Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bethlehem - (Charles Williams)

A Poem

A star of travel shines above,
The small town sleeps below,
How shall I find the Mother of Love,
As through the world I go?
The emperors sit at their table bright,
To bring great things to pass,
But the Mother of Love is hid in the night,
With the ox and the ass.

How shall I find the Mother of Love
Amid all heads defiled
And her holy hands of succour that move,
About her holy Child?
Her eyes are lit and her footfall sings
As Eve's through Eden grass,
But she dwells to-night with all toil-worn things
And the ox and the ass.

What are the days that walk with her,
That shall be friends to me?
Days of incense and gold and myrrh,
Days of epiphany,
Days that follow a noble vow,
And the heavy days that pass
In labour of hammer and pen and plough,
And the ox and the ass.

If Love at last by cruel men
And the spear of Fate be slain,
Who shall bear witness to him then
Till he shall come again?
The Mother of Love, and the marching guilds,
And the priest that sings the Mass,
And the man that ploughs and the man that builds,
And the ox and the ass.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Carol poem by G.K.Chesterton

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)

The Christ-child stood on Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.
C.S. Lewis summed up Christmas in one sentence:
'The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We can all stand around the pole.

For us Christians a unity tree?
Next will be the family candelabra for the Jews.
But, thankfully, they have left Festivus alone. This will become the new national early winter celebration.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Copenhagen Synod Part 2

Well the synod has concluded and to continue their religion mapping they even created a secret society that may or may not have the power to put countries, which do not go along with them, on double secret probation but we shall see.
"The so-called Danish text, a secret draft agreement worked on by a group of individuals known as “the circle of commitment” – but understood to include the UK, US and Denmark – has only been shown to a handful of countries since it was finalized this week.”

"The circle of commitment" has a nice ring to it don't cha think? Dan Brown could not have done better.

Also one of the goals of this group was to help (give money to) poorer members to deal with the effects of global warming. No one has yet to explain what it means to deal with these effects and they remind us it is not for us to understand - for their ways are far above our ways.
Archbishop Al Gore tells us in 5 years the polar ice caps will melt so maybe the money will be used to help Santa move his world headquarters.

And at the Church of the Presumptuous Assumption of the Blinding Light. Sent up a hymn:
Oh blinding light,
Oh light that blinds,
I cannot see,
Look out for me!!

As Michael Jones tells us "You cannot be a skeptic on “Climate Change,” but only an ignorant “Denier,” You’re either quivering with salvation from seeing the light of wisdom, or you’re an ignorant knave in need of re-education."

At the synod the U.S. Secretary of the Environment singlehandedly spoke from on high by labeling CO2 emissions as health hazards . "This changes the conversation to health concerns and away from the endless squabbling over science between global warmers versus deniers."

That darn pesky science thingy. "Let it be done unto us according to your word."

But the synod could not, in good faith, outlaw exhaling.

However, since this pantheon takes their godhood quite seriously they did the next best thing by adding a population control measure to the overall agreement which would limit the number of people exhaling. After all gods have the power to decide who lives and who dies and they intend to exercise that power.
"Dealing with climate change is not simply an issue of CO2 emission reduction but a comprehensive challenge involving political, economic, social, cultural and ecological issues, and the population concern fits right into the picture," said Zhao, who is a member of the Chinese government delegation. Zhao said that China's population program has made a great historic contribution to the well-being of society. As a result of the family planning policy, China has seen 400 million fewer births, which has resulted in 18 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions a year, Zhao said. "

Maybe they do have a creed after all: Save the trees. Kill the babies.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Copenhagen Synod

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless, minority; keen to set brush fires in people's minds..." -Samuel Adams

"Comparative religion is very comparative indeed. That is, it is so much a matter of degree and distance and difference that it is only comparatively successful when it tries to compare. When we come to look at it closely we find it comparing things that are really quite incomparable. We are accustomed to see a table or catalogue of the world's great religions in parallel columns, until we fancy they are really parallel. We are accustomed to see the names of the great religious founders all in a row: Christ; Mahomet; Buddha; Confucius. But in truth this is only a trick; another of these optical illusions by which any objects may be put into a particular relation by shifting to a particular point of sight."
-GKC Everlasting Man

There is a small group of very tireless vocal people who want to radically to change our society (you know, them or they) to what they want to change it to has been hard to pin down. Oh yea, and they are pissed off because we can’t accept and embrace this change just cause we don’t want to bow down to an ambiguity.

Most of those in the vanguard of this group have taken a comparative religion class in college and saw that religion/s changed the society in which they flourished. So they began to remold their message in the shape of a religion. They learned that to be a religion all you needed were certain elements to parallel the other established religions. Most of these items were already floating around in their message they just needed to be codified into a cannon if not a creed.

President Barack Obama said in Turkey : "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation...... "

They are still having a problem with the name of this religion it’s either secular humanism or moral relativism but they have established the basic elements (which they will defend to the somewhat uncomfortable) which are as follows:

Creation story - random chance evolution

A God – The Individual (“… your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who will know what is good and what is bad”.) Although some individuals are more god than others

Priests – Scientists (we know the truth) and Politicians (“vote for me and I’ll set you free”.)

Sacraments – sterile sex (the source and summit of life) and abortion

Original sin – Racism

Mortal sin – Rudeness, Being alone and Disagreeing with priests

Venial sin – individual wealth (you can have lots of money but you have to feel bad about it)

It would be easy to expand this list both horizontally and vertically but you get the idea. However, until recently they were missing a key element, one that would tie it all together and bend people to their will: AN APOCOLYPS. Ta-Da Global warming. No. Wait. Climate Change. Thus they are complete.

And it absolutely does not matter if the science is wrong because it fits the theology: since man is god, god can destroy man and since man is god, he can save himself from himself. Pretty neat huh?

The world must take action on climate change at Copenhagen even if the science is not correct, Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister has suggested.

Also note this quote from Mormon Roots Joseph Smith by Byron Marchant:
"When my then teen daughters asked if they could be baptized into the Mormon church I asked if they knew it was a hoax and they said it didn't matter."

Hugo, Tony, Barrack, Hillary have also taken a page out of Joseph Smith's book as they are all talking through their hats.

How long will it be, I wonder, before the Leftist Church of Perpetual Angst declares Al Gore the Galileo of the 21st century.

Uncle Gilbert again:

"Take away the supernatural, and what remains is the unnatural."

"Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for we have made fiction to suit ourselves."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"But the great towns have grown intolerable solely because of such suffocating vulgarities and tyrannies. It is not humanity that disgusts us in the huge cities; it is inhumanity. It is not that there are human beings; but that they are not treated as such. We do not, I hope, dislike men and women; we only dislike their being made into a sort of jam: crushed together so that they are not merely powerless but shapeless."

"The wise men know what wicked things
Are written on the sky,
They trim sad Lamps, they touch sad strings,
Hearing the heavy purple wings,
Where the forgotten seraph kings
Still plot how God shall die."

"The rich do mainly believe in divorce. The poor do mainly believe in fidelity. But the modern rich are powerful and the modern poor are powerless. Therefore for years and decades past the rich have been preaching their own virtues. Now that they have begun to preach their vices too, I think it is time to kick."

And some are now starting to kick.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

An Advent Story

As my daughter and I were making paper cutout snow flakes she said to me, "Ya know Christmas is Jesus' birthday". She said this as if she was the only one to figure that out.
"Yes it is. Should we send him a card?"
"Oh yes that would be great!" (she loves making cards) at this she stopped with the snow flakes and got out her crayons and markers.
About half way through with this masterpiece she asked, "How old is Jesus"?
"He is going to be 2009 years old give or take a little."
She gave me that concentrated look to see if I was kidding or not.
"Fur real?" she asked.
"Fur real." I told her.
"Mom! Is papa right?"
"Yes, dear."

