Friday, September 22, 2023

Tolkien the Catholic - National Catholic Register

Something from Joseph Pearce!

Tolkien the Catholic| National Catholic Register: COMMENTARY: Literary giant’s deep faith, often overshadowed by his commercial success, imbued his work.

Friday, September 01, 2023

Vivek Ramaswamy Clerihew

Vivek Ramaswamy
is fond of making origami.
As was shown during the first debate,
some of his views are similarly pretty but light-weight.

Monday, August 28, 2023

How About a Little Owen Barfield?


Owen Barfield (1898-1997) was one of the Inklings, and was one of the people who influenced C.S. Lewis. Indeed, Lewis once described Barfield, whom he considered a friend, as "the best and wisest of my unofficial teachers."

Barfield and Lewis around 1940

Here are a few quotations from Barfield: 

“The obvious is the hardest thing of all to point out to anyone who has genuinely lost sight of it.”
― Worlds Apart

“When the velocity of progress increases beyond a certain point, it becomes indistinguishable from crisis.”
 Night Operation

“True understanding is unattainable without both love and detachment,”
― History in English Words

“Understanding what another human being says to us is always a matter of translation.”

“There is no surer or more illuminating way of reading a man's character, and perhaps a little of his past history, than by observing the contexts in which he prefers to use certain words.”
― History in English Words

“Before the scientific revolution, [man] did not feel himself isolated by his skin from the world outside to quite the same extent that we do. He was integrated, or mortised into it, each different part of him being united to a different part of it by some invisible thread. In his relation to his environment, the man of the middle ages was rather less like an island, rather more like an embryo.”
― Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry

“It was a question of steering Christian dogma between the Scylla of pantheism and the Charybdis of materialism and its logical conclusion, scepticism.”
― History in English Words

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Non-Entries for the Clerihew Contest


THE 42ND ANNUAL CHESTERTON CONFERENCE: Chesterton and Saint Francis gets underway tomorrow in Minneapolis. 

I'm not attending. 

It's not a slight against the conference or anyone involved, but I tend not to attend conferences that require travel any distance or staying overnight. 

I hope it's a successful conference. 

Unfortunately, my not going means that I can't take part in the annual Clerihew Contest.

If I were there, here are some of the entries I might consider submitting:

--- Before Chesterton

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
sat in her parlor frowning.
Robert had bought her something labeled "Serra da Estrela cheese,"
that clearly wasn't Portuguese.

The replacement Apostle Matthias
was chosen by lot, not by bias.
Alas, except for his selection.
he's eluded all other historical detection.

Inspector Javert
felt an insatiable desire for a chocolate eclair.
But since the bakeries would not open until well after dawn
he obsessed instead about Jean Valjean.

Fyodor Dostoevsky
was plagued by vices that proved pesky .
To pay his bills he took a successful gamble
creating characters who were prone to verbally ramble.

We can probably assume Saint Blaise
is in Heaven these days.
Martyrdom likely led him to eternal glory
and not just some fish story.

--- During Chesterton

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

Lord Peter Wimsey
was never deterred by evidence flimsy,
but his confidence suffered years of strain
when faced with the mystery of Harriet Vane.

When reading Robert Frost
I often find myself getting lost
in thoughts of walls and trees and snow and roads,
but never once of toads.

--- After Chesterton

Alfred Hitchcock
developed a bad case of writer's block
despite his use of a bran muffin
as the MacGuffin.

As an actor, Tom Baker
was more of a character than a heart-breaker.
But I think his Doctor is worthy of a clerihew,
even though at mention of his name some folks just say, “Who?"

In the kitchen, Julia Child
was amusing but never wild.
To fill that void
we had to rely on Dan Aykroyd.

Megan Rapinoe
picked up a banjo.
As she played a tune on it,
she sang, "That #$@&*! is full of %@!#*"

The Brits now have their third Chuck,
and so I wish them lots of luck.
He finally achieved one of his two main goals,
the other, of course, being Mrs. Parker Bowles.

Dale Ahlquist
peered into the fog and mist.
He is certain that somewhere out there
is an undiscovered Chesterton text awaiting his care.

Who know if any of them might have won recognition. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Joseph Pearce of Faith & Fantasy


Joseph Pearce continues to offer looks at Chesterton, Lewis, and others.

In The Imaginative Conservative he published an article called "Faith & Fantasy: Chesterton, Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling & Other Tellers of Tall Tales"

It begins:

Tall tales are still being told. The light still shines. The torch is still being handed from generation to generation. Thanks be to God, the giver of the light, and thanks be to Chesterton, Tolkien, Lewis, and all other legend-makers and torchbearers of tradition.

Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme
of things not found within recorded time.

                 —J.R. R. Tolkien (From “Mythopoeia”)

This is a festive year for all admirers of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. This September will mark the fiftieth anniversary of Tolkien’s sailing into the Mystic West, while this November marks the sixtieth anniversary of Lewis’s passing through the stable door and going further up and further in. It would seem appropriate to celebrate these joyous landmarks with an acknowledgment of the legacy of Tolkien and Lewis and of those who influenced them and were influenced by them.

Let’s begin with the connection between “faith and fantasy” which is inseparable from “faith and reason”, as was made evident by Tolkien in his seminal essay “On Fairy-Stories”:

Fantasy is a natural human activity. It certainly does not destroy or even insult Reason; and it does not either blunt the appetite for, nor obscure the perception of, scientific verity. On the contrary. The keener and the clearer is the reason, the better fantasy will it make. If men were ever in a state in which they did not want to know or could not perceive truth (facts or evidence), then Fantasy would languish until they were cured. If they ever get into that state (it would not seem at all impossible), Fantasy will perish, and become Morbid Delusion.

Check out the rest!


Saturday, July 01, 2023

From OSV: The Long Journey of Lewis


Our Sunday Visitor has an article by Russell Shaw about the conversion of C. S. Lewis, "C.S. Lewis and his long journey toward Christianity"

Mapping the spiritual journey of C.S. Lewis doesn’t mean finding that one, special turning point at which he declared himself a believer — that’s clear enough — but tracing the long series of events that led up to it. Fortunately, like St. Augustine writing his Confessions centuries earlier, Lewis himself provides a detailed itinerary of the steps that finally brought him to the point of saying, “I believe.”

Lewis is remembered today as a writer and Christian apologist — arguably the finest of the 20th century. He was not only a prolific writer but remarkably diverse, with an output that included children’s books, scholarly volumes, science fiction, works on Christian doctrine and a moving, intensely personal account of his grief-ridden quarrel with God after his wife’s death.

His books have been adapted for stage, screen and television, and he has been the subject of several biographies. While there is no telling how many people he has reached, the number clearly is in the millions. But his emergence as a Christian writer was long in coming. In “Surprised By Joy,” the autobiographical story of his conversion, he provides a careful, candid explanation of how he “passed from atheism to Christianity.” ...

Check it out.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Lewis Lectures - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

In subsequent lectures, the other books are explored. There are also lectures on other Lewis books.

I have not viewed them all, so I post this out of interest, not necessarily as an endorsement. But they may be fine!

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Another C. S. Lewis Sighting


Amid all its pop culture pieces, Parade Magazine paid attention to C. S. Lewis!

In the article "From Narnia to Wormwood to the Four Loves—Here Are the Best 125 C.S. Lewis Quotes,"  K
elsey Pelzer offers up some familiar - and unfamiliar - words of wit and wisdom from Lewis.

"Many of us may remember the awe and wonder we felt when Lucy first encountered the world of Narnia after walking through an old wardrobe. One inventive man and author was able to stretch our imaginations to new lengths through his epic fantasy series, and he did not stop there. From so many of his well-written novels and musings, we have the 125 greatest C.S. Lewis quotes to share!

Clive Staples Lewis was a popular British writer who authored over 30 books during his lifetime. A former atheist, C.S. Lewis became a Christian after many debates and conversations with his Oxford colleague and friend, J.R.R. Tolkien (author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy). C.S. Lewis' religious conversion greatly influenced his writing, as one can see in some of his best-known works like The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Four Loves, and more.

We have the best C.S. Lewis quotes on friendship, love, faith, pain, and one of his greatest passions: books. Whether you're familiar with his fantasy stories and/or theological writings, or have never heard of them, plenty of these famous C.S. Lewis quotes are bound to strike you as profound and insightful."

Among the quotations: 

"Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” (Chesterton would agree!)

"We meet no ordinary people in our lives.” (Another one likely getting a nod from Chesterton)

"I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”

"You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.”

"The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”

"Adventures are never fun while you're having them.”

"Do not dare not to dare.”

"Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.”

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

"The great thing to remember is that though our feelings come and go God's love for us does not.”

Check out some of the other quotations here.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Happy Birthday Gilbert!


Gilbert Keith Chesterton, born May 29, 1874.

