Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas....

Im not saying anything new here today, just pointing my finger towards some magnificent others...

Here is Kevin O'Brien's Theater of the Word Youtube channel. I spoke with Kevin briefly at the GKC Conference a couple years ago, not aware of who he was and was very impressed....even before I knew I was supposed to be. These guys are doing some terrific work. Its wonderful to be around this type of energy.

And now........the paradox.......

Here is Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ on his show, Crossing the Threshold of Hope. Here is a video from a Canadian Prof. Chycho, a mathematics instructor offering remedial training on Youtube. Shut your eyes and listen to both of these men and you will find that their voice, intonation, passion, and delivery are close to least they sound the same to my army-induced hearing loss ears.

Merry Christmas Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas poetry - from Frances Chesterton

G. K. Chesterton is highly regarded as a poet, and is well-known as a lover of Christmas.

His better half (okay, given their relative sizes, better fourth) also had a way with words - and an appreciation for the season.

Frances Chesterton wrote “How far is it to Bethlehem?,” which has become a popular and often-played Christmas Carol. The poem is collected in one of my favorite holiday poetry anthologies, Poems of Christmas, edited by Myra Cohn Livingston.

Apparently Frances penned a number of Christmas poems, and at least one Christmas play. I find mention on Amazon of an out of print book that contains “A collection of Christmas cards, each consisting of a poem by Frances Chesterton, sent by G. K. and Frances Chesterton in 1916, 1917, 1919-1935 and by Frances Chesterton alone in 1936 and 1937.” I could not find the title of this book, though – perhaps some scholarly sort knows it and even has a copy.

I also found mention of a few Christmas pieces she wrote: Several poems - “Here Is the Little Door,” “A Lullaby Carol” and “The Shepherds Found Thee by Night,” the latter two also put to music – and a short play, The Christmas Gift.

I found texts for “How far” and “Here Is.” I’d be curious to see those other poems she wrote, and the play.

Here are texts I found.
How far is it to Bethlehem?

How far is it to Bethlehem?
Not very far.
Shall we find the stable room
Lit by a star?

Can we see the little child,
Is he within?
If we lift the wooden latch
May we go in?

May we stroke the creatures there,
Ox, ass, or sheep?
May we peep like them and see
Jesus asleep?

If we touch his tiny hand
Will he awake?
Will he know we've come so far
Just for his sake?

Great kings have precious gifts,
And we have naught,
Little smiles and little tears
Are all we brought.

For all weary children
Mary must weep.
Here, on his bed of straw
Sleep, children, sleep.

God in his mother's arms,
Babes in the byre,
Sleep, as they sleep who find
Their heart's desire.


Here is the little door

Here is the little door, lift up the latch, oh lift!
We need not wander more but enter with our gift;
Our gift of finest gold,
Gold that was never bought nor sold;
Myrrh to be strewn about his bed;
Incense in clouds about his head;
All for the Child who stirs not in his sleep.
But holy slumber holds with ass and sheep.

Bend low about his bed, for each he has a gift;
See how his eyes awake, lift up your hands, O lift!
For gold, he gives a keen-edged sword
(Defend with it Thy little Lord!),
For incense, smoke of battle red.
Myrrh for the honoured happy dead;
Gifts for his children terrible and sweet,
Touched by such tiny hands and
Oh such tiny feet.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

When you sing you pray twice

It is still true that when the Christmas season begins I get “as giddy as a school boy”. My wife and I unpack and set up the decorations with the same dance we have done for years and our youthful laugh returns. Whenever “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Santa, baby” or even the Hippopotamus song come on the radio I crank it up. But by the time they light the pink candle in the Advent wreath my ears and soul hungers for more than funnel cakes and corn dogs.

In his General Audience of February 26, 2003, Pope John Paul II reminds us that "one must pray to God not only with theologically precise formulas, but also in a beautiful and dignified way." For this reason, he said, "the Christian community must make an examination of conscience so that the beauty of music and song will return increasingly to the liturgy."

Or as Thomas Aquinas said, “Music is the exaltation of the mind derived from things eternal, bursting forth in sound.”

Last year I “discovered” Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek and the Christmas Gregorian Chants. Now there is music that requires a knife and fork to consume.
This year a friend turned me on to the Christmas choral works of Benjamin Britten a 20th century composer who “got it” right Britten once wrote: “It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness and of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature, and everlasting beauty of monotony.” Note the last sentiment, like GCK said “It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.”
…everlasting beauty of monotony - The beauty of paradox.

ROGER DU BÉARN gave us this clerihew:

Benjamin Britten,
Feeling hard-bitten,
Gave Billy Budd a bearing
Incomprehensible to Albert Herring.
One more thought from Uncle Gilbert on Christmas:
"The place that the shepherds found was not an academy or an abstract republic; it was not a place of myths... explained or explained away. It was a place of dreams come true."

Media related thoughts.........

Chesterton spoke a great deal about media and publishing.....even though he was decades removed from "Big Media." Belloc's thoughts about media control and propaganda came out in a wonderful book a few years ago from IHS Press, The Free Press.

Ive been thinking about how horrible the Churches and other advocates of traditional living have been at entering the mainstream debate. Granted, EWTN is now a top notch outfit in terms of management and production, but outside of Catholic circles, it is not part of the mainstream.

I just think that so many prime teaching opportunities have been lost. I think it would pay to advertise the fact that even after the 2008 election, we still have had more Black Popes then Black Presidents. Do any left leaning groups know that the Catholic Church is the worlds largest provider of health care to AIDS patients on Earth? When Mother Theresa's letters were made public, why didn't the US Bishops or one of the Catholic Universities give the press some information about the Dark Night of the Soul as it exists in Catholic spirituality. Heck they could have even painted it as a form of depression or something, but at least could have raised the level of discussion.

I completely admire Pat Buchanan, though I disagree with him at times, for being able to be who he is, representing what he does, and still be able to interact with mainstream journalism.

I think people are beginning to sense that something is wrong with mainstream news. The massive layoffs are hitting that industry. I think the timing is good for a solid Catholic Press to emerge from Catholic circles and interact with the opinion forming mainstream press.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Chesterton books/New Gilbert arrive

I received two new Chesterton volumes - more of his newspaper pieces, and the second volume of his poems. The prophet certainly was not averse to writing verse - and who knows how many more poems are floating around out there.

I also received the latest Gilbert. I'm glad to see them deal with the anti-semitism charges head on.

I was also pleased to see this humble blog get a mention.

Amid this cornucopia of Chestertonian delight, my only sorrow was that none of my clerihews got in (though the published ones were good).

Hmm. Maybe the editors had a Chestertonian moment and the ones I submitted a while back are being used as coasters or as bookmarks.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The prophet Chesterton – again

Looking for a Christmas lesson for my youth group, about the reality of the Incarnation vs. the make believe holiday of commercialism, I came across an article by Vigen Guroian called The Christian Humanism Of G. K. Chesterton: Truth and the Paradoxical Imagination.

Guroian bases his whole thesis on what Chesterton gave us:

“Chesterton responded with Christian humanism to what he judged to be a serious breakdown of the fundamental moral suppositions deposited by biblical faith and the classical tradition. He believed that this declension was due to the loss of conviction in the culture about the reality of the Incarnation, that is of God truly having become a human being in Jesus Christ with all the import that that has for human existence. For Chesterton, the doctrine of the Incarnation is the hinge that holds together what is, for the Christian, a vision of the world that is essentially paradoxical. And he is astonishingly adept at employing this vision in his cultural criticism and Christian apologetics. The Incarnation sheds light where sin deceives and despair darkens the human horizon. Sin causes us to experience spirit in opposition to matter, faith in conflict with reason, life defeated by death. But the Incarnation reveals these apparent contradictions as paradoxes. Contradiction may signal futility, but paradox is pregnant with the possibility of resolution and harmony.”

