Sunday, March 30, 2008


It's a New York city, Disney Princess, Chestertonian fairy tale; what more can I say? Well I guess I can say a lot can't I?

Giselle is the classic Disney cartoon heroine. She sings, has many animal friends and is about to marry a prince. But then the evil stepmother sends her to "a place where there are no 'Happily Ever Afters'" namely New York City. Still dressed in her enormous wedding gown, Giselle wanders forlornly around the city, that is until she meets Robert, a very practical divorce attorney, and his daughter Morgan. She befriends them, and ends up staying in the living room of their apartment. Of course, her prince follows her, and he in turn is followed in close succession by Pip (a chipmunk friend of Giselle's), the stepmother's accomplice, and finally the stepmother herself. To top it off, the climax involves apples and the empire state building.

(GilbertGirl, I should have had you write this, I'm making a terrible hash of it)

Now that mishmash account of events, left you rather unenlightened as to the Chestertonian elements. Believe me, they are there. It defends Fairy Tales, it shows you the world through a pair of VERY childlike eyes and its preview begins "Of all the magical tales... there has never been anything like Enchanted. Because no other fairy tale has taken us to a world as stange as ours." (ahem, I quote from memory)

There are a few minor issues (the worst being low cut dresses) but on the whole the pros far outweighed the cons.

But all my multiple rambling paragraphs don't say it half as well as Barb Nicholosi did in a few words:

It is smart and at moments hilarious and consciously uncynical. And when
Disney is on the dock at the last judgment, they will just show this film and
say, "The defense rests."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

During the course of a jovial business meeting last night, Ria, Algernon and I innocently drove a select company of our dearest friends nearly mad by popping out with incessant Chesterton analogies, quotes, references, and paradoxes. They were always well timed, beautifully Germain to the issue, and (mostly) in good taste. Nevertheless the unenlightened members of the confab looked at us askance. Being unfamiliar with Gabriel Gale, and not versed in the Marquis de Saint Eustache's forty three replies, they did not appreciate our brilliance.

For the first five minutes, their composure was unruffled. After ten minutes they commented acidly on digressions. By fifteen, melodrama and sarcasm were being applied liberally, all to no avail. We waxed ever wittier, taking a merry stand now against the mixed pleadings and assaults. Emboldened by our self-appointed title, the CHESTERPESTS, we were unquenchable.

Desperate, our excited chums forged their own name, in hopes of stemming our spirits. Poor dears, there wasn't much to their name, still less to their argument. Neither one held out - it is a mystery whether they called themselves the non-Chesterpests or the anti-Chesterpests or the some-other-negative-Chesterpests, but no wonder it's obsolete.

Our insufferable crusade continues. We look forward to being a blight and benefit to society for many years to come.

Father Brown Friday

We would have given you a discussion on the Queer Feet, but feeling you are wise, witty, and responsible to concoct your own, we defer to your creativity. Here are a few scatterbrained thoughts to mangle, and if you manage to spark a whatsit, we'd be frightfully bucked.

1. To begin on a light note: has anyone ever been able to fathom, conjure or imagine the pose in which Flambeau
"contrived to lean against the wall just round the corner in such a way that for that important instant the waiters thought him a gentleman, while the gentlemen thought him a waiter"?

2. More erudite: What is the "invisible thread" by which FB can pull F back from the ends of the earth. Any ideas of what GK was thinking of? Does it perhaps make more sense from an allegorical standing? Is it anything?:)

"Odd, isn't it," he said, "that a thief and a vagabond should repent, when so many who are rich and secure remain hard and frivolous, and without fruit for God or man? "

If you're feeling patient:

"A crime," he said slowly, "is like any other work of art. Don't look surprised; crimes are by no means the only works of art that come from an infernal workshop. But every work of art, divine or diabolic, has one indispensable mark--I mean, that the centre of it is simple, however much the fulfilment may be complicated. Thus, in Hamlet, let us say, the grotesqueness of the grave-digger, the flowers of the mad girl, the fantastic finery of Osric, the pallor of the ghost and the grin of the skull are all oddities in a sort of tangled wreath round one plain tragic figure of a man in black. Well, this also," he said, getting slowly down from his seat with a smile, "this also is the plain tragedy of a man in black. Yes," he went on, seeing the colonel look up in some wonder, "the whole of this tale turns on a black coat. In this, as in Hamlet, there are the rococo excrescences--yourselves, let us say. There is the dead waiter, who was there when he could not be there. There is the invisible hand that swept your table clear of silver and melted into air. But every clever crime is founded ultimately on some one quite simple fact--some fact that is not itself mysterious. The mystification comes in covering it up, in leading men's thoughts away from it. This large and subtle and (in the ordinary course) most profitable crime, was built on the plain fact that a gentleman's evening dress is the same as a waiter's. All the rest was acting, and thundering good acting, too."


