Tuesday, October 30, 2007

GKC at Christmas

Something new every year. This year, it's the GKC Christmas tree ornament. It's advertised in the new edition of Gilbert Magazine. I might get one. It's mildly salty ($19.95), but you ain't gonna find it cheaper at Wal-Mart.

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Gilbert is Here

And it's a fine-looking 10th Anniversary edition. Very well done, thick (58 pages) enhanced cover. From the letters to the editor:

Four score and seven cases of beer ago, I served as editor of this esteemed, if occasionally beleaguered, publication. Neither before nor since have I had so much occasion to drink, and I'm told that readers during my short, interim-ish, editorship bolstered the bottom line of many liquor stores during my 14 months at the helm.

The magazine is, based on my distant view through the amber glass, flourishing under my successor's able guidance. This is good news for every person interested in drink, joy, truth, and everything else worthwhile in this vale.

The magazine's ten-year anniversary is now here. I remember learning during my editorship that special interest publications like this one are lucky to last maybe four years. If that's the case, Gilbert is almost 150 in niche-magazine years, which is certainly an apt occasion for offering congratulations.

As long as Gilbert runs, I know there'll be a sliver of sanity in an often-callous world and a slice of silver over an horizon that too frequently grows dark.


Eric Scheske

Thursday, October 25, 2007


"October" by Hilaire Belloc

Look, how those steep woods on the mountain's face
Burn, burn against the sunset; now the cold
Invades our very noon: the year's grown old,
Mornings are dark, and evenings come apace.
The vines below have lost their purple grace,
And in Forreze the white wrack backward rolled,
Hangs to the hills tempestuous, fold on fold,
And moaning gusts make desolate all the place.

Mine host the month, at thy good hostelry,
Tired limbs I'll stretch and steaming beast I'll tether;
Pile on great logs with Gascon hand and free,
And pour the Gascon stuff that laughs at weather;
Swell your tough lungs, north wind, no whit care we,
Singing old songs and drinking wine together.

Belloc's Map of Sussex from "The Four Men"

Hilaire Belloc's map of Sussex from "The Four Men", worthy of Tolkien:


(click it for a larger view)

Belloc clerihew

Hilaire Belloc
walked off the end of a dock
but being in the midst of a debate
he failed to recognize his fate.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Micro Belloc

Last week, someone (in this blog's comments section, I believe) recommended that we read Belloc's The Four Men while hoisting a tankard. "Splendid suggestion," I thought, so I plucked it off the shelf and read from it last Sunday. The very first sentence made me pause:

Nine years ago, as I was sitting in the "George" at Robertsbridge, drinking that port of theirs and staring at the fire . . .

"Drinking that port of theirs." The folks at Robertsbridge must've made their own port, as I'm supposing many inns did back then. They probably also made their own beers.

Within thirty years of Belloc's death, such a thing was virtually unheard of. One didn't go to a bar "to drink that port/beer of theirs." You drank the same thing everyone else across MTV land drank: Swiller Lite, Crapweiser, and the other mass-advertised brands. Today, that's changing. Microbrews dot the land. One is even going up in my fairly dry home town (though my preview of their beer was not pleasant). The microsbrews are a slice of distributism, and they're taking a bite out of Grudge (or is it Hudge?) breweries. Be a good man: Visit a microbrew this weekend, buy a growler, and toast Belloc's memory repeatedly.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

without a rag of excuse

"[I]f a healthy man lies in bed, let him do it without a rag of excuse; then he will get up a healthy man. If he does it for some secondary hygienic reason, if he has some scientific explanation, he may get up a hypochondriac."
- G.K. Chesterton. "On Lying in Bed" in Tremendous Trifles, 1909.

