Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Shop of Ghosts

Rather a paradoxical title for a post around Christmas, it might seem, but Christmas is rife with paradoxes. The Burning Babe comes in the frost of winter, to thaw the chilled hearts of men; the All-Powerful becomes a defenseless infant; there is no room for the King of Kings at the inn; the Lord of Lords is born in a stable; God becomes Man. There is another paradox to Christmas, however, that Chesterton touched on in one of his "Tremendous Trifles" called "The Shop of

In this trifle, GKC wanders into a toy shop in the poorer end of Battersea. There, he encounters a dying old man who refuses to accept money for the toys GKC tries to buy--and who turns out to be Father Christmas. In one of those supernatural twists to Chesterton's fiction, other literary figures--Dickens, Richard Steele, Ben Jonson, even Robin Hood--suddenly make an appearance in the toy shop, all questioning why, since he was dying in their time, Father Christmas is still alive. Finally, it is Dickens who discovers the answer to the riddle: Father Christmas has been dying since he was born; but he will never die.

This paradox of Christmas extends to everything about it, including it's traditions. For something so earth-shatteringly powerful, universal, and stirring, Christmas is surprisingly intangible; we experience it almost solely through the richness of living tradition. And the startling fact--the paradox-- is that when we focus too strongly on the traditions, that vivid richness is lost. We can be glad of giving and receiving gifts, but if we forget the reason we are doing so--because the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us--the traditions suddenly become empty, they become blurry, losing shape and form because they have lost purpose. No tradition, no sentiment has any value when separated from priceless Child in the manger. Nostalgia is not a satisfying feeling; it is a hunger and a thirst for something. Memories do not satisfy; they remind.

That is why, as in "The Shop of Ghosts," Christmas is dying, yet cannot die. It's source is eternal, it's traditions temporal--meaning those external traditions, such as Christmas trees and carols and family gatherings. The temporal outward signs are always dying, like a tree dying in winter; yet because the roots are eternal, it is always living again.

In our time, and as Chesterton suggests, always, Christmas is under attack. Nativity scenes are banned in public places; "holiday" and "season" have edged "Christmas" out of the vernacular; anti-Christians struggle to hold on to the external branches of celebration while rejecting the roots, by having "Winter Solstice Celebrations." As Father Christmas says in "The Shop of Ghosts":

"All the new people have left my shop. I cannot understand it. They seem to object to me on such curious and inconsistent sort of grounds, these scientific men, these innovators. They say that I give people superstitions and make them too visionary; they say I give people sausages and make them too coarse. They say my heavenly parts are too heavenly; they say my earthly parts are too earthly; I don't know what they want, I'm sure. How can heavenly things be too heavenly, or earthly things too earthly? How can one be too good, or too jolly?"

He is speaking, of course, of Christmas Traditions. Father Christmas himself is a tradition, indeed, the embodiment of all the traditions; and like all the other traditions, he is dying as the world constantly attempts to cut him off from his roots, his source of life.

All "Christmasses past" are bound into one poignant and powerful memory by the golden thread of tradition; though the externals have sometimes changed, the celebration of Christmas has been much the same since the time of...Robin Hood. The reason for this communion of Christmas traditions, spanning centuries and continents, is that at Christmas, all the earth is drawn round the creche, knowingly or no. That constancy of eternal truth, ever ancient, ever new, is what makes all Christmasses one, for their center is One: the Holy Christ Child. And that is why Christmas cannot die.

Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Recent Chestertonian Revelation

The Great Dr. Overkamp :) has just reached Chesterton in Modern Literature class...and I realized that rejection of convention (which is what I thought Manalive advocated) is not what Chesterton really The Unpardonable Appearance of Colonel Crane for a more moderate, but still unconventional, idea on the subject.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A few quotes

I've been rereading parts of The Wisdom and Innocence for a college admission essay I'm working on, and came across several absolutely lovely quotes:

"I am overwhelmed with an enormous sense of my own worthlessness- which is very nice and makes me dance and sing."

"The principle objection to an argument is that it interrupts a quarrel."

"I knew pages of Shakespeare's blank verse without a notion of the meaning of most of it; which is perhaps the right way to begin to appreciate verse."