Sunday, December 14, 2008

St Glibert, Blessed Belloc

Some good things coming out on here as of late.

In regards to St. Gilbert.........Hey, heroic virtue is the standard. Chesterton was a good man, a devout Catholic, and a brilliant writer but as neat as it would be, I do not quite think I would take up his cause. I could end up being proven wrong.

In regards to the bigger issue, I do think Pope John Paul II particularly made a terrific example of canonizing lay people, and trying to expedite certain causes in an effort to put forth contemporary examples of sanctity. I think that Chesterton will most likely go down in the ages like..........Chesterton! I think that there are some examples of terrific spiritual writers, apologists, and theologians through the ages who were not raised to the altar. Dante, John Duns Scotus (granted he is a Blessed, but I think has no active cause), Brother Lawrence from The Cloud of Unknowing,Meister Eckhardt, and many of the Rhineland mystical writers of his same time period.

Ive noticed some good back and forth regarding Belloc on here as well. Honestly, he is a man I identify with more than Chesterton. As a solider I respect his physicality and sheer toughness. Ive read abit about some of his famous hikes and they are incredible. I used to be a good ruckmarcher, could take 70lb pack and full load 10k in a bit under 70mins. To those who do not have a military background or do alot of alpine type hiking this is very physically rigorous, not just merely putting one foot in front of the other. Belloc must have had a will of steel, feet of leather, and skin of ice to be able to rack up the miles they way he did. Belloc is a master of historical details and primary sources, providing the facts regarding certain situations where modern pundits make up their own history.

Have a terrific rest of the weekend

Saturday, December 06, 2008

St. Gilbert, Patron Saint ...

Saint Gilbert Chesterton.

It has a certain ring.

St. Gilbert.

There are already people agitating for the canonization of GKC. While I support those efforts, that is not my purpose here.

I am considering a post-canonization question.

You see, many saints have particular places, occupations and conditions over which they are considered the patron saints, serving as advocates and intercessors. Some are considered patron saints over multiple areas.

My question is of what thing(s) what would St. Gilbert be a patron saint?

Obviously, he was a prolific writer. Might he join St. Francis de Sales as a patron saint of writers and journalists? I have not found who is the patron saint of essayists, so perhaps St. Gilbert could fill that role.

Although his poetry is not his best writing, it still has its strengths and beauty – and sheer volume. Perhaps he could join St. Columba as a patron saint of poetry?

Then again, given the delightful Father Brown stories, why not a patron saint of mystery fiction?

St. Gilbert was a staunch defender of the faith and a profound thinker. Perhaps he could join St. Thomas Aquinas as a patron saint of apologetics and of philosophy. Given his debating skills, he might be an apt patron saint of debaters – another area for which I have not yet found saintly coverage.

As a convert, he could join the ranks of patron saints like Charles Lwanga, Mary Magdalen and John the Baptist (maybe joining at the same time as Cardinal Newman).

Of course, he did like to drink and eat. Maybe he could join St. Nicholas, St. Augustine and St. Luke in being a patron saint of brewers, or St. Martin of Tours as a patron saint of vintners and innkeepers. He could serve with St. Lawrence as a patron saint of cooks, and, appropriately, comedians (Lawrence’s joke of presenting the poor as the treasures of the Church was a knee slapper).

And while St. Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of lost items, St. Gilbert might be an appropriate patron saint of people who keep getting lost.

The possibilities are endless.

For what other things might he be a fit patron saint? I welcome the input.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Prophet Chesterton

In wandering around the blogosphere I have frequently encountered mention of Chesterton. Sometimes it’s a quote. Sometimes it’s an entire post. Or frequent quotations and posts. Sometimes he is used as a reference for judging some contemporary belief or action.

Mark Shea of Catholic and Enjoying It! caught my attention a long time ago for, among many reasons, frequently referring to him as the “Prophet Chesterton.”

I have seen that title and similar reference to him as a prophet elsewhere, including in a blog called Totally Catholic Youth Ministers Lounge (yes, that is the name!) in which they invoke the great one to counter some ill-informed anti-Catholic comments (as opposed to their usual ill-informed comments) of the women of The View.

More recently I got a chuckle when I stumbled across Father Dwight Longenecker of Standing On My Head referring to him by a variation of the title: “The Portly Prophet”.

Prophets are usually defined as individuals who have encountered God and serve as an intermediary with the rest of humanity. They often give warnings or promote change.

Chesterton certainly fits those criteria. Of course, in terms of another sorts of “fit,” prophets are often pictured as ascetical sorts on the thin side who frequently fast and wander off to mountains, caves, deserts and other isolated regions. Sound more like Shaw!

Chesterton, appropriately, provides us with a prophet paradox – a man of proportion with large appetites who often seems to have received his “messages” over many a glass in a tavern.

But why not? God has a sense of humor.

As for whether Chesterton is a prophet, history will prove that. Are his warnings, predictions and guidance authentic? So far, they seem to be – and think of how many people he has helped to lead to the Church.

The Prophet Chesterton. It has a certain ring.

At least until we can call him St. Gilbert Chesterton.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Books

As a young lad I was intrigued by the collages of Max Ernst, especially in his surrealist poem The Hundred-Headless Woman. Not only on an aesthetic level but also in the precession of his cut and paste. They also carry a since of fun, in a dark humor soft of way. Wanting to create similar colleges I was faced with the problem of finding suitable pictures to cut and paste. Using current magazine illustrations always fell short because they are all in color with varying light sources so it was impossible to get a seamless finished product.

Then I discovered Dover Press a place that publishes 19th century illustrations. I use them to this day for whenever the collage bug hits me.

Today I was looking through their catalog of books and discovered they handle a lot more than clip art, (a pit fall of being myopic). Lo and behold they have an excellent collection of Chesterton works and being an art shop they have some great cover art (the photo on this page is an excellent example.)

I have never seen this illustration of Chesterton before and I really like the one slipper on and one off bit to show his famous forgetfulness of things that don’t really matter.

Although I have the book I will buy this edition just because of the cover. Yes, sometimes I do need an excuse to buy an other book.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Work of A Master

After having read alot ABOUT C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy online, I finally found the set in a used bookstore and absolutely devoured it.

Out of the Silent Planet ------ Perelandra -------- That Hideous Strength

These are small books that achieve a true theology of literature. Just as Tolkein achieved a fantasy world that breathes Christian oxygen, so did Lewis in this series. These are small books, little less than half inch think paperbacks each, yet Lewis weaves in themes of creation, fall, redemption, and temptation. That might sound a bit shallow and cliche', but Lewis treads through the inner thoughts and emotions of man.....and woman, then widens his vision through the cosmos, taking the classical doctrines of angelic intelligence and the nature of fallen and unfallen intellect and concupiscence and weaves an enjoyable SciFi tale with these Scholastic and Patristic ideas.

When I began reading That Hideous Strength, I thought I might have bought a book that had been taped together with the wrong cover. It did not really come together for me until I nearly reached the end when I realized that I had been led along by a master storyteller at the height of his craft. Lewis covers the whole cosmos in this series, from outer space to secret inner thoughts, from corporate corruption to sexuality and marital coldness. In the midst of all of this, his prose in describing far off worlds is so breathtakingly beautify that I found myself pausing just to muse on the images.

Very good series. Very ethics of elfland --- Orthodoxy in fictional form.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, November 10, 2008

an impression of Belloc

I have a friend who has supposedly been working through Orthodoxy for years now. Not sure what his projected completion date for the first pass through that one is. I think the problem is that he uses the book as a sedative; Mortimer Adler wrote in How to Read a Book "To use a good book as a sedative is conspicuous waste." The winding roads of Chesterton's prose are difficult to follow during a late night reading. So my friend took a break to try out some Belloc, and wrote me his impression today:
I am now finishing up How the Reformation Happened. Belloc’s writing appeals to me more than Chesterton (at this point). I like the framework of “yes, I wrote that, I meant to, and here’s why it’s true. Idiot [implied].” I also enjoy paragraphs.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes it is a big deal.

