Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Help out Enchiridion

There is a Christendom student, who is planning on attending the Chesterton conference, who posted GKC's poem about Mr. Ford and a few comments about trying to understand distributism.

A fellow wrote back, and I think we here should be able to come up with a good answer to his comments, which are WAY off base. Here's what he said:

"...with all due respect, the Industrial Revolution happened. Commerce *is not a sin.* Indulging in agrarian fantasies is a waste of time! Indulging in a potbellied aristocrat's agrarian fantasies is almost uncharitable!

We need poets and critics who can make sense and beauty out of the present time, our time -- out of the suburban postmodern anomie that is our current experience. Pining for another time and another country which we never knew (and wasn't that great, anyway) is not very useful. Instaurare Omnia in Christo--this does not always translate to in Chesterbelloc."

FIRST of all, Chesterton could NEVER be described as an "aristocrat." That's pure nonsense. Saying that even *thinking* about Chesterton's distributism model is "uncharitable"? Huh?

Second of all, isn't he arguing that only the modern person can understand the modern age...

OK. Maybe you guys can come up with a retort and post it over there to help her out. The post is here. Thanks.


  1. He seems to be calling for poems that help people make sense of their current world, instead of reminding them what their world could be. He assumes we can't change the world since the industrial revolution "happened". I say lets just change it to a "Industrial Distribution Revolution"!

  2. That "can't change" error was easily disposed of by GKC:

    ... If I am to discuss what is wrong, one of the first things that are wrong is this: the deep and silent modern assumption that past things have become impossible. There is one metaphor of which the moderns are very fond; they are always saying, "You can't put the clock back." The simple and obvious answer is "You can." A clock, being a piece of human construction, can be restored by the human finger to any figure or hour. In the same way society, being a piece of human construction, can be reconstructed upon any plan that has ever existed.

    [GKC, What's Wrong With the World CW4:57]

    And if relevant poems are wanted, I suggest CW10.

  3. Sheila has responded to her detractor, and has done a fine job of it. Go see her response. I feel proud of her.

  4. Yes, her training shows in both her writing and style, and in a good selection of Chesterton's poems! For she has posted more on this, and John, her fellow Chestertonian of Christendom, has also posted on the topic.

    Thank God for these young Chestertonians! What a delight to read good writing and wise thought with kindness and clarity.

  5. Sheila posted a well-informed and kind response, but after that Santiago posted again. I am not as kind as her, and I let Santiago have it. One thing that really burns my onions is the "damn with faint praise" tactic that some Chesterton detractors resort to. As in saying something patronizing like, "I greatly admire Chesterton for..." before dismissing him outright.

  6. Wow -- thanks! I was beginning to feel like the last soldier on an embattled city wall, tossing off a few arrows and calling desperately for backup as the barbarians come pouring over. And this just because I'm halfway through An Essay on the Restoration of Property and was beginning to think, "You know, this could actually be done, if people actually wanted to do it." I don't even call myself a distributist yet -- at least not till I've finished the book!

    But these people were just asking to be knocked on the head -- or at least shown a bit of reason. Santiago's been the incendiary commentor on my posts since before I even had my own blog.

    Dr. Thursday -- CW10 is my main source for poetry on every subject. What a great book.

    The more backup I can get in my comment box, the happier I'll be, because I know so very little about these things. A quote for Chesterton not being an aristocrat would be helpful. I always get the feeling that he's out there for the common man and not at all for the nobility, but I don't have ready proof, and Santiago won't believe me without it.

    Anyway, thanks everyone for being so nice. I'm just a lowly poetry blogger who blogs to please herself and the few people who come to get a weekly dose of good verse, and I'm flattered that you people have read my work and liked it. I'll see you all in two weeks at the convention!

  7. Hi Sheila,
    Great blog you have there. You don't need a quote for Chesterton not being an aristocrat. He was born into a typical middle class family and was never anything more than middle class his entire life (he was a journalist, after all). I guess it was middle class; those who know more than me could help out maybe.
    The point is, calling Chesterton an aristocrat was patently ridiculous; no further evidence was needed to see that that Santiago guy knows nothing at all about Chesterton.
    Hope to see you at the conference. I'll be the guy who looks like a leading contendor for the "Rotund as Chesterton prize," and occasionally Dale Ahlquist may try to fool people into thinking that I'm the editor of Gilbert Mag. :-)

  8. Santiago shows no sign of knowing anything about anything he talks about: whenever I post about one subject, he comes on saying something like, "With all due respect, madame, you're a total idiot, because I read a completely different author who said something totally unrelated and that [somehow] proves you wrong!" I stopped taking him seriously the first time he ever commented on one of my posts over a year ago.

    I will look for you at the conference, then!

    Hmm . . . I read your blogger profile, Chestertonian, and I think I will side with Mr. Ahlquist. Always a safe bet. ;)

  9. Stay in there, Sheila. Much as I'm confident that I could wipe the floor with this gentleman, it would have to be on basically any other subject. GK's economics are the only area of his life about which I am not entirely confident in my knowledge.

    In other words, try to get him to attack something else.

    Keep up the good work on your blog. I will check back often, now that I've heard of it.

  10. Furor, we haven't gotten off economics, except for an irrelevant stint on Franco. So, sorry about that.

    But just so everyone knows, the debate is still going on and is up to 17 comments on my second post on the topic.

    "And he would slay the cynic thought
    That whispered, Ver non semper
    -- The spring will lose its crown
    And she will lose her temper."

    I am losing my temper, just a bit. So anyone who wanted to back me up, any help you could give would be quite -- helpful.


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