Friday, February 29, 2008

Dire circumstances are imminent, and in this shadow of impending catastrophe I fly unto the indefatigable Chesterteens for aid.






I'm trying to think of 3 main points, and collect some poignant quotes. Chesterton converting C. S. Lewis is probably going to prove most effective on this non-Catholic audience, but that's only one point. I would be greatly indebted to anyone who has ideas for possible arguments.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Poetry Thursday

To Belloc (Preface to The Napolean of Notting Hill)

For every tiny town or place
God made the stars especially;
Babies look up with owlish face
And see them tangled in a tree;
You saw a moon from Sussex Downs,
A Sussex moon, untravelled still,
I saw a moon that was the town's,
The largest lamp on Campden Hill.

Yea; Heaven is everywhere at home
The big blue cap that always fits,
And so it is (be calm; they come
To goal at last, my wandering wits),
So is it with the heroic thing;
This shall not end for the world's end
And though the sullen engines swing,
Be you not much afraid, my friend.

This did not end by Nelson's urn
Where an immortal England sits--
Nor where your tall young men in turn
Drank death like wine at Austerlitz.
And when the pedants bade us mark
What cold mechanic happenings
Must come; our souls said in the dark,
"Belike; but there are likelier things."

Likelier across these flats afar
These sulky levels smooth and free
The drums shall crash a waltz of war
And Death shall dance with Liberty;
Likelier the barricades shall blare
Slaughter below and smoke above,
And death and hate and hell declare
That men have found a thing to love.

Far from your sunny uplands set
I saw the dream; the streets I trod
The lit straight streets shot out and met
The starry streets that point to God.
This legend of an epic hour
A child I dreamed, and dream it still,
Under the great grey water-tower
That strikes the stars on Campden Hill

Friday, February 22, 2008

Father Brown Friday- The Flying Stars

Alright, I really have neglected to give this much thought, so 'tis a bit sloppy. Now, as you may have guessed from the title (:, today's reading is The Flying Stars. (Fourth story in The Innocence of Father Brown). And, in case you were wondering about the jump from the first to fourth... we (GilbertGirl, Algernon and I) were thinking that since we were already discussing Flambeau, more in the same line would probably be appropriate. And that the third story, The Queer Feet, (which is about Flambeau) might be interesting to discuss in the light of this, wherein he converts.

That said, discussion. Now do pardon my laziness, but rather then coming up with specific discussion questions, I picked two quotes from the story (and one from another place thanks to Algernon and his dad) to be considered. Please don't hesitate to post your thoughts.

Some contemporary British comic playwright wrote that humorous plays involving mistaken identity or (as is common in Wodehouse) becoming engaged to some one you don't like through delicacy, are only possible when they are about Brits because an American would say before things had gotten very far " Who the heck are you?". (:

What do you call a man who wants to embrace the chimney-sweep?"
"A saint," said Father Brown.
"I think," said Sir Leopold, with a supercilious smile, "that Ruby means a Socialist."
"A radical does not mean a man who lives on radishes," remarked Crook, with some impatience; and a Conservative does not mean a man who preserves jam. Neither, I assure you, does a Socialist mean a man who desires a social evening with the chimney-sweep. A Socialist means a man who wants all the chimneys swept and all the chimney-sweeps paid for it."
"But who won't allow you," put in the priest in a low voice, "to own your own soot."

"I want you to give them back, Flambeau, and I want you to give up this life. There is still youth and honour and humour in you; don't fancy they will last in that trade. Men may keep a sort of level of good, but no man has ever been able to keep on one level of evil. That road goes down and down. The kind man drinks and turns cruel; the frank man kills and lies about it. Many a man I've known started like you to be an honest outlaw, a merry robber of the rich, and ended stamped into slime. Maurice Blum started out as an anarchist of principle, a father of the poor; he ended a greasy spy and tale-bearer that both sides used and despised. Harry Burke started his free money movement sincerely enough; now he's sponging on a half-starved sister for endless brandies and sodas. Lord Amber went into wild society in a sort of chivalry; now he's paying blackmail to the lowest vultures in London. Captain Barillon was the great gentleman-apache before your time; he died in a madhouse, screaming with fear of the "narks" and receivers that had betrayed him and hunted him down. I know the woods look very free behind you, Flambeau; I know that in a flash you could melt into them like a monkey. But some day you will be an old grey monkey, Flambeau. You will sit up in your free forest cold at heart and close to death, and the tree-tops will be very bare."

