Purpose
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G.K. Chesterton, in the early twentieth century, was an outstanding apologist for the Catholic faith and a thought-provoking prolific author of books, essays. and journal articles dealing with religion, society, economics and politics.

Join us monthly to discuss everything Chestertonian.


The Archbishop of Detroit issues a pastoral letter on new evangelization
Place: Panera Bread, 268 John R Rd (NE corner of John R Rd and 14 Mile Rd, across from Oakland Mall).

Time: 7 pm on first Wednesday of each month

2017 Calendar
  • Wed Jan 4
  • Wed Feb 1
  • Wed Mar 1
  • Wed Apr 5
  • Wed May 3
  • Wed Jun 7
  • Wed Jul 5
  • Wed Aug 2
  • Wed Sep 6
  • Wed Oct 4
  • Wed Nov 1
  • Wed Dec 6

Last meeting discussion
Facebook SE-Michigan Chesterton Society
contact Jon Hess at

Chesterton books at Project Gutenberg - suggested by Dan Barriball
Audio versions at LibriVox - suggested by Kathy Stocki
Online books about Chesterton published by Fr. Robert Wilds - suggested by Kathy Stocki
G. K. Chesterton's Works on the Web by Martin Ward, De Montfort Univ, UK - suggested by Kathy Stocki
Joseph L. Grabowski's teaching on Chesterton - suggested by Ann Konopinski

We are a local branch of the
American Chesterton Society

Video: Science found proof that God exists


Next meeting

Wednesday Oct 4, 2017 7 pm
Assignment: The Napoleon of Notting Hill - Chap III of Book I and all 3 chaps Book II
   Book I
I. Introductory Remarks on the Art of Prophecy
II. The Man in Green
III. The Hill of Humour
   Book II
I. The Charter of the Cities
II. The Council of the Provosts
III. Enter a Lunatic
   Book III
I. The Mental Condition of Adam Wayne
II. The Remarkable Mr. Turnbull
III. The Experiment of Mr. Buck
   Book IV
I. The Battle of the Lamps
II. The Correspondent of the "Court Journal"
III. The Great Army of South Kensington
   Book V
I. The Empire of Notting Hill
II. The Last Battle
III. Two Voices

Book discussion: Beginning | Separate listing
Last meeting discussion

Analysis of the book by Dale Ahlquist
Previous books
Part I: On the Creature Called Man
I The Man in the Cave
II Professors and Prehistoric Men
III The Antiquity of Civilization
IV God and Comparative Religion
V Man and Mythologies
VI The Demons and the Philosophers
VII The War of the Gods and the Demons
VIII The End of the World

Part II:On the Man Called Christ
I The God in the Cave
II The Riddles of the Gospel
III The Strangest Story in the World
IV The Witness of the Heretics
V The Escape from Paganism
VI The Five Deaths of the Faith

Conclusion: The Summary of this Book
Appendix I: On Prehistoric Man
Appendix II: On Authority and Accuracy

Book discussion: Beginning | Separate listing
Last meeting discussion

Essays:
54. Mary Queen of Scots
55. George MacDonald
56. Tolerating Other Religions
57. The Efficiency of the Police
58. About Beliefs
59. The Common Man
60. Two Stubborn Pieces of Iron
61. The Revival of Philosophy--Why?
62. If I Had Only One Sermon to Preach
63. Scipio and the Children
64. The Philosophy of Islands
65. The Artistic Side
66. What Is Right with the World
67. The Spice of Life

Full list of Essays

Book discussion: Beginning | Separate listing

Reading list:
The Blue Cross (radio) (movie)
The Sins of Prince Saradine (radio)
The Sign of the Broken Sword
The Man in the Passage
The Perishing of the Pendragons (radio)
The Salad of Colonel Cray
The Secret Garden
The Hammer of God (radio)
The Eye of Apollo (radio)
Full list of Father Brown stories

Book discussion: Beginning | Separate listing

Preface
Chap I. Introduction in Defense of Everything Else
Chap II. The Maniac
Chap III. The Sucide of Thought
Chap IV. The Ethics of Elfland
Chap V. The Flag of the World
Chap VI. The Paradoxes of Christianity
Chap VII. The Eternal Revolution
Chap VIII. The Romance of Orthodoxy
Chap IX. Authority and the Adventurer
Available free at Project Gutenberg

Book discussion: Beginning | Separate listing

Part I. Some General Ideas
Part II. Some Aspects of Big Business
Part III. Some Aspects of the Land
Part IV. Some Aspects of Machinery
Part V. A Note on Emigration
Part VI. A Summary

Free audio version of The Outline of Sanity - suggested by Timothy McCormick.

Book discussion: Beginning | Separate listing

Part one. The homelessness of man
Part two. Imperialism, or the mistake about man
Part three. Feminism, or the mistake about woman
Part four. Education: or the mistake about the child
Part five. The home of man
Three notes

Available free at Project Gutenberg
Audio version available at Librivox - suggested by Kathy Stocki

Book discussion: Beginning | Separate listing

Contents
Preface
1 An Introduction to the Apostle of Common Sense
2 Orthodoxy
3 Heretics
4 What’s Wrong with the World
5 The Catholic Church and Conversion
6 The Thing: Why I Am a Catholic
7 The Well and the Shadows
8 St. Francis of Assisi
9 St. Thomas Aquinas
10 The Everlasting Man
11 The Outline of Sanity
12 The Superstition of Divorce
13 Eugenics and Other Evils
14 Father Brown
15 Conclusion: Chesterton for Today

Book discussion: Beginning | Separate listing

Some mystery stories and radio plays by Chesterton for your entertainment.
Chesterton word search game, words used by Chesterton and/or us
Umbert
Date
Chesterton book list

Fiction

  • Alarms and Discursions
  • Manalive
  • The Ball and the Cross
  • The Club of Queer Trades
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much
  • The Man Who Was Thursday
  • The Napoleon of Notting Hill
  • The Trees of Pride
  • Full list of Father Brown stories

Non-Fiction

  • A Short History of England
  • All Things Considered
  • Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens
  • Charles Dickens: (1906)
  • Eugenics and Other Evils
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • Heretics
  • Orthodoxy
  • Robert Browning
  • The Appetite of Tyranny
  • The Crimes of England
  • The Defendant
  • The New Jerusalem
  • The Victorian Age in Literature
  • Tremendous Trifles
  • Twelve Types: A Collection of Biographies
  • Utopia of Usurers and other Essays
  • What I Saw in America
  • What's Wrong With The World

Plays

  • Magic

Poetry Books

  • Greybeards at Play
  • The Ballad of St. Barbara And Other Verses
  • The Wild Knight and Other Poems

Essays

  • The Suffragist
  • The Poet and the Cheese
  • The Thing
  • The Man Who Thinks Backwards
  • The Nameless Man
  • The Gardiner and the Guinea
  • The Voter and the Two Voices
  • The Mad Official
  • The Enchanted Man
  • The Sun Worshipper
  • The Wrong Incendiary
  • The Free Man
  • The Hypothetical Householder
  • The Priest of Spring
  • The Real Journalist
  • The Sentimental Scot
  • The Sectarian of Society
  • The Fool
  • The Conscript and the Crisis
  • The Miser and His Friends
  • The Mystagogue
  • The Red Reactionary
  • The Separatist and Sacred Things
  • The Mummer
  • The Aristocratic `Arry
  • The New Theologian
  • The Romantic in the Rain
  • The False Photographer
  • The Sultan
  • The Architect of Spears
  • The Man On Top
  • The Other Kind Of man
  • The Mediaeval Villain
  • The Divine Detective
  • The Elf of Japan
  • The Chartered Libertine
  • The Contented Man
  • The Angry Author: His Farewell
  • Bret Harte
  • Alfred the Great
  • Maeterlinck
  • Ruskin
  • Queen Victoria
  • The German Emperor
  • Tennyson
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • The Barbarism of Berlin
  • Lord Kitchener

Poetry

  • A Ballade Of An Anti-puritan
  • Me Heart
  • Pioneers, O Pioneers
  • The Ballad of the White Horse
  • The Englishman
  • The Good Rich Man
  • The Logical Vegetarian
  • The Road to Roundabout
  • The Rolling English Road
  • The Saracen's Head
  • The Song Against Grocers
  • The Song Against Songs
  • The Song of Quoodle
  • The Song of Right and Wrong
  • The Song of the Oak
  • The Song of the Strange Ascetic
  • Who Goes Home?
  • Wine and Water

Group Discussion


Compilation of comments and discussion points from members and other participants. Please send your contributions, changes, and/or deletions by email to They will be integrated as well as possible into the discussion.