No. No. Not the election. It was on this day 30 years ago that my bride and I made some promises to each other. On the surface they sound simple enough but these were covenant promises. To Love and Honor each other; the love part sounded simple because we were on fire with love so I did not pay much attention to the Honor part; (I was stupid then. Not that I am any smarter now just a different kind of stupid) I have found it is only by honoring that love is maintained and keeps the fire ever ready to flare up again.

‘To accept children gladly, for richer and poorer, in sickness and health, and through the good times and the bad’ this we both swore in front of God and everybody. The children part was easy, we thought, since we both wanted a baseball team but God had other plans for us.

Just as I tried to tell my children what these promises mean my parents told me. My kids looked at me like I must have looked at my parents not quite deer in the headlights but like a 10 year trying to understand 3 point perspective. It is impossible to get someone who is both invulnerable and invisible to understand that the down times and sacrifice are gifts. That can only be unwrapped with the power of grace through the sacrament of marriage.

We have done poorer and would like to try richer for a while. Through sickness we held each other and through heath we held each other. The good times have been very good and we have walked through the valley crap.

I guess what has made this “easy” for me is that to this day my bride is jelly to the bone.

“It is the nature of love to bind itself, and the institution of marriage merely paid the average man the compliment of taking him at his word.” GKC

Just cause I’m in the mood here is another one:

Falling asleep
holding hands
a habit
as old as their union

because they were
of losing
each other

they were
of losing

to strengthen

because they
are afraid
of losing
each other

Saturday, November 01, 2008


This past week I picked our last ripe red tomato and ate it with great joy and a little mayonnaise. Mowed the lawn for the final time, cleaned out the garden shed and taught my daughter how to fly a kite.

Then I wrote the poem I wanted to write.


One more time
bring forth life.
Cut away the brambles
pull the weeds
turn the soil
to face heaven
and plant the seed
once more.

One more time
bring forth life.
Though the season
is nearly at it’s end
the fruit of the tree
will satisfy
for years to come,
different in flavor
from the others
but just as sweet.

One more time
bring forth life.
We will do
the prescribed dances
make the holy
and mix its ash
with the sanctified waters
to bless the earth.

One more time
bring forth life.
I’ve seen the sign,
the Hawk and the Quail
have returned.
Hold my hand.
Together we will
gather the stones
rebuild the wall
carve some into
and make the garden

One more time
bring forth life.
Before we believe
the others
who tell us we
are too old to work the fields

Come. Let’s make
The Magic.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Seasons Greetings........

........for Halloween

If I did this right, you will be hearing Basil Rathbone's interpretation of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven .

I think Rathbone is one of the greatest English actors of the 20th century. His voice alone, like here, is powerful and expressive. He played intellectual characters, such as Sherlock Holmes, as well as swashbuckling swordsmen in a number of other roles.

In terms of GKC and Halloween, I find it striking now that I think deeply on it, Chesterton never really took on the gothic mood. He had no problem with righteous indignation and dealing with the negative aspects of human nature. The conclusion that I come to is that the mood of his writing is imbued with the Christian spirit. Eschatalogically, the story of the world has a happy ending. Scheske wrote an essay a few years ago about horror movies, and I think this idea works well in addition to his.

Halloween is fine, some horror movies are ok, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are worth thier weight in gold in cool. In the end, however, Halloween gives way to All Saint's Day, the victory of salvation. Interesting idea to ponder.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The story of Debbie

“Twenty million young women rose to their feet with the cry, “We will not be dictated to,” and proceeded to become stenographers.” GKC

As seasons change my mind always slips toward poetry. It is as if the thoughts and random sentences still floating in my head start to come together like a 3d game of Tetris.

As autumn tiptoes into existence I wanted to write about mature love and the harvest of sacrifice but all those noble thoughts kept being pushed out of my head. What kept coming in was the black humor (no pun intended) of our current presidential campaign. The funniest thing so far is how Sarah Palin has shown the country that the National Organization for Women is not for the advancement of all women – just certain types of women as evidenced by stuff like this from just one NOW member:

The ultimate irony is the GOP’s assumption that Palin will appeal to women just because “she has a womb and makes lots and lots of babies,” argued religious historian Wendy Doniger of the University of Chicago’s Divinity School
“Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman,” Wendy goes on, “She does not speak for women; she has no sympathy for the problems of other women, particularly working class women.”
Or this:
But I object strongly when anyone (and especially anyone with political power) tries to take their theology out in public, to inflict those private religious (or sexual) views on other people. In both sex and religion (which combine in the debates about abortion), Sarah Palin’s views make me fear that the Republican party has finally lost its mind.

Isn’t that like saying a marriage is a private affair and that a man or women should not act married when out in public? And now those who advocate abortion are the sane ones?

Now the media is focusing on Palin’s wardrobe – amazing.

Anyway, this is my first poem of autumn.


As the planets align
you pile your hair
to mythical heights
paint your lips screaming red
and don
the ceremonial shoes
with the live gold fish
in the heels

Your cat chases a shadow of a
courageous moth
the sandalwood murmurs
a promise
the candles strain
to fill a darkness
and you dance to their music
before the mirrors
of your shadeless windows
until your heart
for nitroglycerin

Knowing the only sin
is loneliness
you scratch your dreams
into the kitchen table
with the cubic zirconium ring
you were given
on that beach
of endless stainless steel
and holding
your freshly cleaned
you proclaim it a
a sanctuary
for the itinerant
to bring forth
their needs.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

when courage speaks

from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

"The truth is that for some Catholics, the abortion issue has never been a comfortable cause. It's embarrassing. It's not the kind of social justice they like to talk about. It interferes with their natural political alliances. And because the homicides involved in abortion are ''little murders'' - the kind of private, legally protected murders that kill conveniently unseen lives - it's easy to look the other way."

Read the entire address here:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Chesterton Theatre Company - response

After my previous post and inquiries about the G. K. Chesterton Theatre Company, I received the following e-mail:

Lee, I'm Cathal Gallagher Co-Founder with Peter of G. K. Chesterton. Some background: I founded a theater in San Jose called Quo Vadis.

We wrote and produced our own dramas - plays about saints and heroic figures in history. We got good reviews from the audience and (surprise) from the secular press. A few people in L.A asked me to repeat the experiment here. Thus was born G. K.Chesterton Theatre Company in Santa Monica.

Our first play is "Malcolm and Teresa" now playing at the Promenade Playhouse in Santa Monica. It is about the conversion of former agnostic/socialist Malcolm Muggeridge. Show times are Fri/Sat 8 p.m. and Sunday matinee at 2.30 p.m. Appreciate the support of your readers in L. A. If we can make a success of this our first production then we can get the theatre company launched. Our mission is to engage the Hollywood Culture and put on great biographical works that will move and inspire the audience. Thanks for your help. For tickets call 1-310-462-5141

Cathal Gallagher
G. K. Chesterton Theatre


--- I also got one from the producer, Peter Gallagher -

I'm Peter Gallagher and I'm producing the play MALCOLM & TERESA from Irish born Playwright Cathal Gallagher and being directed by Vincent Lappas. This is Cathal's 10th major production and first in Los Angeles. Please let me know if you'd like to attend and review theplay. We would love to have you. Attached is a flyer with more info and below is some information as well. We sold out opening night and remained close to capacity Saturday.

Attached is the flyer for our show that opened last Friday and below is the website link. The play revolves around famed BBC reporterMalcolm Muggerridge's expose of the Ukrainian famine during the 1930's to an unbelieving world and his life changing interviews with MotherTeresa. If you can forward this on to whomever you deem appropriate, that would be much appreciated. It's going to be a great run! Play is Friday & Saturday's at 8pm, Sunday's at 2:30pm at the Promenade Playhouse on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

Run is 6 weeks through November 16th

--- I like that review offer part. Too bad I don't live out that way.

