Thursday, January 31, 2008

Not reading a book

I have a confession to make.

I stopped reading a book.

I know many of us have done that - for a variety of reasons. (My best previous excuse was when I was reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and it got in the laundry bag and, well, ended up as pulp in the washer. I took that as a sign from God to stop reading stuff that might damage my soul!)

But in this case, it was a book I wanted to read, about a person I was interested in learning more about: Hilaire Belloc.

Last year, I bought an autographed copy of Joseph Pearce's Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc, at the Chesterton Conference in Rochester.

I couldn't finish it.

That's not a criticism of Pearce. I've read others of his books that I have enjoyed.

It was Belloc.

The more I read, the less I liked him, and the less I cared to read more about him. (Sort of like the people who discovered the more contact they had with Rudy Giuliani, the less they liked him. Thus his Florida flop.)

I was reminded of what happened with my planned biography of Bishop Sheen many years ago.

At the time I was a writer for the diocesan paper in Rochester, where he served as bishop from 1966-69. We have his archives, and I had access to many people who knew him.

I decided to write a multi-part series about his years in Rochester for the paper, and then to expand the series into a book.

I interveiwed, read, searched the archives, and wrote the series. I won an award for it.

But the more I dug into his life, the less I wanted to spend time with him. A biographer (can't remember who) once commented that to write a good biography you have to be willing to live with the subject for several years.

I could not imagine living with Bishop Sheen.

Nothing against him per se. And not a judgement of his morality or character: He may well be in heaven praying for my soul right now.

I just didn't like him as a person. There have been a lot of saints who would have been murder to live with. That doesn't mean they are not saints.

Anyway, that's how I began to feel about Belloc.

Guess I'll stick with Chesterton. I never get tired of hanging around with him.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lesser-Known GKC

Those looking for less familiar essays by Chesterton should note that he contributed to The Venture, a highbrow literary annual edited by W. Somerset Maugham and Lawrence Houseman. The Venture was an expensive production, and only two issues appearedthe 1903 and 1904 editions, respectively. [Ted Morgan, Maugham, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980, pp. 93-94] Incidentally, Chesterton's 1903 contribution, "The Philosophy of Islands," was reprinted in The Spice of Life (1964).

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Weekend thoughts........

This is very cool......OT History

An awesome interview of Fr. Schall, SJ

and is continued here.

I chose these two things with intention. Fr. Schall is very "progressive" in how he seamlessly blends classical philosophy, Aquinas, and a literary life with the problems and questions of today -- which are really the problems and questions of every day. Fr. Schall can almost make tears come to the eyes.......for the beauty of the truth and the sadness of the Jesuit order. If Fr. Schall is what the Jesuit order was meant to be, and indeed was for much of its history, it would have been amazing to see in its finest flowering.

Link this to the discovery of archaeological evidence of the ancient history of the Hebrews.

Amazing at times to think of the shoulders we stand on.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Presidential Clerihew

President James Polk
would rarely crack a joke.
But friends say he was quick
with a limerick.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


New C.S. Lewis blog, and it's a big hitter, sponsored by HarperOne.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Some weekend thoughts.....

Life is getting very, very political now. There is a temptation at times to fall into the trap of thinking that political thought is actual reasoning. I found this little quiz as a fun thing to keep balanced with.

You’re St. Justin Martyr!

You have a positive and hopeful attitude toward the world. You think that nature, history, and even the pagan philosophers were often guided by God in preparation for the Advent of the Christ. You find “seeds of the Word” in unexpected places. You’re patient and willing to explain the faith to unbelievers.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

I'm really not sure which of the Fathers would be most Chestertonlike personality wise. Belloc and St. Jerome could easily be pictured together. Chesterton would most likely match best with.....St Justin Martyr? My knowledge of the Fathers isnt quite what it should be. I know controversies, and the names associated with them, but little about personalities beyond the heavies (St. Augustine, St. Basil) There is a certain Eastern-ness to Chesterton which leads me to suspect that he might be most closely mirrored by one of the Greek or Alexandrian writers.

Interesting thought at least.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Sorry for my absence. I'm still not back up to full health, time-wise. In the meantime:

On December 7, 1936, the BBC, which had started in public television only five weeks before, broadcast a televised pantomimedirected and performed by Hilary D. C. Pepler, a Ditchling associate of Eric Gill. Originally the performance had been planned by Pepler and G.K. Chesterton as a benefit for the Distributist League and was produced at London's Little Theater on June 28, 1936, shortly after Chesterton's death. [Evans, America, December 26, 1987, pp. 501-02]

Friday, January 04, 2008

Huckabee cites Chesterton!

I know that Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been the subject of debate in Catholic circles and blogs - with supporters and detactors - but something he said should raise a smile among Chestertonians.

In his victory speech, Huckabee loosely quoted Chesterton: "A true soldier fights not because he hates those who are in front of him but because he loves those who are behind him."

(Actual GKC quote: "The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.")

Huckabee went on to say, "Running for office is not hating those who are in front of you but loving those who are behind you."

When was the last time a U.S. politician cited Chesterton?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A clerihew

Any foe of Andrew Jackson
who dared to make attacks on
Rachel, his wife,
was risking his life.