Go to current book    last meeting

Meeting Feb 28, 2012 - The Apostle of Common Sense:

Chesterton's case for Sainthood was briefly considered. He was recognized as a gifted defender of the faith by Pope Pius XI. In comparison with C. S. Lewis, the group speculated why Chesterton does not seem as popular in recent times. Perhaps because Catholics have the Pope but protestants don't.

Chesterton's view of the role of woman was discussed. "Woman prevents total degeneration into specialization". This might not be appreciated by women of today. Chesterton considered the appropriateness of women sufferage.

Chesterton along with Hilaire Belloc advocated distributism as a superior economic system compared with either capitalism or socialism. The applicability and practicality of distributism was briefly discussed. Modern technology was pointed out as an example that requires capitalism.


Meeting Mar 27, 2012 - What's Wrong With The World:
part 1, chap I The Medical Mistake, chap II Wanted, an unpractical man, chap III The new hypocrite

Modern society finds a cure and then searches for the disease, which leads to inapplicable regulations. Meanwhile many diseases continue with no cure. It was suggested, as an example, that many types of food cause disease, which is not addressed. We on earth, who are not divine, must have ideals to guide us.

A man of action must have ideals. Conversely, men without ideals will resort to inaction (Chip and Dale syndrome). It was pointed out that an ideal carried to an extreme might conflict with another ideal and therefore must be tempered. It was discussed, for example, that the ideal of justice should be tempered with mercy, otherwise it leads to injustice. The difference between tempered and moderation was briefly discussed.

It is difficult to resolve disagreement between two sides if they each don't define their position. On the other hand, if they each define their point through dogma then a point in between can be reasonably found. It was suggested that such compromise is appropriate in dealing with two virtues but not between virtue and evil. Religion, defined by a set of dogmas, is practical. Two such religions can find common ground. Dogma defines a point, whereas prejudice defines a direction.

The application of these issues to our current time was discussed with several examples. It was suggested that G. K. Chesterton in comparison with C. S. Lewis was more intuitive and Lewis more logical.


Meeting Apr 24, 2012 - What's wrong with the World:
part 1, chap IV The fear of the past.

A free thinker, free from the future and the past, cares for what ought to be. H.G. Wells wrote about social Darwinism leading to dystopia. Humanity is emphasized over human beings. J.R.R Tolkien also wrote about society in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Video games and science fiction illustrate a vision of the future, while the past tends to be vaguely remembered, e.g. the Black death, World War II, the greatest war ever and the battle of Lepanto, the greatest war preceding WWII. The Holy Roman Empire was none of the three words. Some science fiction stories, including Star Trek, Star Wars, The Last Star Fighter, and The Time Machine were discussed as examples of how the future is imagined and sometimes falls short. Some video games provide a virtual experience of past events, for example WWII.

War is sometimes necessary to stop bullying and should be fought morally by warriors with honor. Mechanized warfare (e.g. drones) is in many cases demeaning to humans, but in other cases might be better for non-combatants because of enhanced ability to focus on targets. The morality of using the two atomic bombs on Japan and carpet bombing of Germany was discussed. They may be examples of schadenfreude.

The European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA) were compared. The EU lacks a common foundation, language and economy, unlike the USA.

Chesterton's comments on the phrase, "you can not turn the clock back" were discussed. Indeed the clock can be turned back.


Meeting May 29, 2012 - What's wrong with the World:
part 1, chap V The Unfinished Temple, chap VI The Enemies of Property, chap VII The Free Family, chap VIII The Wildness of Domesticity, chap IX History of Hudge and Gudge, chap X Oppresion by Optimism

St Thomas Becket was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by King Henry II. Thomas refused to agree with Henry, siding with Church law over royalty. Subsequently, four knights in response to Henry's statement , assassinated Thomas smashing his body and brains on the church floor, symbolic of destroying his physical imposition of Church law and his Christian idealism respectively.

The French Revolution half succeeded and have failed in fulfilling its three ideals, equality, fraternity and liberty, because although it destroyed aristocracy it didn't apply to all and evolved into the reign of terror. (Animal Farm, some are more equal than others). It was followed by Napoleon. The French Revolution was based on two ideals for government honorable poverty (stoicism) and extreme publicity (transparency), where as English Aristocracy assumed that wealthy men would not be tempted to trickery.

The Christian Ideal has never been successfully tried. Neither has been the communism ideal (from each according to his ability to each according to his need).

Ideals need to be lived to be judged. Family life is a primary ideal. Fallen man finds it difficult to commit to the family ideal, leading to divorce and childless marriages. On the other hand, constraints bring happiness to human creativity. Families are more fulfilled in separate houses rather attached. Hudge (big government) and Gudge (big business) interfere with individual creativity.

Aristocrats are always on the side of progress. Two examples are the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers.

Two bloggers, Mark Shea and Mark Steyn, a book, The Hound of Distributism and an upcoming movie For Greater Glory were briefly discussed.


Meeting Jun 26, 2012 - What's wrong with the World:
part 2 Imperialism, or the mistake about man, chap I. The charm of jingoism, chap II. Wisdom and the weather, chap III. The common vision, chap IV. The insane necessity

Chesterton searches for a word to describe what he calls imperialism, which is the attraction of people to move to different regions of an empire because it would apparently make them a "different" person, or the "the grass is greener" or for the allusion of comfort. Other regions, however, are likely to be similar in many respects, but might have different cultures. English imperialism concerns human intercourse.

If one is a materialist than why talk at all, everything is predetermined starting from the big bang. But what caused the big bang, perhaps it was the collision of branes (multi-dimensional membranes) posited by String theory. Steve Hawking, renowned physicist, explains it with words similar to the first verse of the last gospel of St John. Evolution in the Darwinian sense is used to explain the existence of life that presently exists. There was discussion concerning the Church's acceptance of evolution, but perhaps not in the Darwinian sense. A counter argument to evolution is the existence of irreducible complexity in biological entities and missing links between different species. The Church teaches that God has given us a free will, which is not consistent with materialism. Science of evolution is arguably wrong, as it has been with other issues such as global warming. Scripture and tradition support religious beliefs independent of science and there is no conflict, which is addressed by the concept of Rational Christianity described by Mike Flynn.

Mike Flynn also wrote a science fiction story called Eifelheim about the encounter of extraterrestrial aliens. Discussion then started about the possibility of extraterrestrial life, with or without immortal souls. The human incarnation of Christ was mentioned as a concern. The Fall of man might not have occurred with possible extraterrestrial beings. The universe is vast and life might be expected to abound.

Comparision of time and eternity was discussed. The science fiction book "A Wrinkle of Time" was mentioned to introduce the concept of time travel. Time is sequential and it was suggested that eternity for humans is sequential also, as described by St Thomas as abeternity. Scientific development was considered in regard to two books "Tom Swift" and "Kitty Hawk to Apollo".

Every man is humiliated by the fact that he can not become God although God became man.

Men relate to each other by comradeship based on equality, which is a form of love and speak about subject matter. C. S. Lewis discussed that there are four kinds of Love. Women speak about each other. Women are concerned about hearth and home and are protective like a mother grizzly bear.

It was suggested that democracy is the enemy of civilization (homoludenous). Democracy was compared to monarchy. Chesterton favored democracy. Democracy under monarchy involved regicide. In this regard, the book "A Game of Thrones" by George R. R. Martin was brought up. St Thomas Aquinas in his book "On Kingship, to the King of Cyprus" asserts that monarchy is the best form of government. Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887, stated "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." The second law of thermodynanics supports this. That is why the US Constitution provides for checks and balances among the branches of government and supports federalism. It was suggested that we haven't had federalism since the Civil War. Chesterton states that man must either live under rules, impersonal government, or rulers, personal government. Comparison was made between submission to weak vs. strong laws, and business vs. comradeship. Big business is based on utility, which can be undesirable. Blogger Mark Shea compares the ruling class vs. everyone else. Blogger Fredericka Mathewes-Green speaks about real women vs. real choices.