“The first fact about the celebration of birthdays is that it is a good way of affirming defiantly, and even flamboyantly, that it is a good thing to be alive.” – G.K. Chesterton.

Except, of course, he is no longer alive!

But we will still celebrate. 

Saturday, May 13, 2023

C. S. Lewis Sighting


One of my favorite periodicals is the St. Austin Review (StAR)..

I just got the May/June 2023 issue, and it is dedicated to C. S. Lewis. 

The issue  includes numerous articles and review related to Lewis, beginning with the editorial by Joseph Pearce: "The Mere Genius of C. S. Lewis."

Other articles include: 

A Literary Communion of Saints: C. S. Lewis and the Power of Literature
The Great Divorce: A Novel Answer to an Immodest Proposal
Ablution versus Abolition in C. S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength
If You Haven't Read Narnia Yet
C. S. Lewis' Genius for Apologetics

And a number of other Lewis-related articles and reviews. I have not read them all yet, but I am looking forward to it.

If you have not discovered StAR yet, and you enjoy intelligent examinations of literature and culture from a Catholic/Christian perspective, I urge you to consider subscribing.

My own contact with Lewis began about the time I first encountered G. K. Chesterton.

As I've noted previously, in the mid 1970's when my faith was wavering I happend to come across some works that righted my spiritual ship: The Confessions of St. Augustine, The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton, and St. Francis of Assisi by G. K. Chesterton.  

Around the same time, though, I also came across the Chronicles of Narnia by Lewis. I read those all in a one week period!

I continued to read Chesterton after than first encounter - but I read even more of Lewis. The science fiction trilogy, Till We have Faces, The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, The Abolition of Man, Surprised by Joy, The Four Loves, A Grief Observed, and severl collections of stories and essay. 

I read all those works in a ten-year span. You might say I binged on Lewis!

It is only in the last 20 years that I have been reading enough Chesterton to catch up with the Lewis tally. 

Both writers well worth reading.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

About the Pearce List - Additions


In a previous post, I mentioned Joseph Pearce's Literature: What Every Catholic Should Know.

Specifically, I noted what books by Chesterton and his friends made Pearce's list of 100 works of literature every Catholic should aspire to read.

It's a pretty comprehensive list. I've read in whole 55 of them. I've read most of The Canterbury Tales, but not all of them, so I did not count that. I've read some of the poems of many of the poets listed, but not all of their poems, so I don't count them. With the Tales and the poets I can say I've read in part six  more works he listed.

I have encountered other lists of great works of literature or Catholic works of literature that Catholics should read. Brandon Vogt, for example, has a comprehensive list.

In considering Pearce's list, I have few arguments. It's a good list. Some of the books are hard to find - even in our local library. My personal taste does not run to Jane Austen, so I doubt I'll put a lot of effort into reading more of her books (Mind you, I've taught Pride and Prejudice and even directed a play version of it!). I don't know why he included Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor - a play I rank among his poorer efforts.

The list does seem very Eurocentric, with a heavy British emphasis, but Pearce is from England, so I'll give him a pass on that.

In the the chapters of the book he does touch on some other writers, but does not add any of their works to the list of 100. There are other writers he never mentions at all.. 

Among the works I'd add to such a list:

The Sonnets of Shakespeare (yes, a number of his plays are listed, but not his poetry)
Victor Hugo - Les Miserables
C. S. Lewis - The Screwtape Letter
Harriet Beecher Stowe - Uncle Tom's Cabin
Shusaku Endo - Silence
Sandra Benitez - The Weight of All Things
Phyllis McGinley - Times Three (Selected verse from three decades) 
J. F. Powers - Morte d'Urban, Wheat That Springeth Green
Michael O'Brien - Father Elijah: An Apocalypse, Strangers and Sojourners

Yes, some of my added suggestions are not "classics," but they are well worth reading


Thursday, April 27, 2023

Father Brown Goal Met

As a fan of mystery stories in general, one of my long-term reading goals was to read all of G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown mysteries.

Having now read The Scandal of Father Brown, I have met that goal.

All told, he wrote 53 Father Brown tales. They were collected in the Ignatius Press G. K. Chesterton: Collected Works.

There were five collections:

The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)
The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914)
The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926) 
The Secret of Father Brown (1927)
The Scandal of Father Brown (1935)

There were also three tales originally not included in the five volumes: "The Donnington Affair," 'The Vampire of the Village," and 'The Mask of Midas."

Chesterton once declared "I think it only fair to confess that I have myself written some of the worst mystery stories in the world.".

