Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Prophet Chesterton

In wandering around the blogosphere I have frequently encountered mention of Chesterton. Sometimes it’s a quote. Sometimes it’s an entire post. Or frequent quotations and posts. Sometimes he is used as a reference for judging some contemporary belief or action.

Mark Shea of Catholic and Enjoying It! caught my attention a long time ago for, among many reasons, frequently referring to him as the “Prophet Chesterton.”

I have seen that title and similar reference to him as a prophet elsewhere, including in a blog called Totally Catholic Youth Ministers Lounge (yes, that is the name!) in which they invoke the great one to counter some ill-informed anti-Catholic comments (as opposed to their usual ill-informed comments) of the women of The View.

More recently I got a chuckle when I stumbled across Father Dwight Longenecker of Standing On My Head referring to him by a variation of the title: “The Portly Prophet”.

Prophets are usually defined as individuals who have encountered God and serve as an intermediary with the rest of humanity. They often give warnings or promote change.

Chesterton certainly fits those criteria. Of course, in terms of another sorts of “fit,” prophets are often pictured as ascetical sorts on the thin side who frequently fast and wander off to mountains, caves, deserts and other isolated regions. Sound more like Shaw!

Chesterton, appropriately, provides us with a prophet paradox – a man of proportion with large appetites who often seems to have received his “messages” over many a glass in a tavern.

But why not? God has a sense of humor.

As for whether Chesterton is a prophet, history will prove that. Are his warnings, predictions and guidance authentic? So far, they seem to be – and think of how many people he has helped to lead to the Church.

The Prophet Chesterton. It has a certain ring.

At least until we can call him St. Gilbert Chesterton.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Books

As a young lad I was intrigued by the collages of Max Ernst, especially in his surrealist poem The Hundred-Headless Woman. Not only on an aesthetic level but also in the precession of his cut and paste. They also carry a since of fun, in a dark humor soft of way. Wanting to create similar colleges I was faced with the problem of finding suitable pictures to cut and paste. Using current magazine illustrations always fell short because they are all in color with varying light sources so it was impossible to get a seamless finished product.

Then I discovered Dover Press a place that publishes 19th century illustrations. I use them to this day for whenever the collage bug hits me.

Today I was looking through their catalog of books and discovered they handle a lot more than clip art, (a pit fall of being myopic). Lo and behold they have an excellent collection of Chesterton works and being an art shop they have some great cover art (the photo on this page is an excellent example.)

I have never seen this illustration of Chesterton before and I really like the one slipper on and one off bit to show his famous forgetfulness of things that don’t really matter.

Although I have the book I will buy this edition just because of the cover. Yes, sometimes I do need an excuse to buy an other book.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Work of A Master

After having read alot ABOUT C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy online, I finally found the set in a used bookstore and absolutely devoured it.

Out of the Silent Planet ------ Perelandra -------- That Hideous Strength

These are small books that achieve a true theology of literature. Just as Tolkein achieved a fantasy world that breathes Christian oxygen, so did Lewis in this series. These are small books, little less than half inch think paperbacks each, yet Lewis weaves in themes of creation, fall, redemption, and temptation. That might sound a bit shallow and cliche', but Lewis treads through the inner thoughts and emotions of man.....and woman, then widens his vision through the cosmos, taking the classical doctrines of angelic intelligence and the nature of fallen and unfallen intellect and concupiscence and weaves an enjoyable SciFi tale with these Scholastic and Patristic ideas.

When I began reading That Hideous Strength, I thought I might have bought a book that had been taped together with the wrong cover. It did not really come together for me until I nearly reached the end when I realized that I had been led along by a master storyteller at the height of his craft. Lewis covers the whole cosmos in this series, from outer space to secret inner thoughts, from corporate corruption to sexuality and marital coldness. In the midst of all of this, his prose in describing far off worlds is so breathtakingly beautify that I found myself pausing just to muse on the images.

Very good series. Very ethics of elfland --- Orthodoxy in fictional form.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, November 10, 2008

an impression of Belloc

I have a friend who has supposedly been working through Orthodoxy for years now. Not sure what his projected completion date for the first pass through that one is. I think the problem is that he uses the book as a sedative; Mortimer Adler wrote in How to Read a Book "To use a good book as a sedative is conspicuous waste." The winding roads of Chesterton's prose are difficult to follow during a late night reading. So my friend took a break to try out some Belloc, and wrote me his impression today:
I am now finishing up How the Reformation Happened. Belloc’s writing appeals to me more than Chesterton (at this point). I like the framework of “yes, I wrote that, I meant to, and here’s why it’s true. Idiot [implied].” I also enjoy paragraphs.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes it is a big deal.

No. No. Not the election. It was on this day 30 years ago that my bride and I made some promises to each other. On the surface they sound simple enough but these were covenant promises. To Love and Honor each other; the love part sounded simple because we were on fire with love so I did not pay much attention to the Honor part; (I was stupid then. Not that I am any smarter now just a different kind of stupid) I have found it is only by honoring that love is maintained and keeps the fire ever ready to flare up again.

‘To accept children gladly, for richer and poorer, in sickness and health, and through the good times and the bad’ this we both swore in front of God and everybody. The children part was easy, we thought, since we both wanted a baseball team but God had other plans for us.

Just as I tried to tell my children what these promises mean my parents told me. My kids looked at me like I must have looked at my parents not quite deer in the headlights but like a 10 year trying to understand 3 point perspective. It is impossible to get someone who is both invulnerable and invisible to understand that the down times and sacrifice are gifts. That can only be unwrapped with the power of grace through the sacrament of marriage.

We have done poorer and would like to try richer for a while. Through sickness we held each other and through heath we held each other. The good times have been very good and we have walked through the valley crap.

I guess what has made this “easy” for me is that to this day my bride is jelly to the bone.

“It is the nature of love to bind itself, and the institution of marriage merely paid the average man the compliment of taking him at his word.” GKC

Just cause I’m in the mood here is another one:

Falling asleep
holding hands
a habit
as old as their union

because they were
of losing
each other

they were
of losing

to strengthen

because they
are afraid
of losing
each other

Saturday, November 01, 2008


This past week I picked our last ripe red tomato and ate it with great joy and a little mayonnaise. Mowed the lawn for the final time, cleaned out the garden shed and taught my daughter how to fly a kite.

Then I wrote the poem I wanted to write.


One more time
bring forth life.
Cut away the brambles
pull the weeds
turn the soil
to face heaven
and plant the seed
once more.

One more time
bring forth life.
Though the season
is nearly at it’s end
the fruit of the tree
will satisfy
for years to come,
different in flavor
from the others
but just as sweet.

One more time
bring forth life.
We will do
the prescribed dances
make the holy
and mix its ash
with the sanctified waters
to bless the earth.

One more time
bring forth life.
I’ve seen the sign,
the Hawk and the Quail
have returned.
Hold my hand.
Together we will
gather the stones
rebuild the wall
carve some into
and make the garden

One more time
bring forth life.
Before we believe
the others
who tell us we
are too old to work the fields

Come. Let’s make
The Magic.