I also like the idea of building on this to engage the culture and to move and inspire. Maybe they might consider a Chesterton play in the future!

Chestertonians in the Santa Monica area might want to check it out.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Camping With Hilaire

Just before school started I took my daughter on an end of summer camping trip. Whenever we go camping I use that time to learn a basically useless skill like how to tie a monkey fist knot or if a pizza can be cooked on a camp fire (it can). One of the silly things I do when we go camping is to bring too many books. The one I am reading (this time it was A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel – recommend it) and some back-ups. Really I’m not sure what I’m thinking bringing 5 books on a three day trip. Well this trip got sillier.

On the first morning we woke to a light rain that pretty much killed the plan to hang out by the lake so we went into the local town to see what we could see and maybe find something that would not make my daughter whine about being board. In the years we have been going to this area to camp I have never spent any time exploring the town. But I knew very small towns have little to entertain a high maintenance seven year old except for shopping.

Walking out of the local grocery store with candy for her and a six pack for me I noticed across the street a small Catholic book store.
“Hey Bubbles let’s check that place out.”
“Do they have candy?”

Although this shop looked like every other small Catholic book store it had two things that set it apart from my experiences. The first was that it had a “kid’s corner” containing coloring books and lollypops. ‘Keep the kids quite so the old folks can look around in peace’ is a great marketing tactic. The other thing was that they had an extensive collection of Chesterton and Belloc books.

I bought Chesterton’s Heretics, Belloc’s The Crusades and The Path to Rome. I was grabbing more but my wallet stopped me.

When we finally left the shop the sun had broken through so we headed for the lake.
I cracked open Belloc’s The Path to Rome. Turned out to be a good choice for a camping trip sense he is has many camping like adventures on his Pilgrimage. Some have said that it is his best work, and it does contain some truly wonderful prose. I don’t know if it is his best but I do know this it has the best prologue I have ever read titled PRAISE OF THIS BOOK. The book also gives us a great example of Belloc’s sense of humor and wit – something he is neither know for or praised (just try to find a picture of him smiling) but he has a light sense of humor that floats upon a smile and a sharp wit that points out man’s foolishness without offence.

The last paragraph in his prologue sums up a great world view:
“Then let us love one another and laugh. Time passes and we shall soon laugh no longer-and meanwhile common living is a burden, and earnest men are at siege upon us all around. Let us suffer absurdities, for that is only to suffer one another.”

This book lifted my camping spirit. When I first started taking my children to this site there were only a few RVs and campers. This last trip my daughter and I were in the only tent. I always harbored a dislike for those land yacht camping people - you see I am a camping purist for goodness sake. But Belloc showed me what was going on here and it was not an avoidance of sleeping on the ground.

Through his pilgrimage he goes form wilderness to town to wilderness. He shows a respect for the wilderness and a love for the town. Unlike his contemporaries and most youth of any age he sings the praises of the middle-class. He states that when you come across a row of white houses you have come across civilization. After reading that passage I looked up at all those white RVs and knew that these people were out to build a small town, a civilization, that was not available in their own towns. They were friendly with their neighbors here, shared food, games and their beer. They wanted the town they grew up in without the fear and anxiety of their “gated communities”.

They were now beautiful to me in the action they took to salve their longings.

Friday, October 17, 2008

G. K. Chesterton Theatre Company

While wandering through the blogosphere searching for signs that perhaps voters were finally catching on to Obama, I stumbled across a blog called The Weight of Glory - a good Lewisian name.

It had a number of entries worth reading - but one in particular caught my eye: An October 10 piece on The G.K. Chesterton Theatre Company, which, according to the blog is a Santa Monica group "composed of playwrights, directors, actors and stage personnel. They are dedicated to putting on historical works as well as faith-based stories. Their emphasis is on heroic men and women, past and present."

Naturally, I went off in search for more information about the troupe. I did find one link - - but it was more about the production than information about the group. There was an email address for information -

Nothing else so far. I will e-mail them. I asked the blogger to let me know if he knew more, or is perhaps even a member of the group.

Does anyone out there have more information?

Meanwhile, back to nosing around for more hopeful signs about November 4.

A clerihew: Looking in the last volume

Vladimir Kosma Zworykin
helped to make possible television.
His contribution to that form of mass media
is why he's one of the the last entries in our encyclopedia

Monday, October 13, 2008

Back in action

Sorry for having taken a few months off. Hey, I work in the insurance industry, what more do I need to say. Also some family farm issues and some medical things at home. Have kept me away from the computer and the books, even computing about books. I plan on getting active here again.

I have a good idea for a some things I would like to do in a serial manner on this site, but I would like to open by saying.

WE BROUGHT DALE AHLQUIST TO MY HOME PARISH! I am on a committee that brings in speakers to discuss various faith topics, and after a few years of whittling away the resistance, it finally happened.

Terrific evening. Lots of thinking, lots of laughter ---enough to make you forget that you are talking philosophy and old scholasticism.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

On angels

Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. - G.K. Chesterton

On this day the Catholic Church honors Guardian Angels. While they make take themselves lightly, I suspect they take their duties quite seriously.

I've often wondered about my guardian angel. Have I frustrated the poor spirit times beyond counting (I suspect so). Have I made him proud once in a while (I hope so).

Have I met him without knowing? A chance encounter in an elevator? On the highway? In the next pew? Did I respond well?

I would hope that I have on occasion responded to the gentle proddings of my heavenly helper when trying to decide between right and wrong. There have been a few times when I suspect a word has been whispered in my ear or a spiritual elbow thrown to get me back on the right path - though a more effective approach might have been to stick an angelic leg in front of me and send me sprawling. Come to think of it ....

I also wondered if my guardian angel was more like Clarence (It's a Wonderful Life), or Sylvester (The Bishop's Wife). Both have their appeal, but I must admit a certain fondness for Clarence.

Speaking of Clarence, is there a chance that angels include not only the heavenly spirits God created in the beginning, but also the risen souls of humans who have joined the heavenly work force? If so, could they be relatives? Maybe a great uncle twice removed? We Scots are a clannish sort.

Or who knows, maybe Chesterton is himself now a guardian angel - a large one! - celebrating his sudden "lightness" while whispering soul-nourishing paradoxes in someone's ear.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

McCain campaign clerihew

John McCain
to spark his campaign
sought help from "above" -
Alaska's "Gov".

Friday, September 19, 2008

Zmirak on Chesterton

In case you missed it, Zmirak reviews, summarizes and promotes The Everlasting Man. Great stuff. Excerpt:

If you don't know the book, stop reading now. Click over and order your copy. Go ahead, I can wait . . .

When your package arrives, settle into a comfy chair with a decent supply of monastic beer, because you're in for a wild ride. In this easy book of medium length, Chesterton tries the impossible -- and nails it. A roistering tale of earthly life, and its fitful pilgrimage from the primordial ooze up through the conversion of Evelyn Waugh, The Everlasting Man is the ale-drinker's answer to Hegel.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Gilbert" and the Books are here!

As is the tradition here in lovely western New York, my latest issue of Gilbert arrived long after others across the nation have received theirs and gushed about it.

Let me gush anyway.

I love the cover. As a pro-lifer, I enjoyed the insightful editorial. The interview with Ann Petta was delightful. "By the Babe Unborn" has always been one of my favorite Chesterton poems.

So much more to read!

It would have been perfect if one of my clerihews had gotten published. I wonder what happened to the batches I sent in over the last year? Sigh.

Around the same time, I received the package containing the books and DVD I ordered from the Chesterton Society, and a thank you for a donation.