Ria, Algernon and Gilbertgirl

Sunday, March 23, 2008

HAPPY EASTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Easter, which is the spiritual New Year, should be a time for the understanding of new thoughts and the making of new things. The representatives of the rising generation can give us any number of negative reasons for not observing certain forms or traditions. They do not seem to see that it is their business as artists to create forms. They will not realise that it is their business as builders to found traditions. If the old conventions have really come to an end, the others have to do something much more difficult; they have to come to a beginning. I doubt if they have any clear idea about how to come to a beginning. They do not understand that positive creations are founded on positive creeds.

-- GKC, ILN Apr 3 1926 CW34:74 (found on Dr. Thursday's old blogg )

Sing now, ye people of the Tower of Anor,
for the Realm of Sauron is ended for ever,
and the Dark Tower is thrown down.

Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of Guard,
for your watch hath not been in vain,
and the Black gate is broken,
and your King hath passed through,
and he is victorious.

Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

And the Tree that was withered shall be renewed,
and he shall plant it in the high places,
and the City shall be blessed.
Sing all ye people!

-- J. R. R. Tolkien: The Return of the King (hat-tip again to Dr. Thursday)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I was stationed very near the domed and gilded shrine I have already described; at the corner of one of the vast encampments which cut up the whole huge plain into squares; like the assemblages of the tribes in some tremendous primitive revelation. I could hear directly almost all that was directly addressed to the congregation, which was carried everywhere elsewhere through the resounding mirrors of the loudspeakers. But I think everyone who heard all those things, directly or indirectly, will agree salve fide and apart from the invariable values of the Canon, that the most astonishing thing they heard was something that they could hardly hear. At one of the moments when Catholics would be accustomed to hear the clear and rather shrill tinkle of the bell of the Sanctus, there was heard a sound that must be almost unique in human history. It was as faint as the sound of a far-offsheep-bell and as weak as the bleat of a sheep; but there was something in it that was not only weighty, but curiously hard; almost dead; without the resonance that we mean by music. It was as if it came out of the Stone Age; when even musical instruments might be made of stone. It was the Bell of St. Patrick; which had been silent for 1,500 years.

Update: Dr. Thursday sent more!

I know no poetical parallel to the effect of that little noise in that huge presence. Some such imaginative nerve was once touched for me, in a context quite incongruous and infinitely less important, by one fine artistic instinct in Rostand's play about the only son of Napoleon. That play is simply filled with the name of Napoleon; and the author was far too clever to suggest the ghost of Napoleon, or even the ghost of a ghost of Napoleon. But an old Napoleonic soldier dies in delirium, dreaming of the last charge at Wagram and the victory. And among the last noises of battle, the rush of horse-hooves and the rest, there is heard, tiny and clear and infinitely far away, just the voice beginning: 'Officiers; sous-officiers; soldats . ..' and then no more. That is as near as the ghost comes to his ghost story. Multiply that by a million-fold more of import and intensity than all the greatness of Napoleon; extend that by twelve times the length of time that separates us from Napoleon; and it was something like that little distant voice, that was heard for a moment by all those thousands. From far away in the most forgotten of the centuries, as if down avenues that were colonnades of corpses, one dead man had spoken and was dumb. It was Patrick; and he only said: 'My Master is here.'

And after that, I for one could realize little but a catastrophic silence, till it could be crowned with the only fitting close. From the four corners of the sacred enclosure the all-shattering trumpets shouted, like the Sons of God shouting for joy. And all along the front there ran, like a sudden lightning, the light upon the lifted swords; for all the soldiers standing before the altar saluted with a blazing salute of steel, carrying the hilt to the head in the old swordsman's salutation,and then striking outwards, in the ancient gesture of the Romans.

Her face was like a King's Command
When all the swords are drawn.

The old line of Belloc's song went through my mind for a moment; and none could doubt in that day what King was commanding; almost visible upon His throne.