Later that night as I was tucking her in to bed she said, "You know he doesn't look that old."
"Who doesn't?" I asked
Trying not to laugh I said, "Yes. He has held pretty well."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

When You Sing You Pray Twice

"The modern evil, we have said, greatly turns on this: that people do not see that the exception proves the rule." GKC Eugenics and Other Evils

It is like this: the wall is the rule and the gate is the exception that proves it. The gate proves there is a wall the wall does not prove there is a gate. So the evil Chesterton is talking about is now we have a great expanse of gates and very little wall left.

There are many "social issues" today that bare this out including but not limited to the acceptance of the new Eugenics of assisted suicide.

But this is Advent so let us just look at one expanse of gates; Christmas Songs.
You can do any search for the top 10-20 or 25 Christmas songs and only one (some lists have 2) song talks about Jesus. The winner on most lists was The Little Drummer Boy followed by Silent Night. But then again how can they compete with Santa Baby and I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.

The weeks before Advent the Church had been telling the story of the Macabee's. I know the protestants don't "do" those books because Luther cut them due to the fact that they contradicted his personal theology and Henry-duh-8 kept them cut cause the story was a dangerous one for him. The story however is important for us today as it has ever been. It is a story where the people of God finally say "Enough! The government is not our religion and the king is not our God."

Of course I'm not suggesting we do what they did and go into prairie dog town and shoot some holes. But I am saying that we need to speak up and stop the madness.

Changing this simple song list is not as hard as trying to stay safe behind a barrier of gates. And songs have a powerful effect on how we view the world. Call your local radio station and request a true Christmas song. Do it once a day, have your friends do it and then their friends so without a single letter to the editor we can rebuild the wall.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The League of Bearded Catholics

Being a bearded fellow, I naturally have a certain affection for anyone who promotes facial hair.

But when they drag in Tolkien, Lewis, Belloc, and Chesterton, and adopt St. Nicholas as their patron saint, well, they have my attention.

is a new blog that celebrates the four cited writers - and beards.

As they explain about themselves:

The League is meant to be held together by nothing much more than a sincere and spontaneous appreciation for Catholic culture, for authentic Catholic manhood and for the company of Catholic men and the women who tolerate them. If there is a chewy center to the Tootsie Roll Pop that is The League, it is an appreciation and gratitude especially for the lives and literary work of Tolkien, Lewis, Belloc and Chesterton - TLBC - (not necessarily in that order).

So, TLBC stands equally for The League of Bearded Catholics, and for Tolkien, Lewis, Belloc and Chesterton. You may have noticed that they are all dead British guys, and all important Christian writers of the twentieth century. You may also have noticed that not all of these gentlemen wore beards.

The last point is an important one. External beards are not required. Belloc was the only one of the four who had a beard (later in life). Chesterton had a moustache. Tolkien and Lewis were clean shaven. (The official position of the The League at this time is that, in spite of their smooth cheeks, both men sported a beard on the inside, which is the important and crucial thing. After all, some men - through no fault of their own - can't grow a beard, and we would not want to see them excluded from the fellowship by any mere accident of nature.)

They go on to explain, with tongue firmly in cheek (a beard-covered cheek, or course): The purpose of TLBC, then, is the same purpose for which God made wine... "To gladden the heart of man." We are glad to be alive, and our gratitude is expressed in what used to be called "merriment". The League is just a good-natured romp, even if our other goal (saving Western civilization) might sound to outsiders fairly grave and ambitious. If Western Civilization can be saved by beer, we stand ready to give it our best effort.


They even have bylaws, including:

1) The League is not a ministry and is not affiliated with or endorsed by any ecclesiastical body, however, we are guided in all things by the creeds, teachings and laws of the Catholic Church.

2) Membership in The League is open to all adults who are not witches or devil-worshipers or some such, so long as they can abide by the dictates of Rule #1.

3) Membership in The League places no obligation on any one. Meetings are strictly for the purpose of enjoyment, both the enjoyment of the literary tradition of the Four Patrons (Tolkien, Lewis, Belloc and Chesterton) , and that of meeting together with others of like mind. Preferably over drinks and good food. Or drinks, anyway.

5) *Though membership is open to all, individuals wishing to gain admittance to meetings must be bearded. For those without a beard, one will be provided, but it is the duty of the Sergeant at Arms to make certain that each who begs entry must wear a beard. Friendly non-members are welcome at meetings and some may even attain the exalted rank of Designated Driver.

6) Members attending meetings must also bring a passage (by one of the Four Patrons, or in the same tradition) which is to be read aloud - or even cooler, recited from memory. In addition, members are encouraged to make the fullest use of other media - movies, television programs, the internet, music, etc... . By the end of each meeting, a rough plan of the next meeting should be agreed on, with one or another member.

11) The League highly encourages and wishes to promote the creative projects of members, whether they be writing, art, video, music, cooking, brewing or other ventures. The colorfully written exploits of local chapter meetings and activities are especially coveted by the Homely Office, and will be published on the TLBC blog, probably.

Chesterton, of course, famously stated, "You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." I suspect you could form a bearded league in a moment of passion, though whether such a thing would survive long once the passion abated is questionable.

Anyway, don your beards and check out The League of Bearded Catholics.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Proclamation

[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Monday, November 23, 2009

St. Francis would have liked GKC

It is not fitting, when one is in God's service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look. - St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Youthful Foolishness: Socialism, Obama, and McGovern

I am reading - and enjoying - William Oddie's Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy. I can only read it in chunks - too many other things going on, but it is well worth it.

As a youth, Chesterton briefly came "to see himself as a full-blown, committed socialist," Oddie says. Obviously, GKC later rejected socialism.

My point here is not to argue about Chesterton's flirtation with socialism, or even to reject socialism as did he. But as I read, I thought of all the young people drinking the Obama Kool-Aid last year. They, like Chesterton, were caught up in a movement, a bright vision of a way to create a better world.

Hopefully, they will realize as they grow wiser that President Obama is simply a politician, albeit a charming one, who tapped into the poetry of youthful enthusiasm, but who is already getting caught up in the prose of actually trying to govern. They may even come to see that some of the things he actually advocates -as opposed to the bright, "hopeful,"media-hyped image that too many embraced - are not morally acceptable or even prudent.

I was caught up in such a movement in my youth. Back in 1972, faced with the Vietnam War and the questionable actions of the Nixon administration, I plunged whole hog into the Presidential campaign of Senator George McGovern. As a Junior and then a Senior in high school I worked long hours at the McGovern headquarters, manning phones, typing, and heading out to campaign in neighborhoods. I can remember studying for my Trigonometry final while standing outside a polling place.

My rose-colored glasses began to fall away when he ditched Eagleton as his VP, and as our "hope" for victory rapidly disappeared in the long weeks of September and October. Still, I stuck with the campaign to the end. And the day after the election, having kept up with developments at a certain hotel in Washington and the digging of some reporters at the Washington Post, I told my father with prescient youthful bravado that Nixon would not last out the term.

If I were the person I am now, with the knowledge I have now, I would not have been caught up in McGovern's youth-fueled movement. But I was 16/17. Young and naive. Like so many of the Obama supporters now. And like Chesterton when it came to socialism.

Fortunately, like Chesterton, I found a true answer to the world's ills in faith and the use of common sense.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quoting Chesterton

Every now and then I search online and at news sites for mention of G.K. Chesterton.

Occasionally I’ll find an interesting essay focusing on him, or a discussion that cites his ideas and arguments at length.

But most often, I find the mention of him is in passing in the form or a quotation or a paraphrase of a quotation. That is all fine, and it certainly helps to keep him in the public eye. And he certainly said many clever, witty, interesting things, and given his prolixity, there's ample material with which to work.

But I also wonder if it may also have an unfortunate effect: Could this make it easier to relegate him to the dustbin of history – or to dusty editions of “familiar quotations”?