I don't agree with him. I have certainly read far worse mystery stories. And some of the Father Brown tales are wonderful mysteries. Even the "worst" of them are enjoyable.  

I do acknowledge, however, that some of the tales read as if he wrote them out of financial necessity or or in a hurry. I remember one tale, for example, where a character was referred to as another person's daughter a couple of times, then, later, as that person's granddaughter. Chesterton also uses some stereotypes when referring to certain ethnic groups, or used the "n" word when referring to Blacks. Yes, I understand that the stereotypes and words he used were not offensive in his time, but they certainly made me uncomfortable as a modern reader. When revealed, some of the crimes seemed implausible. 

Some of the tales were stretched out by theological or philosophical passages. Those enriched the tales for me, and set them apart from many other mystery stories. I think those passages helped ot make the tales timeless.

Now that I'm done with the Father Brown stories I need to explore some of his other mystery stories. 

I look forward to that. 

Sunday, April 16, 2023

When reading Robert Frost (clerihew)


When reading Robert Frost
I often find myself getting lost
in thoughts of walls and trees and snow and roads,
but never once of toads.

Monday, April 03, 2023

Inspector Javert Clerihew


Inspector Javert
felt an insatiable desire for a chocolate eclair.
But since the bakeries would not open until well after dawn
he obsessed instead about Jean Valjean.

Saturday, April 01, 2023

They Made the List

 Back in 2019, Joseph Pearce published Literature: What Every Catholic Should Know.

He discusses a number of authors in the book, then, in Chapter 25, lists "100 Works of Literature Every Catholic Should Know." 

It's a pretty comprehensive chronological list, ranging from The Iliad to Lancelot by Walker Percy. It does not, however, include theological works, hence works like The Everlasting Man did not make the list.

Still, it includes many works by some of our friends.

Hilaire Belloc:

The Path to Rome
The Four Men
Complete Verse

G. K Chesterton:

The Napoleon of Notting Hill
The Man Who Was Thursday
The Ball and the Cross
The Ballad of the White Horse

Maurice Baring:

Cat's Cradle
Robert Peckham

J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit
The Lord of the Rings

C. S. Lewis:

Out of the Silent Planet
That Hideous Strength
Till We Have Faces
The Chronicles of Narnia

Hmm. No Screwtape Letters?  

Still, it's a good reading list. 

Friday, March 17, 2023

When did you ...

A fellow over on Twitter posed a question: When did you realize C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton were right about pretty much everything?

I had to think about that one.

My own contact with Lewis and Chesterton began in the 1970's. In late 1974 I read the Chronicles of Narnia. I read Chesterton's St. Francis of Assisi in the spring of 1975. Both authors were important to helping sort out my faith at that time.

Though I had encountered the writings of both, I gravitated toward Lewis. Indeed, I began to buy and read his books/collections. By the early 1980's I had read a couple of biographies about him, and:

The science fiction trilogy. The Screwtape Letters, Till We Have Faces, Mere Christianity, The Allegory of Love, The Four Loves, The Abolition of Man, The World's Last Night, Of Other Worlds, God in the Dock, Surprised by Joy, A Grief Observed

I found in Lewis a kindred spirit. I did indeed think he was right about pretty much everything.

I began reading more Chesterton in the 1980's, in part because of learning about his influence on Lewis, and in part because he was touted for writing two of the spiritual classics of the Twentieth Century: Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. So I read both. His thinking helped me to clarify my own. I saw he was also right about things. But I still preferred Lewis, whom I found easier and more pleasurable to read.

I became more immersed in Chesterton in the 1990's and, in particular, after joining the Chesterton Society in the early 2000's, subscribing to Gilbert, and attending the local annual Chesterton conferences. In the last 20 years I have read multiple books by and about him, includign several biographies. Of Chesterton I have read:

The Man Who Was Thursday, Manalive, G. K. Chesterton's Early Poetry, The Coloured Lands, Tremendous Trifles, What's Wrong With The World, The Autobiography, Magic, Heretics, Chesteerton in Black and White, The Well and the Shallows, and Eugenics and Other Evils.

Dale Ahlquist has produced a number of studies I have read: Knight of the Holy Ghost,  The Gift of Wonder,The Complete Thinker, and The Apostle of Common Sense. 

There have been other works about him as well.  

Yes, when I discover an author I like I become fixated.

I still find Lewis easier and more pleasurable to read. And, to be honest, I have found some of Chesterton's dated racial terms and stereotypes uncomfortable to read. But I still read both - most recently reading The Great Divorce and rereading Out of the Silent Planet, Mere Christianity, and The Screwtape Letters, all by Lewis, and currently rereading The Everlasting Man with the local Chesterton Society. 