Beyond Capitalism and Socialism, Chesterton on War and Peace, and The Surprise should kill a few hours most productively.

As for the donation, the American Chesterton Society is reaching out for help - consider giving.

We need Chesterton's sanity today.

Besides, the society has so many jolly folks in it.

(The American Chesterton Society, 4117 Pebblebrook Circle, Minneapolis , MN 55437.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Battle of Vienna: September 11, 1683

Vienna, as we saw, was almost taken and only saved by the Christian army under the command of the King of Poland on a date that ought to be among the most famous in history - September 11, 1683. But the peril remained, Islam was still immensely powerful...

- Hilaire Belloc in The Great Heresies

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Young Chesterton Chronicles

There was a time when I would’ve received advanced notice and a sample copy: The Young Chesterton Chronicles. It came out in March, but I just read about it in Faith & Family this past weekend. F&F gives it high marks. I’m curious, however, to know why I didn’t see it mentioned in Gilbert Magazine or this blog. Maybe I missed it? Goodness knows, I'm not in a position to criticize anyone for being negligent.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Books Are Here! The Books Are Here!

The Ignatius sale spurred me to buy some books I coveted (in a non-sinful way, of course) but could not justify purchasing: Volumes 29-34 of the Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton (The Illustrated London News).

Ah, but at only $5 a volume, the temptation proved too much.

They arrived the other day. My wife gave me that "Not more books?" look.

I blame Ignatius.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Usually the Republicans don’t develop a sense of humor until late September of an election year and mostly drop it after the last vote on November 4th. However with ads like this it bides well for a new type of political ad. True, the big “O” asked for it and finally he is getting it served back to him.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Garrison Keillor is my favorite liberal and here is why.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Real Iron Chef

I once heard a metaphor for prayer that I think Gilbert would agree with. “There are three types of prayer, microwave, oven baking and crock pot. All prayers need to cook and is only answered when done. Microwave prayers are answered instantly, like “Lord, let there be a parking space in front of the store.” Then there those that need to bake, these take longer like “Lord, let this operation be a success and recovery be complete”. Then there are the crock pot prayers that have to cook a long time, like the one of Monica, Saint Augustine’s momma, did.

“No prayer will be served before its time.”

Three and a half years ago I lost my cushy well paying job through a corporate buy out – oh well.
I spent the first year looking for new work in a similar field to no avail so I took a factory job but kept looking. Every day I said this prayer, “Lord thank you for letting me have this job to help support my family and please Lord, get me OUT-OF-HERE.”

This prayer baked a good long time.

The other day I received notice that I have been hired as an Art Teacher for the Jr. High. Way back when this was my original choice for a career but I went in the business world. So now here I am, a beginning teacher at an age where all other teachers are retiring. What fun!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chesterton in a horror novel?

I have been working on a horror novel (working title: "Swedenborg").

I bring it up here because in one section I will be talking about Distributism! The "good guys" will be discussing the issue at a party with Professor Staples (could his first name be Clive?), the wise scholar and Christian apologist who's dying of cancer, and one of his admirers, a rotund but brilliant grad student (wonder if I should give him a moustache and a walking stick?) who befriends the protagonist. The party scene is coming up - after the hospital scene where the mentally ill and very sick can see the dead souls besieging the living.

Hmm. Did Chesterton ever talk about Swedenborg and his ideas?

How about ...

"An atheist stockbroker in Surbiton looks exactly like a Swedenborgian stockbroker in Wimbledon. You may walk round and round them and subject them to the most personal and offensive study without seeing anything Swedenborgian in the hat or anything particularly godless in the umbrella. It is exactly in their souls that they are divided." - Orthodoxy, Chapter 8

I also think he mentioned him in connection with Aquinas in some way - but can't remember exactly where. Any help with this one - or any other G. K. mentions of Swedenborg?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Collected Works voIs 29-34 (ILN articles)

available right now for $5 per book as part of an Ignatius Press sale!

h/t to Marcel @ Mary's Aggies, a lucid writer and engaging speaker

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Kewl Science

"Science can analyze a pork-chop, and say how much of it is phosphorus and how much is protein; but science cannot analyze any man's wish for a pork-chop, and say how much of it is hunger, how much custom, how much nervous fancy, how much a haunting love of the beautiful." GKC

This is very cool science and very useless. Maybe that’s why it is so cool.
Art historians are getting moist all over with this new technique, to see what lies underneath. Some have already said Van Gogh painted over old paintings because of the cost of canvas was so high. This is a perfect example of the art critic knowing nothing about the creation of art. Van Gogh was never short on money for canvas or paint, (Theo was there for him just as Pope Julius II was there for Michelangelo.) Simply looking at Vincent’s application of paint will tell you that he was not worried about his paint supply.
Artists paint over old canvases because they don’t like the work they are painting over or find it too weak to survive.

These critics/historians believe they can find the “secret” of the artists mind with this new method. They believe they will now be able to tell the Orthodox Jew what a pork chop tastes like. Oh well I guess it keeps them off the streets.

Oh yea, this is very cool too.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Catholic Convert Poets

Liam over at Sententiae et Clamores ( began a discussion July 23 about Catholic convert poets (talk about a specific category!). The poets he and others cited were generally highly regarded as poets.

The list that was posted:

Denise Levertov
Gerard Many Hopkins
Thomas Merton
Oscar Wilde
Paul Claudel.

I immediately noted a certain prominent Catholic convert poet missing from the list: G. K. Chesterton.

Now I know G. K. is not known primarily for his verse, but he certainly was a prolific versifier. And some of his poems are very fine indeed. If Merton made the list, why not Chesterton?

Here’s the sonnet Chesterton wrote to celebrate his entry into the Church in 1922:

The Convert

After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white,
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead.

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

Other convert Catholic poets include John Dryden, John Abbott, John Henry Newman, Alfred Noyes, Siegfried Sassoon, Edith Sitwell, Dunstan Thompson, David Jones, Rolf Jacobsen, and George Mackay Brown. I’m sure there are many more.

Of course, not all of these fine folks have gained the same repute as the ones on the original list, but some of them certainly rank high as poets.

I think G. K. fits in with that distinguished poetic crew quite nicely.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn dies at 89

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning Russian author whose books chronicled the horrors of dictator Josef Stalin's slave labor camps, has died of heart failure, his son said Monday. He was 89.

Stepan Solzhenitsyn told The Associated Press his father died late Sunday in Moscow, but declined further comment.

read more

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Not quite Chestertonian

Okay, my excuse is that Chesterton would have known Gilbert and Sullivan's work, and would likely have appreciated Tom Lehrer's cleverness.

The Saint Song:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Matrix Part 4

Plot line: Agent Smith finally penetrates Zion by convincing everyone he is the ‘The One'.

When I heard Obama’s speech in Berlin he talked a lot about the future he will give the world and then says the phrase, “…. people of the world, this is our moment. This is our time.” And that popped out at me as eerily familiar because I had heard it before. It took awhile to remember then it all seemed to make sense.

I’m not saying Obama plagiarized. He may not even be aware where it was first said. This phrase is very nearly what Agent Smith said to Morpheus just before Neo decides he is going to rescue Morpheus and then he and Trinity kick some butt in the lobby.
Oh, yea, “There is no spoon.”

"Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God." - Christendom in Dublin, 1933

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ross Douthat in The Atlantic re: Gopnik

In The Atlantic Ross Douthat mildly defends G.K. Chesterton against Gopnik's charges published by the New Yorker. Earlier posts about Gopnik's article are here and here.