It almost seems that his eminently quotable nature makes it easy to focus more on what he said and less on what he had to say. For too often the quotations are simply treated as quips that are now divorced from the larger contexts of cogent discussions of some significant topics.

I was suddenly reminded of Dorothy Day who, when people used to talk about her being declared a saint, often responded that she did not want to be dismissed so easily.

I hope that by being so quotable Chesterton will not be easily dismissed. He has too much to say to our age to be relegated to collections of witticisms.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Would he, could he?

The recent announcement of a special provision that would allow Anglicans/Episcopalians to reunite with Rome en mass while retaining some elements of their denomination and its rites got me to thinking about C.S. Lewis.

There has been endless speculation already about whether he considered becoming Catholic - and if so, why he held back - or that even if he didn't give it serious thought in his time were he alive in recent years and given the direction of the Anglican Church would have have been more open to doing so. And he certainly espoused some ides - such as Purgatory - that were more Catholic than Anglican.

We can only speculate, of course. And the provision might not have made a difference to him one way or another.

I do wonder how many Anglican/Episcopalians will indeed decide to take advantage of the provision? I wonder how many readers of Lewis who were drawn back to a more active Christianity and Anglicanism will take the next step.

I also wonder what Chesterton would have made of it. He need no such provisions to conclude that the Catholic Church was where he belonged.

"I think I have known intimately by now all the best kinds of Anglicanism, and I find them only a pale imitation," he declared.

And now, at least one kind of Anglicanism can now be truly Catholic.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Christmas Discovery

While visiting the local Catholic bookshop - with a gift certificate burning in my pocket - I discovered in the Christmas display (yes, even there the season is coming early) a little gem.

Advent and Christmas Wisdom from G. K. Chesterton, by the folks at the Center for the Study of C.S. Lewis and Friends.

It was published by Liguori in 2007, so others may have already taken note of it. But it was new to me.

Selections from Chesterton's writings along with Scripture and prayers. Interesting.

I have only glanced at it, but when I do get time to read it I will report back.

For now, I am occupied with William Oddie's Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Rochester Chesterton Conference (3)

Dale Ahlquist seemed to be on a mission: To link everything to Chesterton.

During the September 26 Rochester Chesterton Conference, Dale, with a smile, somehow managed to get a mention of Chesterton or Chestertonian ideas into every discussion. He even said that Pope Benedict was a good writer - but he would be even better if he quoted Chesterton more often.

Okay, he's doing his job. What do you expect from a guy whose wife suggests he found reading Chesterton the highlight of their honeymoon!

Ahlquist added a lighter touch to the conference that, while it had some amusing moments (who picked an Irishman to introduce that old Irish Catholic basher Joseph Pearce?!), was at times a bit heavy going. Good, enjoyable, enlightening - but not quite what one might have expected from a conference whose title was "Re-Awakening Wonder."

The conference featured not only Ahlquist ("The Universe and Other Little Things") and Pearce ("Standing on Our Heads: Wonder as the Key to Happiness"), but also Tom Howard ("On Childhood, Art, and Eternity") and David Higbee ("Wonder in Holy Writ"). The latter two were the first two speakers, neither had the style that Pearce and Ahlquist had, and both read speeches that, to be honest, sounded like they would have been better as magazine articles, or college lectures.

Enough negativism. I did enjoy the conference. I alwuays enjoy Dale and Pearce, and I wanted to hear Howard, whose books I have read with pleasure. I left with a number of things to mull over.

Howard talked about the "capacity to see wonder in ordinary things." He pointed out that childhood, art and eternity are the three realms in which to experience glory. In childhood, we see the world with a sense of wonder. We lose that sense of wonder as we grow older, but art can help us to glimpse it again. He noted that "childhood and art seem to me to be the harbingers of eternity."

He then talked at length about C.S. Lewis, and in particular the Chronicles of Narnia,. Those seven books help us to rediscover the glory inherent in the ordinary. He made me want to reread Lewis - especially the Chronicles.

Higbee said that wonder is at the "heart of all true spirituality." He pointed out the sense of wonder and awe in multiple scriptural citations.

Pearce noted that while mature Christians are not childish, they should still be child-like.

He suggested that when God turned His back on Adam and Eve, he may have been laughing - as a parent might laugh after punishing a child. For God knew what was to come, and the glory that awaits us.

"Ultimately the key to happiness is learning to love as God loves, and learn to laugh as God laughs."

Ahlquist quoted Chesterton repeatedly - so much so that I wasn't sure at times what was Ahlquist and what was Chesterton. Which was absolutely fine with me.

Overall, a good day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Worthy Cause

"Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed - Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn't drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, 'It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.'"
-Jack Handy

"Drinking is in reality an occupation which employs a considerable portion of the time of many people; and to conduct it in the most rational and agreeable manner is one of the great arts of living."
James Boswell

"No animal ever invented anything as bad as drunkenness -
or so good as drink."
--G. K. Chesterton

That said here is a protest Uncle Gilbert would support

Rochester Chesterton Conference (2)

A police line-up? No, just the Rochester Chesterton Conference speakers and host.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rochester Chesterton Conference (1)

Rochester Chesterton Conference September 26 - Thomas Howard and Dale Ahlquist were among the featured speakers. More to come!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

a new twist on art history

Chesterton spilt a lot of ink discussing art and artists and in that tradition we have moved a lot of pixels on this blog talking about art and artists. Some times we have spoken in praise of art and sometimes we have scratched our heads on why a particular thing was elevated to the category of art. Here is one of the best short summaries of Leonardo Da Vinci I have read in long time. All of which I totally agree with.

If more of art history was written like this maybe it would spark interest in the subject from those who have this view: “Art History is generally the sort of thing that causes me to spontaneously break out in hives and start dry heaving into an airsickness bag with the maximum amount of force that can possibly be mustered by my diaphragm.”

Also here is a most excellent reenactment of a conversation with Pope J. and Michelangelo:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

If you print it they will read

There are only two reasons a company puts a product on the cover of a catalog. The first is that it is selling very well and they want it to sell better or they believe the product is better than the numbers it is posting and want you to buy it too. I belive it is the former for Dover Publications in regards to Chesterton’s books. I have watched his books go from page 30 to this month’s catalog where his books are on the cover. Also the number of selections of Uncle Gilbert’s work has grown as well. This month they are offering The Coloured Lands: Fairy Stories, Comic Verse and Fantastic Pictures
With this description: Chestertonians and other readers will rejoice in the republication of this long-unavailable book of delights. Featuring the author's early work as well as previously unpublished material, this volume abounds in fairy stories, comic verse, and satirical ballads. Best of all, it features a treasury of Chesterton's distinctive color and black-and-white illustrations.
Reprint of the Sheed & Ward, New York, 1938 edition.
Buy it here
Can't wait till my copy gets here

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Most of all, at age 40, we should be reading...

By [age] 40 I had outgrown ghost-written sports books and sensationalist war novels. I'd seen war for real and it wasn't very sensational at all. It's 90% utter boredom, 10% sheer terror. Actually soccer is in some ways very similar. At 40 we should, of course, have read almost everything or at least pretend to have done so. While I've read some of the ancients, many of the 19th-century classics and a whole chunk of 20th-century literature, I know I am a better person, a better writer, a better me for having read and reread, among others, Evelyn Waugh, George Orwell and Ronald Knox. Most of all, at 40, assuming one hasn't before, we should be reading G. K. Chesterton.
- Michael Coren, read it all at We are not alone

Monday, August 17, 2009

Guess who made the list?

Image, a journal of art and literature with a religious slant which also has an online site, has published a list of "100 Writers of Faith."

There are some surprises on the list, but a few familiar names as well.

