Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Hypocrisies of Liberalism

Re-reading Orthodoxy, Chesterton's masterpiece (as far as I'm concerned), and relishing afresh this delicious passage:

The modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book (about the sex problem) in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble.

The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts.

I'm sure we can all think of many other examples. The liberal considers marriage to be a fundamental human right, the refusal of which might cause great psychological harm-- as long as it is two men wishing to "marry". When it comes to a man and a woman, though, marriage is a sham and a piece of paper.

Taboo is ridiculous and a relic of the nursery when we're talking about obscene and blasphemous art, but taboo is simple justice when it concerns "hate speech" and the expression of politically incorrect opinions.

Religious freedom is precious in the case of Tibetan monks or Western Muslims, but mere special pleading for a nurse wearing a cross around her neck during working hours.

Reason is all-important as long as we stay in the realm of physics, but mere logic-chopping and sophistry when we ascend to metaphysics.

And so on. And so on. And so on.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

From The Everlasting Man...

Every attempt to amplify that story has diminished it. The task has been attempted by many men of real genius and eloquence as well as by only too many vulgar sentimentalists and self-conscious rhetoricians. The tale has been retold with patronising pathos by elegant sceptics and with fluent enthusiasm by boisterous best-sellers. It will not be retold here. The grinding power of the plain words of the Gospel story is like the power of mill-stones; and those who can read them simply enough will feel as if rocks had been rolled upon them. Criticism is only words about words; and of what use are words about such words as these? What is the use of word-painting about the dark garden filled suddenly with torchlight and furious faces? "Are you come out with swords and staves as against a robber? All day I sat in your temple teaching, and you took me not." Can anything be added to the massive and gathered restraint of that irony; like a great wave lifted to the sky and refusing to fall? "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me but weep for yourselves and for your children." As the High Priest asked what further need he had of witnesses, we might well ask what further need we have of words. Peter in a panic repudiated him: "and immediately the cock crew, and Jesus looked upon Peter, and Peter went out and wept bitterly." Has any one any further remarks to offer?

[Many thanks to Dr. Thursday of the GKC's Favourite "blogg", from whence I copied and pasted this text.]

Happy Easter to all readers of this blog and all members of the Chesterton Society! We hope to have another meeting before too long.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Man Who Was Thursday Takes the Stage

Brian Macken sent us this interesting email, which he kindly allowed us to post on the blog:

My name is Brian Macken, and I am the director (and adapter) of a new stage version of ‘The Man Who Was Thursday’ – and I think it’s something your members might be interested in coming along to!

It takes place from the 11th to the 14th of May at the Unicorn Theatre, Abingdon. You can see more details, such as how to get tickets, on our website here:

I realise that a lot of your membership will not be UK-based, but there might be some Irish expats (such as myself!) who might be interested in coming to see it. Although, the flights from Ireland to the UK aren’t that expensive, and Oxfordshire is beautiful at this time of year… (I’d recommend flying to Birmingham, if anyone is interested in making the journey!)

Aside from just loving the book, I decided to adapt ‘Thursday’ because GKC is an author who deserves to be more widely read than he is at the moment. I’ve tried to noodle with the book as little as possible, so I think I’ve managed to find a balance between being faithful to the book and making something which works on stage.

Will there be an elephant and a hot air balloon onstage? Turn up and see!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

In Defence of Fat Women

Chesterton's poetry includes some razor-sharp parodies and lampoons of other poets. Here he rushes to the defence of the fat white woman seen on a train by Frances Cornford (died 1960), lines from which often appear in books of quotations. I imagine that Chesterton's chivalry and his sense of solidarity with another person of girth both motivated his satire here!

To a Fat Lady Seen From the Train
– Frances Cornford

O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?
O fat white woman whom nobody loves,
Why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
When the grass is soft as the breast of doves
And shivering sweet to the touch?
O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?

The Fat White Woman Speaks
--GK Chesterton

Why do you rush through the field in trains,
Guessing so much and so much?
Why do you flash through the flowery meads,
Fat-head poet that nobody reads;
And why do you know such a frightful lot
About people in gloves as such?
And how the devil can you be sure,
Guessing so much and so much,
How do you know but what someone who loves
Always to see me in nice white gloves
At the end of the field you are rushing by,
Is waiting for his Old Dutch?