Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chesterton Sightings

This past weekend our town held its annual community wide yard sale, otherwise known as ‘the great transference of junk’. It is also a good time to wander around town and meet with our neighbors. All my kids come home for this event.

At one of our stops I was staring down upon a table, that was calling my name, and internalizing that age old debate, “Do I need any more hand tools vs. “Can you have too many tools?” when my youngest daughter came up to me and said, “Look Papa, a picture of your friend.”

In her pudgy little hands was a magazine with a drawing of Gilbert on its cover. I gave her praise and a dime telling her to go buy it. And I bought a two foot wooded level.

As my wife and pregnant middle daughter were negotiating the price of a baby crib I looked at the magazine article, by our friend by John C. Chalberg, reviewing William Oddie’s Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy The making of GKC, 1874-1908. Being written by “Chuck” it was an enthusiastic review beginning with this paragraph:
“Somewhere on virtually everyone's list of the 100 most important books of the last century is G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy. A "sort of slovenly autobiography" by its author's own reckoning, this thin volume packed a huge wallop when it first appeared in 1908. It still does today, whether it's being read for the first or fifth time.”

He also states that Oddie wrote an excellent companion work for GKC’s Orthodoxy. In it Oddie challenges what he terms an “academic embargo” against Chesterton. Something we have all noticed.

A few stops later we spotted a table of books. There was no debate here because you just can not have enough books. Unfortunately this table was mostly full of romance novels, a few How-To books and several children’s books. I grabbed up a couple of furniture building books and moved to the kid’s books. One I picked up was Coraline by Neil Gaiman, my daughter and I liked the movie so she might like me to read the book to her. The book begins with this quote:
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” G. K. Chesterton.

And yes, that was a surprise.

At the end of the day we had a lot of stuff most of which we were wondering why we bought. Maybe next year I will hold a yard sale to sell all the stuff we have bought from yard sales.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Belloc: Islam is a Christian heresy

In his book The Great Christian Heresies, Hilaire Belloc described Islam as a threat to the West - and counted it as a Christian heresy.

"Millions of modern people of the white civilization-that is, the civilization of Europe and America- have forgotten all about Islam. They never come in contact with it. They take for granted that it is decaying, and that, anyway, it is just a foreign religion which will not concern them. It is, as a fact, the most formidable and persistent enemy which our civilization has had, and may at any moment become as large a menace in the future as it has been in the past."

Certainly the extreme forms of Islam have become a world-wide threat in the last few decades. Belloc proved prophetic in that.

But I also find his argument that Islam is a Christian heresy interesting.

According to Belloc, what Mohammad "taught was in the main Catholic doctrine, oversimplified. It was the great Catholic world - on the frontiers of which he lived, whose influence was all around him and whose territories he had known by travel-which inspired his convictions."

Belloc argued that "the very foundation of his teaching was that prime Catholic doctrine, the unity and omnipotence of God."

"But the central point where his new heresy struck home with a mortal blow against Catholic tradition was a full denial of the Incarnation."

"He taught that our Lord was the greatest of all the prophets, but still only a prophet; a man like other men. He eliminated the Trinity altogether."

An intriguing line of argument.