They explain:

"In selecting books for this list, we decided to list an author only once, so that we would end up with 100 different writers. Moreover, only creative writing was considered: fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction. The works selected had to manifest a genuine engagement with the Judeo-Christian heritage of faith, rather than merely use religion as background or subject matter.

G.K. Chesterton is there for The Man Who Was Thursday.

C.S. Lewis made the list with Till We Have Faces (a book I've always liked, but which seems to be overlooked by so many readers).

Dorothy Sayers is on it with The Mind of the Maker (which I must admit I've never read).

Some other writer I like who made the list are J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings - no surprise!); Charles Williams (All Hallows' Eve); Robert Bolt (A Man for All Seasons); Graham Greene (The Power and the Glory); and Ray Bradbury (!) (Something Wicked This Way Comes).

There are some works that some folks might argue about - Nikos Kazantzakis' The Last Temptation of Christ, for example. And there might be some writers who have been left off.

Go see if your favorite writer is there - or not.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

On the current Heath Care issue Mark Steyn brilliantly writes, “….In the normal course of events, the process takes a while. But Obama believes in “the fierce urgency of now”, and fierce it is. That’s where all the poor befuddled sober centrists who can’t understand why the Democrats keep passing incoherent 1,200-page bills every week are missing the point. If “health care” were about health care, the devil would be in the details. But it’s not about health or costs or coverage; it’s about getting over the river and burning the bridge. It doesn’t matter what form of governmentalized health care gets passed as long as it passes. Once it’s in place, it will be “reformed”, endlessly, but it will never be undone. Same with a lot of the other stuff: Keep throwing the spaghetti at the wall. The Republicans may pick off the odd strand but, if you keep it coming fast enough, by the end of Obama’s first year the wall will be a great writhing mass of pasta entwined like copulating anacondas in some jungle simulacrum of Hef’s grotto. And that’s a good image of how government will slither into every corner of your life: You can try and pull one of those spaghetti strings out but it’ll be all tied up with a hundred others and you’ll never untangle them.”

Read the whole thing here

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

If a thing is worth doing, YOU should do it.

Somebody slap this boy for perverted use of a Chesterton quotation: John Patrick Grace: Health care reform, even if done badly, may be better than nothing. J.P.G. applies G.K.C.'s "if a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing badly" as a defense to push a muddled health care reform bill through to approval. Chesterton's memorable statement was never an excuse for unthinking mediocrity or ignorant pursuit of Progress. It was a statement against government involvement in the details of our lives; that the basics of life should not be relegated to professionals. Do or delegate it yourself. What our Gilbert meant was exactly what John Patrick Grace does not want.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"On National Debts" by Hilaire Belloc

An appropriate cautionary tale for adults by Hilaire Belloc. It was published in On Nothing in 1908.

One day Peter and Paul--I knew them both, the dear fellows: Peter perhaps a trifle wild, Paul a little priggish, but that is no matter--one day, I say, Peter and Paul (who lived together in rooms off Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, a very delightful spot) were talking over their mutual affairs.

"My dear Paul," said Peter, "I wish I could persuade you to this expenditure. It will be to our mutual advantage. Come now, you have ten thousand a year of your own and I with great difficulty earn a hundred; it is surprising that you should make the fuss you do. Besides which you well know that this feeding off packing-cases is irksome; we really need a table and it will but cost ten pounds."

To all this Paul listened doubtfully, pursing up his lips, joining the tips of his fingers, crossing his legs and playing the solemn fool generally.

"Peter," said he, "I mislike this scheme of yours. It is a heavy outlay for a single moment. It would disturb our credit, and yours especially, for your share would come to five pounds and you would have to put off paying the Press-Cutting agency to which you foolishly subscribe. No; there is an infinitely better way than this crude idea of paying cash down in common. I will lend the whole sum of ten pounds to our common stock and we will each pay one pound a year as interest to myself for the loan. I for my part will not shirk my duty in the matter of this interest and I sincerely trust you will not shirk yours."

Peter was so delighted with this arrangement that his gratitude knew no bounds. He would frequently compliment himself in private on the advantage of living with Paul, and when he went out to see his friends it was with the jovial air of the Man with the Bottomless Purse, for he did not feel the pound a year he had to pay, and Paul always seemed willing to undertake similar expenses on similar terms. He purchased a bronze over-mantel, he fitted the rooms with electric light, he bought (for the common use) a large prize dog for £56, and he was for ever bringing in made dishes, bottles of wine and what not, all paid for by this lending of his. The interest increased to £20 and then to £30 a year, but Paul was so rigorously honest, prompt and exact in paying himself the interest that Peter could not bear to be behindhand or to seem less punctual and upright than his friend. But so high a proportion of his small income going in interest left poor Peter but a meagre margin for himself and he had to dine at Lockhart's and get his clothes ready made, which (to a refined and sensitive soul such as his) was a grievous trial.

Some little time after a Fishmonger who had attained to Cabinet rank was married to the daughter of a Levantine and London was in consequence illuminated. Paul said to Peter in his jovial way, "It is imperative that we should show no meanness upon this occasion. We are known for the most flourishing and well-to-do pair of bachelors in the neighbourhood, and I have not hesitated (for I know I had your consent beforehand) to go to Messrs. Brock and order an immense quantity of fireworks for the balcony on this auspicious occasion. Not a word. The loan is mine and very freely do I make it to our Mutual Position."

So that night there was an illumination at their flat, and the centre-piece was a vast combination of roses, thistles, shamrocks, leeks, kangaroos, beavers, schamboks, and other national emblems, and beneath it the motto, "United we stand, divided we fall: Peter and Paul," in flaming letters two feet high.

Peter was after this permanently reduced to living upon rice and to mending his own clothes; but he could easily see how fair the arrangement was, and he was not the man to grumble at a free contract. Moreover, he was expecting a rise in salary from the editor of the Hoot, in which paper he wrote "Woman's World", and signed it "Emily".

At the close of the year Peter had some difficulty in meeting the interest, though Paul had, with true business probity, paid his on the very day it fell due. Peter therefore approached Paul with some little diffidence and hesitation, saying:

"Paul: I trust you will excuse me, but I beg you will be so very good as to see your way, if possible, to granting me an extension of time in the matter of paying my interest."

Paul, who was above everything regular and methodical, replied:

"Hum, chrm, chrum, chrm. Well, my dear Peter, it would not be generous to press you, but I trust you will remember that this money has not been spent upon my private enjoyment. It has gone for the glory of our Mutual Position; pray do not forget that, Peter; and remember also that if you have to pay interest, so have I, so have I. We are all in the same boat, Peter, sink or swim; sink or swim...." Then his face brightened, he patted Peter genially on the shoulder and added: "Do not think me harsh, Peter. It is necessary that I should keep to a strict, business-like way of doing things, for I have a large property to manage; but you may be sure that my friendship for you is of more value to me than a few paltry sovereigns. I will lend you the sum you owe to the interest on the Common Debt, and though in strict right you alone should pay the interest on this new loan I will call half of it my own and you shall pay but £1 a year on it for ever."

Peter's eyes swam with tears at Paul's generosity, and he thanked his stars that his lot had been cast with such a man. But when Paul came again with a grave face and said to him, "Peter, my boy, we must insure at once against burglars: the underwriters demand a hundred pounds," his heart broke, and he could not endure the thought of further payments. Paul, however, with the quiet good sense that characterised him, pointed out the necessity of the payment and, eyeing Peter with compassion for a moment, told him that he had long been feeling that he (Peter) had been unfairly taxed. "It is a principle" (said Paul) "that taxation should fall upon men in proportion to their ability to pay it. I am determined that, whatever happens, you shall in future pay but a third of the interest that may accrue upon further loans." It was in vain that Peter pointed out that, in his case, even a thirtieth would mean starvation; Paul was firm and carried his point.