The importance of faith was discussed. "... with faith the size of a mustard seed you can move mountains ..." Mt 17:20. It was posed whether with faith one could grow a new arm.

We discussed immigration, its need for reform, its relationship to cultural unity, multilingualism, and balkanization.


Meeting Jul 31, 2012 - What's wrong with the World:
part 3 Feminism, or the mistake about woman.

Woman suffragettes are unmilitary in the sense they fight for a cause, but not to win and thus end the fight. They are anarchists rather than revolutionists, they are personal rather than impersonal. Chesterton feels awkward writing about this as a man. In opposing suffrage for women he's not saying woman are not good enough to vote, but rather voting is not good enough for women. He is trying to be chivalrous. Government is coercive and performs many unpleasant tasks, such as executions, tax collection, imprisonment. By voting, women would collectively participate in such things. Saint Paul says that a wife should be submissive to her husband and that a husband should love his wife

Some discussion considered whether woman suffrage is right. Some women argue that they don't want to be confined to the home and take orders, but are willing to enter the work place and take dictation. Chesterton says that the home doesn't narrow the woman, but broadens her. As a homemaker she acts as universalist, rather than specialist. She is a Jill of all trades. She might not cook as well as a chef, but better than most men.

Women excel in two virtues thrift and dignity. Women value thrift because it is an art and requires creativity. Men partake in waste, which requires no effort. Woman use the dustbin to recycle for thrift, men use it for playthings. Chesterton perhaps exaggerates about the dustbin to make a point, whereas C. S. Lewis is more direct. Dignity is important to women and is reflected in the way they dress and act. When men officials require dignity for their roles they put on feminine garments, e.g. judges were robes and politicians used to wear wigs.

Women are intimidating when they are silent, not when they are emotional. Compared to men, women are conscientious and patient. They try to do things that are right rather than depend on the outcome, whereas men are outcome based (profit motivated). Thus women tend to be for socialism and men capitalism. It was suggested that a good blend is distributism.

Men tend to exaggerate the importance of what they do, such as government affairs and the workplace, so women thought they were serious. Consequently, government and the workplace were made more important than they should be and the home was made to shrink. Woman consequently wanted to vote and work outside the home at the expense of homemaking. The child became less visible and home education became weakened. Today children tend not to miss their mother.


Meeting Aug 28, 2012 - What's wrong with the World:
part 4 Education, or the mistake about the child, chaps I to VIII.

There exists a Calvinistic theory of education in which students are predetermined by their genetic makeup as to what they learn. Chesterton says Calvinism is the last lie in hell, which might mean the ultimate lie or a subsequent lie to the first that we are all god. Calvinism was compared to prosperity gospel, which holds that good things happen to good people because God wants it that way. Related to this is the Presbyterian view that if you think of it you make it happen, which is a Kantian view point.

The Evangelical concept of born again was compared to predestination. Martin Luther suggested that justification is a "manure pile covered with snow". With predestination, God imputes what we are. I was born this way.

The Catholic view is that God "predestinates" everyone to heaven, but gives us free will to choose. Education is authoritarian. This notion was developed by Aquinas built on Augustine and Aristotle. Luther, in contrast, makes everyone pope. Tribalism is the notion that we are all one in Christ.

Counter to predestination is the intellect. Peter Singer and Terri Schiavo were discussed. There are lawsuits to establish animals as being human. Richard Dawkins supports this through atheistic evolution. There is a movement for human extinction. This is opposed by Voltaire with the term "noble savage".

Dogma is education. As Chesterton says, parents should indoctrinate, apply dogma.

The state acts towards education as if there is crisis. Chesterton wrote this at the beginning of progressivism (1910).

The Albigensian Crusade fought against the heresy of gnosticism. Father Mitch Pacwa (EWTN) talks about gnosticism and the New Age. We discussed holistic health as not being all new age and fracking.

In regard to education and home schooling, we discussed authority being violent because it's creative, truth, and new-born babies. Everyone is educated mostly wrong. It was suggested that God lets us learn the hard way.

We considered a possible change of venue for our meetings, because openness in the bookstore allows interference between us and others sharing the space. A meeting room in some library, preferably not much South or West of the bookstore, was suggested. Suggestions are encouraged.


Meeting Sep 25, 2012 - What's wrong with the World:
part 4 Education: or the mistake about the child, chaps IX to XIV.

Considering the purpose of education, it was suggested that it changed from the pursuit of interest to job qualification.

Two main theories of education were reviewed: 1) rationality is inborn and needs to be drawn out and 2) a human is born with a "blank slate", tabula rasa, and needs to learn through empiricism.

Attempts are made to disturb parental authority, but it can not be avoided.

It was described that In Chesterton's time public education was more for the higher classes for social purposes, while the common student enrolled in elementary education.

There was discussion about the motivation of public teachers. It was suggested that they lack proper incentive, because they are underpaid, first to be blamed by parents and are monitored. Schools should be more local and autonomous and therefore more like home schools.

Home schooling provides more incentive for the teacher and therefore more academic potential, but there might be a problem with social interaction for the students. Published curriculums and tutors can compensate the lack of subject specialization of the teacher.

Because there were medical and holistic health specialists participating, there was an interesting digression concerning curative versus preventative methods, which involved consideration of the scientific method, the germ theory of medicine, proper nutrition, patient intuition and listening. In reference to the scientific method Kathy commented about the variability of physical constants, which was met with some disbelief among the others. She later found four articles that discuss the point.

  1. The Variability of Fundamental Constants by Rubert Sheldrake,
  2. When is a constant not a constant? by Peter Rodgers,
  3. Physical constants perhaps not so constant by Robyn Williams and John Webb
  4. Are the Physical Constants Actually Constant? by Jeff Zweerink
She suggests further searching and discussion.
Meeting Nov 3, 2012 - What's wrong with the World:
part 5 The Home Of Man and Three notes

Burke, in regard to the French Revolution, argued that everywhere man is molded by his environment (evolution), which Chesterton refers to as atheistic. It was noted that Chesterton generally aligns with Burke, but constantly argues against him.

Abortion was discussed as an example of Burkes thinking. Abortion exists because its easier than changing conditions. Some related points that were discussed where 1) the "4th trimester" of gestation 2) cloning 3) harvesting body parts.

We discussed the good of the individual vs humanity. Jesus did not come to save humanity. Similarly, the function of the family should not be encroached by the state.

Chesterton points out that things that appear similar are used vastly differently, as illustrated by umbrellas and walking sticks, laundries and kitchens, and (as Steve mentioned) coffee cups and donuts, which are topologically equivalent. Some people have enough wit to be nitwits!

We discussed what Chesterton refers as peasant proprietorship. The trouble with capitalism is that there is not enough capitalists. A suggested way of distributing property (capital) is to buy out large landlords. Economy of scale needs to be addressed. Large stores, e.g. Meijers, exploit buying power to obtain low prices. This might be done on a low level through cooperatives (e.g. Amazon market place) or trade guilds. Large trusts have been broken by Roosevelt.

We discussed good and bad people. It was suggested that there is a dichotomy formed by a) people who believe in a Divine good and act in a characteristically good manner and b) those that don't. It was pointed out that people can and do change with time and that it is not possible to determine who is in either category. We considered examples involving asceticism and contrition.

Hudge (progressive, big government) and Gudge (conservative, big business) support each other in oppressing the individual and the family. Together they form the ruling class. This is addressed in the book, Aa-1025: The Memoirs of a Communist's infiltration in to the Church, a Harvard commencement address on socialism and capitalism, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Mark Shea's blog

Some points brought up in our discussion of socialism and captilism are:

  • Socialism is devised, Capitalism is about how it works
  • Europe has become dependent on socialism for generations, the US has pervasive regulations
  • Mobs are conservative
  • Freedom without truth is not freedom
  • One word of truth outweighs the world

We decided that in the future we'll meet on the last Wednesday of each month, same place, same time. We finished What's Wrong With the World and the next book is Chesterton's The Outline of Sanity.