Last year, I reread two of the Narnia books: The Silver Chair and The Last Battle

As for Chesterton, I read
The Ballad of the White Horse
Lepanto: With Explanatory Notes and Commentary
The Secret of Father Brown

"The Donnington Affair"
“The Vampire of the Village”
St. Thomas Aquinas

I have a goal of reading all the Father Brown mysteries. I'll finish that goal this year. I'll also likely be reading another Chesterton title with the local Chesterton Society. As for Lewis, I will be rereading some of his books - it's been 40 years since I binged on him.

Going back to the fellow's Twitter question: I began seeing Lewis as right about pretty much everything in the 1970's, and Chesterton in the early 2000's. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Speaking of Clerihews


Over the years I've been fortunate to have a number of my clerihews published in Gilbert . The current tally is 50 individual poems. Due to some mix-up, four of those were published a second time.

The last one published was a Robert Burns one in the May/June 2022 issue.

Although I did not attend the Conference last year, I did submit several clerihews for the Clerihew Contest. Alas, they did not make the winners' list, nor have they appeared since in any issue. So unless one of those that I submitted last July make it into print in the future, the tally will likely remain at 50.

Not a bad total.

Oh, I'm still writing clerihews, and will continue to post them here, but I've stopped submitting to the magazine for now.

Here's the published list in alphabetical order:

Achilles - Gilbert Nov/Dec 2017
After that day in Moriah, young Isaac - Gilbert Nov/Dec 2017
Albert Einstein - Gilbert Magazine, September 2009

Alexa - Gilbert May/June 2020

Anne Rice - Gilbert Magazine, March/April 2011

As a director, Ed Wood - Gilbert May/June 2020

A somber Marquis de Sade - Gilbert May/June 2017

At Nicaea, St. Nicholas - Gilbert! May/June 2019

Ayn Rand - Gilbert May/June 2020

Charles Bukowski - Gilbert January/February 2017

Condoleeza Rice - Gilbert Magazine, June/July 2007

Dr. Mary Gatter - Gilbert May/June 2017

e (cummings) e - Gilbert Magazine, March/April 2011

Elizabeth Warren - Gilbert May/June 2020

Evangelista Torricelli - Gilbert January/February 2019

Fidel Castro - Gilbert Magazine, April/May 2007

Fred Rogers - Gilbert November/December 2018

Geoffrey Chaucer - Gilbert May/June 2020

G. K. Chesterton - Gilbert Nov/Dec 2017

Herman Melville -  Gilbert Magazine, April/May 2007

I don’t know if Rudyard Kipling - Gilbert Magazine, April/May 2007

In his early life Thomas Merton - Gilbert Magazine, March/April 2011

In those woods, Robert Frost- Gilbert Magazine, April/May 2009

Irascible St. Jerome - Gilbert Nov/Dec 2017

Jackson Pollock - Gilbert! May/June 2019

Jean Paul Sartre - Gilbert Magazine, April/May 2007

Lot's wife - Gilbert Magazine, March/April 2011

Methuselah - Gilbert! July/August 2018

Napoleon Bonaparte - Gilbert Nov/Dec 2017

One of the aims of ISIS - Gilbert May/June 2017

     One of the aims of ISIS - Gilbert May/June 2020

Paolo Uccello - Gilbert November/December 2018

President James Polk - Gilbert Magazine, May/June 2011

Prolific Stephen King - Gilbert Magazine, March/April 2011

Robert Burns – Gilbert May/June 2022

Rudyard Kipling - Gilbert April/May 2007 

Saintly King Henry - Gilbert November/December 2018

Steven Wright - Gilbert May/June 2017

     Steven Wright - Gilbert! May/June 2019

St. Dominic - Gilbert November/December 2018

St. Francis of Assisi - Gilbert Magazine, April/May 2007

St. Thomas Aquinas - Gilbert November/December 2018

There was a side of J. R. R. Tolkien - Gilbert Nov/Dec 2017

Titus Oates - Gilbert! May/June 2019

Tron - Gilbert November/December 2018

TV’s Dr. House - Gilbert Magazine, April/May 2007

Vladimir Kosma Zworykin - Gilbert Magazine, March/April 2011

Vladimir Putin - Gilbert (March/April) 2017

When Alexander Pope - Gilbert May/June 2017

     When Alexander Pope - Gilbert! May/June 2019

When he was young St. Polycarp - Gilbert May/June 2017

     When he was young St. Polycarp - Gilbert! May/June 2019

When talking with Socrates - Gilbert Magazine, January/February 2007

When Siddhartha Gautama - Gilbert Magazine, July/August 2009

Yvonne De Carlo - Gilbert! March/April 2021 

Friday, February 10, 2023

St. Blaise


It's probably safe to assume Saint Blaise
is enjoying Paradise these days.
Martyrdom likely led him to eternal glory
and not just some fish story.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Where's the Chesterton Biography Movie?

