May Gathering

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Thursday, May 2nd

7 o’clock in the evening

Finnbar’s Pub in Troy

The Man Who Was Thursday  (A Nightmare)

Chestertonians of Albany and beyond!  We hope you’ll join us whether you’ve been long absent, a monthly fixture, or have recently discovered our underground society.  “No devil worshipers, please” (GKC) …the only prerequisite is a healthy dose of common sense.

Join us for a pint, a bite and a rollicking discussion!

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Childlike Mysticism: Poetry, Nursery Rhymes, and Chesterton

7152897-LThis morning I stumbled upon this beautiful tribute to Mother Goose (and to childhood) by Mr. Sean Fitzpatrick, which struck me as particularly apropos of our conversation on April 4th.

Those who were present may recall Larry’s question (I paraphrase): Why poetry?

What is it about poetry?  Since I’m quite certain I could not say it better myself, here is what Fitzpatrick says:

Poetic knowledge comprehends truth in a clear yet indistinct way: truths such as love, fear, joy, and all the rest of their kind. Everyone knows these things very well, but only as mysteries. There are truths science cannot demonstrate, nor rhetoric corroborate—and those truths belong to poetry. Poetry, however, being pre-rational cannot define itself. It is itself a mystery about mysteries and so must it be accepted.

Don’t we lose something when we cease to appreciate poetry?  Do we gain something especially humane when we do read it (memorize it, write it, celebrate it)?  I believe it was Tim who pointed out that poetry is no longer taught in schools.  Quite true.  Quite sad.  The cracks… what’s not said in a poem (*Cecelia) is often the delight and the point.  Space, yet – limitation. (frames)

In any case – some of the richest people I know loved poetry and had their favorites committed to memory (and by rich, I am not speaking of money).  One of those rich men was G.K. Chesterton.

As I’ve already stated, I do not endeavor here to stake a full-blown defense of the genre, but perhaps to return to the still-open thread of thought and conversation begun in the upstairs room at Finnbar’s.  As demonstrated through our present protagonist, the poet-detective Gabriel Syme, there is a special place in mystery for the poet… and, a special place in poetry for the mystical.  In both (poetry and mystery), there is a unique affinity with childhood (or the childlike).  Chesterton saw this, and – even in his own massive grown-up shape – he managed to embody all three.

Do go read the whole piece at Crisis Magazine, as it’s quite Chestertonian in its message.  Kudos to Sean Fitzpatrick.

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Speaking of the childlike, Nancy Carpenter Brown (of the American Chesterton Society) shared this wonderful photo on the ACS blog.  Thanks to Nancy’s sleuthing, the men pictured have been identified!

A bunch of grown men playing “cowboys,” except, it appears, for Sir Barrie (center).  Perhaps he’d  have preferred a game of Peter Pan!

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(L to R) Lord Howard de Walden, William Archer, J.M. Barrie, GKC, and Bernard Shaw.

Blog Alert! ~ Dale Ahlquist on Civilization ~

The Basis of Civilization ~ an essay by Dale Ahlquist

The inimitable Dale Ahlquist, fearless leader of the American Chesterton Society, posted an essay at the ACS Blog that is well worth your time.  Do go there and read the whole thing.  A few select excerpts…

The family ideal as defended by Chesterton is something quite different than the industrialized consumer family, where the family members leave the house each morning by the clock and on a strict schedule to pursue work and recreation and the majority of life outside the home. Chesterton’s ideal was the productive home with its creative kitchen, its busy workshop, its fruitful garden, and its central role in entertainment, education, and livelihood.

Our lack of domestic life is reflected in the fact that we don’t have a domestic economy. We don’t produce anything. We are suddenly watching massive layoffs, but the people being laying off (no offense to them) were not producing anything. They were either selling things, or sitting at desks and computer terminals, being paid with borrowed money, so that they could also go into debt. Now the financial center of the country has moved from New York to Washington, DC, as Gudge has passed the baton to Hudge, who has promised that all the problems that were caused by too much borrowing will all be solved by even more borrowing.

Chesterton says that every high civilization decays by forgetting obvious things. The obvious things are the ordinary things, and we have forgotten them.  [Home run, Dale.  Home run, GKC]