narnia, and a tapestry from Dorothy L. Sayers's home can be viewed. Photographs, rare books and manuscripts, and other small items of memorabilia round off the displays. A current exhibit, entitled "The Craft of Detective Fiction", details the contributions made by G.K. Chesterton and Dorothy L. Sayers to the genre of detective fiction.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Look Backwards to Transform the Future

Spero News republished Fr. C. John McCloskey's review of Thomas E. Woods Jr.'s How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization (Regnery Publishing, Washington 2005).
Read together with Triumph (Three Rivers Press, New York, 2001), Harry Crocker's recent history of the Church, Woods' book will fascinate, delight and instruct in a manner worthy of the 20th-century Catholic historian and polemicist Hilaire Belloc, showing us how to look backwards to transform the future.

Fr. C. John's Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan contains books by Chesterton, Belloc, Tolkien, Lewis, Dawson, Muggeridge, Knox, and many others.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Chesterton the Blogger

The Anchoress discusses the blogger v. journalist debate:

What - in these changing times - defines a journalist? While a journalist can also be a blogger, is it out of the question for a blogger to be a journalist? Can some bloggers morph into that fabled classification of “journalist?”

G.K. Chesterton was a journalist who wrote prodigiously - he never stopped writing - novels, treatises, polemics, opinion columns, dialogues and debates and poems. No one today doubts that he was a journalist, yet I am quite certain that were he alive in this era, he’d be a blogger, and a BIG one in every way. Being fat and unphotogenic, he would very likely come up more from blogs than from any sort of mainstream venue. And yet he would still be (and would very likely completely identify as) a journalist.


Portillo on Joy

Authentic joy is based on this foundation: that we want to live for God and want to serve others because of God. Let us tell the Lord that we want nothing more than to serve him with joy. If we behave in this way we shall find that our inner peace, our joy, our good humour will attract many souls to God. Give witness to Christian joy. Show to those around you that this is our great secret. We are happy because we are children of God, because we deal with him, because we struggle to become better for him. And when we fail, we go right away to the Sacrament of joy where we recover our sense of fraternity with all men and women.
[Alvaro del Portillo, Homily, 12 Apr 1984; quoted by Francis Fernandez Carvajal in In Conversation With God, vol.5, p.155]

There is no direct reference to GKC in the quotation above; Bishop Portillo does use the same language as Chesterton to talk about joy. Many people were — and still are — lead to God due to the peace, joy, and good humour shown by Chesterton. Also you noticed (how can a reader of GKC not notice?) that Portillo referred to joy as "our great secret."