Thursday, July 31, 2008

Not quite Chestertonian

Okay, my excuse is that Chesterton would have known Gilbert and Sullivan's work, and would likely have appreciated Tom Lehrer's cleverness.

The Saint Song:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Matrix Part 4

Plot line: Agent Smith finally penetrates Zion by convincing everyone he is the ‘The One'.

When I heard Obama’s speech in Berlin he talked a lot about the future he will give the world and then says the phrase, “…. people of the world, this is our moment. This is our time.” And that popped out at me as eerily familiar because I had heard it before. It took awhile to remember then it all seemed to make sense.

I’m not saying Obama plagiarized. He may not even be aware where it was first said. This phrase is very nearly what Agent Smith said to Morpheus just before Neo decides he is going to rescue Morpheus and then he and Trinity kick some butt in the lobby.
Oh, yea, “There is no spoon.”

"Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God." - Christendom in Dublin, 1933

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ross Douthat in The Atlantic re: Gopnik

In The Atlantic Ross Douthat mildly defends G.K. Chesterton against Gopnik's charges published by the New Yorker. Earlier posts about Gopnik's article are here and here.

But the whole point of the "in the context of his times" argument is precisely that by the standards of the '20s and '30s, it was morally impressive for a political writer to reject both fascism and communism, to praise Zionism, and to speak out forcefully against Nazi anti-Semitism - and not in its eliminationist phase, but in its very earliest stages.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

ITN: GKC in NYT, Most Joyful and Dreadful Thing

Tom Vanderbilt mentions GKC in this weekend's NYT "Sunday Book Review". The review is of Spiral Jetta by Erin Hogan and he writes:
More than three decades later, the draw — part spiritualist, part survivalist — hasn’t ebbed. Erin Hogan, the director of public affairs at the Art Institute of Chicago , was one of many who felt the pull — perhaps even the same impulses that motivated the works’ creators. Quoting Smithson quoting G. K. Chesterton, she writes of wanting “that most joyful and dreadful thing in the physical universe ... the fiercest note ... the highest light.” A prototypical urbanite, surrounded by friends and noise, Hogan says she was beset by an “early midlife crisis,” wondering if there wasn’t more to life than meetings and e-mail. “I wanted to learn to enjoy being alone,” she writes. And as a “recovering art historian,” she longed to experience works she had only known refracted through art criticism and seminar slide shows.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Calling for Clerihews @ The Guardian Book Blog

Billy Mills, blogging about books at the Guardian, has a post today about writing Clerihews (link).

Also present in his post is the above picture which I do not remember seeing before.

Need a Vanilla Patch?

'Americans," G.K. Chesterton once said, "are the people who describe their use of alcohol and tobacco as vices." He did not mean that as a compliment, but he was exactly right -- puritanism has always been a strong streak running through American life. Canada, however, has always made the United States look libertine in comparison and one can only cringe at the thought of what comments the situation here might have elicited from Chesterton.

A century later, Canadians still have cause to cringe over the official attitude to the use of alcohol and tobacco. Right-thinking young Winnipeggers, joined by others from Thunder Bay and Ottawa, on Thursday protested the sale of flavoured cigarettes in the belief that if nicotine is not enough to hook you, the flavour of vanilla might and must be stopped.

read more in "Puritism Marches On" in the Winnipeg Free Press

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Is Sci Fi Protestant, Fantasy Catholic?

I picked this up over at OF Blog of the Fallen - -

He was talking about Adam Roberts' The History of Science Fiction (a book I have not read) .

According to the blog, the book deals with the religious influences on SF and Fantasy in terms of European and American writings).

"Roberts postulates that the Protestant Reformation, with its emphasis on a more empirical approach to matters of faith (and ultimately of life) created a climate more favorable to the eventual development of science fiction. However, for Catholics, there was a more mystical, backwards-looking approach that favored a more static society, elements that later were featured in tales by Catholic authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton, among others.

"As I said, such a brief sketch risks distorting Roberts' argument, but I think it can suffice to serve as a ground of debate. Are the elements most commonly associated with SF to be found more often in places where the Protestant Reformation took place? Are there really deep connections between fantasy fiction and Catholicism? And what about the other groups, such as the Jews, Eastern Orthodox, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.?"

In another piece about the book, Roberts apparently says the boundaries break down in the 20th Century.

The underlying premise seems interesting, but not having read the book I can't say how far Roberts takes it. Is fantasy more Catholic friendly? Or are Catholics more open to fantasy?

