Friday, September 30, 2005

Burke on Chesterton on Joy

Cormac Burke, in Authority and Freedom in the Church (p. 143), writes this about GKC and the "gigantic secret":
As Chesterton suggests, it is joy not because we are in the right place, but because we are in the wrong place. We were lost, but Someone has found us and is leading us home. It is joy not because we are alright — we are not — but because Someone can put us right. Christian joy comes from facing up to the one really sad fact of life, which is sin; and countering it with a joyful fact that is even realer and stronger than sin: God's love and mercy.
[cited by Francis Fernandez Carvajal in In Conversation With God, vol. 5, p.145]

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Thursday on Thursday, no.13

"I knew I was a poet. I knew my intuition was as infallible as the Pope."
- Gabriel Syme, in GKC's The Man Who Was Thursday

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Just One Chesterton Book Away

This is from John Zmirak's review of The Exorcism of Emily Rose:
The film raises and addresses profound questions about the nature of evil and why God permits the suffering of the innocent—but doesn't pretend to answer them. And that's just what the filmmaker intended. Scott Derrickson, a graduate of the artsy Christian liberal arts university, Biola, calls himself an "orthodox Christian" and confesses that he's addicted to the novels of Walker Percy, and to reading and re-reading G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy. In fact, as Derrickson told me in an interview, Catholic screenwriting maven Barbara Nicolosi warns him, "You're just one Chesterton book away from crossing the Tiber," and becoming a Catholic. Whatever his background, Derrickson has crafted a compelling drama which sends you out of the theater feeling queasily fascinated, wondering if you need to seek some kind of protection, despite your faith or lack thereof.

(thanks to Democracy of the Dead for finding this one)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Damn Short Words

Earlier this month Ariel Vanderhorst of the Vocabulary Reclamation Project issued a challenge inspired by the following text of Orthodoxy:

Long words go rattling by us like long railway trains. We know they are carrying thousands who are too tired or too indolent to walk and think for themselves. It is a good exercise to try for once in a way to express any opinion one holds in words of one syllable. If you say "The social utility of the indeterminate sentence is recognized by all criminologists as a part of our sociological evolution towards a more humane and scientific view of punishment," you can go on talking like that for hours with hardly a movement of the gray matter inside your skull. But if you begin "I wish Jones to go to gaol and Brown to say when Jones shall come out," you will discover, with a thrill of horror, that you are obliged to think. The long words are not the hard words, it is the short words that are hard. There is much more metaphysical subtlety in the word "damn" than in the word "degeneration."

The challenge is to write a blog post entirely with one-syllable words. You can read the challenge HERE. In the comments Ariel added some guidelines: "... the post must be half a page, or at least several good paragraphs. If longer, you will be elevated to genius status. As well, the post's content must mirror the standards (high, of course) which your blog normally maintains. No 'see Spot run' stuff. The post should contain some propositional content; that is, we should be able to read it and agree. Now that the rules have been posted, you may break them at your leisure." His own stab with a swordstick can be found at his BitterSweetLife blog (LINK).

Any more takers? Make sure to drop a link to your post here in the comments. And let Ariel know as well.

Considering Culture

This past Saturday the Daily Times of Pakistan republished Chesterton's essay "French and English" (LINK).
If we are to be international we must be national. And it is largely because those who call themselves the friends of peace have not dwelt sufficiently on this distinction that they do not impress the bulk of any of the nations to which they belong. International peace means a peace between nations, not a peace after the destruction of nations, like the Buddhist peace after the destruction of personality. The golden age of the good European is like the heaven of the Christian: it is a place where people will love each other; not like the heaven of the Hindu, a place where they will be each other.

The essay was published in 1908 in the collection All Things Considered. The 9th edition (1915) of ATC can be found online HERE.