Monday, November 09, 2009

Long Overdue

Just a quick note, to apologize for my long absence and to announce my Confirmation name (I was Confirmed this past May)- Gilbert Karol.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday: Chesterton and Children

I was reading The Everlasting Man today and happened to read a section most appropriate for today's Gospel readings.

"The exaltation of childhood is something which we do really understand; but it was by no means a thing that was then [during Christ's time] in that sense understood. If we wanted an example of the originality of the Gospel, we could hardly take a stronger or more startling one. Nearly two thousand years afterwards we happen to find ourselves in a mood that does really feel the mystical charm of the child; we express it in romances and regrets about childhood, in Peter Pan or The Child's Garden of Verses. And we can say of the words of Christ with so angry an anti-Christian as Swinburne:--

'No sign that ever was given
To faithful or faithless eyes
Showed ever beyond clouds riven
So clear a paradise.

Earth's creeds may be seventy times seven
And blood have defiled each creed
But if such be the kingdom of heaven
It must be heaven indeed.'

But that paradise was not clear until Christianity had gradually cleared it. The pagan world, as such, would not have understood any such thing as a serious suggestion that a child is higher or holier than a man. It would have seemed like the suggestion that a tadpole is higher or holier than a frog. To the merely rationalistic mind, it would sound like saying that a bud must be more beautiful than a flower or that an unripe apple must be better than a ripe one. In other words, this modern feeling is an entirely mystical feeling. It is quite as mystical as the cult of virginity; in fact it is the cult of virginity. But pagan antiquity had much more idea of the holiness of the virgin than of the holiness of the child. For various reasons we have come nowadays to venerate children; perhaps partly because we envy children for still doing what men used to do; such as play simple games and enjoy fairy-tales. Over and above this, however, there is a great deal of real and subtle psychology in our appreciation of childhood; but if we turn it into a modern discovery, we must once more admit that the historical Jesus of Nazareth had already covered it two thousand years too soon. There was certainly nothing in the world around him to help him to the discovery. Here Christ was indeed human; but more human that a human being was then likely to be. Peter Pan does not belong to the world of Pan but the world of Peter."

---GKC in The Everlasting Man, the chapter entitled: "The Strangest Story in the World."

Monday, August 31, 2009

One the Last Two Gilberts

Did you see Mrs. Brown's article on cop-out husbands and the responses it got in the letters in the next Gilbert! magazine? I think that she has one half of the truth (that modern husbands are often lazy and irresponsible and need to love their wives more) and that the male letter-writer has the other half (that wives don't understand or appreciate some of the needs of their husbands).

What do you think?

I will admit...I'm not married, of course.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Chance non-meeting, as we say in Middle-Earth...

I just met a person who had been to, of all places, ChesterCon 08 (not 09). I did not talk to him at the conference.

As for how I met him.....well, you should probably learn that he and I are both seminarians now.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

ChesterTeens In Seattle?

Are any of you going to Seattle for the Chesterton Conference?

If you do, please watch and see if you spot Lucy or Ben - or Toby.

(See here for further information.)

And perhaps if you don't go, you'll get to read about the conference anyway... it's rumoured that Barclay Livingston may be attending!

Sunday, July 05, 2009


My family and I recently had the privilege of visiting Chesterton Square in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, the home of the only life-size statue of G.K. Chesterton in America! Here are some photos of our visit--view and be jealous, my fellow Chestertonians!

Around each side of the statue are four different plaques:

My brother and I were thoroughly enjoying ourselves, standing next to GKC!

A few more pics of GK and his square:

Ponchatoula is also known for its Strawberry Festival in the spring, when there is beautiful weather. Chesterton Square is an event center; wouldn't it be just perfect if they had the next ChesterCon there in Ponchatoula?

Here is the Ponchatoula Train Depot, directly across the street from Chesterton Square. The Chesterton Square's creator said he wanted it to look like Chesterton had fallen asleep on the train and accidentally disembarked at Ponchatoula!

Right next to the Train Depot is the home of "Ole Hardhide", who is " an alligator credited with "writing" a column in The Ponchatoula Times newspaper. The current Hardhide is the fourth by that name."

The old train engine!

The square from different angles.

To the far left in the distance, you can see the steeple for St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

A pretty alleyway in Ponchatoula.