"In fact, psychologist Matthew Walker of the University of California, Berkeley, says that 'almost all psychiatric disorders show some problems with sleep.' But, he says that scientists previously believed the psychiatric problems triggered the sleep issues. New research from his lab, however, suggests the reverse is the case; that is, a lack of shut-eye is causing some psychological disturbances."
- Nikhil Swaminathan. "Can a Lack of Sleep Cause Psychiatric Disorders?" in Scientific American, October 23, 2007.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

"You should see him catch buns in his mouf"

an article by Gilbert Adair, all about our favorite big man, in today's Guardian

There was never just one GK Chesterton. There was Chesterton the Catholic proselytiser, the hearty balladeer of Merrie England, the harrumphing castigator of teetotallers and vegetarians, the blustery anti-Communist, anti-plutocrat and, also, alas, anti-Semite [alas, Adair is misinformed on the anti-Semite bit, and just regurgitates what he read or heard from some anti-Chestertonian]. There was Chesterton the charmer of children - one little boy, asked after a visit to the great man's home if GKC had been awfully clever, replied, "I don't know about clever, but you should see him catch buns in his mouf." ....

The article somewhat focuses on The Club of Queer Trades and even mentions Kafka and Borges.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another Broken Nail

When I got bumped to third shift I knew that would put me a little out of touch with the news or at least somewhat behind the curve. But why didn’t anybody tell me that Captain America was killed off because he became irrelevant, "He hasn't been living in the modern world and the world does move," says Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada.
Gilbert would question that logic.

But I did notice that Bill O Rielly has finally gone insane with his support for torture.

Although there are too many quotes from Chesterton on insanity to reprint here I could not find a Chesterton quote on our modern tendency to kill off cartoon characters. I only feel that this should not happen - it does not fit the fairy tale model, “Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” In fairy tales dragons DON’T beat the prince. If a cartoon character loses his or her “relevance” then, like in the past, they should just not show up one day, like Calvin and Hobbs or Zeus.

Why fret about cartoons or fairy tales?
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.

Chesterton Sighting

At WaPo, via Ignatius Scoop. Carl Olson is a bit harsh on the WaPo writer. At least the writer got the quote right.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Belloc Biography (Rochester Chesterton Conference 4)

Shaw, Belloc and some other guy

Among the many pleasures of attending the Rochester Chesterton Conference two weeks ago was meeting Joseph Pearce, and getting a copy of his biography of Hilaire Belloc (Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc).

I had enjoyed his biography of Chesterton - Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G. K. Chesterton - so I happily bought the Belloc book.

In part, I wanted to learn more about Belloc, about whom I knew little beyond his ties to Chesterton and a few of his children's poems.

I started it after finishing another book I'd been reading (due back at the library). Even with all my other reading for school, correcting student papers, creating worksheet and tests, choir practice, family activities and town meetings, I've already finished a third of it. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

I also get to look at the signature in the front, and to recall Pearce's story of his own remarkable life - which I'll deal with in another post about the conference.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Belloc Redux?

The Atlantic's literary editor, Benjamin Schwartz, summarizes Cambridge historian Eamon Duffy's 1992 book, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580:

His meticulous and beguiling reconstruction, along with his exploration of the psychological and spiritual devastation caused by the Tudors’ wrecking of the physical culture of the late-medieval Church, demonstrated that the Reformation was “a great cultural hiatus, which had dug a ditch, deep and dividing, between the English people and their past”—a past that over merely three generations became a foreign country, impossible for the English to regard as their own. The book stirred the English popular and scholarly mind from a historical and cultural complacency bred of Protestant and Whiggish triumphal­ism.

Anybody else thinking Belloc's Europe and the Faith?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Classic GKC

We find in the Little Brown Book of Anecdotes that on one occasion when Hilaire Belloc demanded that a public attack on Chesterton by George Bernard Shaw be answered, Chesterton replied, "I have answered him. To a man of Shaw's wit, silence is the one unbearable repartee." [Boston, 1985, p. 117]

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some things....

I recently read Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norell, and found it one of the most entertaining novels Ive picked up in a long, long time. I was surprised to see it mentioned by Touchstone as worthy of the Inklings. See here. Susanna Clark creates a very, very plausible "real world" magic scenario with solid characters.


Here is the trailer for The Golden Age, a very gorgeous looking film of Queen Elizabeth fighting off the Spanish Armada. I think most of us on this blog know about how unquestioningly pro-Anglo our cultural historians are. The fear of the Inquisition coming to England seems to be used as a device. Most of us are aware that Elizabeth's purges and actions make the Inquisition look tame. I wanted to bring this up to demonstrate "Small World Theory." The guys at Arms & Armor/ The Oakeshott Institute that Dale and I visited for the "Sword Issue" designed and made most of the props and weapons used in this movie.

Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rochester Chesterton Conference 3

I first heard of Father Leo Hetzler back in the dark ages when I was a student at St. John Fisher College.

Several friends recommended that I take a course with him. I was never able to do so, but I did attend a talk he gave on Catholic writers.

One of the writers he praised enthusiastically was G. K. Chesterton. I had recently discovered Chesterton myself through his biography of St. Francis, so I was pleased to hear him lauded by a respected and bright teacher.

What I didn’t know at the time – I discovered it later – was that Father Hetzler was a well-known Chesterton scholar and advocate. I later came across his name in The Chesterton Review, for which he wrote and served on the Editorial Board.

I wrote an article about Chesterton back when I was a Catholic journalist – and naturally I interviewed Father Hetzler. And when I’ve been able to make meetings of the Rochester Chesterton Society, I’ve always enjoyed his stories and insights.

So it was no surprise when I spotted him at the Rochester Chesterton Conference last Saturday. What did surprise me – and Father Hetzler – was when Dale Alquist presented him with the American Chesterton Society Lifetime Achievement Award.

A well-deserved award.

Even if I never took a course with him, Father Hetzler has taught me much over the years.

(And yes, there's more...)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Big Business Beer

And on the other end of the spectrum (from the previous post) we have in the news today the Big Business Beer (anti-distributist) getting even bigger. You know, the kind of brewco that uses sex to sell its product, and gorifies heavy drinking to youth.
Anheuser-Busch rivals Miller Brewing Co. in Milwaukee and Coors Brewing Co., of Golden, Colo., will be combined under a joint venture announced by the parents of the two firms Tuesday.

SABMiller plc, of London, and Denver-based Molson Coors Brewing Co. have signed a letter of intent to combine the U.S. and Puerto Rico operations of Miller and Coors.

The new company, which will be called MillerCoors, will have annual combined beer sales of 69 million U.S. barrels and net revenue of approximately $6.6 billion, SABMiller and Molson Coors said in a joint press release.

read it all at the St. Louis Business Journal


The Culture of Beer

Majoring in international business at the University of Tulsa, [Eric] Marshall spent a semester studying in Germany.

"And I just fell in love with the culture of beer," he says, putting the emphasis not on the word beer, but on culture.

The culture of beer has nothing to do with drunken keg parties or stumbling out of a bar late at night. A beer lover, to paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, would never insult beer by drinking too much of it.

The culture of beer is about an ancient craft that has been handed down generation-to-generation since the pharaohs and the Babylonians. It's about the infinite subtleties that can be achieved with just four simple ingredients -- water, malt, hops and yeast.


"I always knew that sooner or later I'd come back to Tulsa," Marshall says, standing next to that open trench in his warehouse. "I love Tulsa. This is my home. This is where my family is. And this is where I want to make my beer."


"The goal is to be part of the culture," he says. "To become 'local lore,' as they say."

The way Kansas City has Boulevard. Boston has Sam Adams. And Houston has Saint Arnold.

"This is going to be our beer and I want to make something that Tulsa can be proud of."

read the whole article, "Hops for Tulsa" by Michael Overall at Tulsa World


Monday, October 08, 2007

Rochester Chesterton Conference 2

The October 6 Chesterton Conference in Rochester - Conversion of Heart - focused on converts. Those converts were St. Paul, St. Augustine, John Henry Cardinal Newman, Joseph Pearce, and, of course, Chesterton.

In his introductory remarks, Lou Horvath, Presdient of the Rochester NY Chesterton Society, noted that when he invited speakers for the conference, it dawned on him that he was inviting converts to talk about these converts.

This seemed appropriate, he observed, "In Chesterton circles ... there's converts all over the place."

He admitted that he had hopes that at least Father Derek Cross was a cradle Catholic like himself. No luck.

But the many people who gathered for the confernece were treated to the insights of a spectacular group of converts.

David Higbee, director of Rochester's Irenaeus Center, spoke on St. Paul.