Friday, September 23, 2005

New Gresham Book on Lewis

[Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis,] wrote "Jack’s Life: The Life Story of C.S. Lewis," which traces the life and times of best-selling author C.S. Lewis. The book is slated for release in October from Broadman & Holman.
Gresham explained that the memoir is not a scholarly work filled with academic analysis, but a "simple recounting of the story of what I believe to be the extraordinary life of an extraordinary man."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Thursday on Thursday, no.12

"Always be comic in a tragedy. What the deuce else can you do?"
- Gabriel Syme, in GKC's The Man Who Was Thursday

Free GKC

24 on-line books by G.K. Chesterton can be downloaded in pdf format at this site. 25 if you count two versions of Orthodoxy.

Thanks, Inn.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Blog Grist

Volume 8, Number 8 of Gilbert Magazine is hitting mailboxes this week. It is also the free sample issue available online (LINK). This issue contains a nice little article about blogging (see page 28). The author is someone we know who has "been busy drinking, procreating, drinking, reading, drinking, and writing. And oh yeah, blogging."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

God Always Vivisects

In the wake of Katrina and while preparing for Rita, John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute writes about suffering.
[There] remains much suffering that is not manmade. The question is why there is suffering of any kind. And why would a so-called "good" God allow suffering? Indeed, if there is a good God, according to theologian C. S. Lewis, then he is no less formidable than a cosmic monster. And the more we believe, as traditional Christians do, that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is little hope in avoiding the pains of life. "A cruel man might be bribed—might grow tired of his vile sport," writes C. S. Lewis in his book A Grief Observed, "might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless."

Monday, September 19, 2005

I think this blogger may have been around awhile, but I haven't seen him. He's Dad 29, and this is his by-line:

"Old. Nasty. Likes Chesterton."

Nasty and Chesterton aren't usually seen in the same phrase, but this blog might be worth watching. Link.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Marriage & Sanity

Justin Dyer, a graduate student at Oklahoma University, writes about our culture's current problem understanding the nature of marriage. Is marriage whatever our culture defines it to be? Or is marriage something not created by man but recognized by our laws? Is marriage when any two people come together in love? How about a mother and her son? Or three adolescent girls? Or a horse and his boy? Our culture will have to say "Whatever else that may be, it is not marriage."
The tale of our society’s search for a new meaning and a new articulation of marriage reminds me of a novel that G.K. Chesterton once envisioned writing.

The story was to be about an "English yachtsman who slightly miscalculated his course and discovered England under the impression that it was a new island in the South Seas."

After experiencing all of the fascination and terror of discovering New South Wales, he realized, with a gush of happy tears, that he was actually back in Old South Wales.

The novel was to be a romantic allegory of Chesterton’s own philosophic voyage. "I did try to found a heresy of my own," he later remarked about his younger days. "And when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered it was orthodoxy."

And so as we set sail to found our own heresy regarding marriage, I hope that nature and reason will bid us to discover anew the wisdom behind the public orthodoxy that we have collectively inherited.

Separation of Faith and Culture

The G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture is holding a conference in Argentina to address how problems in contemporary culture directly affect faith.

According to the Rev. Ian Boyd, director of the Chesterton Institute, this is the first conference the institute is holding in the Hispanic world. It will take place Sept. 21-24.


The conference theme, “Chesterton and the Evangelization of Culture,” addresses how the contemporary failure of culture has been the separation of faith and culture.

“Most people borrow their way of thinking and behaving from the culture that surrounds them,” Boyd said.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thursday on Thursday, no.11

"Who would condescend to strike down the mere things that he does not fear? Who would debase himself to be merely brave, like any common prizefighter? Who would stoop to be fearless — like a tree? Fight the thing that you fear. You remember the old tale of the English clergyman who gave the last rites to the brigand of Sicily, and how on his death-bed the great robber said, 'I can give you no money, but I can give you advice for a lifetime: your thumb on the blade, and strike upwards.' So I say to you, strike upwards, if you strike at the stars."
- Gabriel Syme, in GKC's The Man Who Was Thursday

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Heart Full of Devils

Yesterday blogger Dominique Cimafranca of the Philippines wrote about how he discovered G.K. Chesterton through a Father Brown mystery in a Reader's Digest compilation.