Meeting Dec 5, 2012 The Outline of Sanity:
part I chap 1 The beginning of the Quarrel

The meeting started with a vigorous debate concerning the merits of unfettered capitalism versus distributism. The main proponent of capitalism questioned whether Chesterton is using common sense in proposing distributism, since it would limit the amount of productive capital used by an individual. The question was posed, what limit if any should apply to an individual's use of capital? Two replies where proffered 1) upto the point where someone must work for a wage for such an individual and 2) until the individual's use of capital for production interferes with that of others. In response, it was retorted that individuals pursuing their self-interest help the common good, as promoted by Adam Smith. It was also retorted that Chesterton should not promote an economic system because he is not an economist, such as Milton Friedman.

The implementation of distributism was discussed. If the government did it through regulation, it would have the undesired effect of giving the government even more power over private enterprise, which could degenerate into socialism. A more desirable approach, it was suggested, is to do it through "evangelization". As more people see the advantage of distributism it could become organic. Once established, distributism would arguably be stable because it would be supported by the vast majority of people. Capitalism and communism, on the other hand, are unstable because they're not organic.

The fallen nature of man was brought into the discussion. It was intimated that only unfettered capitalism is robust to man's fallen nature, unlike communism or distributism, which are bound to fail due to corruption. It was countered that distributism, a Catholic teaching, can be treated on a moral basis and be thus successively defended against corruption.


Meeting Jan 2, 2013 The Outline of Sanity:
part I chap 1 The beginning of the Quarrel p31, chap 2 The Perl of the Hour, chap 3 The Chance of Recovery

Capitalism is a desert monster. It grows like a weed in the absence of culture. Peasantry is fostered by civilization, It depends on mutual aid, much like an arch that is stable because each stone supports other stones. Equality of peasantry supports its continuity. England became capitalistic because it was an oligarchy. Power isn't stable. There was a difference between north and south England separated by Hadrian's wall.

Catholic demographics varies by region because of historical events such as persecution. We discussed the universality of the church. We agreed that the present mass is universal because it was devised by Vatican II, but questioned whether the mass before 1970 was universal because it depended on the traditions of different rites. It was suggested that it was universal because it was the Tridentine mass as set by the council of Trent.

We discussed what constitutes capitalism and to what degree it exists in the US. There are a number of big businesses including manufacturers and retail chains that are capitalistic, but there are many more small businesses that represent distributism. We decided franchises are capitalistic because they are centrally controlled.

The industrial revolution drove people to cities with a grid-like infrastructure on which people became dependent. Transportation or other breakdown causes shortages and other adverse effects. Jobs are more cushy, that is more robust to temporary laxity of performance.

Distributism depends on individual and societal morality. It is adversely affected by marriage breakdown, lack of respect for life and other immorality.

Capitalism depends on socialism. Companies become too big to fail and are supported by government. The rich will always be rich enough to hire poor workers. Common good is lost. Capitalism is ironic because it depends on individualism. Capitalists are contradictory because they want common man to be poor enough to work for them but at the same time to be rich enough to buy their products.

We discussed how to get distributism to work when our system is collapsing. Remove impediments and causes of degeneracy (stop drinking the poisoned beer). Recognize that the model of peasantry is not a machine. Peasantry doesn't depend on laws. Good laws do not make good people, according to Benjamin Franklin. Try to make something that will mold itself.

People find a sociable society organic. Distributism is a cottage industry characterized by Tradition, Family, Property (TFP) or Altar, Hearth, Land.


Meeting Feb 6, 2013 The Outline of Sanity:
part I chap 4 On a Sense of Proportion, part II The Bluff of the Big Shops

Distributism doesn't need to be complete. A monastery is an example of the use of common land by many individuals, however they have a choice based on their free will. In a distributive state not all people are distributists. The attraction of socialism is security, which is the reason people procure insurance.

In Chesterton's time big shops were not as big as those today. Although Harrods was rather large. We considered at what point does a big business become big in a capitalistic sense. One way to establish distributism is to counter monopolistic capitalism. It was suggested that boycotting big business generally doesn't work. Barns and Noble was given as an example of a big business that will likely fail because it is dominated by an even bigger business, 300 of its stores are closing and Nook is not competitive with Kindle.

Distributism is a mixed economy, with both big and small businesses. Guilds could play a role. We questioned whether a franchise, e. g. Radio Shack, is a collection of small business or a collective big business. Services and trades tend to be small businesses. A sector with a single little guy is as bad as one big guy. Collusion causes many small businesses to appear as a single large business. Today everybody buys from China.

Big business bluffs through advertising, convincing people that they are good because they are big. "It pays to advertise.". Today, advertising takes many forms. Blogs include advertisements that target the reader. Some businesses hire young people to go into bars to taut their products through contrived conversations. Facebook promotes a post for a fee. Psychology is used in marketing, e. g., Vegas has no clocks nor windows, supermarkets use product placement, and Wallside will not sell windows in a home if the wife is not present.

Economics favors big shops. Many people can own stock in a big company (although, Dell Computer is going private). Southfield rejected building a new Walmart. Costco sells large packages of food. Small shops are bought up by big shops causing fatalists to weep but only if they weep in vain.

Big business enjoys an economy of scale. An Amish community counters this by buying bulk food and repackaging it. They also have a low overhead. Chesterton asserts that small business can compete with big business if a campaign is mounted such as the Land Campaign in Ireland.


Meeting Mar 6, 2013 The Outline of Sanity:
Only two people attended, so it was decided to cancel the discussion for the meeting.

Meeting Apr 3, 2013 The Outline of Sanity:
Part II chaps 2 A Misunderstanding About Method and 3 A Case in Point

Meeting May 1, 2013 The Outline of Sanity:
Part II chap4 The Tyrany of Trusts and Part III chap1 The Simple Truth and chap2 Vows and Volunteers

A trust is a collection of businesses controlled jointly by a number of persons that dominates an economic sector in a monopolistic manner. It has a Christian duty to use its controlled property in a proper manner. Trusts have a heavy burden, but they often act in a tyrannical manner. It was suggested that some families are controlled in a similar manner by a dominating person acting tyrannical, e.g. a matriarchy. Parents' primary task is to work themselves out of a job. Examples of government trusts are the national debt and pension boards. Trusts are countered by populist governments such as Theodore Roosevelt and Mike Huckabee.

The notion of distributism is similar to various other social phenomena, At first it seems implausible but as it put into practice it begins to seem inevitable. Distributism is encouraged by supporting small shops. There is a struggle between the rich man and the small man. Mark Shea discusses this in his blog. There is division between the public and the ruling class. Gradualism should be used to establish distributism. History doesn't make sharp turns.

The peasant class is a mixture of different sizes and industries.

Distributism might be initiated by volunteers, who should face the work involved, "just do it" and act heroic. Volunteers are encouraged through education. P. J. O'Rourke was referenced.

Some suggestions were: Passing a law that no one can vote who receives money from the government. Elections should be done with instant-runoff voting.

Statistics are artificial because individuals are not atomic

Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange addresses distributism with "The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life"


Meeting Jun 5, 2013 The Outline of Sanity:
Part III chap 3 The Real Life on the Land, Part IV chap 1 the Wheel of Fate & chap 2 the Romance of Machinery

Socialism is the completion of capitalism. Monsanto is running the FDA. Genetically modified wheat from the US is banned in other countries because of cross fertilization.

Happy is the man that knows the causes of things. Otherwise he is dominated by despots and is feed and entertained by "bread and circuses". In our country we are exposed to perpetual scandal to prevent us from getting to know the cause of any one thing.

The wage slave spends free time watching, reading, listening to a fixed set of things about other people. They talk ignorant about what they think are ignorant peasants.

The ideal of distributism is benefited by a core of peasants that produce and consume their own products rather than exchange.

Chesterton tends to repetitively describe a point using analogies, e.g. the concept of coming to stay or not being able to stop progress illustrated by "Uncle Humphrey". Chesterton is a poet and acts intuitively in comparison with C.S. Lewis, who is a rationalist.

Singularity University in Silicon Valley, having the mission to apply technology to address humanity's grand challenges, was discussed. In this vane, reference was made to the novel "That Hideous Strength", third book of Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis, which involves an allegedly scientific institute, The National Institute of Coordinated Experiments ("N.I.C.E."), which is a front for sinister supernatural forces.