But the whole point of the "in the context of his times" argument is precisely that by the standards of the '20s and '30s, it was morally impressive for a political writer to reject both fascism and communism, to praise Zionism, and to speak out forcefully against Nazi anti-Semitism - and not in its eliminationist phase, but in its very earliest stages.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

ITN: GKC in NYT, Most Joyful and Dreadful Thing

Tom Vanderbilt mentions GKC in this weekend's NYT "Sunday Book Review". The review is of Spiral Jetta by Erin Hogan and he writes:
More than three decades later, the draw — part spiritualist, part survivalist — hasn’t ebbed. Erin Hogan, the director of public affairs at the Art Institute of Chicago , was one of many who felt the pull — perhaps even the same impulses that motivated the works’ creators. Quoting Smithson quoting G. K. Chesterton, she writes of wanting “that most joyful and dreadful thing in the physical universe ... the fiercest note ... the highest light.” A prototypical urbanite, surrounded by friends and noise, Hogan says she was beset by an “early midlife crisis,” wondering if there wasn’t more to life than meetings and e-mail. “I wanted to learn to enjoy being alone,” she writes. And as a “recovering art historian,” she longed to experience works she had only known refracted through art criticism and seminar slide shows.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Calling for Clerihews @ The Guardian Book Blog

Billy Mills, blogging about books at the Guardian, has a post today about writing Clerihews (link).

Also present in his post is the above picture which I do not remember seeing before.

Need a Vanilla Patch?

'Americans," G.K. Chesterton once said, "are the people who describe their use of alcohol and tobacco as vices." He did not mean that as a compliment, but he was exactly right -- puritanism has always been a strong streak running through American life. Canada, however, has always made the United States look libertine in comparison and one can only cringe at the thought of what comments the situation here might have elicited from Chesterton.

A century later, Canadians still have cause to cringe over the official attitude to the use of alcohol and tobacco. Right-thinking young Winnipeggers, joined by others from Thunder Bay and Ottawa, on Thursday protested the sale of flavoured cigarettes in the belief that if nicotine is not enough to hook you, the flavour of vanilla might and must be stopped.

read more in "Puritism Marches On" in the Winnipeg Free Press

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Is Sci Fi Protestant, Fantasy Catholic?

I picked this up over at OF Blog of the Fallen - -

He was talking about Adam Roberts' The History of Science Fiction (a book I have not read) .

According to the blog, the book deals with the religious influences on SF and Fantasy in terms of European and American writings).

"Roberts postulates that the Protestant Reformation, with its emphasis on a more empirical approach to matters of faith (and ultimately of life) created a climate more favorable to the eventual development of science fiction. However, for Catholics, there was a more mystical, backwards-looking approach that favored a more static society, elements that later were featured in tales by Catholic authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton, among others.

"As I said, such a brief sketch risks distorting Roberts' argument, but I think it can suffice to serve as a ground of debate. Are the elements most commonly associated with SF to be found more often in places where the Protestant Reformation took place? Are there really deep connections between fantasy fiction and Catholicism? And what about the other groups, such as the Jews, Eastern Orthodox, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.?"

In another piece about the book, Roberts apparently says the boundaries break down in the 20th Century.

The underlying premise seems interesting, but not having read the book I can't say how far Roberts takes it. Is fantasy more Catholic friendly? Or are Catholics more open to fantasy?

And what might GK have to say?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

We The People - Except Catholics

“The American Constitution does resemble the Spanish Inquisition in this: that it is founded on a creed. America is the only nation in the world that is founded on creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism. and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived. Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally God whose claim is taken more lightly. The point is that there is a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things.” G.K. Chesterton: What I Saw in America

Imagine what Chesterton would have written if had witnessed this:

Major U.S. city officially condemns Catholic Church
'Instructs members to defy 'Holy Office of Inquisition'

They are doing so because those darn Catholics just won’t get behind the gay agenda and proclaim it to be the source and summit of what is good and oh so much fun.

If you are not already please check out Christopher West’s series on the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae (at Catholic Exchange click on Today), where he states:
“What about homosexuality? Our culture is impotent to resist the “gay agenda” because we have already accepted its basic premise with contraception — the reduction of sex to the exchange of pleasure. When openness to life is no longer an intrinsic part of the sexual equation, why does sexual behavior have to be with the opposite sex?”

Also if you only read one encyclical read Humanae Vitae.

Monday, July 21, 2008

more on the New Yorker article

The Times of Malta posted a piece against the slanderous New Yorker article mentioned earlier:
Gopnik's allegations have been dismissed by Dr William Oddie, whose book Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy will be published in November. While admitting that Chesterton's views on Jews were "eccentric" he holds that they were no different from those of Zionists, who maintained that Jews were exiles and would never be happy until they had their own country. (Chesterton died in 1936 before the state of Israel was created in 1948.) Dr Oddie states that "Gopnik is quoting grotesquely out of context" and that on several occasions in the late 19th century, Chesterton had passionately attacked anti-Semitism and that he particularly disliked the persecution of Jews.

Also, Nancy Brown posted Dale Ahlquist's response to the New Yorker at the ACS blog along with some more details on Chesterton's beliefs about the Jews.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Critic

“Sometimes art can be considered shocking. Now it has to be shocking to be considered art.” – G.K.C.

"This is cute.....this is cute......this is nice....WHAT THE HELL IS IT?!" – Mel Brooks

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Oldest & Noisiest Chestertonian

C&F has been graced with a visit from Aidan Mackey (or, of course, some Aidan Mackey impersonator). Recently he ran across what I believe to be one of the best posts on this blog: The Chestertonian Life in Practice by Nick Milne. Mr. Mackey left the comment reproduced below:
Have just come across your G.K.C. website, & find it most interesting. At present I am overloaded with Chestertonian tasks, but will explore further as soon as possible. I count, I think, as the oldest & noisiest Chestertonian.
All good wishes,
Aidan Mackey
“A nation with the soul of a church,” Chesterton called the Americans. In the midst of the current economic mischief, it is worth pondering that they still enjoy the world’s second-oldest living constitution--the only older regime being the Papacy. Semper Fi.
from Tell it to the Marines @ MercatorNet

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another Battle Won

Tim Leary said, “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out.” This little new idea of life lead to the self centered moral relativism we as a society are now wallowing in – neck deep.

Gilbert tells us this, “Nine out of ten of what we call new ideas are simply old mistakes. The Catholic Church has for one of her chief duties that of preventing people from making those old mistakes; from making them over and over again forever, as people always do if they are left to themselves.” Also,”… in the modern world, the Catholic Church is in fact the enemy of many influential fashions; most of which still claim to be new, though many of them are beginning to be a little stale. In other words, in so far as he meant that the Church often attacks what the world at any given moment supports,…”

Saint Ignatius of Loyola (on the attack) tells us, “Be aware, Understand, Take Action.” Leary goes inward and stays there - onto death. Ignatius goes inward and then explodes out- giving new life.

Here is an excellent example of the mental path one traverses when they go from Timmy to Iggy

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pray for them

I am leaving this Friday to take 28 teenagers to meet up with 3,000 other teenagers at Franciscan University at Steubenville for their annual 3 day youth conference. I ask for your prayers that these young people be open to the power of the Holy Spirit.

For many this weekend is a life changing event - let us pray that many become all.

If you are involved with a youth group I highly recommend that you get your group to this event next year. They have several around the country.

I also hope the book store has a bigger Chesterton collection than it did last year. If not there are still some Scott Hahn books I have not read.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Chaplin, Twinkies an Si-Fi

There already has been much said on the merits of the movie Wall-E. I for one enjoyed it immensely, as did my children. That said I would like to add two more things that helped make this movie move into my top 10 list. First is that Wall-E is very Chaplinesque. The heart of Chaplin’s Tramp character is summed up by his quote, “A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.” All those seem to sum up Wall-E. Chaplin never liked talkies because he considered cinema essentially a pantomimic art saying that,"Action is more generally understood than words. Like Chinese symbolism, it will mean different things according to its scenic connotation. Listen to a description of some unfamiliar object -- an African wart hog, for example; then look at a picture of the animal and see how surprised you are.” The first two thirds and the last 5 mins of this film could easily be viewed as a silent picture with only three words of dialog, “Wall-E”, “Eve”, and “Directive”.
It also seems that G.K. liked Chaplin as he is mentioned several times in the Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton: Illustrated London News, 1929-1931.

