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.