Monday, October 15, 2007

Male Friendship

I was re-reading the poem that Chesterton dedicated to Bentley which originally appeared in The Man Who Was Thursday and was recently reproduced in Gilbert magazine, and I felt jealous of their friendship. I wish I had some female friendships like Chestertons/Bentley/Belloc/etcs.

And I know there are some male friendships forged by Chesterton even today. I hear about these guys drinking wine, smoking cigars, singing Belloc's songs, etc., and I feel a little bit jealous.

Why is it so hard to make lasting and deep frienships today? My husband has been thinking about this for a while. He goes to Knights of Columbus meetings at our church, the only male organization there. They are all old guys playing pinochle. He goes, but hasn't forged any friendships.

He goes to art groups, art leagues, etc., and most of them are either artist wannabes (not working artists...yet) or elderly people who have art in common and are looking for some social outlets. He's met a lot of people this way, but no real friends.

He isn't into Chesterton, so I can't introduce him to my friends. ;-)

So, I read about Chesterton and I think about friendship, and I long for the Inn at the End of the World, where I'll go in, and everybody will know my name. "Hey, Nancy!" Sounds nice, eh?


  1. I wonder if those who wrote the lyrics for that bar sitcom read GKC. Certainly it sounds like they're talking about THE INN AT THE END OF THE WORLD. If I recall correctly they go roughly like this:

    "Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
    Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.
    Wouldn't you like to get away?

    Sometimes you wanna go
    Where everybody knows your name,[1]
    And they're always glad you came!

    You wanna be where the people can see
    Their troubles were all the same:
    You wanna be where everyone knows your name.

    You wanna go where the people know
    That people are all the same:[2]
    You wanna go where everyone knows your name."

    Or, as another man once remarked:

    "But you have kept the Good Wine until now." [Jn 2:10]

    --Dr. Thursday

    [1] "We must certainly be in a novel; What I like about this novelist is that he takes such trouble about his minor characters." [GKC's notebook]
    Also cf. Rv. 2:17.
    [2] "For religion all men are equal, as all pennies are equal, because the only value in any of them is that they bear the image of the King." [GKC, Charles Dickens CW15:44] Also: "America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just."

  2. I too long for a group like the Inklings or the ChesterBelloc, to be a part of. It could be a female only group, it could be a mixed sex group, it just needs to be a group where people like to read Chesterton, like to think and discuss. I long for it because where I live it simply doesn't exist. I get snippets of time with young adults who "get it." However, most of them thinking that living in my particular neck of the woods is tantamount to intellectual and spiritual death. I understand why they think that.

    I have yet to find an adult Catholic over 30 in our area who actually enjoys reading the sort of stuff I read. They'll tell me how much they admire me for reading Chesterton, or Augustine, or Newman, but they won't pick up a book themselves. I spent the first 20+ years of my adulthood being considered weird by evangelical Protestants because I read Schaeffer, Lewis, and Os Guiness. I've spent the past 10 years as a Catholic being considered weird because I read Chesterton, Belloc, Augustine, Newman, the Church fathers, even the Pope. I'm not talking about being considered weird by people who have only a high school education. I'm considered rather odd by people who have college degrees. I talked with one woman who has a master's degree in catechetics and she not only had never read most of the authors I read, she thought it was rather strange that I had.

    Fortunately, once in awhile I get to go to a Chesterton event (even if I have to drive a very long way), and I discover that not only I'm not the only one, but that I'm probably not even close to the best read person there. It's encouraging even if it makes it a bit harder to return to the desert again after a brief stop in the oasis.

    Oh for a kindred spirit or two (as Anne of Green Gables would say)!

  3. I sometimes wonder if the lack of friendships in real life is why some of us spend so much time forging cyber friendships online.

  4. Dear Liz,
    I feel so similarly to you. Yes, the glory of the Chesterton conference, to me, is real conversations. It happens so rarely in everyday life.

    I can relate too, to your comments about the intellectuals and college grads who think the books we read are, well, quaint...old fashioned...traditional. Not up to date, like stuff on eneagrams and dream-catchers and finding your inner kahrma, or making videos as a "prayer piece" (what's a "prayer piece" anyway?)

    Hope to see you at the next ChesterCon!

  5. I really like this thought, Nancy. Im still upset that I missed ChesterCon last summer. You hit the nail on the head, part of the sheer enjoyment is real conversation and encountering people who by and large have spent alot of time developing themselves in a certain way.

    People are soooo busy it seems that there are so few venues for these things, and chances for these bonds to form. In small town Southern Minnesota, we have a very solid, orthodox, literate, and active element in our 2 churches. We all know who each other are, it is just a matter of time to invest.

    We have created our own small scale "Chestercon", we have brought in speakers such as Marcus Grodi, Tim Drake, Steve Ray, Tim Staples, and similar Gosh we need to get Dale here. On a local level is seems like leadership is so key. There are alot of people who are discovering these things thanks to the new media. Once that critical mass is reached and begins to get organized, some terrific things are possible.

    I think Michael Rose was right about one thing in particular...there is a skipped generation in the Church. I contradict Liz abit, but I know alot of people in my age group(say 25-35) who are into Augustine, Newman, and JPII. There is a skipped generation, and then one finds the same intellectual meat among seniors. (65+)

  6. Dear Anonymous (whose comment I deleted):
    It is quite biased of you to say that most artists are gay. That is a sterotype and I'm sure you didn't mean to sterotype.

    We have numerous friends and acquaintences who are artists. Their private sexual attractions have nothing to do with whether we are friends with them or not.

    Most of the people in art leagues are gray haired old ladies who use such organizations as their social outlets. That is the reason my husband isn't finding male friendships there.

    I would like you to re-think your comments and in addition, please chose to post only if you can contribute something positive to this blog. Thank you.


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