Watch Chaplin move on wheels here

With that in mind Pixar always includes some brilliant visual jokes in their films and many are very subtle. The one I liked in this movie was the inclusion of the urban legend that a Twinkie never dies and bugs won’t eat them. It was one of those jokes that I did not get until the next day. (Seriously after 700 years without humans and Wall-E pulls out a fresh Twinkie and I thought nothing of it). I love when a movie continues to unfold after the lights come back on.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

GKC ITN: Romance, Procession, and Travel

G.K. Chesterton in the (recent) news:

Marc T. Newman in Exile Street:
WALL-E is mystified and alarmed. He calls out to her, but she is unable to answer. Not knowing what is wrong, not able to “fix” her, WALL-E does the one thing that separates the true lover from the sap. G.K. Chesterton, in Orthodoxy, noted that he was unimpressed with the romantic poets of his day. Sure, they would laugh and sigh and weep for love. They struck all the right poses. But Chesterton knew it for a sham, because there was one thing that these young fops would not do for love: sacrifice.

in the Ulster Herald:

Frank [McCrory] told Ben that he had better get along to the main processional area where his literary idol, the novelist, poet and essayist, G K Chesterton, was about to speak. Ben did so, and was later to recall the distinguished English writer carrying a pole supporting the canopy over a monstrance, with all 'the gravity of an Irish publican'. Frank McCrory was more a man for H G Wells and Bernard Shaw, but you couldn't say too much about that as a postal official in a small Irish town in the 1930s.

Chesterton was the most distinguished Catholic intellectual in the English-speaking world at the time, although a little past the peak of his creative powers.

Nick Hewer in the U.K Telegraph:

As a child I was told that G.K. believed that it is always better to travel than to arrive and he used to practise this belief by waking up his household very early in the morning, urging everybody to raise themselves quickly.

“We’ll miss the train,” he would bellow. Chaos, which he craved, would ensue: maids scurried about, gathering clothes, the housekeeper and cook would be in a state looking for anything that would make up a packed lunch, cabin trunks came crashing down from the attic to be dusted off, and packing would start, hasty notes scribbled to cancel long standing arrangements, cabs and carts would be called, children screamed and got under everyone’s feet, his poor wife would rush here and there, not knowing what to do for the best, and they would all set off for Waterloo, G.K. urging the cabbie to drive the horses harder, and, finally, they would screech to a halt at the station forecourt, all in a lather.

“Marvellous,” G.K. would declare, and the whole ensemble would quietly trot back home.

[an urban legend? the children under foot makes it sounds like one.]

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

In Defense

Regarding the New Yorker article about GKC mentioned yesterday: Nancy picked it up at the ACS blog as well, and there are some good comments.

The Flying-Ins (formerly the ChesterTeens) recently posted twice in praise of Hilaire Belloc: The Path to San Francisco and In Further Defense of Belloc.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

New Yorker article

This showed up at the NR Corner:
The Jolly Journalist [Rick Brookhiser]: Adam Gopnik has an interesting piece on G.K. Chesterton in the current New Yorker. I know Adam a little bit, and I enjoy his writing. I also share many of his reservations about Chesterton. But there is always a sense in Adam's pieces, as he rounds the club house turn, of making himself the measure of all things. Yet the world would be such a smaller place if we were all like Adam Gopnik—or all like any one of us.

The New Yorker article "The Back of the World: The genius of G. K. Chesterton" is not available online. Can any reader of C&F comment on it?

the Commonweal mag's blog has some comments about the New Yorker article here. Some interesting points in this writeup, but the criticisms are the same old things one comes to expect.


Friday, June 20, 2008


The Chesterteens have a new name - "The Flying-Ins." Clever.

I enjoy reading what they have to say. Check them out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What, Me Worry?

One of my favorite Cold War jokes was: A Russian and an American diplomat were discussing the recent student protests in California and the Russian said “In my country ve have vay of treating student rebels, called firing squad.”

Obama has the same mentality toward the ‘culture wars’. His solution is to tell the other side to ‘just lie down, shut-up, its over, we win. Cause I said so’.

"I am absolutely convinced that culture wars are so nineties; their days are growing dark, it is time to turn the page," Obama said in July. "We want a new day here in America. We're tired about arguing about the same ole' stuff."

Who says Obama is naïve?

“In the end it will not matter to us whether we fought with flails or reeds. It will matter to us greatly on what side we fought.” G.K.C.

“When the real revolution happens,” says Captain Pierce, “it won’t be mentioned in the newspapers.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In Dale Ahlquist's essay, G.K. Chesterton and The Perils of Being a Complete Thinker, he states

There is a created order, and in keeping that order, we are happy, and we are free. In upsetting that order, we inflict a disorder which makes us miserable. Chesterton says, "When you break the big laws, you don't get freedom. You do not even get anarchy. You get small laws."

It is the the little laws that enslave us. It is the big laws that keep us free.

Which brings me to , Same-Sex 'Marriage' and the Persecution of Civil Society, by Jennifer Roback Morse.

"Legalizing same-sex 'marriage' is not a stand-alone policy, independant of all the other activities of the state. Once governments assert that same-sex unions are the equivalent of marriage, those governments must defend and enforce a whole host of other social chages. ...The fact that opposite and same-sex couples are different in significant ways means that there will always be scope for the state to expand its reach into more and more private areas of more and more people's lives."

Read her whole article here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lauren Best

The most recent "Poet of the Month" in the Owen Sound Sun Times is Lauren Best. In the interview she was asked "What's your favourite quote about poetry?" Her response was from G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy:
We are all under the same mental calamity; we have all forgotten our names. We have all forgotten what we really are. All that we call common sense and rationality and practicality and positivism only means that for certain dead levels of our life we forget that we have forgotten. All that we call spirit and art and ecstasy only means that for one awful instant we remember that we forget.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

and the livin is easy

They lay together,
she on her back
he on his side.
The open space
hardly big enough to hold a whisper.

They closed the gap.

The sheet,
on their ankles
and calves,
carelessly caressed them
as a cat would relive an itch.

Years of child bearing,
were not available for viewing.
They did not see the ravages
of time
on each other.

Here they did not age.

The moon
walked through their window
to be rearranged
by her lace curtains.
Its speckled beams
upon them
looking like the first touches
of gold leafing
on the statues of Hindu gods.

The summer wind tickled the pines
and their needles began to sing.
He touched a point of light on her skin
and a dog barked in their hearts.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sex in the City

Yea yea we all know the story but here is a movie review that quotes both G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis to make it's point.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A "Chesterton" novel

As the school year was winding down - and exams and papers from students piled up - I looked for some light reading to relax with in between bouts of grading and averaging.

At the local Catholic bookstore, I stumbled across The Tripods Attack (Book 1 of "The Young Chesterton Chronicles") by John McNichol.

The book is of the alternative history genre. Chesterton is an American orphan stranded in England who links up with H.G. Wells and Father Brown (!) to fight invaders from Mars.

We also learn that America is five separate countries, and that elements of the British MI 5 assassinated Lincoln. And that Edison flew to Mars! There's also mention of Lewis's Ransom.

Silly? Perhaps. And certainly not Dickens (or even Chesterton), but quite enjoyable.