P.S. I hope that all made sense, I seem to have a talent for run-on sentances at the moment (:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Poetry Thursday- St. Francis Xavier

I believe Chesterton wrote this for a poetry contest in his school days.

He left his dust, by all the myriad tread
Of yon dense millions trampled to the strand,
Or 'neath some cross forgotten lays his head
Where dark seas whiten on a lonely land:
He left his work, what all his life had planned,
A waning flame to flicker and to fall,
Mid the huge myths his toil could scarce withstand,
And the light died in temple and in hall,
And the old twilight sank and settled over all.

He left his name, a murmur in the East,
That dies to silence amid older creeds,
With which he strove in vain: the fiery priest
Of faiths less fitted to their ruder needs:
As some lone pilgrim, with his staff and beads,
Mid forest-brutes whom ignorance makes tame,
He dwelt, and sowed an Eastern Church's seeds
He reigned, a teacher and a priest of fame:
He died and dying left a murmur and a name.

He died: and she, the Church that bade him go,
Yon dim Enchantress with her mystic claim,
Has ringed his forehead with her aureole-glow,
And monkish myths, and all the whispered fame
Of miracle, has clung about his name:
So Rome has said: but we, what answer we
Who in grim Indian gods and rites of shame
O'er all the East the teacher's failure see,
His Eastern Church a dream, his toil a vanity.

This then we say: as Time's dark face at last
Moveth its lips of thunder to decree
The doom that grew through all the murmuring past
To be the canon of the times to be:
No child of truth or priest of progress he,
Yet not the less a hero of his wars
Striving to quench the light he could not see,
And God, who knoweth all that makes and mars,
Judges his soul unseen which throbs among the stars.

God only knows, man failing in his choice,
How far apparent failure may succeed,
God only knows what echo of His voice
Lives in the cant of many a fallen creed,
God only gives the labourer his meed
For all the lingering influence widely spread,
Broad branching into many a word and deed
When dim oblivion veils the fountain-head;
So lives and lingers on the spirit of the dead.

This then we say: let all things further rest
And this brave life, with many thousands more,
Be gathered up in the eternal's breast
In that dim past his Love is bending o'er:
Healing all shattered hopes and failure sore:
Since he had bravely looked on death and pain
For what he chose to worship and adore,
Cast boldly down his life for loss or gain
In the eternal lottery: not to be in vain.

P.S. This poem was, as a good many of the others were, found here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I've been reading The Wisdom and Innocence by Joseph Pearce (and probably will be for quite a while) and I found these tidbits (and others too of course) regarding the differences between Chesterton and Belloc, quite interesting.

F.J. Sheed wrote:

Each had his own way of being himself. which means that they had they had their different ways of forcing gentlemen to listen. I shall tell a story of each, well known to men of my generation, not perhaps to our juniors.

1. Belloc was kneeling at Mass in Westminster Cathedral. A sacristan whispered to him, "Excuse me sir, we stand here."
Belloc: "Go to hell."
Sacristan: "I'm sorry sir, I didn't know you were a Catholic."
2. Chesterton was a vast man physically- over twenty stone, say three
hundred pounds. During the war a patriotic lady accused him of cowardice.
Patriotic Lady: "Why aren't you out at the Front?"
Chesterton: "Madame, if you will go around to the side, you'll see that I am."

The stories are typical- Belloc rude to the polite stranger, Chesterton
polite the rude stranger...

Frank Swinnerton drew a similar conclusion:

One reason for the love of Chesterton was that while he fought he sang lays of chivalry and in spite of all his seriousness warred against only wickedness rather than a fleshly opponent, while Belloc sang only after the battle and warred against men as well as ideas.

And finally Joseph Pearce observed regarding a quote of Belloc's:

It does not follow that one must wound people in order to provide weapons to wound and kill folly. It was a central tenet of Chesterton's outlook that one could kill folly without killing a person or his personal reputation.

