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.


Maolsheachlann said...

I have a week of stubble, does that count?

I can't resist quoting (at length) a passage I just read from The Thing, that made me laugh out loud on the bus:

ALL science, even the divine science, is a sublime detective story. Only it is not set to detect why a man is dead; but the darker secret of why he is alive. The Catholic Church remains
in the best sense a mystery even to believers. It would be
foolish of them to complain if it is a riddle to unbelievers.
But in a more practical sense we may well ask a question. What do
they think it really is? What do they think we think it really is?
What do they think it is all about, or even supposed to be all about?

That problem becomes darker and darker for me, the more I stare at it. It becomes black as midnight, for instance, when I stare at such
a sentence as I saw recently in TRUTH, a singularly intelligent
and often a highly valuable paper. It stated that Rome tolerates,
in her relation with the Russian Uniats, "strange heresies and even
bearded and wedded clergy."

In that one extraordinary phrase, what formless monster begins
to take form in their visions? In those eight words it is not too
much to say that every term is startling in its inconsequence.
As somebody tumbling down the stairs bumps upon every step,
the writer comes a crash upon every word. The word "strange"
is strange enough. The word "heresy" is stranger. Perhaps at first sight the word "bearded," with its joyous reminiscences of the game of Beaver, may appear the most funny. "Wedded" is also funny.

Even the "and" between bearded and wedded is funny. But by far
the funniest and most fantastic thing in all that fantastic sentence is the word "even."

I'm also reminded of the Irish prostestant/unionist ballad, the Maiden on her Throne:

From Antrim crossing over,
In famous eighty-eight,
A plumed and belted lover
Came to the Ferry Gate ;
She summoned to defend her
Our sires, a beardless race
They shouted, ' No surrender ! '
And slamm'd it in his face.
Then in a quiet tone, boys,
They told him 'twas their will
That the Maiden on her throne, boys,
Should be a Maiden still.


John Wiswell said...

I hear the inner beard is substantially harder to grow than the exterior beard, even for those who can't muster more than whiskers post-puberty.

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