I was so thrilled to be able to see the statue and the square!

God bless!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Who prayed for Chesterton?

On Chesterton's conversion to the Catholic Faith:

"Nothing for years has given me so much joy. I have hardly ever entered a church without putting up a candle to Our Lady or to St. Joseph or St. Anthony for you. And both this year and last year in Lent I made a Novena for you. I know of many other people, better people far than I, who did the same. Many Masses were said for you and prayers all over England and Scotland in centres of Holiness. I will show you some day a letter from some Nuns on the subject. A great friend of mine, one of the greatest saints I have known, Sister Mary Annunciation of the Convent Orphanage, Upper Norwood, used always to pray for you...Well, all I have to say, Gilbert, is what I think I have already said to you, and what I have said not long ago in a printed book. That I was received into the Church on the Eve of Candlemas 1909, and it is perhaps the only act in my life which I am quite certain I have never regretted. Every day I live, the Church seems to me more and more wonderful; the Sacraments more and more solemn and sustaining; the voice of the Church, her liturgy, her rules, her discipline, her ritual, her decisions in matters of Faith and Morals more and more excellent and profoundly wise and true and right, and her children stamped with something that those outside Her are without. There I have found Truth and reality and everything outside Her is to me, compared with Her, as dust and shadow. Once more God bless you, and Frances. Please give her my love. In my prayers for you I have always added her name."

The above quote is from a good friend of GKC's, Maurice Baring (famously seen in the "Baring, Overbearing and Past-bearing" portrait with Chesterton and Belloc). It seems that we owe a great debt to Baring, and many others, for praying for Chesterton and therefore aiding his entrance into the Church. It's a humbling reminder: Christ meant it when He said, "Ask and you shall recieve, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you..."

God bless!

Monday, June 15, 2009

G.K. and Canonisation

Just some sketchy thoughts on the question of the canonisation of G.K., reproduced from my personal blog Sing Me the Old Songs:

The question of G.K. Chesterton being canonised is being raised once again, and getting a little bit of buzz in the Chestertonian blogging world. Sean Dailey, of one of my favourite Chestertonian blogs The Blue Boar, wrote about it initially here, and again here.

In his second post he offered a sort of apology for saying: "The world needs more fat saints." And while it's true that dear Uncle Gilbert was a heck of a lot more than a jolly fat man, I think there's some validity in Mr. Dailey's statement.

St. Gianna Molla was recently a topic of discussion in our house, and one thing about this extraordinary and heroic woman was that she was not the stereotypical saint. She was a working woman - a pediatrician, to be precise - and she was a married woman.

But frankly I don't think any of the saints were stereotypical saints. Their 'failure' to conform to the stereotypes is, I'd almost venture to say, what made them saints. The Church has always been about breaking stereotypes. From the wild sinner to saint Augustine, to the radically simple Francis of Assisi, to the quiet Therese following her Little Way, to the 'dumb ox' Aquinas, saints have always been found in the most unlikely of places.

I don't know whether Uncle Gilbert merits canonisation or not... I haven't made it a course of study, and I can only testify to the radical way he changed my life.

But I do believe that if he breaks from the mold of the stereotypical saint, on account of all his most stereotypically Chesterton qualities, then that's the first step, and the first proof that maybe he should be canonised. The world needs more fat saints because the world needs more saints... holy men and women who challenge us to break past the stereotypes and live in an unthought of and radical way for God.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy 135th birthday, GKC!

Happy Birthday to our beloved G.K. Chesterton!

What did you do to celebrate?

In honor of GK, my family moved our Chesterton collection down into the living room, the towards the center of our family circle!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More and More Trouble...By Ancient Greek Philosopher and Everglade


The saga continues...


"Is this Mrs. Winter."



"My goodness!!! Where is he? What happened?"

"Well it's quite an anomaly. We located him hitchhiking along the highway. He seems to be experiencing some form of amnesia. The only thing he seems to remember is a strong dislike for a fellow named Chesterton. Apparently he was preparing to organize a rally of Chesterton haters. Does this seem at all like him?"



"B-b-but I don't understand! He is (insanely, profusely, utterly, and all-consumingly) OBSESSED with Chesterton!"

