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.