Friday, July 27, 2007

Are You A Fan of GKC?

I hadn't really considered myself a "fan" of Chesterton's, since he's dead, the term didn't seem to apply in my mind. However, Chris Chan's essay in the current issue of Gilbert Magazine has me thinking I am. If there weren't this group, this "fandom" of Chesterton's, I think he would be quite obscure today.

So, are you a fan?


  1. Just because a man is dead, that doesn't mean that he can't have legions of fans. The current canon of literary "greats" only exists because a comparatively small but vocal and dedicated group of people pushed to have that author recognized as a great writer. Joyce only received his current literary status thanks to a clique of critics besotted by him, for example, and Woolf's literary reputation was mixed until the '60's and '70's when her fans rallied to have her named a great writer. Chesterton will only receive wider recognition as a great writer if his fans promote him with sufficient vigor.

  2. As a charter subscriber to Gilbert!/Gilbert Magazine (hey -- I not only edit the magazine, I read it too), let me tell you, it wasn't so long ago that hardly anyone outside of a small circle of folks knew who GKC was, or had ever read anything by him. There was very little in the way of Chestertonia -- the Chesterton Review, which still caters to mostly academics; and John Peterson's excellent Midwest Chesterton News; and maybe a couple of other newsletters, and that was it.

    Now, ten years later, thanks to the magazine (which from its very first issue was 'Net-savvy), the EWTN show, and untiring evangelization by a hard core of fans, the word is getting out, and GKC is a staple on high school curriculums -- at least among home schoolers, which means it is only a matter of time before he spreads to parochial schools -- and there are a growing number of blogs and web pages devoted to him. More and more colleges are offering Chesterton on their required reading lists -- and some even have whole classes devoted to him.

    And let's not leave out the Conference, with attendance that increases every year. Next year, in fact, we'll have to be in a bigger lecture hall (though still on the St. Thomas U campus) to accomodate the expected number of attendees.

    Anyone who doubts the power of fandom should have been at the 2007 Conference on Friday night when Ria, herself just a teen, got up before 400+ people to recite, by heart, the first book of The Ballad of the White Horse. There wasn't a dry eye in the house when she was done.

    Three cheers for fandom!

  3. I have to agree entirely with the above. Chesterton in Christian circles hasn't been thought of outside of "Orthodoxy" and maybe "Heretics". Even the secular world had forgotten his great novels and detective stories.

    If it hadn't been for the constant work of the fans I would have never discovered so much common sense, especially from Chesterton socio-economic viewpoints.

    Cheers to Chesterton! Cheers to the fans!

  4. It is encouraging to see such enthusiastic "fans" of Chesterton, but sometimes it is puzzling how selective and picky they can be about some preconcieved notions which defy what Chesterton wrote. (See previous threads related to Chesterton: The Answer Man, and Back Home...).

    Chesterton is popular because of his common sense, so continuing with the unfinished discussion, it is difficult to understand why so many fans of Chesterton, most of them Christians and Catholics, condone magic and witchcraft in Harry Potter.

    Replying to Mrs. Brown (From the thread Back Home...),

    " We won't know for sure until there is official statement of some sort, either by the pope or by the Magisterium.-- No need to wait. This will never come."

    Not sure how you can be so sure about it.

    "...pope has time to think about or care about a novel?"

    The Holy Spirit will guide the pope to address the issues that need to be addressed. Using my mere human logic, I see a dire need to address the issue. The Magisterium has already addressed the New Age phenomenon, and due to the confusion and the potential for serious harm to youth by the modern misguided fantasy for children, (and fantasy in general), I can logically conclude that a statement will be issued.

    "Why is Regina Doman an authority on HP? -- Why are you an authority on HP?"

    As I said previously, being a fan of Chesterton, my authority is Chesterton -- I have provided a number of clues, quotes and references by Chesterton, which support my view. And, a far as I know, Reginam Doman, yourself, and Chestertonian have not provided such Chestertonian authority to support your view.

    "has she [Rowling] ever contributed anything at all to the Chesterton cause? Yes. -- And why is that an excuse for you not to donate? ..."

    I hope Rowling has contributed a lot to the Chesterton cause, but about charity in general, see Matthew 6, verses 3 & 4.

    Anyway, to give the Potter fans something else "intellectual" to ponder-- Joseph Pearce in his excellent article "In Persona Christi", in which he deals with the subject of priesthood and its perversion in modern literature, writes the following that also applies to the modern perversion in fantasy literature about magic and witchcraft. He calls this "perversion through inversion" , or "satanic inversion" and he means by it the following:

    "which is to say that conventional meaning is perverted through inversion of the things associated with it. As such, it might be prudent to remind ourselves of the dangers inherited in such an approach to life and literature, the danger that the metamorphoses becomes a metaphormosis (sic.), the damger that we might becme the very metaphor we're inventing." (Chesterton Review, Surmmer 2007, p. 130)

    Incidentally, the Review also has a good article about Cardinal Newman as Novelist (p. 139) , and please note Newman's attitude towards unreal fantasy, pagan magic (as satanic worship of demons). A nice reference to St. Cyprian - toleration of an evil or a vice within the Church loosens discipline...

    It seems the Chesterton Review is now on the right track about magic and fantasy, and let's hope and pray that Gilbert Magazine will follow soon.

  5. Well good for the Chesterton Review!

    Also, you wrote this:

    As I said previously, being a fan of Chesterton, my authority is Chesterton -- I have provided a number of clues, quotes and references by Chesterton, which support my view. And, a far as I know, Reginam Doman, yourself, and Chestertonian have not provided such Chestertonian authority to support your view.

