Sunday, June 29, 2008

Happy Feast Day!

"When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its corner-stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward -- in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing -- the historic Christian Church -- was founded upon a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link."
Hat-tip- Chesterton Day by Day

Don John of Austria is going to the war...

...and I'm going to firmly fix it in my mind.

It's not typical of me to follow one post with another so quickly. Either it's summer and I have the time, or I have an idea.

In this case, it's both.

I'm hugely attached to Chesterton's Lepanto. I love it for itself, for it's imagery and beautiful expression, for the thrills of valor and honor and 'swords about the cross,' and I love it, of course, for all the history behind it. If a strange doom were put upon me to know only one poem in the course of my life, I think I would choose this one.

Memorizing Ballad of the White Horse is something I want to do one day, but it seems just a little ambitious, especially when I have college applications and other such things taking up my time. Lepanto, however, wouldn't be quite as much of a challenge, and so it's something I intend to do over the next couple of weeks. I want to have that poem firmly in my heart and mind, so I can always 'read' it over even when I have no hard copy available.

It's occurred to me that this might be a rather fun joint endeavor. Are any of you other Chesterteens, or Flying-Ins, I should say, interested in memorizing Lepanto over the summer?

Trees and Clouds and Churches

I stumbled across a bit from Chesterton having to do with Gothic architecture. I don't have the exact quote with me at present, but it compared the architecture to the Church militant: the tall spears and the crossed swords, strong and soldier-like.

Chesterton not only brings me to understand other things, but he also brings me to understand myself. I think I can see a little clearer now why Gothic architecture 'speaks to me' so clearly. It represents the strong and true Church that I love... marching on against the armies of Hell, continually proclaiming Truth in a world that doesn't believe in such a thing as objective Truth. It represents the countless saints and martyrs, those heroic soldiers of Christ, who have gone before me. It represents Christ, the same yesterday, today, forever.

And on the other side, I see a little clearer why I do not like the architecture and art we see in many churches today... those vague and abstract forms, strange swirling crystals above the altar, everything flitting, dodging, unsteady, uncertain. They seem to represent a different kind of church, a church that doesn't quite know where it came from or where it's going, a church that doesn't really have any set doctrine and dogma, a church that flutters and shakes and bends in the strong breezes of the world.

In a piece about Modernism, Chesterton made the comparison between the Tree and the Cloud. While the Tree, representing a philosophy grounded in truth, could grow and expand, the inmost rings were always present, and were also the center and foundation of the tree. Now the Cloud, representing Modernism, is vague and hazy, scuttling here and there across the sky, with no roots and no grounding.

Why is it that classic church architecture, such as Gothic, seems in its great height and strength to be very much like a tree, while the art we see in so many churches undeniably resembles clouds?

Gothic architecture, and other traditional forms, most definitely 'speak to me.' But I'm not going to say that modern church architecture doesn't. It, too, speaks to me. It's just that I don't like what I hear from it. Vagueness, abstractness, uncertainty.

And I wonder if the proponents of modern architecture in reality feel somewhat the same way? They often say that those gorgeous old churches of ages past don't 'speak to them,' but I wonder if maybe they are hearing something, and simply not liking it. Strength, swords and spears, an unflinching and resolute Truth.

Reasons Chesterton could be a saint!

Ever wondered if our fantastic philosopher, witty writer, and very orthodox author might be a saint? I have. In a recent discussion with my mother, she and I compiled some reasons Chesterton might be a saint.

1) He is always theologically correct. Always.

2) His way of facing the world is humble, fresh, grateful to God, and utterly beautiful; it is undoubtedly reminiscent of the spiritual childhood which Jesus said is necessary "to enter the kingdom of heaven."

3) He is unique. Those familiar with the lives of saints will admit that they all have at least two things in common: they gave their lives to Christ, serving Him to the point of heroic virtue, and each had an unique life and personality. For example, compare the Little Flower of God, St. Therese of Lisieux, who spent all of her life in a Carmelite convent in France giving her love to Jesus, to the passionate preacher and missionary, St. Francis Xavier, who traversed the world to win souls for Christ. Both loved Jesus to their full capacity; both followed the path God chose for them; both were very unique. The reasons saints have such varying and distinct personalities and yet are each filled with the love of Christ is that when they gave everything they had and were to God, He gave it back---only better, more intense, more beautiful. Who on earth could doubt that Chesterton, too, in personality, wit, and wisdom, was also very unique?