The wretched Peter was now but skin and bone, and his earning power, small as it had ever been, was considerably lessened. Paul began to fear very seriously for his invested funds: he therefore kept up Peter's spirits as best he could with such advice as the following:--

"Dear Peter, do not repine; your lot is indeed hard, but it has its silver lining. You are the member of a partnership famous among all other bachelor-residences for its display of fireworks and its fine furniture. So valuable is the room in which you live that the insurance alone is the wonder and envy of our neighbours. Consider also how firm and stable these loans make our comradeship. They give me a stake in the rooms and furnish a ready market for the spare capital of our little community. The interest WE pay upon the fund is an evidence of our social rank, and all London stares with astonishment at the flat of Peter and Paul, which can without an effort buy such gorgeous furniture at a moment's notice."

But, alas! these well-meant words were of no avail. On a beautiful spring day, when all the world seemed to be holding him to the joys of living, Peter passed quietly away in his little truckle bed, unattended even by a doctor, whose fees would have necessitated a loan the interest of which he could never have paid.

Paul, on the death of Peter, gave way at first to bitter recrimination. "Is this the way," he said, "that you repay years of unstinted generosity? Nay, is this the way you meet your sacred obligations? You promised upon a thousand occasions to pay your share of the interest for ever, and now like a defaulter you abandon your post and destroy half the revenue of our firm by one intempestive and thoughtless act! Had you but possessed a little property which, properly secured, would continue to meet the claims you had incurred, I had not blamed you. But a man who earns all that he possesses has no right to pledge himself to perpetual payment unless he is prepared to live for ever!"

Nobler thoughts, however, succeeded this outburst, and Paul threw himself upon the bed of his Departed Friend and moaned. "Who now will pay me an income in return for my investments? All my fortune is sunk in this flat, though I myself pay the interest never so regularly, it will not increase my fortune by one farthing! I shall as I live consume a fund which will never be replenished, and within a short time I shall be compelled to work for my living!"

Maddened by this last reflection, he dashed into the street, hurried northward through-the-now-rapidly-gathering-darkness, and drowned himself in the Regent's Canal, just where it runs by the Zoological Gardens, under the bridge that leads to the cages of the larger pachyderms.

Thus miserably perished Peter and Paul, the one in the thirtieth, the other in the forty-seventh year of his age, both victims to their ignorance of Mrs. Fawcett's Political Economy for the Young, the Nicomachean Ethics, Bastiat's Economic Harmonies, The Fourth Council of Lateran on Unfruitful Loans and Usury, The Speeches of Sir Michael Hicks-Beach and Mr. Brodrick (now Lord Midleton), The Sermons of St. Thomas Aquinas, under the head "Usuria," Mr. W. S. Lilly's First Principles in Politics, and other works too numerous to mention.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Rochester Chesterton Conference

There are many among us who can't make the Chesterton Conference due to schedule or distance. For those who can't, there will be a shorter Chesterton Conference in Rochester, NY, in September.

"Reawakening Wonder" will take place Saturday, September 26, from 9 am..m to 3:30 p.m. in the Coleman Chapel in Murphy Hall at St. John Fisher College.

The speakers will include Tom Howard, David Higbee, Joseph Pearce, and Dale Ahlquist (he's everywhere, isn't he?).

It's the 6th such conference sponsored by the Rochester Chesterton Society, and they have been "wonder"ful events.

So if you couldn't make it to Seattle, come join us.

For more information, e-mail

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Current Occupant

Tom O'Toole on his blog Fighting Irish Thomas says,”… "When a nation gives birth to a foolish law," said Chesterton, "they do not start or stare at the monster they have brought forth. They have grown used to their own unreason ... these nations are really in danger of losing their heads en masse." And, when Chesterton notes "these vast visions of imbecility" once they become policy, are almost always enforced by force.”

The current occupant of the white house is certainly a fascinating character. His greatest skill is that to who ever he is talking to he makes them feel he is their side. In front of Planned Parenthood he told them his first bit of business would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, a hideous monster of a bill. In front of Notre Dame he said that the issue of abortion is an important issue one where we need cool and deliberate discussion. He made that crowd think he was on their side.

Ok, he has yet to flat out say he is against abortion but he his also no longer saying he is four square in favor of it. Maybe he really thinks a compromise can be achieved. Of course it is also true that it is impossible to compromise on an issue of life or death, unless you live in the country of Florin where people can be “mostly dead.”

He realized that the FOCA would be political suicide so he is working an end-around. He knows that Roe V. Wade will eventually come before the Supreme Court again. Also all his appointments are radically pro abort and they are preparing for that case. Here are just two examples:
Dawn Johnsen will head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel here are 3 of her quotes:
1. “The argument that women who become pregnant have in some sense consented to the pregnancy belies reality…and others who are the inevitable losers in the contraceptive lottery no more ‘consent’ to pregnancy than pedestrians ‘consent’ to being struck by drunk drivers.’”
(Supreme Court amicus brief she authored in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services)

2. “The woman is constantly aware for nine months that her body is not wholly her own: the state has conscripted her body for its own ends. Thus, abortion restrictions ‘reduce pregnant women to no more than fetal containers.’”
(Supreme Court amicus brief she authored in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services)

And the clincher -
3. “Statutes that curtail her abortion choice are disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude, prohibited by the Thirteenth Amendment, in that forced pregnancy requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state’s asserted interest.”

Since the “Right to Privacy”, the bases for the Roe decision, is not in the constitution they will use the 13th amendment. Yes, They have grown used to their own unreason.

Now let’s hear from his Science adviser, John P. Holdren

“The fetus, given the opportunity to develop properly before birth, and given the essential early socializing experiences and sufficient nourishing food during the crucial early years after birth, will ultimately develop into a human being,”

“To a biologist the question of when life begins for a human child is almost meaningless, since life is continuous and has been since it first began on Earth several billion years ago,”… To most biologists, an embryo (unborn child during the first two or three months of development) or a fetus is no more a complete human being than a blueprint is a building. The fetus, given the opportunity to develop properly before birth, and given the essential early socializing experiences and sufficient nourishing food during the crucial early years after birth, will ultimately develop into a human being.

He advocated the formation of a “planetary regime” that would use a “global police force” to enforce totalitarian measures of population control, including forced abortions, mass sterilization programs conducted via the food and water supply, as well as mandatory bodily implants that would prevent couples from having children.

More on this cool science guy here.

And now the Current Occupant’s “Heath” Care plan will include federal dollars for abortion, this on top of the 250 million dollars the feds give Planned Parenthood.

Put it all together and you get the FOCA with out all that political brouhaha. Like I said the current occupant is very fascinating.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Universal truth

I have been on a history binge lately and today I came across an interesting quote. It was written two thousand and two hundred years ago by the Roman playwright Plautus and immediately upon finishing it I thought of how it fits our Uncle Gilbert.

“The poet seeks what is nowhere in all the world.
And yet – somewhere- he finds it.”

Friday, July 31, 2009

Life Lesson #44,758

Chesterton frequently uses the fence or wall as a metaphor in his writings.
My favorite and is this one:
“Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground. Christianity is the only frame which has preserved the pleasure of Paganism. We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff's edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the center of the island; and their song had ceased.”

It is also apropos to my current life lesson which is this:
When building a fence around your chicken coop you are not to build it strong enough to keep the chickens in but strong enough to keep the carnivores out.

Personally I hate it when it takes a pile of bloody feathers to learn something.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Speaking of Belloc

In art a style can never be imposed nor predicted. It grows organically from any given epoch reflecting the needs, wants and desires of that epoch. Great art always reflects a timeless universal truth that moves through every epoch. Another way to say that is that every epoch has it’s own stories and story tellers. To truly understand the events and people in any point in history you most know their stories and story tellers.

The problem with many historians today is that they do not know the stories of the time they are reporting on or worse, they apply our stories to that time and that leads to a gross misrepresentation of that time. Otherwise know as revisionist history.