Physics Can Be Phun

"The obvious truth is that the moment any matter has passed through the human mind it is finally and for ever spoilt for all purposes of science. It has become a thing incurably mysterious and infinite; this mortal has put on immortality. Even what we call our material desires are spiritual, because they are human. Science can analyse a pork-chop, and say how much of it is phosphorus and how much is protein; but science cannot analyse any man's wish for a pork-chop, and say how much of it is hunger, how much custom, how much nervous fancy, how much a haunting love of the beautiful. The man's desire for the pork-chop remains literally as mystical and ethereal as his desire for heaven. All attempts, therefore, at a science of any human things, at a science of history, a science of folk-lore, a science of sociology, are by their nature not merely hopeless, but crazy. You can no more be certain in economic history that a man's desire for money was merely a desire for money than you can be certain in hagiology that a saint's desire for God was merely a desire for God. And this kind of vagueness in the primary phenomena of the study is an absolutely final blow to anything in the nature of a science. Men can construct a science with very few instruments, or with very plain instruments; but no one on earth could construct a science with unreliable instruments. A man might work out the whole of mathematics with a handful of pebbles, but not with a handful of clay which was always falling apart into new fragments, and falling together into new combinations. A man might measure heaven and earth with a reed, but not with a growing reed. " GKC

I do not know for sure if the The Institute for Advanced Physics intended to follow Chesterton’s thoughts on the nature of science, that is basically, one can not separate the physical from the metaphysical and remain sane but they understand it.

Too many scientists believe we live in a Godless accidently made universe where everything is knowable and they always get twisted up in their shorts and many people along with them.

Now along comes a breath of fresh air and sanity - this is the mission statement of the IAP:

The Institute for Advanced Physics is established to advance modern science in a balanced fashion that does not leave behind the correct philosophical foundations, nor the proper moral and spiritual components.

They go on with this:

Anywhere physical science is done, one finds a ready defense of certain basic truths. Scientists hold that the world is rational and understandable by us. Science is one of the few arenas in modern culture where objectivity is respected. As Nietzsche, albeit from a hostile perspective, pointed out, those who study the world and hold to the reality of objective understanding witness to the God of Truth.

Still, scientists have inadvertently allowed the poison of subjectivism to enter through various port holes. Leading scientists hold, for example, using facts of quantum mechanics, that the world is not there when you're not looking at it. Of course, this entails a kind of split thinking, for while they're actually doing their science, they obviously think that they are learning something about a real world whose existence is not merely an aspect of themselves. The root causes of such a schizophrenic state must be addressed or science itself will be undermined by its unintended subjectivist fruit.
See the complete mission statement here
For you home schoolers you can get their text books here
In case you have forgotten: get your daily fix of wonder here

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Conference clerihews

Wow, based on what I'm reading, I'm almost glad that I can't go to the conference. (I can't because as a teacher/principal, I can never get away this time of the year, and they won't move the date of the conference, so I won't be able to go until I retire!).

Anyway, although I can't be there, I did submit 6 clerihews for the clerihew contest.

So maybe I'll be there in spirit.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

Depending on where you live your Bishop will fall into one of those categories.

Contact Archbishop John Clayton Nienstedt about the Chesterton Conference and see what category he is in.

Then go here to see a Bishop not afraid to go against it.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Poisoning the Annual Chesterton Society Conference

First, the letter from Dale Ahlquist at the American Chesterton Society that just came out:

St. Thomas Security has taken over our conference. This is what we have to deal with this year:

1. Alcohol can only be served and consumed in the lobby of OShaugnessy Education Center. Glasses cannot be taken into the auditorium or outside.

2. The wine and beer has to be served by St. Thomas food service staff, for which we will be charged a fee.

3. The alcohol has to be served with food. Not just cheese and crackers. The food has to be ordered through Food Service. We can’t bring our own. They may make an exception for the wheel of Stilton cheese.

4. We have to serve other drinks as well. The other drinks have to be ordered through Food Service.

5. We can serve wine and beer only during the following hours during the conference: 7-10 Thursday, 1-4, Friday, and 1-4, Saturday

6. We can have an outdoor “afterglow” in Foley Plaza on Thurs, Fri., and Sat nights from 10:30 to Midnight. Again we have to have a food service staff member act as bartender with the last drink served not later than 11:45 pm. The plaza will be fenced off with one entrance and exit and everyone there has to wear a conference badge. We have to pay for the fence, too.

7. There will be a security officer present at all our events.

8. We had to get a special license to serve wine with the banquet on Saturday night.

The costs of these extra requirements will do a good job of eating up the costs saved by having Catholic Studies co-sponsor the event. So we’re back to the conference being a money-loser.

I think we’re done with St. Thomas, and I think the conference is changed forever.

This is frustrating. First, you know the person that has imposed these restrictions is a self-righteous little jackass that is probably chanting “liability." Second, the self-righteous little ass probably has very little, if any, exposure to the Annual Chesterton Conference and doesn’t know how this will kill the Conference. Third, you couldn’t explain it to the self-righteous little ass because all these changes affect the “intangibles”–the spirit, the little things, the unnoticed things, the “air”–and if you can’t show such a person in black-and-white how changes will screw things up, he won’t believe you. Most frustrating.

Some Chestertonians are fighting back. An enjoyable email from one of them:

Dearly Beloved Mailing List 1, and Bcc’s:

Please find below a forwarded copy of a sad and distressing email I received tonight from Dale, the reigning Czar of the American Chesterton Society. For those of you who are unaware, the American Chesterton Society has held its annual Conference at the University of St Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota, since June of 1997 (previously it had been hosted for nearly two decades in Milwaukee). Until last year, our Conference was a joyful, personalist, self-directed meeting of minds and hearts regarding all things Chesterton (and, therefore, Catholic and godly), but it appears that those pathetic, treasonous, squash-every-life-like-a-bug, Left-wing, sour, ruthless, joyless, little nimrod-minded, Obama-voting imps of the Fifth Pillar (hereafter referred to only as they) cannot stand the sounds of resounding laughter, singing and conversant chatter that are the ordinary hallmarks of a good, traditional Catholic party; they cannot tolerate the warm, sweet scent of cigar smoke wafting though the trees and, by GOD, they must not let us alone to, as responsible adults are sometimes wont to do on festal days, be allowed to imbibe anything stronger than Coca-Cola without wage-sucking chaperones and security. After all, they must tell themselves in the wee hours of the cold dark nights in the Caves [faculty housing], we evil Chestertonians might get a little loose in the head and begin planning the sacking and overthrow of all that is good and Marxist in a modern-day liberal “Catholic” house of education; we might even gang up as an unruly mob in the first night, storm the Caves, and run all the sad little tenured heretics off the premises with our pen-knives and holy-water-guns and (gasp!!!) raise the standard of the Papal household in the Quad before the dawn breaks! Eek-gads!

Here’s the deal: I didn’t spend all freaking year babying thirty gallons of prize merlot along just so I can turn around and have it measured out by the thimbleful, like so much poison, by some snot-nosed little Liberal-hack-without-a-clue because ol’ Archbishop Flynn has refused to grow a spine and let one of the most historic hallowed halls in American Catholic academics be turned into a den of Green Peace-worshiping, law-mongering, joy-sqwashing Commies. Sounds harsh? Too bad. It’s the bare truth.

We need help. Please!!! Send this communique to everyone you know–especially the media. St Thomas will invite every anti-Catholic, anti-Life, anti-Reason moron and hack to our campus to spread Modernist filth and lying propaganda, but we orthodox, faithful Chestertonians (with 10 solid years of peaceful, non-confrontational, trouble-free, self-directed, responsible assemblies under our proverbial belt–and not one single DUI) can’t be trusted to meet without Big Brother monitoring our every move??? O, puleeze…..

We need you to protest.

We need donations to find a new Conference home.

We need dynamite in the Church, as Peter Maurin put it–and you all are the fuse!

Please email Fr. Dennis Dease ( and tell him that this is a sophmoric, vengeful move on the part of the University of St Thomas. And if you are giving money to these idiots, please stop!

That’s all. Up until now, this has been the best three day party on the planet. Now, like everything else, the Libs are trying to destroy it. We alone can stop them.

In His Grace, miki