Machines cause laziness. Examples exist of people being poor and happy. Aide can be an obstacle. It was suggested, on the other hand, machines or their design can be beautiful, just as poems or statues. It was countered that no they can't because they are utilitarian. An example, which was discussed, of a machine that should be developed is a hand-held shield to selectively block the head-light glare of oncoming cars. It was mentioned that a solution exists in the form of yellow-tinted glasses.

There is to be a used book sale at St Mary's Royal Oak, July 12-15, sponsored by Lifespan.


Meeting Jul 3, 2013 The Outline of Sanity:
Part IV chap 3 The Holiday of the Slave, chap 4 The Free Man and the Ford Car & part V chap 1 The Need of a New Spirit

Chesterton describes, in sometimes politically incorrect terms, that pleasures available to an industrial worker involve the same basic choices, whether he reads a newspaper, attends a cinema or listens to the wireless. There is no diversity.

Inventions have destroyed invention. They have caused us to be less socially interactive. Game Boys have desocialized us rather than connect us. We are becoming less creative. The period from 1930 to 1970 has brought creative innovations from radio to space travel, whereas the period since 1970 has been merely the unfolding of existing technology. We need more breakthru technology, e.g. cold fusion to solve our energy problem. Oil may or may not be limited depending upon its definition.

We need structure to foster talents and enterprise options such as more trade schools. College is not the only answer. Round holes shouldn't be filled by any peg.

Japan is at the forefront of robotics because of their low birthrate. This is related to trans-humanism as pursued at Singularity University.

Standardization is an important part of industrialization. At first, factory-made was preferred to hand-made, but now it's the other way. Interchangeable parts allow repair from used parts. Some mass-produced products, such as Ford car, electricity, water, help distributism. Because machines have put things wrong, so machines may put things right. Peasants have little need for such mechanical help. Chain stores also use standardization.

People are driven by money. We are sawing off the branch of Christianity. Humans act like machines. We are influenced by the 100-year reign of the devil, which should end or has.

Note on Emigration, Don't export distributism until it works at home, similar to global warming. God will provide for survival, but not necessarily without misery. The British empire is powerful but can not control anything.


Meeting Aug 7, 2013 The Outline of Sanity:
Part V chap 1 The Need of a New Spirit, chap 2 The Religion of Small Property (Part VI A Summary, wasn't discussed)

Pessimists counsel that despair is the only solution to a problem, which is illustrated today by the issues of "global warming: and the "culture of death". Assuming a threat leads to the conclusion that it must be addressed by a certain action. Examples of "awareness campaigns" exist to convince us to act in a certain way out of despair, e.g. buy drugs that might not help.

It was mentioned that today we appear to be more desperate and decadent than ages before. It was countered that abortion for example was the cause of the fall of Rome and the problem of today is the "loss of the sense of sin".

Chesterton discusses the imperial mind which leads to a false culturalism. Some people knew nothing of what makes up the empire. Reticence of talking about religion leads us to know nothing about other religions,

It is suggested that the Catholic Church restrains women, but it is to be noted that first CEOs of companies were woman (nuns in Catholic academies) and abbotesses were as powerful as abbots. Hildegard of Bingen is a doctor of the Church.

It was commented in our discussion: An impartial witness is partial on the other side.

French Canadians are strengthened by their peasantry and their religious beliefs. Peasantry was appreciated in our country in the 1970's as borne out by the popular TV programs "Little House on the Prairie" and "The Waltons".

In discussing health practices it was asserted that life expectancy is much greater today than a century or more ago. It was countered that this is true only because of infant mortality.

There is a tendency for people to discuss an issue rather than to act on it. It is more desirable for some people to talk about heaven than going there.

This meeting ends the discussion of the book "An Outline of Sanity" and we decided that the next book will be Orthodoxy.


Meeting Sep 4, 2013 Orthodoxy:
Preface, Chap I Introduction In Defence of Everything Else and Chap II. The Maniac

CS Lewis is a rationalist, but GK Chesterton is not. The book is characterized by the observation that someone can be astonished at the world and yet have a home in it. Poetic imagination is huge to Chesterton. Similar to Chesterton Scott Hahn discovered Catholicism before realizing it already exists.

We discussed the change that occurs in the meaning of words, for example "conservative", and the effect it has upon communication. It was suggested that focus be placed on definitions rather than labels.

Bedlam, meaning a chaotic or confusing situation, is an insane asylum in England.

Self confidence in the sense of believing in one self is a sin, akin to original sin. It leads to the unfounded belief in conspiracy theories. Poets are healthy. The Enlightenment of the Middle Ages was based on reason rather than the soul.

Material scientists, such as Emile Zola, believe in determinism. They are irrational and have no objective reality.

Psychologists often believe religion makes people do bad things. Freudianism self-justifies itself and is therefore non-falsifiable (epistemologically unscientifc). Reference was made to the novel "That Hideous Strength", third book of Space Trilogy by C S Lewis, which involves an allegedly scientific institute, The National Institute of Coordinated Experiments ("N.I.C.E."). On the other hand, a counter reference was made to Covenant House, a home for troubled youth.

A healthy person is balanced, always accepting two sides even if they might be contradictory, which is the notion of paradox. This is felt to explain Chesterton.


Meeting Oct 2, 2013 Orthodoxy:
Chap III. The Suicide of Thought

We briefly discussed two recent published interviews of Pope Francis, most notably A Big Heart Open to God, by Antonio Spadaro, S.J., published by America and a subsequent interview The Pope: how the Church will change by Eugenio Scalfarie, published by La Reppublica.

Chesterton is good in argument by taking a point and turning it upside-down. For example, he criticizes Bernard Shaw by saying he has a large and generous heart, but not a heart in the right place, which typifies the society of Chesterton's (and our) time. One of us expressed that Chesterton was not a monarchist and criticized him for being pro-Jacobin.

The modern world is full of Christian virtues gone mad. A person's view is arrogantly considered to be the right view. Humility is the constraint against arrogance. It is the antidote of pride. The dark ages had the true light. There should be a balance between reason and faith, both are methods for proof.

Pope Benedict used good logic to counter bad logic. Absolute skepticism overcomes moral relativism, which is contradictory and self destructive. Buddhism is corrosive to thought.

Modern education tends to change the test rather than strive for the students to pass the test. Pragmatism and utilitarianism are stressed.

Current philosophers are maniacs, believing action from the will is more important than reason. Prochoice is nonsense. Action is limitation. Death ends choice. This was brought out by St Hildegard, doctor of the church.

Anarchism removes limits. Facts are limits. Modern man revolts against everything, which is madness. Joan of Arc, e.g., was against war, but she fought.


Meeting Nov 6, 2013 Orthodoxy:
Chap IV. The Ethics of Elfland

Chesterton looked at things fresh and continued to believe in ideals from his childhood. The principle and essential thing about democracy is what we have in common rather than those things peculiar to individuals. Democracy involves subsidiarity, which is the doing of things at the proper level. Tradition is democracy that includes the vote of the dead. Democracy respects the awful authority of the mob, which in Chesterton's time was the peasantry. Innate traits are trumped by "behavior".

Legend is more important than history. The effect of traditions on democracy should not be disqualified by the accident of death. Although most of tradition itself was not democratic.

We debated Chesterton's apparent approval of the instigators of the French Revolution, specifically the Jacobins. These thoughts of Chesterton were his mindset coming from a time he was agnostic and perhaps he should be given benefit of doubt.

Science asserts laws of reason, which by necessity assume an inner synthesis that doesn't really exist. A fairy tale is rational and agnostic. The virtue of elfin ethics is that it based on the tone of laws in fairy tales - conditional laws. Laws are a limitation of a vision that we do not understand. Thus there is a tendency to revolt against authority. Sin is falsely seen as freedom.

With fatalism, a leaf is green because it couldn't be anything else. With a fairy tale, we are glad it's green because it could have been black. Magic must have a meaning.


Meeting Dec 4, 2013 Orthodoxy:
Off topic discussion
Since only two people attended the meeting, we decided not to discuss the book. Instead we discussed other issues currently pertaining to the Church, including:
  • The recent exhortation of Pope Francis entitled Evangelii Gaudium
  • The Charismatic movement
  • Theology vs. philosophy
  • Thanksgiving and family
  • Medjugorje
  • Whether the "nature" of man is merely rational and faithful or does it include a third quality that goes beyond those two.
  • Whether the afterlife of our human soul is eternal or sequential but immortal.
  • Whether Chesterton embraced the Jacobin involvement in both the French Revolution and the related atrocities. We'll appeal to Dale Alquist to try and resolve this.