"Obsessed with disgracing him, apparently."

"No, no, no! This just isn't like him at all! Here, let me show you his library of Chesterton."

"If you insist."

Gazing at the complete works of Chesterton adorning Evan's walls, suddenly Mrs. Winter spots a small piece of paper thrust between two of Chesterton's books. She snatches it up, quite puzzled, and reads:


I have made my opinions toward dancing as intelligible and non-negotiable as is humanly possible. Therefore, if any of my devoted reads fail to comply with my dying wish, they will receive the following fate. I shall disown them completely. They will no longer be considered enthusiasts of my work. Not only this, but they will find themselves at the opposite extreme, spending the rest of their days intent on smearing my name and my writing, until the day they chose to attend contra dances. Some may never be redeemed, but some I'm sure will see the light.

From G.K. Chesterton:

A note regarding contra dancing:

I have expressed my deep desire for my followers to participate in the form of American folk dance (derived from French and English folk dances) called Contra Dancing. Failure to comply ostracizes the guilty party from the nations of England, France, and the United States. The first stage of this deportation is the participation of a reformation class in Florence Italy. The next stages are to be determined by my associates."

A note from OFL

Oh dear! Chesterton is against vocations to the priesthood! Hee Hee :)! Priests and seminarians aren't supposed to dance, you know (at least, not in my diocese).

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

When your friends don't like Chesterton as much as you do...

Thought you might want to see this joke. I couldn't just post a link because it was on an readers-by-invitation-only blog.

Saturday, May 2, 2009
Chesterton's Dying Wish

To be obeyed to the letter:

"In an attempt to combat the pessimism of our current society, it is my expressed last wish that all of my readers display their joyful spirit by attending a form of both English and French folk dancing known as contra dancing at least once a month. Those who do not comply will lose all understanding of my works. This applies specifically to the founders of my societies at universities in Lincoln Nebraska."

Note: This quote is not intended for all of our blog authors, only the parties of whom it specifies.

Another note: This is a joke .
Posted by Ancient Greek Philosopher


"When exactly was the last time you saw young Evan?"

"I---I... I think, it was last Saturday."

"Last Saturday?"


"Please stay calm madam. What were the last words you remember him saying?"

"He was talking with his friends Aaron on the phone about how he didn't want to go to contra dance. I remember he became very angry and started yelling at poor Aaron, to make sure Aaron understood his true feeling towards dance."

"I see."

"He slammed the phone down and stormed out the door... and I haven't seen him since! I told him over and over he should have listened to Aaron. He offered such wise words! Evan knew the dangers of skipping out on his contra dancing duties, but he was reckless enough to ignore them!"

"Thank you for you time. We hope to locate your son soon, though be prepared for the worst."

*See previous post*
Labels: Propaganda

posted by Everglade @ 11:04 AM 9 Comments

Saturday, May 2, 2009
Chesterton's Dying Wish

To be obeyed to the letter:

"In an attempt to combat the pessimism of our current society, it is my expressed last wish that all of my readers display their joyful spirit by attending a form of both English and French folk dancing known as contra dancing at least once a month. Those who do not comply will lose all understanding of my works. This applies specifically to the founders of my societies at universities in Lincoln Nebraska."

Note: This quote is not intended for all of our blog authors, only the parties of whom it specifies.

Another note: This is a joke .

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

G.K. 'Guest Appearance'

Are there any Rickie Lee Jones fans here?

I should be in bed, but I was following various trails on YouTube and eventually made my way to an old music video of Rickie Lee Jones singing Satellite... a music video which also happens to be one of my earliest introductions to Chesterton due to the brief but beautiful tip of the hat that's given him.

Unfortunately I'm unable to embed the video, but here's the link.

I first fell in love with G.K. when I saw that little girl walk away hand in hand with him in the music video. It was such a delight to discover him as an author and get to know him better.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I'm Reading...

Common Sense 101 by Dale Alquhist. (I have an autographed copy. Tuea Huea!)

And I was wondering...

He says that we need both politics and religion. Well, for those of us who find politics boring and religion fascinating, ought we try to like politics, or at least be good at talking about it?

In other words, Should I be worried about this:

There once was a blogger named Evan
Who thought politics wasn't heaven
And when he died,
His soul was fried.