Christendom in Dublin 72-3

Thank you so much Dr. Thursday!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Random Quote of the Day

From the Illustrated London News, July 10th 1926:

People have even had the brazen ignorance and insolence to talk of the ladies of Jane Austen as if they were sentimental and over-refined. The most sentimental of her heroines (and few of them were sentimental) would have thought all this modernstuff a nightmare of refinement. The author of "Sense and Sensibility" would have locked up in a lunatic asylum half of the bold, free, educated heroines in modern books, for the very sound reason that they were raving mad with sensibility and a danger to any person of sense.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

P.S. I haven't been able to find any very St. Patrick's Dayish Chesterton quotes. But if any of you know any, please do comment with them.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Even if it isn't Thursday(:

The Praise of Dust

"What of vile dust?" the preacher said.
Methought the whole world woke,
The dead stone lived beneath my foot,
And my whole body spoke.

"You, that play tyrant to the dust,
And stamp its wrinkled face,
This patient star that flings you not
Far into homeless space."

Come down out of your dusty shrine
The living dust to see,
The flowers that at your sermon's end
Stand blazing silently.

"Rich white and blood-red blossom; stones,
Lichens like fire encrust;
A gleam of blue, a glare of gold,
The vision of the dust.

"Pass them all by: till, as you come
Where, at a city's edge,
Under a tree--I know it well--
Under a lattice ledge,

"The sunshine falls on one brown head.
You, too, O cold of clay,
ater of stones, may haply hear
The trumpets of that day

"When God to all his paladins
By his own splendour swore
To make a fairer face than heaven,
Of dust and nothing more."

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Chesterton Academy has been founded!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Chesterton Conference

Ok, I'd like to ask you a few questions regarding this year's conference. If I'm right, it's taking place this June 12-14 in the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota. I wouldn't like to miss this chance and I'd really love to attend it, but I have a bit of a problem: I'm taking my last exams on the 11th June. So, there goes my question:

Do you think it would be possible for me to take an airplane from Madrid at 6am (Spain Time Zone) on the 12th June to St Paul Intl Airport and still arrive on time? I've checked different flights, and I could arrive there at 12.35 (Minnesota Time Zone) on the 12th June, or so the company says. Anyway, what do you think? Would that be advisable? If so, how could I arrange accommodation and that kind of things for two people, my aunt and me?

I'll be pleased to know what you think. Thank you !!!!!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Poetry Thursday- The Mystery

I think I may have posted this before, I can't remember, but I think it bears repeating. Again, thanks to this marvelous site.

If sunset clouds could grow on trees
It would but match the may in flower;
And skies be underneath the seas
No topsyturvier than a shower.

If mountains rose on wings to wander
They were no wilder than a cloud;
Yet all my praise is mean as slander,
Mean as these mean words spoken aloud.

And never more than now I know
That man's first heaven is far behind;
Unless the blazing seraph's blow
Has left him in the garden blind.

Witness, O Sun that blinds our eyes,
Unthinkable and unthankable King,
That though all other wonder dies
I wonder at not wondering.

P.S. For those who were wondering about the absence of Father Brown Friday... I have consulted the committee and we have decided to have them monthly rather then weekly. This will allow more time for discussion, for reading the story, and hopefully bring about very good discussion questions. So for our next discussion (I'm not yet sure when that will be) the story is The Queer Feet (story #3 of The Innocence). And if you're bored (or even if you're not) please do join in our previous discussions of The Blue Cross and The Flying Stars.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Thank You!

No adjectives or adverbs are quite eloquent enough to attach to those two words (without sounding cheesy), so let them stand alone. My speech went off beautifully if not flawlessly, and 80% of my audience appreciated the weight of my points. Although I didn't use the outline Dr. Thursday suggested, I used all of the ideas and several of the quotes. Here is the content of his email, which was too good to hide in the combox.

"GKC had a disarming way of talking, even with those who he knew would be
in disagreement with him.