Meeting Mar 5, 2014 Orthodoxy:
Chap V. The Flag of the World

A man loves this world because he's patriotic. The gladness of the world is a reason for loving it and its sadness is a reason for loving it more. It's not enough to approve of Pimlico (a borough of London) nor disapprove of it because it will then remain Pimlico, which is awful. The thing to do is to love it in a transcendental because it is yours, and it might become fairer than Florence.

In the eighteenth century, morality was not negotiated but came about by men guarding their religion. Only by making a holy day for God did they find they made a holiday for men.

What is bad about a candid friend is that he is not candid. He is holding back his gloomy pleasure in saying unpleasant things, referred to as schadenfreude. The evil of the pessimist is not that he chastises gods and men, but he does not love what he chastises. The man who will improve a place is the man who loves it without a reason, patriotism. The more transcendental is your patriotism, the more practical are your politics.

The optimist is in love with the world. Love is not blind, it is bound and the more it is bound the less it is blind. The devotee is entirely free to criticize; the fanatic can safely be a skeptic. An example of a baker was given, who could not sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, but would give one to them free. God loves you the way you are, but wants you to change. We can't be docile about what is wrong.

The Church is said to bury a person who has committed suicide in separate ground. Such a person wants nothing to do with others, therefore bury him apart.

A priest said beware of the person who loves humanity, we are to love humans. Mere pursuit of health always leads to something unhealthy.


Meeting Apr 2, 2014 Orthodoxy:
Chap VI. The Paradoxes of Christianity

Noah the movie was discussed. One person maintained that it is a good movie in that it is an effective depiction of what plausibly happened based on the canonical and non-canonical books of the bible. Another person disagreed because it was driven by an environmentalistic agenda which distorted reality. The first person promised to write a summary of the issues, which will be posted here.

The real trouble with this world is not that it is reasonable nor that it is unreasonable, but that it is nearly reasonable. An apple and Earth are round enough to be called round, but yet they are not round at all. Humans are nearly symmetrical in that we have two eyes two hands, two nostrils etc, leading one to believe that this a rule, However, we only have a single heart. Christianity displays patterns that defy rules. It is accused of being too docile and too aggressive, too austere and too magnificent, too pessimistic and too optimistic. Christianity is complex, it is an elaboration of many doctrines and details, which proves the truth of its creed, like a key that fits a lock. Its complexity is overwhelming, which interferes with the ability to put it into action.

God prepared for the Incarnation with the Roman empire, which established a complex system of roads (all roads lead to Rome), which facilitated the spread of the good news. This is described in two books "To Know Christ Jesus" by Frank J Shead and "Life of Jesus" by Bishop Fulton J Sheen.

Mystical vices attack Christianity on all sides. It is too far to the east, too far to the west, it is too good, too wicked, too fat, too thin. It has unmanly resistance to fighting (Quakers), it fights too much (Crusades). Christianity is criticized because it dragged women to the loneliness of the cloister away from their homes and children, but it doomed them to the drudgery of their homes and children and forbade them loneliness and contemplation. It is too plain and too colored.

A complaint about Christianity is that it is one religion, the world is a big place. Also, what was right in one age was wrong in another. If Christianity is wrong, then it is very wrong indeed. Perhaps Christianity is sane and its critics are insane.

We discussed whether this book is proper for a religion course for seniors in a Catholic high school. We compared C. S Lewis With Chesterton and noted that Lewis is more rational and Chesterton more imaginative.

The paradoxes discussed illustrate the need for balance between opposing principles based on common sense, but not compromise. The lack of balance is illustrated by The Procrustean Bed, named after Procrustes in Greek mythology, which is a set of rules to which everyone is forced to conform. If someone lies on the bed and is too short he is stretched to fit, if someone is too tall his limbs are chopped to fit. If your only tool is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.

Courage is the disdain for death, rather than the disdain for life.


Meeting May 7, 2014 Orthodoxy:
Off topic discussion

Since only three people attended the meeting, once again we decided not to discuss the book. Instead we discussed other issues currently pertaining to the Church, including:

  • Classical Catholic churches: Churches with beautiful architecture and artwork in the Detroit area include Sweetest Heart of Mary, St Josaphat, St Joseph, St Veronica, Shrine of the Little Flower and Assumption Grotto. Other churches that were once beautiful have been ruined by stripping them of their art and fixtures, whereas many modern churches never were beautiful. Mass flash mobs were discussed in which a large group of people choose a mass to attend at a particular financially-struggling classical church. It started in Buffalo NY and has occurred in the Detroit area and elsewhere.
  • Latin mass: Latin enhances the mystery of the mass and therefore provides a more mystical and spiritual experience compared to the vernacular. It is often remarked that Latin makes the mass hard to follow but perhaps mass shouldn't be easy to follow.
  • Communion received in the hand: contributes to the possible profanation and desecration of the Eucharist. Without the use of a paten visible particles are likely scattered. It was countered that the Last Supper and the encounter of Jesus on the road to Emmaus are examples in which Jesus distributed Communion in the hand. It was noted, however, that the recipients in each case were consecrated priests. It was also argued that communion in the hand might be acceptable if the recipient acted reverently. It was countered that the possibility of profanation and desecration is minimized by communion on the tongue with a paten.
  • Whether the Church today has an advantage over the apostles regarding knowledge of God: The central question was whether a two-thousand year theological study by many learned people have an advantage over direct experience during a relatively short period of time. The discussion pitted epistemology against phenomenology.
  • Whether the prevalence of female eucharistic minister and altar servers influences the shrinking number of priestly vocations in recent times.
  • The media is the message: We discussed an article by Marshall McLuhan appearing online May 7 on the New Liturgical Movement website. The article notes that in recent times Catholic liturgies tend to be made similar to other experiences people have in order to attract them, but this has the "power to negate the content of the message". The persona of James "Jimmy" Aiken was given as an example. The discussion led to libertarianism, including Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan and a comparison of Atlas Shrugs to Lord of the Rings.

Meeting Jun 4, 2014 Orthodoxy:
Finished Chap VI. The Paradoxes of Christianity and started Chap VII. The Eternal Revolution

Christianity provides a playground for the happy pessimist. He may say anything against himself short of blasphemy and even call himself a fool, but he must not say that fools are not worth saving.

Charity is a paradox it means one of two things - pardoning unpardonable acts or loving unloveable people. Jesus says that we should forgive the sinner 70 times seven times. We should love the sinner but hate the sin.

The Church has told some people to fight and others not to fight, There must be good in fighting and in non-resistance,

The Church has discovered oddities in law and exceptions. Rather than purity there is a balance among opposing features. For example, there are many religious orders in the Catholic Church with different missions but with equilibrium among them. Chesterton described this with the term chiaroscuro, referring to the distribution of light and shadow in a picture.

We discussed local Catholic churches in regard to being neoconservative vs traditional. It was suggested that the 6-year tenure of a pastor is unfortunate. There is a conflict in the church between traditionalism and modernism. We discussed communion while kneeling, liturgical music, and the universality of Latin.

It is easy to be a madman and simple to fail because of the large number of ways of doing so, but there is just one way of succeeding.

Dissatifation is necessary to be satisfied. To grin and bear dissatisfaction is objectionable. When a Christian is pleased he is frightful just as are gargoyles which grin.

There is no principle of equality or inequality in nature. Nature does not provide the ideal for man. Superiority of one being over another is not from nature. St Francis said, nature is not our mother but our sister. It was suggested that animals have no rights, but we should be good stewards.

Evolution is passive change whereas revolution is active change. Progress needs a defined goal to guide it, in which case it is reform.

We discussed that employment causes stress because it limits freedom to act in the way an individual decides - it is not organic. Progress is fixed and composite requiring ideal watchfulness.

Newspapers are not organs of public opinion. We should teach what students want to know, e.g., geometry and critical thinking. Home schooling plays an important role.


Meeting Jul 2, 2014 Orthodoxy:
Finished Chap VII. The Eternal Revolution

Christianity is the only thing left that has any real right to question the power of the well-nurtured or the well-bred. Socialists say poverty breeds crime. We can't solve crime by throwing money at it. Poor do not fit the rule.