Or this:

There once was a liberal, old fashioned
Who engaged in politics-bashin'
Such an ingnoring
Set his brain snoring.

Friday, April 17, 2009

My dear Chesterteens

What ho!

How are you all? Healthy? Happy? Discussing Fine Literature?

I am very sorry for my absence, and my only excuse is that I have no excuse! Not one that you would believe any way. ;-)

For any of the newer members who are feeling at a loss, I am an intermediate member; that is, a member who is generation younger (in terms of Chesterteens-ness) then the really old, founding Chesterteens (e.g. Ria, Gigi, etc.), and older then those who joined around the time of the last conference.

But back to Chesterton, don't you love the way he puts things? Read this:

[from the Wind and the Trees]

I am sitting under tall trees, with a great wind boiling like surf about the tops of them, so that their living load of leaves rocks and roars in something that is at once exultation and agony.I feel, in fact, as if I were actually sitting at the bottom of the sea among mere anchors and ropes, while over my head and over the green twilight of water sounded the everlasting rush of waves and the toil and crash and shipwreck of tremendous ships.The wind tugs at the trees as if it might pluck them root and all out of the earth like tufts of grass. Or, to try yet another desperate figure of speech for this unspeakable energy,the trees are straining and tearing and lashing as if they were a tribe of dragons each tied by the tail.
As I look at these top-heavy giants tortured by an invisible and violent witchcraft, a phrase comes back into my mind.I remember a little boy of my acquaintance who was once walking in Battersea Park under just such torn skies and tossing trees.He did not like the wind at all; it blew in his face too much;it made him shut his eyes; and it blew off his hat, of which he was very proud. He was, as far as I remember, about four.After complaining repeatedly of the atmospheric unrest, he said at last to his mother, "Well, why don't you take away the trees,and then it wouldn't wind."
Nothing could be more intelligent or natural than this mistake.Any one looking for the first time at the trees might fancy that they were indeed vast and titanic fans, which by their mere waving agitated the air around them for miles. Nothing, I say,could be more human and excusable than the belief that it is the trees which make the wind. Indeed, the belief is so human and excusable that it is, as a matter of fact, the belief of about ninety-nine out of a hundred of the philosophers, reformers,sociologists, and politicians of the great age in which we live.My small friend was, in fact, very like the principal modern thinkers;only much nicer.
. . . . .
In the little apologue or parable which he has thus the honour of inventing, the trees stand for all visible thing and the wind for the invisible. The wind is the spirit which bloweth where it listeth; the trees are the material things of the world which are blown where the spirit lists.The wind is philosophy, religion, revolution; the trees are cities and civilisations. We only know that there is a wind because the trees on some distant hill suddenly go mad.We only know that there is a real revolution because all the chimney-pots go mad on the whole skyline of the city.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Questions on “The Napoleon of Notting Hill”

I just finished it, and there’s some things I find a little unclear.

1 What is the meaning of the dialogue at the end?
A. Is it an actual part of the story, or an allegorical interpretation of the
story that is not part of it?
B. Did the King really and truly do all he did as a joke, or is that just
something added to make the ending chapter’s message clearer?
C. Considering A+B, why did the king have a re-conversion when he saw Wayne in
the midst of the first battle?
D. What’s the theme of the ending dialogue? Is it true?
E. Is the King on the wrong side of the issue? Is Wayne on the wrong side?
Are they both wrong? Are they both right?

2. Did Notting Hill wage a just war the first time? (It didn’t the second

3. Who is to blame for Notting Hill becoming an empire?

4. Does the King represent Chesterton himself? What about Wayne?

5. Are we to admire or detest the non-Notting Hiller who brought the giant grey
army at the end of the first battle?

Monday, March 02, 2009

A Poem Concerning Cheese

"Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese"

--G.K. Chesterton

White as ivory, white as milk,
White as Clare Assisi, white as silk
(Did you know that Silk®’s illegal?
Even though it’s rich and regal?)
White as anything you please
Is a mozzarella cheese.

Sharp as lemons, sharp as cans
Sharp as vinegar, sharp as band’s
Pipe-flutes played by amateurs
Sharps not a pain, but pleasures
And the sharper is the better
In the cheese that is called cheddar.