    I think Chesterton would get quite a chuckle out of his works being used the way Protestants use a Bible: trying to prove a point by cherry-picking quotes without any regard for context or other quotes that may be contradictory.

    I am no expert on Chesterton. Gramps and Dr. Thursday here could run circles around me with regard to knowledge of what Chesterton may have said about any given subject. However, I have read enough Chesterton to know how to rely on my own common sense and see the holes in arguments used by the anti-Potterites, and to point out those holes without constant reference to Chesterton.

    I apologize if what I just typed appears to lack humility or charity, but gorammit, there comes a time when all you can say to anti-Potterites is "stuff it."

  6. I read an interesting thing the other day in the book of Numbers. It was the story of Balaam, who was most famous for his talking donkey. He was also an oracle and a diviner, but with the added quirk of being steadfastly loyal to the LORD. There was nothing his king could do to get him to be disobedient to the LORD. Yet he was a person who fits the bill of a witch.

    Now funny isn't it that this fellow was more obedient to the LORD than many Israelites at the time.

    Now I know what the Bible says about witchcraft and I am not condoning it even now. It leads to death, but so does spite; lying; gluttony; fraud; lust; bearing false witness; and selfishness.

    But obedience to the Lord leads to everlasting life.

    Anon, I have been the only other person to attempt a anti-potterite debate here(although my debate is on literary value and themes, which I don't think are Chestertonian), yet you have even been quarreling with me.

    Those who wish to have Harry burned at the stake, for his witchcraft, are only fueling the flame the devil has lit. Except this is not a fire that will kill Harry it is only attracting more readers in. Have you ever noticed that it is in the most strict homes that you get the biggest rebels.

    Another reason to drop the evil for evil sake debate. Jesus says "Do not resist an evil person." That is God's job not ours.

    So if you see HP as a large weed. Pull it out of your life, do not participate in anything to do with it, don't let it pollute you.

    If others see some wheat amongst the weeds, let them pull it out and cast the rest away. That is what God does, and as his children let them do the same.


  7. Hello everyone, I thought this issue of Gilbert was the best I've yet seen - and I guess I must be somewhere towards the end of my year of subscription.

    Regarding fans, I'm not sure there are only positive aspects to it. One might consider groupies of rock bands to be a form of a 'fan'. Maybe there is a continuum of belief in someone or something, and groupies are on the fundamentalist end of the spectrum. Or something.

    I don't think I am a fan of Chesterton. I am interested in his writing to the extent that it informs my mind and challenges my preconceptions.

    With reference to Harry Potter, my recollection is that Chesterton on several occasions praised the value of the fairy tale. I don't actually read it, but I'm not sure there is anyone who actually thinks HP is real - is there? So then how is it any different to Lord of the Rings? I don't understand why I should be particularly bothered about it.

  8. If you think of all the literary figures that did not achieve notoriety or "fandom" until after they had departed, you might even conclude that death was a prerequisite to fandom.

  9. Chestertonian, in the previous threads I argued with Gramps about trying to use Chesterton as Protestants supposedly use the Bible. That is why Gramps posted his "Chesterton; the Answer Man" essay. Perhaps you should revisit our argument.

    You say you rely mainly on common sense, so using it as most ordinary people do -- Why do we have the Scriptures? What is their purpose? (In the old days of Latin, only the Church authorities were allowed to read it, but we live in the post-Vatican II era, we, the laity are now encouraged to read the Bible!) And if you and your family actually read it, what do the passages mean to you?

    Using sheer common sense, (without any sophistry or intellectualism), what should the condemnations of magic and witchcraft in the Bible, from the Old Testament to the Acts, really mean for an ordinary Christian? The stern condemnations are not there just for fun or as curiosity, you can dismiss them only at your own peril.

    Also using common sense -- What does it mean to be a fan of somebody? Being a fan means more than just respecting somebody! I respect a lot of wise, learned, kind, and intelligent people, especially those from whom I have learned something important, but I am not necessarily a fan of theirs, because I don't agree with some things they stand for. Word fan, arguably derived from "fanatic" means a lot more than just respect. It baffles my common sense when, on a Chesterton blog and in Chesterton magazines, I see deep controversies about an important topic Chesterton was quite clear about, especially when the people defending their misconceptions claim to be fans of Chesterton.

    "I apologize if what I just typed appears to lack humility or charity, but gorammit, there comes a time when all you can say to anti-Potterites is "stuff it."

    No need to apologize, I have encountered a lot worse in my other debates with other people. I could stuff it, but I will not, because I don't like to see falsehood like this to spread as truth, especially when it is wrapped in ignorant arrogance.

    So, let me calmly restate the outline of the argument:

    I have provided all sorts of general and Chesterton clues, quotes and references to support my view. I have provided direct evidence that based on Chesterton's definition(s) Harry Potter contains witchcraft. I can provide more.

    Except Gramps, who at least honorably tried to argue, your side, the "Chestertonian Potterites," have provided nothing like that at all! No argument, no counter-argument, no discussion, no analysis of what Chesterton wrote and meant. You haven't refuted a single such statement I have made about magic and witchcraft ! Your only defense that hasn't been refuted yet is that HP is supposedly a "good story." That's all, and it is laughable to claim that you are right and I am wrong. Perhaps that is why you have decided to resort to such sham righteousness.

  10. Anon: If we take it down to the bottom, you say that the Harry Potter books are at base, witchcraft, occult and dangerous.

    Other people--such as myself-- see no such thing, after reading the actual books.

    This post is about GKC and his fans. You take this opportunity to turn the conversation back to yourself. Again.

    If you wish to engage further in this discussion, I suggest you get your own blog. Let me know when you do. I'll post a link. Because if I see any more from you, I shall use my full power as editor of this blog and remove the posts. You have been warned.