And what might GK have to say?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

We The People - Except Catholics

“The American Constitution does resemble the Spanish Inquisition in this: that it is founded on a creed. America is the only nation in the world that is founded on creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism. and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived. Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally God whose claim is taken more lightly. The point is that there is a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things.” G.K. Chesterton: What I Saw in America

Imagine what Chesterton would have written if had witnessed this:

Major U.S. city officially condemns Catholic Church
'Instructs members to defy 'Holy Office of Inquisition'

They are doing so because those darn Catholics just won’t get behind the gay agenda and proclaim it to be the source and summit of what is good and oh so much fun.

If you are not already please check out Christopher West’s series on the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae (at Catholic Exchange click on Today), where he states:
“What about homosexuality? Our culture is impotent to resist the “gay agenda” because we have already accepted its basic premise with contraception — the reduction of sex to the exchange of pleasure. When openness to life is no longer an intrinsic part of the sexual equation, why does sexual behavior have to be with the opposite sex?”

Also if you only read one encyclical read Humanae Vitae.

Monday, July 21, 2008

more on the New Yorker article

The Times of Malta posted a piece against the slanderous New Yorker article mentioned earlier:
Gopnik's allegations have been dismissed by Dr William Oddie, whose book Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy will be published in November. While admitting that Chesterton's views on Jews were "eccentric" he holds that they were no different from those of Zionists, who maintained that Jews were exiles and would never be happy until they had their own country. (Chesterton died in 1936 before the state of Israel was created in 1948.) Dr Oddie states that "Gopnik is quoting grotesquely out of context" and that on several occasions in the late 19th century, Chesterton had passionately attacked anti-Semitism and that he particularly disliked the persecution of Jews.

Also, Nancy Brown posted Dale Ahlquist's response to the New Yorker at the ACS blog along with some more details on Chesterton's beliefs about the Jews.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Critic

“Sometimes art can be considered shocking. Now it has to be shocking to be considered art.” – G.K.C.

"This is cute.....this is cute......this is nice....WHAT THE HELL IS IT?!" – Mel Brooks

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Oldest & Noisiest Chestertonian

C&F has been graced with a visit from Aidan Mackey (or, of course, some Aidan Mackey impersonator). Recently he ran across what I believe to be one of the best posts on this blog: The Chestertonian Life in Practice by Nick Milne. Mr. Mackey left the comment reproduced below:
Have just come across your G.K.C. website, & find it most interesting. At present I am overloaded with Chestertonian tasks, but will explore further as soon as possible. I count, I think, as the oldest & noisiest Chestertonian.
All good wishes,
Aidan Mackey
“A nation with the soul of a church,” Chesterton called the Americans. In the midst of the current economic mischief, it is worth pondering that they still enjoy the world’s second-oldest living constitution--the only older regime being the Papacy. Semper Fi.
from Tell it to the Marines @ MercatorNet

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another Battle Won

Tim Leary said, “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out.” This little new idea of life lead to the self centered moral relativism we as a society are now wallowing in – neck deep.

Gilbert tells us this, “Nine out of ten of what we call new ideas are simply old mistakes. The Catholic Church has for one of her chief duties that of preventing people from making those old mistakes; from making them over and over again forever, as people always do if they are left to themselves.” Also,”… in the modern world, the Catholic Church is in fact the enemy of many influential fashions; most of which still claim to be new, though many of them are beginning to be a little stale. In other words, in so far as he meant that the Church often attacks what the world at any given moment supports,…”

Saint Ignatius of Loyola (on the attack) tells us, “Be aware, Understand, Take Action.” Leary goes inward and stays there - onto death. Ignatius goes inward and then explodes out- giving new life.

Here is an excellent example of the mental path one traverses when they go from Timmy to Iggy

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pray for them

I am leaving this Friday to take 28 teenagers to meet up with 3,000 other teenagers at Franciscan University at Steubenville for their annual 3 day youth conference. I ask for your prayers that these young people be open to the power of the Holy Spirit.

For many this weekend is a life changing event - let us pray that many become all.

If you are involved with a youth group I highly recommend that you get your group to this event next year. They have several around the country.