Now I do hope I haven't done that seeing as this is my first post about Belloc. From what I have read I think I would have liked him very much. And please understand that the quotes appealed to me, not for the part about Belloc but rather the glimpse they give of Chesterton's remarkable character. The two were really great friends, hopefully I'll get a chance to post about their friendship before too long.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Father Brown Friday

Yes, yes I know it isn't Friday. But you see, I've been meaning to start a weekly Father Brown discussion, and yesterday (friday) Algernon and I did our best to come up with one. (Sorry if I butchered your questions Algernon :) But I didn't get home until rather late. So please forgive me for posting it on Saturday rather then Friday.

Alright for anyone interested: First go and read The Blue Cross. It's the first story in The Innocence of Father Brown, for those who prefer book form.

Now, discussion questions. Any thoughts?

Flambeau prides himself on being a rather "noble thief" if you will. And later becomes a great detective. How far would he really have gone with his threats to Father Brown on the hilltop at the end?

Father Brown knew that he had left many clues for the detectives to follow, but how did he know with such surety that Valentin was waiting nearby?

If Flambeau had thought (as he certainly seems to have) that he had succesfully switched the crosses, why did he tell Father Brown to hand them over?

Father Brown, near the end says Reason is always reasonable, even in the last limbo, in the lost borderland of things. I know that people charge the Church with lowering reason, but it is just the other way. Alone on earth, the Church makes reason really supreme. Alone on earth the Church affirms that God himself is bound by reason. And even closer to the end, Father Brown gives as one of his reasons for knowing that Flambeau was not a priest as You attacked reason, it's bad theology.
What are your thoughts? What is reason? Or (if it's simpler) what is unreason?

Flambeau assumes that as a priest, Father Brown is very naive, he doesn't know much about the world of sin. Yet Father Brown knows more even then Flambeau does.

Again, what are your thoughts? Is this a common misconception of priests?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Poetry Thursday

I know I've posted this before.. but hey, it's a cool one. Voila Gloria in Profundis...

There has fallen on earth for a token
A god too great for the sky.
He has burst out of all things and broken
The bounds of eternity:
Into time and the terminal land
He has strayed like a thief or a lover,
For the wine of the world brims over,
Its splendour is split on the sand.

Who is proud when the heavens are humble,
Who mounts if the mountains fall,
If the fixed stars topple and tumble
And a deluge of love drowns all-
Who rears up his head for a crown,
Who holds up his will for a warrant,
Who strives with the starry torrent,
When all that is good goes down?

For in dread of such falling and failing
The fallen angels fell
Inverted in insolence, scaling
The hanging mountain of hell:
But unmeasured of plummet and rod
Too deep for their sight to scan,
Outrushing the fall of man
Is the height of the fall of God.

Glory to God in the Lowest
The spout of the stars in spate-
Where thunderbolt thinks to be slowest
And the lightning fears to be late:
As men dive for sunken gem
Pursuing, we hunt and hound it,
The fallen star has found it
In the cavern of Bethlehem.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tolkien's Criticism of The Ballad of the White Horse

I thought you might be interested. In 1944 Tolkien wrote this to his son Christopher:

Priscilla... has been wading through the Ballad of the White Horse for the last many nights; and my efforts to explain the obscurer parts to her convince me that it is not as good as I thought. The ending is absurd. The brilliant smash and glitter of the words and phrases (when they come off, and are not mere loud colors) cannot disguise the fact that G.K.C. knew nothing whatever about the "North", heathen or Christian.

And, as a side note: C.S. Lewis knew much of The Ballad of the White Horse by heart!

Friday, February 08, 2008

If you have a big snowbank and some time...

... allow me to reccomend the carving of two leonine guardians of your driveway. It is really quite an enjoyable pastime (and quite Chestertonian I might add) even if they don't look quite real when you stop for the night. And who knows, they may be useful. (:

P.S. You may want to acquire the aid of your dad.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Poetry Thursday

Okay Algernon, you got more then you bargained for. Namely, poetry and the solution to our earlier dilemna*. (Sorry to bump your post off Lewis (that looks really cool btw... I really couldn't forgive myself if I didn't post poetry, when I actually had remembered).

Okay, Days of the Week:
"Gogol, or Tuesday, had his simplicity well symbolised by a dress designed upon the division of the waters , a dress that seperated upon his forehead and fell to his feet, grey and silver, like a sheet of rain."