Ronald Stansbury, a professor of history at Roberts Wesleyen College (in the Rochester suburb of Chili) talked about St. Augustine.

Father Cross, a priest of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri and a teacher at St. Philip's Seminary in Toronto, offered observations about Cardinal Newman.

Joseph Pearce, who has written on Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkein, C. S. Lewis, Hilare Belloc, and on so many more topics, had the fortune - or misfortune - of talking about his own path into the Church.

And finally, Dale Alquist, President of the American Chesterton Society, naturally provided some insight into Chesterton's conversion.

In addition to their own presentations, the dream team of converts also fielded questions from conference attendees.
In true Chestertonian fashion, none of the listed times in the program were strictly observed, and the conference, scheduled to end at 3, actually came to an end closer to 4:30 - with people lingering to chat. I suspect conversations went on well into the evening.
One of the joys in such gatherings is that they draw people together who have discovered a Catholic literary giant who faded into obscurity for a while, but who is enjoying a revival with enthusiasts readily spreading the word.
"Here you have a writer who just demands to be shared," Horvath observed.
(More to come)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Good post from a blog I just happened into.

Very, very good. Very Chestertonian. Found this blogsurfing

Rochester Chesterton Conference 1

What do you call a gathering of Chestertonians?

A flock? A covey A school? A congregation? A conference?

How about well-read!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Old and new again.....

I recently had an enlightening conversation with someone who was basically fed up with the politics which seem to pervade everything from sports to church to government. He made a very good observation that we seem to be at the whim of extremists.......only people who have deep convictions, high energy, and the time to devote to causes. These folks seem to be the polar opposites, and any sort of middle, balance, or even maturity doesnt have a chance to come forth because everything is framed from the extremes.

I have to agree to a certain point. I have seen riots for many different causes, but not for moderation. Does not fire people up.

As a Chestertonian, I think GKC comes the closest to making a passionate argument for balance and moderation. His line about his conversion, seeing hope as resting on the edge between presumption and despair sums it up. One of the things that upsets me the most is that the true Christian position, especially the Catholic position on many issues is never clearly defined in debate, or even casual discussion. People throw out an adolescent label and then in a very Freudian way proceed to rise above and demolish an argument for an idea which doesn't exist anywhere except in their own misconceptions. For example, I think even an honest atheist should be intrigued by the ideas of Theology of the Body, that loving a woman with true romantic love and the chaste/celibate life are both water from the same well.

Have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Chesterton Conference

Joe stole my thunder.

(Actually, given that I missed my turn last week, maybe "whimper" is a better word.)

The Rochester Chesterton Society is sponsoring a conference this Saturday entitled, "Conversion of Heart: St. Paul, St. Augustine, John Henry Newman, GK Chesterton."

It will feature Joseph Pearce and Dale Ahlquest, along with Fr. Derek Cross, Dr. RJ Stansbury, and Rochester's own David Higbee.

Although I have been a devotee of Chesterton for many years, I have never been able to make any of the conferences. I used to work at a radio station on Saturdays (for 21 years). But I quit this past Spring, and so I am finally going to make the conference.

I'll report back this weekend.

By the way, St. Francis is my patron saint - and Chesterton's biography of him was one of the first books by Chesterton that I read - so happy feast day to all.

Memorial of St Francis of Assisi

Today being the Memorial of St Francis of Assisi, I offer you a quote from G.K. Chesterton's acclaimed biography of St Francis. It has special meaning to me because my wife wrote this quotation in a note to me after our fourth son was born.
With the fourth man enters the shadow of a mob; the group is no longer one of three individuals only conceived individually.
- G.K. Chesterton. St. Francis, chapter VII.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Rochester, NY Chesterton Conference

passing this along...
There is a Chesterton Conference coming up on Saturday, October 6. It's being put on by the Rochester, NY Chesterton Society. Some time later this month the St. Irenaeus Ministries podcast will feature recordings from this event. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Slow Blog

We haven't had any postings since Thursday. Quite the shameful lull, but I'm hardly one to cast stones. For the sake of posting something/anything, I thought I'd mention that Encyclopedia Britannica has an online GKC entry, though you need a subscription to access the entire thing.