You’d think that cows ate sky, not grass
When sensing cheese that’s all high-class,
One is filled with love and loathing
For cheese that’s molding, not betrothing.
With odor strong and jeweled hue
The cheese we’re speaking of is Blue.

One cheese holds a magic spell
The cheese that can an epic tell
With sunny shores and marble rows
With pagan grandeur and repose
With light and wisdom it is graced
Feta, the cheese for classic tastes.

I think I know why we’re not pleased
To write poems on the glorious cheese.
Cheese does not laugh, does not inibreiate
And how can one describe a taste?
All tastes are all mystifying
More than one poem would be boring.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Frances Chesterton

Apparently, one of the poems of Frances Chesterton has been set to music. visit

To get your search started.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Alarms and Discursions

Rrrringg!!! Hey! Wake Up!!!


(Oh, no!)

Ahem. I apologise for intruding into our comatosity. (Is that a word? It is now.)

But I decided I would try to assist in getting things going again. And I know you are wondering: What the heck is "alarms and discursions" anyway? So let's do that first. Alarms and Discursions is the title of a collection of GKC's essays, which I understand previously appeared in his weekly Daily News column, and so it goes with Tremendous Trifles on your bookshelves. As GKC explains in his preface, it is a take-off on the Elizabethan stage-direction called "Alarums and Excursions" (which my concise OED tells me means "noise and bustle").

I presume that most of us are busy at present - I am too, but I often have to wait for something else, and have room for little excursions into the E-cosmos. So, I was wondering, how I might assist in producing some activity here. Since everyone hates essay tests, and all too often the empty posting-box (or even the empty comment box) gives one that tension of having to write an essay, maybe I can make it a multiple-choice kind of affair...

Ready? Put your books away, sit up straight. You may begin now.

1. Given that I have some spare time, I would rather:
(a) Write something about Chesterton (or in his style)
(b) Read Chesterton, or a discussion of his writing
(c) Read more about my distant nephews and nieces who visit this blogg
(d) Learn more about what GKC writes about, like say Heraldry, or World War I, or Distributism, or Christianity, or Poetry, or...
(e) None of the above.

My answer: ______

NOTE: If you choose (a), we hope to see a posting from you soon.
If you choose (b), let us know what you want to read.
If you choose (c), you'll have to help us out by writing about yourself.
If you choose (d), let us know what topic(s) you'd like to see.
Otherwise, you have to say WHAT you WOULD do.

That's it. Just one question. (Hey, we're not that testing place in Princeton.) Now sharpen your number two pencils, open up that comment box and fill it in neatly.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

By request: The Ballad of an ALMOST-Dead Blog

In the deeps of e-space, that gives birth, (like a god,
From nothing), to websites, text sites, journals, and blogs,
There lived The Chesterteens, fairest blog, and first.
(If you won’t post a comment, I will write verse) .

She collected some children, put them ’neath her wing,
And from them, learned Chesterton’s truth of many things.
O! for those old days when this blog fairly burst!
When some would write comments, and some would write verse!

For many long months, she lived with life bounding
For, being like mind, she could live on posting
But then things fell silent, so low that I durst
Say “If you won’t comment, then I will write verse.”

Her falling was caused by both lover and dragon
The beast was a failure, the lover a human
Together they threatened to send her a hearse
For one could not comment, the other wrote verse!

Until the over-poster, realizing his crime
Decided to combat the disaster with rhyme
And with full satire, he said with a burst
“If you won’t post a comment, I will write verse.”

And suddenly galloping like knights to her aid
Came two handsome comments. Her peril they stayed!
One was old Dr. Thursday’s, t’other’s Mom Who Learn’st’s
They posted a comment, I ought not write verse.

But in a brave effort to renew the blog’s quest
These two learned typing heroes made a request
For newly-wrote poetry, they have a thirst
Despite their two comments, I still have writ verse!

