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 Featuring the author's early work as well as previously unpublished material, this volume abounds in fairy stories, comic verse, and satirical ballads.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.”