"The Professor, whose day was that on which the birds and fishes- the ruder forms of life- were created, had a dress of dim purple, over which sprawled goggle-eyed fishes and outrageous tropical birds, the union in him of unfathomable fancy and of doubt."

*For anyone who was wondering... in the process of discussing the seven days, Algernon and I simply could not remember what was the Professor's costume for the final whatchamacallit. So I looked it up, in case anyone was wondering(:

Alright, that digressions over, now to poetry.

Michael, Michael: Michael of the Morning,
Michael of the Army of the Lord,
Stiffen thou the hand upon the still sword, Michael,
Folded and shut upon the sheathed sword, Michael,
Under the fullness of the white robes falling,
Gird us with the secret of the sword.

When the world cracked because of a sneer in heaven,
Leaving out for all time a scar upon the sky,
Thou didst rise up against the Horror in the highest,
Dragging down the highest that looked down on the Most High:
Rending from the seventh heaven the hell of exaltation
Down the seven heavens till the dark seas burn:
Thou that in thunder threwest down the Dragon
Knowest in what silence the Serpent can return.

Down through the universe the vast night falling
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Morning!)
Far down the universe the deep calms calling
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Sword!)
Bid us not forget in the baths of all forgetfulness,
In the sigh long drawn from the frenzy and the fretfulness
In the huge holy sempiternal silence
In the beginning was the Word.

When from the deeps of dying God astounded
Angels and devils who do all but die
Seeing Him fallen where thou couldst not follow,
Seeing Him mounted where thou couldst not fly,
Hand on the hilt, thou hast halted all thy legions
Waiting the Tetelestai and the acclaim,
Swords that salute Him dead and everlasting
God beyond God and greater than His Name.

Round us and over us the cold thoughts creeping
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the battle-cry!)
Round us and under us the thronged world sleeping
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Charge!)
Guard us the Word; the trysting and the trusting
Edge upon the honour and the blade unrusting
Fine as the hair and tauter than the harpstring
Ready as when it rang upon the targe.

He that giveth peace unto us; not as the world giveth:
He that giveth law unto us; not as the scribes:
Shall he be softened for the softening of the cities
Patient in usury; delicate in bribes?
They that come to quiet us, saying the sword is broken,
Break man with famine, fetter them with gold,
Sell them as sheep; and He shall know the selling
For He was more than murdered. He was sold.

Michael, Michael: Michael of the Mustering,
Michael of the marching on the mountains of the Lord,
Marshal the world and purge of rot and riot
Rule through the world till all the world be quiet:
Only establish when the world is broken
What is unbroken is the word.

For Algernon

Here you are :)

I found this discussion of The Man Who Was Thursday. It is already over, but I enjoy reading Chestertonian discussions almost more than I enjoy taking part in them.

Please... Plllllllllllease?

If this is being pushy, your pardon of course, but if it's all the same to you could someone post something? I'm getting sick of seeing my own post all the time.

(Belloc, "Please Chesterteens, listen to him. There is such a thing as to much of ones own poetry!")

(Chesterton, "Oh come, I like this poem!")

(Belloc, "Please Gilbert. Have compassion!!!)

(Chesterton, "Oh, alright.")

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Poetry Saturday

Ria is out of town this weekend, so if you all don't mind I'll provide the poetry myself. In keeping with the irregularity of it all, this poem is by Belloc.

I like to read myself to sleep in Bed,
A thing that every honest man has done
At one time or another, it is said,
But not as something in the usual run;
Now I from ten years old to forty one
Have never missed a night: and what I need
To buck me up is Gilbert Chesterton,
(The only man I regularly read).

The Illustrated London News is wed
To letter press as stodgy as a bun,
The Daily News might just as well be dead
The ‘Idler’ has a tawdry kind of fun,
The ‘Speaker’ is a sort of Sally Lunn,
The ‘World’ is a small unpleasant weed;
I take them all because of Chesterton,
(The only man I regularly read).

The memories of the Duke of Beachy Head,
The memoirs of Lord Hildebrand (his son)
Are things I could have written on my head,
So are the memories of Comte de Mun,
And as for novels written by the ton,
I’d burn the bloody lot! I know the breed!
And get me back to be with Chesterton
(The only man I regularly read).


Prince, have you read the book called “Thoughts upon
The Ethos of the Athanasian Creed”?
No matter - it is not by Chesterton
(The only man I regularly read).