E.g. Father Brown is trying to solve a mystery, and approaches a

"I don't see why you should come to me about it. I ought to tell you I'm
a strong Protestant."
"I'm very fond of strong Protestants," said Father Brown. "I came to you
because I was sure you would tell the truth."
"The Chief Mourner of Marne" in "The Secret Of Father Brown"

More to the point, consider the powerful distinguo (I
distinguish) from his preface to The Everlasting Man, well worth
reading in its entirety:

This book needs a preliminary note that its scope be not misunderstood.
The view suggested is historical rather than theological, and does not
deal directly with a religious change which has been the chief event of
my own life; and about which I am already writing a more purely
controversial volume. It is impossible, I hope, for any Catholic to
write any book on any subject, above all this subject, without showing
that he is a Catholic; but this study is not specially concerned with
the differences between a Catholic and a Protestant. Much of it is
devoted to many sorts of Pagans rather than any sort of Christians; and
its thesis is that those who say that Christ stands side by side with
similar myths, and his religion side by side with similar religions, are
only repeating a very stale formula contradicted by a very striking
fact. To suggest this I have not needed to go much beyond matters known
to us all; I make no claim to learning; and have to depend for some
things, as has rather become the fashion, on those who are more learned.
As I have more than once differed from Mr. H. G. Wells in his view of
history, it is the more right that I should here congratulate him on the
courage and constructive imagination which carried through his vast and
varied and intensely interesting work; but still more on having asserted
the reasonable right of the amateur to do what he can with the facts
which the specialists provide.
[TEM CW2:141]

Ahem. About speaking:

First point. GKC was ALWAYS POLITE, even to enemies.

At the Q&A after a speech, he was asked, rather rudely, about Shaw, one
of his greatest intellectual foes:
Q: "Is George Bernard Shaw a coming peril?"
GKC: "Heavens, no. He is a disappearing pleasure."
[Maisie Ward, Gilbert Keith Chesterton 590]

His view towards his opponents was so kind that even foes could write to
him like this:

47 Chiltern Court, N.W.I.
Dec. 10, 1933

An Illustrated London News Xmas cutting comes like the season's
greetings. If after all my Atheology turns out wrong and your Theology
right I feel I shall always be able to pass into Heaven (if I want to)
as a friend of G.K.C.'s. Bless you.
My warmest good wishes to you and Mrs. G.K.C.
H.G. [Wells]
[Maisie Ward, Gilbert Keith Chesterton 604-5]

(If you want the even more dramatic reply from GKC, and Wells' reply to
that, you will have to read them yourself. Ward's own comment: "Gilbert
loved to praise his fellows in the field of letters even when
their philosophy differed from his own.")

BUT (second point) He NEVER EVER stopped fighting for the Truth - even
when he was MOST respectful:

"I am not concerned with Mr. Bernard Shaw as one of the most brilliant
and one of the most honest men alive; I am concerned with him as a
Heretic - that is to say, a man whose philosophy is quite solid, quite
coherent, and quite wrong."
Heretics CW1:46

The third point: Truth is so important, you must strive to find it, even
if you debate with yourself. That means you must know your opponent's
arguments, perhaps even better than he does.

GKC does NOT simply oppose another, or debate an opponent. He is in the
business of getting at the truth, which is the real purpose of the
13th-century Scholastics. He debated with his brother for hours, days,
practically the whole time his brother had been alive - always in search
of truth. And the Scholastics (the "Schoolmen") did this also, with each
other, and even with themselves.

Now the Schoolman always had two ideas in his head; if they were only
the Yes and No of his own proposition. The Schoolman was not only the
schoolmaster but also the schoolboy; he examined himself; he
cross-examined himself; he may be said to have heckled himself for
hundreds of pages. Nobody can read St. Thomas's theology
without hearing all the arguments against St. Thomas's theology.
[Chaucer CW18:367]

And that means he, following the greatest of Scholastics, St. Thomas
Aquinas, is able to see, understand, and teach important truths like

Of nearly all other philosophies [besides the Thomistic one] it is
strictly true that their followers work in spite of them, or do not work
at all. No sceptics work sceptically; no fatalists work
fatalistically; all without exception work on the principle that it is
possible to assume what it is not possible to believe.
materialist who thinks his mind was made up for him, by mud and blood
and heredity, has any hesitation in making up his mind. No sceptic who
believes that truth is subjective has any hesitation about treating it
as objective.
[St. Thomas Aquinas CW 2:542-3, emphasis added]
Again, thank you Dr Thursday and Mrs. Brown for the help!

BTW, Algernon: I had no idea you meant "you'd pray the Holy Spirit procrastinated" so literally! Four discarded speeches are sitting in my wastebasket, and the one I gave was inspired and composed only two hours prior to mounting the podium! Do warn me next time you pray thus:)