People are judged by the type of work they do. Rich people are considered trustworthy because they won't take a bribe, but perhaps they are rich because they already have. Capitalism needs rich people.

Capitalism and socialism hinder competition . Monasteries are socialistic which is proper because the superiors are servants. Distributism works because it's based on the honor system in which individuals or small groups act responsibly. A concern with distributism is the need for compatibility of products (e.g. cars). This can be addressed with coops or guilds.

Vatican II presents the ideal: Blessed are the peacemakers. Sometimes two good things seem to conflict, but possibly both can be taken simultaneously. For example, St Jerome and St Augustan were opponents over translating the bible. G.K Chesterton argued often with his brother. We discussed various topics such as:

  • Phenomenology including Edith Stein,
  • Objective reality
  • Absolute truth is paradoxical
  • Physical explanation of miraculous events, e.g. Star of Bethlehem
  • Mathew 9 elements
  • Fairy stories
  • Seeking the living among the dead
  • Book by Fr Robert Spitzer "New Proofs for the Existence of God" If the universe has a beginning, there must be a Creator.
  • Myth, Language and Fairytales

    Dale Ahlquist will be master of ceremonies/speaker at the next Call to Holiness conference, Sept 12 & 13, 2014 in Sterling Heights.

    We are looking for a change in venue to accomodate a larger attendance, perhaps an Irish pub.


Meeting Aug 6, 2014 Orthodoxy:
Chap VIII. The Romance of Orthodoxy

The chief mark of our epoch is a profound laziness and fatigue, which is the cause of apparent bustle. People use long scientific phrases and talking points to avoid strenuous thinking.

Freethinkers are not liberal. A freethinker is not a man who thinks for himself, but rather a man who, having thought for himself, has come to one particular class of conclusions. Nearly every attempt to bring liberty into the church has brought tyranny. Liberals oppose freedom, by insisting on political correctness, they interfere with free speech. Freethinkers believe in freeing a peculiar set of dogmas loosely called scientific, such as monism, pantheism or Aryanism, all of which are the natural ally of oppression. Only orthodoxy is limited in its alliance with oppression. It may be twisted to partly justify a tyrant and one can make up a German philosophy to entirely justify him.

Original sin is the logical negation of Oligarchy. It is the only safeguard of new democracies of the Earth. Freethinkers treat sin passively as if it were a sickness, rather than an act of the will

By rejecting the existence of miracles, freethinkers put their faith in a godless fate. Miracles control matter by the liberty of God. Calvin takes away the freedom of man, materialism takes away the freedom of God.

Georges LeMaitre, a Catholic priest, first proposed the "big bang" theory of an expanding universe, which is discussed in the article 'A Day Without Yesterday': Georges LeMaitre & the Big Bang by Mark Midbon. Based on this idea, we discussed that the Church might not have been so wrong in censuring Galileo for opposing the Earth-centric view of the cosmos. The Church might have been more scientific than Galileo. An often-repeated phrase is that "the religions of the Earth differ in rites and forms, but they are the same in what they teach". It is false. Religions agree in machinery, but differ in things to be taught. Buddhism and Christianity contradict each other. Buddha has his eyes closed as if he were looking inward, whereas Christian statues have the eyes wide open, looking outward. Buddhism believes god is within each of us, pantheism; Christianity believes that God transcends us. It was commented "a fool like me might think I'm god, but why would God think he is us".

Christians believe that we are individuals and God is a trinity, a community that loves one another. Pantheists belief that we are all one god. Christians are able to love other humans as well as God because love requires division. God said it is not good that man be alone, which is the first time that God said something is not good.

A novel is a creation of the free will. This is illustrated by the "choose your own ending" books written a few decades ago.


Meeting Sep 3, 2014 Orthodoxy:
Chap IX. Authority and the Adventurer

We can not uproot cruelties or lift up lost populations with the scientific theory that matter precedes mind, but we can with the supernatural theory that mind precedes matter. We live in a society that would like to keep everything that Christianity brought, but not Christianity. They ask why can't we keep the good, but discard the bad? People yelling for tolerance are intolerant.

Chesterton says he is a rationalist, basing conclusions on evidence. He can deal better with a man's free will if he believes that man has got it. When one comes into the light the room looks dirty. Christ is the light of the world. Chesterton believes in Christianity because all evidence leads to it. Of all of the anti-Christian "truths", none of them are true. It was suggested that the universe is all chaos, but to measure chaos implies order

The Church was more scientific than Gailileo, because it insisted that the non-geocentric theory of the universe be based on scientific principles. There are many examples of scientific discoveries being done by people within the Church, most notably Georges LeMaitre, a Catholic priest, who first proposed the "big bang" theory of an expanding universe.

Religion and science do not disagree. We related Genisus I & II with the theory of evolution. It was noted that the missing link is missing. Creation might be explained as punctuated evolution. The Last Superstition by Edward Feser, provides a clear account of Thomas Aquinas' proofs for the existence of God, dismantling philosophic claims of notable atheists.

We compared examples of fallacious reasoning with rational reasoning, such as, circular reasoning vs arguing from first principles and truth conformality vs objective reality. Evidence tends to be self-defeating. People that believe in certain evidence are disqualified from submitting that evidence in support of a conclusion.

Evidence suggests: Miracles exist. Every revolution, according to Chesterton, is a restoration, although it was suggested that the French Revolution was an exception. Human sacrifice is not something old but something new. Christianity is the one thing that got us though the dark ages.

Christian doctrine serves as a wall to our behavior, but it is a wall to a playground. It provides freedom for acting in a non-destructive manner. There are two kinds of freedom based on purpose, positive and negative. Positive freedom is for the ability to do right, negative freedom is freedom from responsibility.

Chesterton uses intuitional analogies to establish his thoughts whereas C.. S. Lewis is more rational. Chesterton makes you laugh and cry.

It is common but wrong to equate "spiritual" to "good". Spiritual things can be evil and material things can be good. Some claim that material things can't convey grace, but this is countered with the concept of incarnation corporality. Harry Potter is not evil because it is natural for him to have his powers. According to Aristotle, living things are hylomorphic. He says that a soul (set of properties) is related to its body (substance) as form to matter. This led to a brief discussion of the philosophies of Saint Thomas Aquinas, St Augustine, Aristotle and Plato. (An elaboration of these philosophies by anyone would be most welcome.)

Chesterton had an appreciation for child-like wonder. He would council, for example, that if one encountered a gate across a road, don't rip it out until you find out why it is there.

Orthodoxy is not just about individual truths, but also truth telling.

Original sin has taken man away from his normal self.


Meeting Oct 1, 2014 Father Brown:
The Blue Cross
The Sins of Prince Saradine
The Sign of the Broken Sword

The Blue Cross:
The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen. A machine is only a machine because it does not think.

Father Brown concluded that Flambeau was not a priest because he attacked reason, which is very bad theology.

The detective Valentin was intelligent and understood reason. He understood that only a man who knows nothing of reason talks of reasoning without strong, undisputed first principles. He used his reason to follow oddities. We discussed whether logic requires first principles. The criminal is a creative artist, the detective is merely a critic.

God is Logos. Reason is always reasonable. Reason is a first principle of the universe. Language becomes the formatter of reality (phenomenology). There are therefore attempts to control speech. The Iroquois had five tribes with different languages, but it had a universal language.

The Sins of Prince Saradine:
The story lays out evil. Father Brown said to Flambeau "I never said it was always wrong to enter fairyland. I only said it was always dangerous." Upon landing on Reed Island, Flambeau cried "I believe that fat man with wiskers was a fairy" To which, Father Brown remarked Perhaps, if he was, he was a bad fairy."

"Spiritual" is not equated to "good". Spiritual is conveyed by designer art and icons.

The son of Antonelli who wanted to avenge his father's death by Prince Saradine resembles the character Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, who said to Count Tyrone Rugen "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

A surprise in the story: Father Brown was instantly on his knees before the corpse to make sure it was a corpse.

The Sign of the Broken Sword:
Where does a wise man hide a pebble? On the beach.
Where does a wise man hide a dead body? Among many dead bodies.
Arthur St. Clair purposely sent his men into a hopeless battle to die so that he could hide the body of Major Murray, whom he killed.