4) He is joyful. All the saints had deep joy within them, even in suffering, because of the peace Christ had given them.

5) "By their fruits you shall know them..." Consider how many people have converted to Christianity, because of Chesterton's writings!

6) He was---and still is---a counter-cultural apostle for Christ in our world. After all, he is the "Apostle of Common Sense."

7) He had a love for the Truth.

More and more reasons come to me, even as I write! Why not add a few of your own? :) I understand an eminent Chestertonian, William Oddie, believes that there should be a cause for canonization started for Chesterton. According to Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Mr. Oddie gives as one reason: "We need more fat saints!"

God Bless,

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Help I Am Posting And I Can Not Stop.

I already brought up the thing about us being a specific generation of Chestertonians, right?


I sometimes get the impression that we were the last generation allowed to do things or see things. You have heard, I assume, of Tom and Jerry? In case you had not, Tom and Jerry were cartoon characters. Tom was a cat, Jerry was a mouse, hyjynx ensued. Look it up on Wikipedia if you need more explanation than that: finding out what people are talking about is the principle end of wikipedia.

Anyway, apparently they digitally removed the black lady from all the cartoons. I can only assume that they thought that any depiction of a person of african descent previous to the sixties can't have been more than two steps away from Nazism, but even were this true it would not make their conduct even remotely rational. What is trying to edit out things from history going to help?

They did the same thing with what has to be the ur-children's book: Goodnight Moon. If you have to wikipedia this one, then you're probably a victim of this. See, there was a grainy black and white photo of the author on the back cover. He was holding a cigarette. Which they airbrushed the out.

Look, you might not like it, but smokers are real people. They have rights. Mammys existed. They did things, they had hopes and dreams. Maybe some of them liked being Mammys and Smokers. It's much better to be either than to be whatever these people are: 'bigot' won't work, so I propose a neologism. Prigot. One who has Prigotry.

My only guess at their motivation is that they feel guilty for liking things about which might have been produced by people with views other than their own. Tom and Jerry might have been made by someone who thought... that Black Women Might Sometimes Do Housework! Goodnight Moon might have been written... by someone who thought that It's Ok To Have A Cigarette Sometimes! This cannot be allowed! But they can't just not watch the cartoons or not read the book, like the rest of us would. That would be intolerant. So, they have to actually change the thing so that it's no longer saying anything but what they want it to say.

Because that is the epitome of tolerance and diversity: making sure nobody gets to say anything to anyone but what you already agree with.

So I worry about our children, sometimes. What if, say, the Prigots decide that because a peanut butter manufacturer was in favor of atomic weapons, therefore peanut butter is Double Plus Unmutual, and is banned? What would it be like to grow up and never have had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? How would you even begin to describe what a peanut butter and jelly sandwich means to someone who has been shielded from the taste of creamed peanut, lest they imbibe with it Global Thermonuclear War?

Because that's the most ridiculous part of this whole farce. Let me ask you, the last generation to see real Tom and Jerry, the last to see the Author of Goodnight Moon smoking, maybe the last to taste peanut butter, were helplessly compelled to become smokers? Neuclear physicists? Mammys? When you saw these things as a child, were you even aware that there was such a question? Or did you just think "That lady is yelling at Tom," "That man is on the back of this book," and "mmm, peanut butter," respectively?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

So I Guess I Can Post Here Now.

Though if I'm doing this incorrectly, please don't tell me or anything, because that would just be embarrassing.

So, the blog hath been renamed. What, you might ask, does this mean? Assuming, of course, that you are inclined to be inquisitive about the nomenology of blogs. Luckily I am here to pretend to know what I am talking about. This is not sarcasm; for in a situation in which the origins of a thing are largely unconscious and therefore unknowable, an explanation invented after the fact, for similarly unconscious reasons and indeed the same unconscious reasons in all likelihood, is the surest way of getting the true explanation. For it is an explanation not of why something happened, but of what it meant when it did happen.

The name "The Flying-Ins" arose from two sources; an observation and a misunderstanding. It should be pointed out now, before further misunderstandings arise to give further names to as-yet-undreamed-of blogs, that the thing observed was not the thing misunderstood. The thing misunderstood was the title of Chesterton's early novel The Flying Inn. I assumed that this was about someone or something who entered some structure very suddenly from the air, metaphorically if not literally. I maintain that such a concept would have been eminently chestertonian, but this is, alas, not what The Flying Inn is about. Of course, I then proceded to misunderstand and expect the book to contain an Inn which was actually self-supported on the air, but that is irrelevant to the topic at hand.

