Rochesterton, the future and other follies…

A halberd: Notting Hill’s ubiquitous icon of patriotic vitality.

Thanks to all who came out to Smith’s last night.  ‘Twas another rollicking get-together, and a most engaging discussion to wrap up our journey through The Napoleon of Notting Hill.  Those who’d also attended our August meeting will recall how the conversation at The Pegasus devolved somewhat into politics.  September’s chat did seem to stay closer to the book.

Themes of vitality of place, love and size, abstraction vs. the lovable concrete, monarchy vs. democracy or republicanism, fullness of character (or lack thereof), longing for the king, and possible biblical parallels to Auberon (John the Baptist) and Adam Wayne (Christ) kept things interesting from start to finish.  There was even a reference to Theology of the Body (fantastic, MG!).  We’re always edified by our membership’s rich stores of historical, theological, cultural and literary nous, and we thank all who grace us with their company at our monthly ACS meetings.

Looking ahead to October, get your hands on a copy of The Club of Queer Trades and join us on 1st Thursday for Chapters 1 & 2.  As there are six chapters in total, we expect to spend three months on this gem of the detective fiction variety, one of Chesterton’s beloved genres.

As for our ongoing voyage through GK’s surrealism, rest assured that we shall soon enough turn to some non-fiction essays (there’s no shortage!).  Persevere in the joyful knowledge that our hearts are made for stories, and the most mature and reasonable among us are especially in need of a good somersault now and again.  Tumbling down imaginary grassy knolls can keep a man sane.


And, in more urgent news, it’s that wonderful time of year again (when we don’t have to wait a full month to get our GKC fix!)…  We present the flier you’ve all been waiting for:


Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 11.03.52 AMOur compatriots, er … our friendly neighbors to the West… The Chestertonians of Rochester, NY have extended a special invitation to us people of the Hudson River.  The 11th Annual Conference of the Rochester NY Chesterton Society will take place on Saturday, the 27th of September, at St. John Fisher College’s Coleman Chapel.

Dale Ahlquist and Joseph Pearce are once again on the docket, much to our delight.  The topics, speakers and audience are always a treat, and the venue is comfortable and personal!  Expect books to be on sale, among other paraphernalia, so you’ll want to bring cash in excess of the $10 entry donation.  They often raffle off a few prizes too.  Mark your calendars!

September Gathering

Thursday, September 4th ~ 7 o’clock in the evening ~ Smith’s Restaurant of Cohoes, 171 Remsen St. ~ The Napoleon of Notting Hill. ~ Book IV, Chapter 2: The Correspondent of the Court Journal to the End ~

4758406356_db7dbfa8f2_b-1024x641A reminder that our October (and beyond) reading selection is The Club of Queer Trades, so be sure to get your hands on a copy in time to read up!

The Chesterton Club of Granada: A worthy & interesting initiative

Check out this impressive endeavor by the Chesterton Club of Granada.

While I operate under the imperfect tools of google-translate and my own hodgepodge of Romance language nous, what is quite clear is this:

The readers and writers of this site have a practical missionary aim: to help the world think like Chesterton.

They have short pieces on particular themes, in addition to longer, in-depth essays on a few of Chesterton’s works.  It seems that they are also hoping to improve Spanish language translations from the original English of Chesterton’s essays and books.

*More later, as I sift through their nice site.  In the meantime, in no particular order, I exhort you to stay salty, eschew aschemiolatry**, resist, root out, and overcome the barbaric, and say NO to gnosticism.


*Each of the above may be accomplished by reading Chesterton.

**Credit goes to the one and only Thomas Bertonneau for coining the term aschemiolatry, or, the cult or worship of ugliness, which we find so useful a word in our post-Christian gnostocracy (another of his – and our – favorite words).

July 30th, 1922

ChestertonPortrait1922: In response to the news that Chesterton had been received into the Catholic church, George Bernard Shaw exclaimed, “No, Gilbert, now you are going too far.”

Today, July 30th, we celebrate the anniversary of Chesterton’s formal entry into communion after his long intellectual and spiritual journey. Lucky for us, we can follow along with him posthumously, encountering surprising friends and kindred spirits on the path, while recharging in those necessary supplies of hope, humor and common sense that each of us desperately needs for our own journey.

August with the ACS

On the map:  We head southbound for a return visit to the Pegasus Restaurant in Coxsackie, 10885 Rte 9W, 12051.

