Saturday, May 26, 2012
Fifth Meeting of the Irish Chesterton Society-- the Best Yet!
Apologies for how long it took me to get round to reporting on this, but the fifth meeting of the Irish Chesterton Society-- which took place in the Central Catholic Library, Dublin, on 28th of April-- was a tremendous success, attracting our biggest attendance yet and generating lots of lively discussion.
This time we did something different, hosting a guest talk by the philosopher and columnist Mark Dooley (above). Dr. Dooley is the author of eight books, including Roger Scruton: The Philosopher on Dover Beach and Why Be a Catholic? (Intrestingly, Dr. Dooley told us that the publishers of the last book asked him to "write it like Chesterton!")
The title of the talk was "The Democratic Faith", but it ranged across a whole landscape of topics, critiquing the developments (and, to a great extent, degenerations) in society and culture and politics over the last several hundred years-- the nature and underlying assumptions of freedom, the limits of democracy, the importance of tradition and dead generations, and much more. There were many questions from the floor and some pretty animated discussion.
Dr. Dooley disclaimed any deep knowledge of Chesterton, but this seemed like modesty on his part, since he casually dropped Chestertonian phrases like "the ethics of Elfland" into the stream of his talk and showed an extensive knowledge of Chesterton's intellectual development, and especially the difficulty of labelling him as "conservative" or "liberal" by modern standards. (A few responses from the audience also focused on this question. For my own part, I consider myself a social and cultural conservative, and even find Chesterton too radical for me at times. But I think the greatness of Chesterton is that he can draw admirers from a fairly wide spectrum of views and outlooks.)
I was surprised by the turnout (not visible in the photo unfortunately!). I think there is considerable interest in Chesterton in Ireland and a potential for a more formal organization. If there is anyone reading this with more administrative nous than me, and who is interested in helping me put more shape on what is currently a very loose and informal association, I would love to hear from you.
So a big thanks to Dr. Dooley for his wonderful talk, and thanks to all of you who showed up on the day. Hope to see you again next time!