Friday, February 06, 2009

A Post (of sorts)

"Over and above the horrible rubbish-heap of the books I have written, now filling the pulping-machines or waste-paper baskets of the world, there are a vast number of books that I have never written, because a providential diversion interposed to protect the crowd of my fellow-creatures who could endure no more."
-G.K. Chesterton As I was Saying Chapter 1~ About Mad Metaphors

Well I have never quite written books, but if you merely replace the word book with the word post, that would probably apply pretty well to my blogging career. But OFL has begged for a post (and for good reason) and so in search of material I pulled As I was Saying (of course by GK) from the shelf. With such intriguing topics as About Relativity, About Traffic, About Mad Metaphors and About The Telephone one on such a mission could hardly fail to be intrigued. I was, and proceeded to read the essay About Mad Metaphors from which the above quote is taken. It was rather delightful. In it he explained an unfufilled plan for a story regarding, well....

"...something about some people who had reached so sensitized and transparent a state of imagination what when they mentioned anything it materialized before their eyes; and this applied even to metaphors or figures of speech which they had not consciously conceived as material."

Anyways there was a good deal more, but I probably shouldn't type the whole essay out as you can find it, along with the rest of the book right here.
Also, side note, I agree with Dr. Thursday and AGP, OFL you should still write a poem. (:


If somebody doesn't start posting or commenting, I will write a poem, "Lament to a dead blog." And nobody wants that except me.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chesterton in the National Catholic Register

In the newest issue of the National Catholic Register, there were two articles about Chesterton. One was a mini-article about Dale Alquhist's opinions on Chesterton's alleged anti-semitism. The other was a much longer article about how, after a long retreat from Chesterton (who used to be required reading in most places apparently) more and more colleges, including Seton Hall, Steubenville, Christendom, Notre Dame, and Cornell, are reviving Chesterton's writings. The momentum for the revival has been mostly students and Evangelicals, with Catholics recently joining in the revival.

(Official Chesterton at UNL is still quite limited to part of one class in modern English literature, but unofficial followers of Chesterton is a little more encouraging, including recent graduate Dr. Jennifer Overkamp, nationally known composer Kurt Knecht, and professor of composition Dr. Eric Richards.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

St. Paul, Fighting and Friendship

This blogg has gotten quiet, a bit of a surprise for a Chestertonian blogg. Did someone stick his tongue to a lamppost? (hee hee) Well, since today (though Sunday, a name of power and awe) is the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, I thought I might drop in here and provoke some comments by dredging up a bit of GKC's story from his days as a student at St. Paul. it's got a lovely fight in it, sort of like the strange warfare we read of "on the way to Damascus". Ever notice how we stick things into even well-known Bible stories? There aren't three kings, Veronica isn't on the way of the cross - and there's no horse mentioned when St. Paul is knocked off his h... - uh - when he encounters the Lord. In the same way, we might find it hard to imagine our loveable GKC as a young pugilist! Please read on, and comment at will...

Boyhood is a most complex and incomprehensible thing. Even when one has been through it, one does not understand what it was. A man can never quite understand a boy, even when he has been the boy. There grows all over what was once the child a sort of prickly protection like hair; a callousness, a carelessness, a curious combination of random and quite objectless energy with a readiness to accept conventions. I have blindly begun a lark which involved carrying on literally like a lunatic; and known all the time that I did not know why I was doing it. When I first met my best friend in the playground, I fought with him wildly for three-quarters of an hour; not scientifically and certainly not vindictively (I had never seen him before and I have been very fond of him ever since) but by a sort of inexhaustible and insatiable impulse, rushing hither and thither about the field and rolling over and over in the mud. And all the time I believe that both our minds were entirely mild and reasonable; and when we desisted from sheer exhaustion, and he happened to quote Dickens or the Bab Ballads, or something I had read, we plunged into a friendly discussion on literature which has gone on, intermittently, from that day to this. There is no explaining these things; if those who have done them cannot explain them. But since then I have seen boys in many countries and even of many colours; Egyptian boys in the bazaars of Cairo or mulatto boys in the slums of New York. And I have found that by some primordial law they all tend to three things; to going about in threes; to having no apparent object in going about at all; and, almost invariably speaking, to suddenly attacking each other and equally suddenly desisting from the attack.