The observation was on what might be called the present generation of chestertonians. If you attended the conference, you most likely know what I mean, and may feel free to skip the majority of this post. I observed that we all differ in behavior not only from our peers, but from our elder chestertonians. We tend to be loud. We tend to dress oddly, and often anachronistically. We tend to behave with an excess of personailty; whatever we act like, we act like even more than we do ourselves. We enjoy things; wine, beer, cheese, singing, joking, comic books, serious tomes, video games, christmas lights, space westerns, waterfalls, regency dancing--I heard each of the above recommended to me sincerely and enthusiastically. And we are multiplying. Every year I attend the conference, the ratio of young to old is more heavily weighted on my side of the scales.

Likely the best explanation is simply that we have grown up with Chesterton and chestertonian parents. The philosophy of surprise was made a central component of our personalities from the time they first developed. This is not to say we do not have our faults. But we have something that very few of our elders could ever have had: the opportunity to take Chesterton's approach to existence the way Chesterton approaches existence. Our elders had to discover Chesterton. We are the first to have the privilege of rediscovering him.

It was simplicity itself to remember the mishearing, which has always seemed to me charming, and connect it with the group who, I presume, would favor it as their preferred mode of entry in any circumstance. I know I would.

You have seen the Greatest Generation. You have endured the Me Decade. It is, of course, futile to say whether any thing may be the "next" thing, but it is not futile to hope. Therefore, I beg to recommend to your hopes another generation. The Flying-Ins.

We'll be seeing you.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Check this out

An absolutely perfect post on ChesterCon here. Hat-tip- My mom

Hey New Members

Could you all introduce yourselves, either in the comment box or in a separate post? Thanks!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Today's News Update

Okey-doke, so you may have noticed, this blog has a new name. We are now The Flying-Ins, as we are so to speak "flying in" to revolutionize society. (Hat-tip: Rob MacArthur)

We also have two new members and SEVEN pending (agreed to join haven't accepted the email invitation yet)!!!!!

So, in case you can't tell, I am VERY happy, and more ChesterCon news shall hopefully follow soon.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Opera, persecution, and geometry

The jumbled thoughts of GilbertGirl and Ria after a busy day at Chestercon:

Meeting new Chestertonian teenagers, listening to entertaining and enlightening talks, delving deep into Chesterton's stunningly simple masterpiece Orthodoxy, and best of all, eating Stilton cheese while conversing with internet acquaintances are a few of the intellectual pleasures we've been enjoying these last two days.

The whole thing got off to a splendid start with Dale Ahlquist's "In defense of everything else," an introduction to Chesterton's introduction.

David Zach gave us a spirited, rousing talk (trying to keep us awake late Thursday night) all about Chesterton as a futurist, based off the chapter "The Eternal Revolution". Begginning by defining futurist, he showed how Chesterton thought about and invested in the future, emphasizing children and incorporating a slight thread of The Ethics of Elfland.

Tom Martin woke us up Friday morning with his electrically captivating "the maniac: Especially, Nietzsche". Supremely satisfying arguments concerning reason, faith, heresy, and other juicy subjects were displayed in a scholarly and Chestertonian style.

Unfortunately, we were absent for a great deal of Sean Dailey's talk regarding The Suicide of Thought. ): So despite the fact 'tis GilbertGirl's favorite chapter, and one of my favorites, we have nothing to report.

The clock stuck twelve long ago, and the princesses are late for bed, so we'll continue our summary tomorrow with Jennifer Overkamp's Fairy Tale talk.

P.s. If you're wondering about the three nouns comprising the subject, although they have not yet entered the narrative, they are what our heads are full of:)

What ho, Chesterteens!

A gleeful salutation from Mapaz, Ria, and myself, reporting from ChesterCon 2008 (also Abbreviated Algy - story pending)! Plunged in a vortex of Nietzcshe's nuttiness, stilton cheese, animate robots, and the stature of elves, we have no more time to spend at present disclosing the delights of the conference, as there are still so many to absorb, but will deliver a detiled update this evening. Until then, comrades!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Thou art Translated" Part III

"Prima luce amounts to a "when hell freezes over conclusion sumptuousness*", possessing one self of outside pertaining to the flop subsists a nevermore expiring vexation."
-Gus, Algernon, Maud** and your humble servant

(can also be read as)
"Daybreak is a never-ending glory, getting out of bed is a never-ending nuisance."