Ultimately, the key lies in [Father Brown's] understanding of human nature.

Take the following exchange from "Hammer of God", for instance, when Father Brown confronts the criminal with his deed. Horrified at his discovery, the perpetrator attempts to commit suicide.
[He] threw one leg over the parapet, and Father Brown had him in a minute by the collar.

"Not by that door," he said quite gently; "that door leads to hell."

"How do you know all this?" he cried. "Are you a devil?"

"I am a man," answered Father Brown gravely; "and therefore have all devils in my heart...."

The last line sent shivers down my spine when I first read it. In just one line Chesterton had summarized so succinctly the source of human evil, that is, the human heart. That we are neither angels nor supermen. That we are driven by passion and desires. That even the best among us traverse life dancing a delicate dance between good and evil.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

In Toon With Belloc

Small Pax Guild member Zach Brissett hosts his own editorial cartoon blog at In Toon With the World. Today he posted a 'toon of Hilaire Belloc:

Schall On "Catholic Political Philosophy"

Fr. James V. Schall has a new book entitled "Roman Catholic Political Philosophy" published by Lexington Books. He was interviewed by Zenit; the interview was published this past Saturday. Here are some excerpts:

Q: Please explain the title "Roman Catholic Political Philosophy," since Catholicism is not a political movement.

Father Schall: The title is deliberately paradoxical, even provocative. It is, if you will, a countercultural thesis. Two different, known things are juxtaposed. They, I argue, have a relation that, if not spelled out, ends up confusing both political and revelational realities.

Since Catholicism is not a political movement, it frees political things to be political things. It does not encourage them, as so often happens in modernity, to be confused with religion or metaphysics, or become, in effect, substitutes for them.


Q: Which philosophers embody the principles of Roman Catholic political philosophy that you outline in your book?

Father Schall: One finds guidance from many sources, of course, not only Roman Catholic ones. I have learned much from Eric Voegelin and Leo Strauss. They served in many ways to open political philosophy to a more serious consideration of reality and what is at issue in understanding it.

Among Catholic writers, I am particularly in debt to my teachers, Professor Heinrich Rommen, Father Charles N.R. McCoy, Father Clifford Kossel, S.J., and Father Ernest Fortin, A.A. I have written a book on Jacques Maritain and consider Yves Simon of fundamental importance, as is Etienne Gilson. Christopher Dawson remains a favorite. I have learned much from David Walsh, John and Russell Hittinger, Monsignor Robert Sokolowski, and my colleagues George Carey and Joshua Mitchell.

What can one say of G.K. Chesterton, who is one of the great minds and most incisive as well as most delightful. I have loved Hilaire Belloc, Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, E.F. Schumacher and a host of others.

Several of my books, "Another Sort of Learning" especially, have been guides to reading in these areas. I have long been an admirer of John Paul II and Benedict XVI as first-rate thinkers. And finally there is the abiding debt to Plato and Aristotle, to Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, to whom I return again and again. There is nothing quite like reading these latter four with students.

The entire interview can be found in two parts HERE and HERE.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Not a GKC Friend?

Chesterton had a profound influence on the prose style in which Thomas Merton wrote his 1948 best-seller, The Seven Story Mountain. According to Merton's biographer Michael Mott, Chesterton epitomized the kind of consciously literary, urbane, and "chatty" writing style that he, Merton, labored to avoid at all costs. [Seven Mountains, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1984, 229, p. 249]

Friday, September 09, 2005

John Robson on New Orleans

From the Ottawa Citizen:

"Finally, hailing the violence as a liberating response to poverty or racism is, as G. K. Chesterton said, a slander on the poor. And on blacks, a majority in pre-Katrina New Orleans, most of whom either evacuated in an orderly manner or coped in an heroic one, and neither sought nor seized an opportunity to behave badly."