In Belloc’s book, The Crusades, he takes extra care to remind us of the story and the story tellers of that time. He points out the successes and failures of that first crusade in light of how the participants of that time viewed the world and themselves. The book reads like a detective story as told in flash back because he tells us the end in the first few pages.

The reason, of course, that this account of the Crusades is not used in schools is that the story of the time is Christianity and the cause of the Crusades was to save Christendom. Also Belloc, rightly so, connects he and us to that story and frequently uses phases like, “We failed…” or “Our fathers…”. Also he does not paint the Mohammedan forces as noble nomads just looking for a homeland as in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven but as what they really were at that time a barbaric culture bent on destruction incapable of building and creating anything.

The other reason is that he predicts that since we lost the main goal of the crusades, “we have by no means seen the last of the results of the 12th-century Christian military failure against Islam.”

Much better review of the book is here

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Belloc's Windmill To Be Closed

Hilaire Belloc's windmill, the largest working windmill in West Sussex, is closing its doors to the public. See BBC article Historic windmill forced to close for the sad details.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Today in 1953: Death of Belloc

Epigram "On His Books" published in Sonnets & Verse:
When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
"His sins were scarlet, but his books were read."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

In case you missed it A.N. Wilson’s review of The Paradox Who Was Chesterton
New evidence about the development of G. K. Chesterton's ideas and his progress towards Roman Catholicism
By William Oddie was posted here.

Whenever I see a review of Chesterton’s work in the Mass Media I always hold my breath a little thinking that at any moment it will mention GK “Antisemitism” or his "unfavorable view of women” which usually has nothing to do with the work being reviewed. This review, thankfully did not mention any of those. It did however pick up a new dig against Uncle Gilbert, again nothing to do with the book, when Wilson interjected this little nugget:“(for there is bizarre talk of GK’s canonization)”. I guess they just can’t help themselves.

Anyway here is an except from the review:

"Chesterton’s fiction and journalism were dashed off at speed. This is not to say that they were not on some levels deeply considered. It could be said, truthfully as well as Chestertonianly, that he was never deeper than when he was being superficial. Many of his wisest remarks are the throwaways, but you do not necessarily preserve the truth of a throwaway remark by patching it together with other throwaway remarks to construct a Summa. Chesterton’s observation about angels – that they can fly because they carry so little weight – applies to his own writings."

And yes Wilson got the quote wrong the true quote is "Angels can fly
because they take themselves lightly."

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Paul Nowak, author of the new "Uncle Chestnut" book

Paul Nowak, author of the recently published The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut, sent this note:
I've been meaning to let you guys @ Chesterton and Friends know a couple things:

1) A while ago you mentioned Neil Gaiman using GKC in Sandman - I got a small scan of a few panels here:

2) I've not managed to post about this myself, but Simpsons artist Luis Escobar did a cartoon of GKC/Uncle Chestnut on his blog:

The Gaiman/Sandman posts referred to are GK Comics in 2005 and GK and the Sandman in 2006. Aeons ago on a blog timeline. How wonderful that these bubbles can rise to the surface when someone gets the hankering to google.

"Uncle Chestnut" received a thumbs up from my 11 year old son. I greatly enjoyed it myself, and will post a review shortly.

Thanks for your good work, Paul!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Yuk It Up Folks

Two men considering a religious vocation were
having a conversation. "What is similar about the
Jesuit and Dominican Orders? " the one asked.

The second replied, "Well, they were both
founded by Spaniards -- St. Dominic for the
Dominicans, and St. Ignatius of Loyola for
the Jesuits. They were also both founded to
combat heresy -- the Dominicans to
fight the Albigensians, and the Jesuits to
fight the Protestants."

"What is different about the Jesuit and
Dominican Orders?"

"Met any Albigensians lately?"

When you look at the body of work on Catholic humor the Jesuits’ are the equvilent of blond or ethnic jokes in the secular world. Really, when was the last time you heard a joke begin, “ A Precious Blood Priest walked into a bar...” or “Two Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus went to the beach...”

The odd thing for me is that some of the best and worst priests I’ve known or read were Jesuits. And their work in spreading the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is truly driven by the Holy Spirit

It’s not that members of other religious orders don’t slip from the path it’s just that the Jesuits always do it with a monumentally arrogant flare. (two recent examples here and here).

There is a danger in fighting any opponent and it is not that you might lose the battle but lose the line that separates. The most effective way to fight a foe is to really understand him and the danger comes in understanding him so much you become like him.

We’ve seen that within the police who fight crime every day suddenly begin to commit crime. Or between the republicans and democrats. Where the republicans have now embraced the intrinsic evil of torture because the dems have the intrinsic evil of abortion.

And the problem with all religious, in fighting the secular world, is they begin to
embrace it’s ideals or think, “well it’s not really that bad.” like Father Jenkins at Notre Dame.

It is often the little slips that left unchecked turn into...well...big sin. For example, this past Sunday at my church, one of the petitions was “that government leaders work to solve the problem of climate change.”
There was no petition that they work to respect the dignity of life from conception to natural death.

yep climate change is now more important.

Maybe it was joke.

"It is not funny that anything else
should fall down; only that a man
should fall down.
Why do we laugh? Because it is a
gravely religious matter: it is the
Fall of Man. Only man can
be absurd: for only man can
be dignified."


Sunday, June 21, 2009

I say Hello. I say Goodbye

Please join me in welcoming to the planet my newest grandchild, Riley Ann. Yes, the world just got a little prettier.

Riley’s birth came few days after I helped bury my art professor and dear friend Mike Skop. Mike was “that person” who changed the trajectory of my life. He will be sorely missed.

I have reached an age where I know death and birth is not like changing five pennies for a nickel. Riley will never replace the hole left by Mike’s passing but someday I will tell her stories about him. Maybe, just maybe, there will come a time she will want to go into the studio and learn how to make pigment sing and clay dance. Then I will be there to show her the path Mike showed me.

Seek not to be like great men. Seek what they sought.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June 14 - A Feast Day?

In Catholic tradition, a saint's feast day is the day he or she died.

Chesterton died June 14, 1936. If the cause for his canonization proceeds - as I expect it will - June 14 will in all likelihood be his Feast Day.

I can't wait until I see that Feast Day on my liturgical calendar.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

a pencil

After spending some time teaching kids which end of the pencil makes a mark I began reading, with interest, an essay by Tom Purcell entitled ‘A Pencil’s Point’ in which he summarizes
a 1958 essay by Leonard E. Read. I liked Tom’s essay so much I looked up Leonard’s and there in the opening he quotes “the wise” G. K. Chesterton. Which of course made me want to read more of Read’s work.

Although I have only just begun to read him it seems he does have a Chestertonian feel to his work.

As Jacob G. Hornberger says of Read’s work, “Leonard Read never permitted himself to fall victim to the malady which afflicts so many freedom devotees — depression and despair over freedom's prospects....Fighting for freedom was so enjoyable — so much fun — for this man that one cannot help but wonder whether he would have fallen into at least a temporary despondency had freedom been achieved in his lifetime!”

I will add a reading Leonard's essay to my next year's class.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Love = Sacrifice

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."


Monday, June 01, 2009

GKC for Children

MEDIA ADVISORY, May 29 /Christian Newswire/ -- G.K. Chesterton, the prolific and influential Christian writer, is the subject of a new book series for children, which has been announced on the 135th anniversary of his birthday.

Eternal Revolution is now taking preorders for the first book in the new Uncle Chestnut series: The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut.

Written for young readers, The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut contains 4 short stories told by Jack, whose Uncle Chestnut comes to take care of him while his parents are away. Whether traveling, chasing after hats, or embarking on everyday adventures, Uncle Chestnut teaches a unique perspective on life and the world to his nephew.