(Parts I and II can be found here and here)

*Maud said it should have been "gorgeousness".
**Algernon's sister

Friday, June 06, 2008

Father Brown's First Name

Upon reading the introduction by R. T. Bond, which comes before my cherished Father Brown omnibus I came across an interesting fact: Chesterton mentions Father's Brown's first name in two different places, and they are different each time!

1. Our beloved priest detective is referred to as "the reverend J. Brown". This may give a connection to Father John O'Connor, who inspired G.K. Chesterton to write of an outwardly insignificant man whose real character did not match his external appearance.

2. Flambeau once calls Father Brown "Paul". "Paul" originally meant "little" which would seem to point to Father Brown's wonderful humility.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Chesterton

It was here that I first read a volume of Chesterton's essays. I had never heard of him and had no idea of what he stood for; nor can I quite understand why he made such an immediate conquest of me. It might have been expected that my pessimism, my atheism, and my hatred of sentiment would have made him to me the least congenial of all authors. It would almost seem that Providence, or some "second cause" of a very obscure kind, quite over-rules our previous tastes when It decides to bring two minds together. Liking an author may be as involuntary and improbable as falling in love. I was by now a sufficiently experienced reader to distinguish liking from agreement. I did not need to accept what Chesterton said in order to enjoy it. His humour was of the kind I like best - not "jokes" imbedded in the page like currants in a cake, still less (what I cannot endure), a general tone of flippancy and jocularity, but the humour which is not in any way separable from the argument but is rather (as Aristotle would say) the "bloom" on dialectic itself. The sword glitters not because the swordsman set out to make it glitter but because he is fighting for his life and therefore moving it very quickly. For the critics who think Chesterton frivolous or "paradoxical" I have to work hard to feel even pity; sympathy is out of the question. Moreover, strange as it may seem, I liked him for his goodness.

---from Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis

Sunday, June 01, 2008


I can't believe how close I am to graduating from high school. One week from today I'll be finished. I'll be moving on to a new stage of my education. After four years, it's kind of hard to believe.

When I got up one fall day and found that I was a freshman, I didn't know what to expect. And I must confess, I was more than a little scared. I knew that high school was going to be a bit more rigorous than my education had previously been. I was going to delve deeper into science, into history, into theology, into philosophy. I was a little nervous about the challenges that would be presented, but I was scared stiff of losing the wonder.

I guess as Chesterton fans, we all have this passion for wonder. Like Chesterton, we see that the world is suffering not from 'lack of wonders, but from lack of wonder.' And I was afraid that digging into these subjects, turning them over, and analyzing them would make me lose my sense of wonder.

I've gone from being a timid little freshman to a smug senior, and I see how wrong I was. My education took away none of the excitement, none of the enthusiasm, none of the wonder. It increased it.

Just as Innocent Smith in Manalive courts and marries his wife again and again so he can rediscover his joy in her, his love for her; just as he robs his house so he can rediscover that his possessions are his; and just as he travels around the world to rediscover the immense beauty of going home again... I too rediscovered.

I was afraid that a study of science and natural history would take away the mystery and wonder of walking through the woods in a foggy evening, of seeing the soft raindrops hanging crystal-like from the tips of the tree branches, of hearing the soft and faintly ominous winds stir far above me, and glide down to shake the soft spring flowers from their trees.

I was wrong. My studies forced me to rediscover that beauty. It made it impossible for the beauty to ever become stale, because I was looking at it all with new eyes. Science didn't reduce the woods to a lot of technicalities, but turned it into something more wonderful than I had previously thought. There was something new in my mind, and it made me view the woods in a new and astonishing way.

And theology did not take away the simple awe and love of God. Reading through Aquinas did not diminish Him, did not turn Him into a complicated thing that requires precise definitions and is to be viewed from a slightly befuddled distance. Rather, realizing how necessary precise definitions are when talking about Him made me realize how truly awesome He is.

I rediscovered God during those four years, as well. If anything, my wonder has increased.

And the real joy is that there is so much more. College is somewhere in the near future, and though perhaps I'll be a bit of a timid freshman, adjusting to a new environment and place, not sure if I'm up to the challenge of such rigorous study... I know I won't be afraid of learning. Rather, I'm anxious for it.

I want to rediscover everything again and again, the way Innocent Smith did. And the more I rediscover everything, the more I rediscover God.

"Behold," He says, "I make all things new."