Some may still question my calling this conduct conventional; from a general impression that two bankers or business partners do not commonly roll each other head-over-heels for fun, or in a spirit of pure friendship. It might be retorted that two business partners are not always by any means such pure friends. But in any case, it is true to call the thing a convention in more than the verbal sense of a collision. And it is exactly this convention that really separates the schoolboy from the child. When I went to St. Paul's School, in Hammersmith, there really was a sort of convention of independence; which was in a certain degree a false independence; because it was a false maturity. Here we must remember once more the fallacy about "pretending" in childhood. The child does not really pretend to be a Red Indian; any more than Shelley pretended to be a cloud or Tennyson to be a brook. The point can be tested by offering a political pamphlet to the cloud, a peerage to the brook, or a penny for sweets to the Red Bull of the Prairies. But the boy really is pretending to be a man; or even a man of the world; which would seem a far more horrific metamorphosis. Schoolboys in my time could be blasted with the horrible revelation of having a sister, or even a Christian name. And the deadly nature of this blow really consisted in the fact that it cracked the whole convention of our lives; the convention that each of us was on his own; an independent gentleman living on private means. The secret that each of us did in fact possess a family, and parents who paid for our support, was conventionally ignored and only revealed in moments of maddened revenge. But the point is that there was already a faint touch of corruption in this convention; precisely because it was more serious and less frank than the tarradiddles of infancy. We had begun to be what no children are - snobs. Children disinfect all their dramatic impersonations by saying "Let us pretend." We schoolboys never said "Let us pretend"; we only pretended.
[GKC Autobiography CW16:61-63]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

UNL Chesterton Society Takes Off!


We had three people at our meeting tonight, two of which had never read Chesterton before! Pray for us!

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Experience at Chesterton Conference 2008

“They do not want regular plenty, but irregular wealth…They want Surprise.”

--G.K. Chesterton, “The Surprise”

Yes, I was one of the attendees of the 2008 G.K. Chesterton Conference, the
Orthodoxy Centennial, and I think that “Surprise” is one of the best one word
descriptions of it. Not that I came expecting nothing, and was gloriously
surprised. It was so good, that I could expect and expect and still be
In the first place, I was surprised that I was able to attend at all. But
that does not pertain to the conference itself, so I will pass over it.
Second, I received a very pleasant sort of “Wake Up, you need to go to this”
when I saw that Dr. Jennifer Overkamp, a resident of the same city as myself,
would be on the program. I had met her just a few weeks before.
Third, I found the abundance of attendees quite refreshing--especially after I
saw a friend of mine, went to talk to him, and “got lost” in a large crowd of
homeschoolers that I had not met and probably would never had otherwise.
Apparently, I never found my way out. My membership on this blog is one of the
results, and they‘re not over yet.
Fourth, I was struck by the utter fascination provided by the speeches,
especially the ones that “expanded” Chesterton into the world of Pascal, Jane
Austen (I learned more about Austen from the conference than I did from Pride
and Prejudice!), and the Pro-Life movement.
Fifth, I was surprised by the utter accessibility of the conference
“dignitaries;” I was able to talk to five of the speakers (including Mr.
Alquhist) and eat with two of them.
Sixth, I got to serve mass outside my diocese for the first time in the most
beautiful cassock and surplice I have ever worn.
And last, but not least, I was shocked when I got home and found that one of
the books I bought was by a radical feminist. It made good firewood, which was
not a surprise. I got a very good replacement by Jacques Martain, and that WAS
a surprise.
In other words, unless you know you hate literary conferences or are an
anti-Chestertonian, you MUST go to the 2009 conference.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Request

This actually came originally from Dale Ahlquist and hasn't really been fulfilled. I know this is a little funny to be asking about at this time of year, but I'd really like to have the Chesterton conference attendees on this blog write about their experience of the conference, particularly for the sake of those who weren't able to attend or those who might be thinking about attending this year's conference.

Fire away!

The Transition has Finally Begun

Thank you for your most generous and extreme patience! We've finally started our transition to transform the Chesterteens/Flying-ins in to two separate blogs. I've sent out invitations to everyone I could find who is a current contributor to this blog to join the new Flying-ins.

All current contributors are welcome to contribute to both blogs. The Chesterteens blog will focused on discussions closely related to Chestertons writings and will be of particular interest and appropriateness for high schoolers. The Flying-ins is much more open-ended and can include lots of stuff more loosely related to Chesterton.

Thanks and God Bless!

Mrs. VH