On the calendar:  (Our usual 1st Thursday) August 7th.

On tap:  Possibly veal cutlets (check the restaurant link because we don’t really know), but certainly free-flowing discussion of the middle section of The Napoleon of Notting Hill, chapters Enter a Lunatic (Book II, Chapter 3), through The Battle of the Lamps (Book IV, Chapter 1).

city men out on all fours in a field covered with veal cutlets

city men out on all fours in a field covered with veal cutlets

Is Chesterton everywhere lately… or is it just my GK radar?

A thought-provoking read on Chesterton by Tod Worner appears at the Patheos portal this week.  Worner discusses the perils – indeed, the diabolism – that Chesterton recognized in defiant error, especially concerning morality (read the whole thing there):

Sin is wicked, but when recognized as sin, man can repent, seek and receive redemption. But if the worldview fails to recognize sin for what it is, or worse, celebrates the sin as some form of grotesque virtue, repentance is not sought and redemption is lost. Even more concerning, this worldview does not limit itself to a solitary sin which hurts the perpetrator alone. Instead, it eagerly embraces and encourages a multitude of other sins which visit their wicked results upon others.

[emphasis mine]

The notion of error as serious threat has been weaving its way through much of my own thought lately. I believe it is a central theme to Orthodoxy (in particular to Chapter 3, The Suicide of Thought), and to the supposed assertion Chesterton made from his deathbed:

“The issue is now quite clear. It is between light and darkness and every one must choose his side.”

Along the path of my own conversion, it has been at times excruciatingly clear that an error in philosophy is really at the heart of so many breakdowns, whether on an individual or an institutional / cultural level.  One particular epiphany came thanks to a book about Gnosticism and the New Age, the philosophy I’d been unconsciously swimming in since my youth.

noGnosticismIndeed, it was the very term, gnosticism, which crystallized and put boundaries around an error which had previously run rampant in my mind and life – in part because I had no definition for it.  It was unbound and unconsidered. But given a name – a word – I suddenly realized most palpably what I was already in the process of escaping from, and why Abraham, the man, had blown open the doors of my imagination in such a staggering manner.


Which brings me to the issue of language.  Is there a more fundamental, basic error than naming a thing with the wrong term? (Especially its opposite?)  To assert that Sin = Virtue (the diabolical un-doing about which Chesterton speaks, above) is to revoke meaning, to refute the cosmos.

Take, as another example, this mathematical analogy: 2 + 2 = 7.  Or a visual one: Red = Blue.  Now, anyone capable of reading this essay recognizes the absurdity of these false statements, but have we considered the cosmological vacuum that results when absurdity trumps reality?

For the person who persists in the error that Red = Blue, we could say a fundamental problem dictates his vision of color.  Perhaps he is colorblind.  Perhaps his error is bound and limited to the realm of perceived color.  If so, mercifully, he can function in reality even as he lacks the ability to distinguish red from blue.  But what if his error extends to the assertion, not simply that he can’t tell the difference between Red and Blue?  The man who stakes reality on the claim that THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE re-writes his (and others’) reality.  He is no longer operating merely with a deficit of truth, or a blind spot, but is assaulting reality.

Chesterton is correct:  This error now becomes diabolical in nature.

To use the proper word(s) for the proper thing(s) is to speak of and in reality, to speak in Truth.  So language, then, is one of the starting points (perhaps THE starting point) of our human ordering of and cooperation with reality.

I will endeavor, in my next entry, to dig deeper into the nature of language, naming, Truth, and Being.

Until then, resist the Gnostocracy* and read more Chesterton!

ChesterCows*Thomas Bertonneau’s word





A Three-Month Sojourn Up Notting Hill

We devote our July, August and September meetings to Chesterton’s 1904 novel, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, A Fantasy of the Future, which speculation says may have inspired Michael Collins and his movement for Irish independence.

Join us on Thursday, July 3rd, 7 o’clock tumblr_mayl66JiKc1ql2w65o1_1280in the evening at a local Chestertonian homestead* for our first installment of Napoleon, all of Book I and Chapters 1 & 2 of Book II.


August meeting: Book II, Chapter 3, Enter A Lunatic, through Book IV, Chapter I The Battle of the Lamps.

September meeting: Book IV, Chapter 2 The Correspondent of the Court Journal to the End

The sketch above is taken from Chesterton’s own notebook-bound manuscript of The Napoleon of Notting Hill
*Please see our latest email for the address, or contact us at