Based on the writings and actual events in the life of G.K. Chesterton, this work of fiction presents the wit and wisdom of the British writer in a considerably easier style for young people to read. It is a simple, fun approach to introducing G.K. Chesterton to readers of all ages.

Written at a 6th grade reading level for today’s students, The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut draws primarily from Chesterton's Tremendous Trifles and teaches the value of seeing everyday obstacles as exciting and unique adventures.

Eternal Revolution is offering two special offers for those who pre-order the book from Eternal Revolution at before it is available. Pre-orders will receive a special discounted price and two free MP3 recordings of G.K. Chesterton presenting essays in his own voice.

The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut is expected to be available to the public on or about June 30, 2009, and will retail for $10.95. It will be available from, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers. It is written by Paul Nowak, author of The Way of the Christian Samurai.

Wholesale and media inquiries can be directed to, or by calling 616-425-8873. For more information on the book visit

C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, credited Chesterton as a significant influence in his conversion to Christianity. Other famous persons influenced by Chesterton include Mahatma Gandhi, J.R.R. Tolkien, Alfred Hitchcock, Neil Gaiman, and Michael Crichton.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


.....a bit of an absence from here. Had son's First Communion, Soccer Games, Daughters dance recital, and that whirlwind of the school year winding down.

and how much has changed in the world, in the United States, and within the Church.

I try very, very hard not to get political in blogging. Despite his deep involvement in the issues of his day, Chesterton actually seemed to have avoided "politics" as we would define it today. He had a true gift of letting the issues of the day melt into eternal truths and universal principles. From this perspective, what are the universal principles that peer at as from behind the curtain of current events?

The only things I despise more than politics are cliche's, but I think we truly see before us how there is no history, only biography. When even the powerful and wealthy are stripped of their not quite seamless garments of inflated funds and paper financial instruments, we can clearly become aware of the character, personality, and gravitas of world players as well as the pettiness and shallowness which seems magnified during times of hardship.

I am beginning to see the futility in dwelling on the negative and taking delight in the scandal of others, we all are aware of these things going on. On the positive side, however, did anybody really take note of Pope Benedict walking out of a meeting when a speaker was going on an anti-Israel/anti-Semetic rant? That act was the single greatest act of courage I recall on the world stage for many, many months. I am truly honored to identify with that type of heroism, to be able to point at Pope Benedict and say, "There goes my spiritual leader."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I write this as President Obama speaks at Norte Dame. I am saddened that it happened but not surprised. Father Jenkins has more than once broken his vow of obedience with his Bishop. So this was in reality only a small step for him not the big OMG leap so many have called it. This day began shortly after he took his position at ND allowing theology professors to openly question the dogma of transubstantiation the allowing the Vagina Chronicles to be performed on campus. Each time the local Bishop told him NO. Nothing “happened” to Fr. Jenkins after each breech and the University still stands. So what’s one more sin? Fr. J. thinks that this is open discourse and the kind of open diversity that an University should be about he is rebelling against, um, ah…. well Orthodoxy.
Chesterton would say of his type:
“…But the new rebel is a Skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it.”

I, along with others, have questioned if Fr. J. should not have been removed form his office after the first, ‘I know what’s better than you Bishop.’ Then I saw this Chesterton quote in a different light: “There are many, many angles at which one can fall but only one angle at which one can stand straight.”
His Bishop and the other Bishops were not pushing him to fall over but to help him get straight again.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

On neighbors' dogs

We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbor. - GKC

We know our neighbors on one side. Not well, but enough to chat, and to offer help when needed. The wives are both outdoor types, always puttering about in the yard, so there is regular contact. When an ice storm knocked out our power, the husband came over to help rig up a generator. When he got sick we were the back-ups for rides to treatments.

We know their names.

But we did not make friends with them.

On the other side are the new neighbors. New - as in they've lived there for only four years.

We occasionally nod in passing. But no conversations per se. I did bid them welcome when they arrived. And once when their dog got loose I took it back over. That's about it. We rarely see them go outside. When they do, it's for some utilitarian purpose, like mowing the lawn. Then they disappear.

We don't know their names.

I suppose that is unfriendly of us. We could probably be better neighbors ourselves. But I'm kind of reclusive myself.

We did not make frinds, or enemies. We're just neighbors.

I do know their dog. She's a friendly beast. A tail-wagger who always used to come up to the fence to greet our tail-wagging dog, and to get a scritch on the head from me.

I know the dog's name.

Now there's a second dog.

We don't know if this one is a temporary, or a permanent resident.

But this dog barks. Constantly.

Open our bedroom window.


Open our back door - on the other side of the house.


Pull in the driveway.


And go out to the yard to do some work - or chat with the neighbors we know.


And worst of all, the other dog, the tail-wagger, has now picked up the habit.

Bark. Bark.

We don't want to complain - and make enemies.

But ...

Bark. Bark.

At times it's hard to remember that God did make neighbors. Especially when it comes to reclusive ones with barking dogs.

I sometimes think Frost had it right: Good fences make good neighbors.

Too bad it can't be soundproofed fences.

But God left it up to us to make those.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Free At Last! Free At Last!

Concerning my post ‘The Ridiculous and the Sublime’, a reader writes: “Alan Capasso, I will pray for your deliverence from the persistant myth that the ignorant, formalized Church, and the dwindling ranks of the priesthood serve any useful function outside the obvious excuse to gather for coffee and donuts in today’s more enlightened society. Enlightened Christians understand that the Church, in reality, lives within each of us, not in “sacred” buildings and in the self-gratifying Vatican. While your priests and a Pontiff locked into the past teach hatred and bias against gays, individual rights, science, freedom to choose and all the wonderful aspects of humanity that Christ celebrated, your mentality stress instead ritual, sin and punishment. Bill Maher is right you know: Formalized religion has done more physical and psychological damage throughout the ages than all the wars it has condoned.”

It is so nice to hear that someone is praying for me, but I have a question. If this Enlighten Christian believes that the Church lives within him or her who exactly is she/he praying to? His/her self?

I have heard that once you become an Enlighten Christian or a Thinking Catholic you become unencumbered by the burden of history and in so doing become your own god. This of course allows you to reinterpret the Good News to mean that Jesus died on the cross so we can do whatever we want. Wonderful! Where do I sign up!

We all know that Bill Maher’s intellectual prowess far outshines that of Chesterton who said stupid stuff like, “Yesterday’s vices are today’s virtues.” Because yesterday’s vices WERE virtues it is just that the Pontificate and priests want to hide the fact that homosexual love is the source and summit of all that is good and wonderful. They did that because, as Dan Brown points out, they have so much money, power and fame to gain. All those schools, universities, and hospitals the Church started and continues to fund and those encyclicals about human rights were just a clever smoke screen to hide the truth that Mary Magdalene had Jesus’ love child.

And Maher is right you know: “Formalized religion has done more physical and psychological damage throughout the ages than all the wars it has condoned”. Since history is no longer a concern I can accept that the secular leaders that have cast off that repressive Church thing have caused no physical and psychological damage. Guys like Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao were only trying to clean up the mess the church made and if you have to kill a few million people to accomplish that it is a small price to pay for enlightenment.

My only sin now is wondering what wars in the past 200 years or so the Church has condoned? Darn that history thing!

I hope Anonymous writes back soon. I love to hear the dying echoes of unreasoned thought bounce around a small mind. Not as much as the sound of a box of silverware falling down a flight of stairs but close.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend Thoughts

It seems to me that many in Faith based circles are sensing a tectonic shift in American Culture. I believe this to be true. I do believe that many are overly alarmist, and that we are so closely entwined with the events and trends of the day that we do not have clear insight.