In recent years we have been treated to biographical movies about J. R. R. Tolkien (Tolkien) and C. S. Lewis (Shadowlands, The Most Reluctant Convert). But as far as I know, we have had no biographical film about G. K. Chesterton, despite his friendship with Tolkien and his influence on Lewis.

Now Chesterton has appeared in segments of the in the EWTN series G. K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense. And, of course, his character Father Brown has been the subject of at least two movies (Father Brown. Detective and The Detective) and two television series (the first in 1974 and a current one that began in 2013 and is still being produced). I've even heard of  movies based on Magic and The Man Who Was Thursday, though I have seen neither

But no biographical movies. 

There's potential, certainly. His discovery of faith and his later conversion to Catholicism, his encounter with the diabolist, his courtship of Frances, the debates with Shaw, the Marconi scandal, and so on.

But no biopics.

I can think of a few possible reasons.

His books are not as popular or as widely known as those of Tolkien or Lewis. His audience tends to be more limited, and for a long time his reputation had waned or was obscured. 

His writing style, while popular in his day, is sometimes a challenge for modern readers, hence he is less read than Tolkien and Lewis. Father Brown is his most popular character, but the two Father Brown television shows were shown in the U.S. on PBS, which tends to draw a small audience. .   

Chesterton died in the 1930's while Lewis lived until the 1960's and Tolkien to the 1970's, so he is a more distant figure.

There have been accusations of anti-Semitism, which, while supporters have argued  persuasively against them, still linger. Certainly those accusations have interfered with his cause for canonization. One suspects the possibility of controversy has made movie makers hesitant.

And, to be honest, he was not photogenic, especially later in life when he was very heavy and dressed in eccentric ways. Even as a young man before he gained weight he was not exactly a looker. (I say this as one who always described himself as having a face made for radio!)

Though, apparently, Frances didn't mind!

Nor, fortunately, did my wife when it came to me!   

Whatever the reason, I am aware of no credible interest in a biographical film celebrating his life.

There may still be a chance some day of a Chesterton biography in our theaters. It could be something The Society of G. K. Chesterton might consider promoting, though I am not aware of any efforts on their part currently.

Until then, we will just have to content ourselves with the pleasure of reading his works.  

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Princess Diana


In response to some unkind comments about Princess Diana in the November/December Gilbert, I have only two things to say:

1. I was always taught it's rude to speak ill of the dead in that way.

2. Princess Diana is a distant relative. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

C. S. Lewis and Mere Christianity

I bought my copy of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis February 25, 1980.

I know this because the receipt is still in the book. I bought it those four decades ago at the now defunct Village Green Book Store here in Rochester, N.Y.

I was on a C. S. Lewis binge back in those days. I would only later really discover the greatness of  Chesterton. 

Currently, I'm trying to increase my spiritual reading, so I thought it was a good time to reread this book, which is based on radio addresses Lewis gave.

It's only been some 40 years, after all!

Unlike the Village Green Bookstore, the ideas in the book are clearly not defunct.

And as I was reading, it hit me that they seem really familiar. I have used many of the same explanations and arguments myself over the last 40 years.

The more I read, the more I began to wonder if this book was the source of some of my own thinking, or if what he wrote clarified ideas that were forming in my mind at the time that I read the book. His method of creating common situations, anecdotes, or "parables" to help explain more complex theological points - such as his description of a writer creating a novel to help explain how God is outside of time - is a technique I have used in my own teaching and theological discussions. Did I learn that from him? Or did he simply reinforce a tendency already in me?

I was not aware of it at the time, but I now know that his own conversion came about in part from reading G.K. Chesterton, so I began wondering if some of Lewis's ideas came from Chesterton or were clarified by reading him. Perhaps I'm just another link in a chain.

I'm almost done with Mere Christianity. I'm also rereading The Screwtape Letters as part of a Catholic reading group as well.

I suspect I will be rereading more Lewis when I am finished with these books.