I also hope the book store has a bigger Chesterton collection than it did last year. If not there are still some Scott Hahn books I have not read.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Chaplin, Twinkies an Si-Fi

There already has been much said on the merits of the movie Wall-E. I for one enjoyed it immensely, as did my children. That said I would like to add two more things that helped make this movie move into my top 10 list. First is that Wall-E is very Chaplinesque. The heart of Chaplin’s Tramp character is summed up by his quote, “A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.” All those seem to sum up Wall-E. Chaplin never liked talkies because he considered cinema essentially a pantomimic art saying that,"Action is more generally understood than words. Like Chinese symbolism, it will mean different things according to its scenic connotation. Listen to a description of some unfamiliar object -- an African wart hog, for example; then look at a picture of the animal and see how surprised you are.” The first two thirds and the last 5 mins of this film could easily be viewed as a silent picture with only three words of dialog, “Wall-E”, “Eve”, and “Directive”.
It also seems that G.K. liked Chaplin as he is mentioned several times in the Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton: Illustrated London News, 1929-1931.

Watch Chaplin move on wheels here

With that in mind Pixar always includes some brilliant visual jokes in their films and many are very subtle. The one I liked in this movie was the inclusion of the urban legend that a Twinkie never dies and bugs won’t eat them. It was one of those jokes that I did not get until the next day. (Seriously after 700 years without humans and Wall-E pulls out a fresh Twinkie and I thought nothing of it). I love when a movie continues to unfold after the lights come back on.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

GKC ITN: Romance, Procession, and Travel

G.K. Chesterton in the (recent) news:

Marc T. Newman in Exile Street:
WALL-E is mystified and alarmed. He calls out to her, but she is unable to answer. Not knowing what is wrong, not able to “fix” her, WALL-E does the one thing that separates the true lover from the sap. G.K. Chesterton, in Orthodoxy, noted that he was unimpressed with the romantic poets of his day. Sure, they would laugh and sigh and weep for love. They struck all the right poses. But Chesterton knew it for a sham, because there was one thing that these young fops would not do for love: sacrifice.

in the Ulster Herald:

Frank [McCrory] told Ben that he had better get along to the main processional area where his literary idol, the novelist, poet and essayist, G K Chesterton, was about to speak. Ben did so, and was later to recall the distinguished English writer carrying a pole supporting the canopy over a monstrance, with all 'the gravity of an Irish publican'. Frank McCrory was more a man for H G Wells and Bernard Shaw, but you couldn't say too much about that as a postal official in a small Irish town in the 1930s.

Chesterton was the most distinguished Catholic intellectual in the English-speaking world at the time, although a little past the peak of his creative powers.

Nick Hewer in the U.K Telegraph:

As a child I was told that G.K. believed that it is always better to travel than to arrive and he used to practise this belief by waking up his household very early in the morning, urging everybody to raise themselves quickly.

“We’ll miss the train,” he would bellow. Chaos, which he craved, would ensue: maids scurried about, gathering clothes, the housekeeper and cook would be in a state looking for anything that would make up a packed lunch, cabin trunks came crashing down from the attic to be dusted off, and packing would start, hasty notes scribbled to cancel long standing arrangements, cabs and carts would be called, children screamed and got under everyone’s feet, his poor wife would rush here and there, not knowing what to do for the best, and they would all set off for Waterloo, G.K. urging the cabbie to drive the horses harder, and, finally, they would screech to a halt at the station forecourt, all in a lather.

“Marvellous,” G.K. would declare, and the whole ensemble would quietly trot back home.

[an urban legend? the children under foot makes it sounds like one.]

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

In Defense

Regarding the New Yorker article about GKC mentioned yesterday: Nancy picked it up at the ACS blog as well, and there are some good comments.

The Flying-Ins (formerly the ChesterTeens) recently posted twice in praise of Hilaire Belloc: The Path to San Francisco and In Further Defense of Belloc.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

New Yorker article

This showed up at the NR Corner:
The Jolly Journalist [Rick Brookhiser]: Adam Gopnik has an interesting piece on G.K. Chesterton in the current New Yorker. I know Adam a little bit, and I enjoy his writing. I also share many of his reservations about Chesterton. But there is always a sense in Adam's pieces, as he rounds the club house turn, of making himself the measure of all things. Yet the world would be such a smaller place if we were all like Adam Gopnik—or all like any one of us.

The New Yorker article "The Back of the World: The genius of G. K. Chesterton" is not available online. Can any reader of C&F comment on it?

the Commonweal mag's blog has some comments about the New Yorker article here. Some interesting points in this writeup, but the criticisms are the same old things one comes to expect.