With these thoughts I was perusing my bookshelf and came across a couple books which apply to this situation, one lyrical, and one historical. Ballad of the White Horse is probably my favorite of Chesterton's works. For those unaware, it is a book length lyric poem about the battle between Alfred the Great and Guthrum of the Vikings. There is interpersonal tension, emotions of courage, fear, and cowardice, as well as the foreboding of being present at an epoch changing event.

The second book I paged through was H.W Crocker's Triumph. There are some areas that I think Crocker could delve more deeply into, but he does have to be brief in order to catch the whole range of his intended subject. What I notice from Crocker is the ebb and flow of history. Renewals and Renaissance follow periods of laxity and persecution. Easter Sundays follow Good Fridays.

Two very good and grounding volumes to gain some perspective.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chesterton at Random

There's an old Christian tradition of when looking for advice or incite just randomly opening the Bible and reading the first passage that strikes your eye.

St. Francis of Assisi - I've just finished rereading Chesterton's delightful book about him - was said to have done that.

I have also done it, not only with the Bible, but also with writers I like. Chesterton is, of course, one of those writers.

Last night I grabbed a volume of the Chesterton's Collected Works - The Illustrated London News 1917-1919 - off the bookcase and popped it open. Here's the passage that his my eye:

"One preliminary point seems to me quite clear. If we are to make any attempt to tolerate all men, we must give up all attempt to tolerate all opinions." - "On `Maltheory'" April 28, 1917

I thought about our own culture - a culture that seems to be taking the opposite tack: Tolerating all opinions, but but not tolerating all people. But when you tolerate all opinions, then those opinions lose meaning - opinion itself loses meaning. We devolve into the realm of rationalizing - if rationalize is an appropriate word when we are abandoning thought - that all actions should be based on feelings. It becomes very much like trying to steer a boat without a rudder - and given our increasing rejection of faith, without sails to catch any wind. We wallow in the doldrums.

Another one of Chesterton's point in the essay is that it is easy to fall into absolutist opinions on issues, and along the way demonizing the other side. Yes, deplore what he does, but not him - "The assertion that the man is possessed of a devil is the only way of avoiding the assertion that he is a devil."

Is Obama a demon? Is Dick Cheney a demon? Is the pro-lifer a demon? The pro-choicer? The Republican? The Democrat? The bishop who does not promote and express the faith in the way we think is right? That rude clerk at the store? The college trustee who messes up our conference?

When we demonize people rather than point to the demonic in their actions, then we lose the ability to tolerate others. If we can no longer tolerate them, them even extreme responses toward them can, in some minds, become tolerable.

The world itself might begin to seem intolerable - and that would be intolerable.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Obama Clerihew (political!)

President Barack Obama
should not be confused with Osama,
but his anti-life ways
lead to more deaths these days.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Birthday ...

to me......

34 Years old...Ive been married to one woman, been in 2 wars, had 2 kids, worked in 3 prisons, went to 4 years of college, had 5 cars, and Im stuck for all the numbers after that......

I notice as a look over Chesterton that we often fail to notice how his works do have a very wide timespan, from the dawn of the 20th Century to the eve of World War II. He saw many changes in Britain, in Europe, and the greater world, yet throughout his whole corpus he shows consistent qualities. Change and progress have gone from being simple slogans to now revealing themselves necromantic magic words with the power of changing the path of nations. It is interesting to note that as times change, Chesterton really does not. He develops as an Author and as a human being. His friendships with Belloc and others deepen. Although he does not truly "change", Chesterton stands above his peers as an advocate for liberty, freedom, and democracy throughout the tumultuous times that his career spanned. While those around him jumped from fad to fad, party to party, and movement to movement in search of finding how best to bring progress to mankind, GKC strayed very little from the pillars of orthodoxy and tradition and he outshines all of his now dated contemporaries.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The ridiculous and the sublime

Very interesting weekend.

Saturday night my son took me to see a theatrical production of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” at a local college. And with out a doubt that was the worst evening of theatre I have ever had to endure. I have only walked out on one play in my life. This would have been the second except a friend of my son’s was in the play and he wanted to talk to him after the show. The only positive thing that can be said about this presentation was that the actors knew their lines. Many of the scenes were actually painful to watch. It’s not that the director butchered Shakespeare that bothers me because I’ve seen that before but the theatricality of that butchering was correct, (the operation was a success but the patient died sort-of-thing). It’s that this director butchered theatre.

Ahhh but Sunday was wonderful. Many of the youth of our Parish received their Confirmation today and what a great day to receive it – Divine Mercy Sunday. I was honored to be chosen lector for this day. The Bishop was there and in fine form. The master of Ceremonies was a young man a year away from ordination. I have known this man since he was a wise cracking fourteen year old. When he decided to become a priest I was wondering if I would be able to call him Father but seeing him today I saw he carries priesthood very well - he has become a good man which of course will make him a good priest. Calling him father will not be a problem.

There was an air of nervous expectation that was thick an juicy about the Church. The alter boys were very worried that they might drop the Bishops “hat and stick thing” the confirmantie were worried that the Bishop might find them unprepared and he would leave, (he’s done that before at other parishes) and I was worried that I might stutter and stumble through the readings. None of which happened – sigh of relief.

Some of the kids that became soldiers for Christ today were children I have known since they were babies. Many Graces were poured down upon us this day.

As Chesterton said, (from the Ball and the Cross) “The Sacraments are certain and incredible.” Today I saw that paradox in full flower.

Makes being upset about a horrible play production kinda stupid.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dancing in Bed

For me Chesterton reveals the truth in two ways. The first is as if he takes off my glasses cleans them and says, “Now do you see?”

“Why yes I do. Thank you very much.”

The other way is that he simply reminds me of what is true. Stuff I already knew but have forgotten or things that were driven out of my head by ‘adult’ forces. Even in his innocuous sounding essays that might easily be passed over he reminds us of a joy we might have forgotten. These are usually a childhood joy that is still a joy if only we old folks could remember how to play the game. Both of these ways of course is what prophets always do.

In his essay “On Lying in Bed” he reminded me of the pleasure of doing ‘nothing’ of letting your mind float like a boat on a current. This is something I had not done for a looong time. So a few Saturdays back I rolled over to see my wife had already awoke and I was alone. I started to get up and get to it but told myself the list can wait and fell back into bed.

I reached over and put George Gershwin’s American in Paris in the CD player and lay back down staring at the ceiling waiting for the images to appear and appear they did. Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron began to dance for me. Strangely it was the part of Gene that I remember the best, It is not that Leslie is not a good dancer because she is; it is just that greatness lies in Gene. It is like looking at paintings by Rembrandt and a Norman Rockwell hanging next to each other. Both are highly competent pigment pushers but it is on the Rembrandt that eyes linger and rest upon. You can know everything there is to know about a Rockwell in a moment; there are no mysteries in his work no internal connection.

I then tried to imagine Fred Astaire in Gene’s role but that was absurd. Fred could never play the tragic hero. No more than Gene could have pulled off the Fred’s dancing up the walls in The Royal Wedding. When Fred danced on the ceiling we said, “Of course he can do that.”

Both of these men are Great dangers it is just that their greatness lies in opposite directions. Gene’s greatness is his constant struggle to break the law of gravity while Fred’s lies in his struggle to obey it.

This put in mind of Chesterton and Belloc. Belloc teaches us how to dig while Chesterton teaches us how to fly.

Next I put in Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring and thought if Martha Graham’s dance within Isamu Noguchi’s sculpture (set). Perhaps the greatest collaboration of artist’s in the 20th century. All those artists knew the central fact about art – Great art must tell a story - a story that holds universal truth. Martha, a pioneer of modern dance, never lost her ability to tell a story through movement – she never fell into that trap of dance for dance sake.

I could have gone like this for hours more except my wife, for some reason, refused to bring me up food and my youngest came in to remind me that I would dig her bike out of the garage today.

The up side that when I did get up I ignored my ‘to do list’ (except for the bike) and spent the rest of the day in my studio.