George MacDonald

"... in a certain rather special sense I for one can really testify to a book that has made a difference to my whole existence, which helped me to see things in a certain way from the start; a vision of things which even so real a revolution as a change of religious allegiance has substantially only crowned and confirmed. Of all the stories I have read, including even all the novels of the same novelist, it remains the most real, the most realistic, in the exact sense of the phrase the most like life. It is called The Princess and the Goblin, and is by George MacDonald ..."

This is taken from G.K. Chesterton's introduction to George MacDonald and His Wife [Greville MacDonald. 1924]. It was reprinted in GKC as MC and is available online at the American Chesterton Society website (LINK).

MacDonald died September 18, 1905. So this month marks the 100th anniversary of his death. On the anniversary weekend there is a conference in Waco, TX at Baylor University:

George MacDonald and His Children

George MacDonald is seen as the founder of a literary genre: religious fantasy — which, as the 20th century has unexpectedly shown, has become a major and popular form. We welcome papers linking MacDonald and his circle (Charles Kingsley, Lewis Carroll) with his successors, including G. K. Chesterton, Rudyard Kipling, E. Nesbit, and the Oxford Inklings. Also of interest are papers connecting MacDonald with his German roots — Goethe, Schleiermacher, Novalis, and Hoffmann. In addition, we shall have a section on the development of children’s book illustration from Arthur Hughes through to H.R. Millar, which covers the great age of illustrated books before World War I.
For more details about the conference go HERE.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Thursday on Thursday, no.10

"Perhaps policeman is a relative term. In an evolutionary sense the ape fades so gradually into the policeman, that I myself can never detect the shade. The monkey is only the policeman that may be. Perhaps a maiden lady on Clapham Common is only the policeman that might have been."
- Gabriel Syme, in GKC's The Man Who Was Thursday

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Narnia: Still Shots & Changes

Paul Davidson wrote Sep 2 at
A whole pile of new still shots from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe have appeared online, this time at the German website Altium Silentium. The photos include new views of the Pevensie children at the professor's manor, in the snowy woods around Lantern Waste, and with the White Witch. The locations and ambience seem perfectly adapted from the novel by C.S. Lewis.

Not everything is the just like the original, however. In spite of the very good reports insiders are relaying, there's at least one modification that seems unnecessary and might annoy fans of the book – just as Peter Jackson's excessive changes to The Lord of the Rings irked many a Tolkien fan.
read the rest HERE

Monday, September 05, 2005

Who You Callin' "Incomparable"?

In June of 1921, Max Beerbohm wrote discouragingly to a prospective biographer that he, Max, was not [as Shaw had labeled him] "the incomparable Max," but rather (as the humorists had it) "the comparable Max." Beerbohm continued, "I am not incomparable. Compare me. Compare me as an essayist (for instance] with other essayists. Point out what an ignoramus I am beside Belloc, and how Chesterton's high spirits and abundance shame me." And so on. The biographer, Bohun Lynch, had mentioned he was planning a little book. "Oh, keep it little!" begged the incomparable Max. [S.N. Behrman, Portrait of Max, Random House, 1960, 21-22]

Friday, September 02, 2005

Tolerance of Folly and a Sense of Humour

N.S. Jagannathan of The New Indian Express wrote yesterday:
There are plenty of stories of eccentric British judges, whose asides and obiter dicta from the bench are celebrated in literature and legal anecdotage. One instance from many should suffice. In one of his stories, that incomparable wit, G K Chesterton, has a delightfully unconventional judge telling a young man in the dock. "I am sentencing you to six months imprisonment as the law requires, despite my God-given conviction that what you need is six weeks in the countryside."

Certainly, tolerance of folly and a sense of humour would not come amiss in judges who have to endure a good deal of nonsensical casuistry in the course of their duties.

As a father of young children I find "tolerance of folly and a sense of humour" necessary for sanity.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Thursday on Thursday, no.9

"I am a Sabbatarian. I have been specially sent here to see that you show a due observance of Sunday."
- Gabriel Syme, in GKC's The Man Who Was Thursday