Father Brown kept this secret because there is not much good in breaking secrets. Truth is not a right. He said to Flambeau, I need not tell you more, let's try to forget. A similar plot is in Agatha Chistie's Orient Express. Many people knew the culprit, but didn't say.

Arthur St Clark was a man who read his bible, that's what was wrong with him.

Chesterton sees a need of a sense for guidance. This is the case against crime, a man becomes meaner and meaner (smaller), not wilder and wilder. One can not hold to a level of badness. When you break big laws, you get little laws not freedom.

Heaven and Hell are both fire, it's how you experience it. Hell is a place where God is not wanted. Judas is in Hell. Evil is irrational and can't be fought with reason.

Recommended websites: Sensus Traditionis | Mallard Fillmore


Meeting Nov 5, 2014 Father Brown:
The Man in the Passage
The Perishing of the Pendragons
The Salad of Colonel Cray

The Man in the Passage:
Father Brown, as a celibate, was able to see the four men in the room as amorous rivals for the affection of Miss Aurora Rome, since he himself was not such a potential rival. The reason Miss Rome invited Father Brown was for him to hear her confession, because of guilt over the affection of the three men who were not her husband. He got there too late.

The description of the man in the passage changed from man to man reminiscent of the picture of Dorian Gray.

Because of the excitement caused by the case, the Press really told the truth. The Press was paralyzed into probity (honesty) and accuracy. Chesterton demonstrates that he has insight into human nature.

There were two deaths: Miss Rome, who was murdered by her husband Parkinson due to jealousy, and Parkinson, who died subsequently. It was conjectured that he committed suicide, but more likely he died of severe remorse possibly from a heart attack.

The prosecutor, Sir Walter Cowdray considered Father Brown to be on the side of the prisoner Bruno because he was wicked and therefore appealed to Father's sympathy.

SIr Wilson Seymour asserted that the person in the passage was not a woman because he saw daylight between the legs, indicating the person was wearing trousers. It was suggested that this might have been a mistake in Chesterton's thinking, because the daylight between the legs would be a reflection from the end of the alley behind the viewer, which would not match daylight around the edge of the mirror. which came from the opposite end of the alley. There was disagreement with this suggestion.

The Perishing of the Pendragons:
Chesterton often provides extensive descriptions of scenes that seem arbitrary. Sometimes he'll digress with such descriptions and then snap the reader back to the story. It was suggested that such descriptions serve a symbolic purpose, such as an anthropomorphic view of the world. They paint a picture of the world people don't see. For example, "... the curves of the country-side suggested that it was closing in on either hand; the woods seemed to be making broken and flying attempts at bridge-building - as if the boat were passing from the romance of a valley to the romance of a hollow and so to the supreme romance of a tunnel." The descriptions resemble Beatudes that read like its the first time they're read.

Chesterton did about nature what paganism did wrong. When man stops obeying God, nature stops obeying man. He debated this with Oscar Wilde and Bertrand Russell. This was related to philosophy developed by Martin Buber 1910-1920.

Chestrton's description of the mouth of the river is paradoxical. It is a microcosm of the whole story.

It was suggested that Father Brown is a Jesuit.

Guardian angels are assigned to places as well as persons.

The Salad of Colonel Cray:
The legend of the curse suggests that Father Brown is an exorist.

Chesterton's essay on dreams and nightmares is that they are lucid.

The pistol shots caused Father to check whether someone needed his services (Extreme Unction).

Audrey Watson was of a Titianesque (the style of the painter Titian, with luminous colours and bold brushwork) fullness in form and color. She was escorted to church services by Dr. Oliver Oman, who was enthusiastic about music and would even go to church to get it.

There were three parts to the curse: 1) His neck was slashed 2) He was made insensible 3) He was the target of a flying war-club.

The puzzle of this story starts at the beginning, making it more satisfactory.

Chesterton finds human nature in nature. He uses inanimate descriptions for darker things and anthropomorphic descriptions for lighter things.

Father Brown stayed beyond politeness, always finding a reason to stay to save souls rather than to capture the villain.


Meeting Dec 3, 2014 Father Brown:
The Secret Garden
The Eye of Apollo
The Hammer of God

The Secret Garden:
It was expressed that this story was the least favorite of the three, because it expresses the least psychological insight into the characters' motives on the part of Chesterton. The relationship between Commandant O'Brien and Lady Margaret, for example, is left inconclusive. Also, Valentin's motive for killing Brayne, which apparently is that his religious philanthropy was intolerable to Valentin, is not believable, because it was premeditated, planned and fanatical. Valentin tried to cover up the murder but he killed himself. Valentin was a good detective, which is one redeeming characteristic.

The Eye of Apollo:
Reading a story oneself leaves out tonal qualities expressed by someone like Kevin O'Brien, who is good at reading Father Brown stories. Chesterton is good at bringing out the heresy of modernism, e.g. forgive sins by denying they are sins.

Flambeau explains about the new religion of Apollo, "for they say that if a man were really healthy he could stare at the sun". Father Brown responds, "If a man were really healthy, he would not bother to stare at it". This suggests that the attempt to recapture paganism is fraught with people concerned about nature, whether it's a predator or lunch.

Pauline Stacy was asked about her inconsistent attitude of mechanical assistance. She embraced the use of a lift for ascending a building but despised the use of spectacles to aid eyesight (she threw her sisters' spectacles to the floor, displaying her temper). She exclaimed, the Sun is not my master, while the lift is an attempt to control nature.

Chesterton compares man and nature. He describes man as animal.

Flambeau, upon seeing the dead Pauline Stacey, could not remember for certain whether he liked her or disliked her; there so much both to like and dislike.

"Two figures remained still after the crash of commotion; the fair priest of Apollo on the balcony above, and the ugly priest of Christ below him". The prophet Kalon said "We meet at last, Caiaphas. Your church and mine are the only realities on earth. I adore the sun, and you the darkening of the sun; you are the priest of the dying, and I of the living God."

Father Brown asked Kalon about his Religion. After Kalon indicated he didn't understand, Father Brown said, "Why, it's like this, we're taught that if a man has really bad first principles, that must be partly his fault. ... Now, do you really think that murder is wrong at all?". Kalon asked, "Is this an accusation?". Father Brown answered, "No, it is the speech for the defense."

Responding to Flambeau, Father Brown said, "I tell you I knew he (Kalon) had done it , even before I knew what he had done."

The Hammer of God:
The Rev Wilfred Bohun was able to murder his brother, Colonel Norman Bohun, because he viewed people on the ground from the spire of his church as ants, similar to the character Harry Lime (Orson Welles) in the film, written by Graham Greene, The Third Man, who caused the death of many humans by selling greatly-diluted penicillin for use by people in need of antibiotics.

We are persons because God is a person, Who made people as a means to an end.

Both Bohuns where Arian (nazism) and believed in racial purity. It was suggested the Chesterton was Jacobian in the sense that he was against aristocrats, such as the Bohuns, who made their wealth but still building themselves. The Bohuns had been Mohocks (well-born criminals that terrorized London in the early 18th century) under Queen Anne and Mashers (male sexual predators) under Queen Victoria.

Norman Bohun was a tall, fine, wolf-like animal. The blacksmith was good, but not a Christian.

No man who is a legalist is a good socialist.

Father Brown said we take interest in old English churches (Anglican), which are good, true and beautiful. It was suggested that the post Vatican II period is our Exodus.

A modernist puts self on the summit heights to look at not down. Pagans go to high places to look down.

Wilfred Bohun, upon hearing Father Brown's accusation tried to commit suicide. "Not by that door," Father Brown said; "that door leads to hell." Father Brown said later, I know all this but will tell no one. I'll seal this with the seal of confession. This was the process of conversion, unlike in The Secret Garden story - good vs legal.

The English church and the Catholic church, it was suggested, were of parallel prominence. This led to a digression to a science fiction novel Eifelheim written by Michael Flynn about a civilization of aliens from another planet that landed in a German town in the 14th century. The book poses two questions, which we discussed, 1) can aliens can become Christians? The book says yes and 2) Where is God when things go wrong? The book answers that there is always hope and that God loves us.

This led to another digression, concerning a journal article written by Michael Flynn, entitled Epiphany of a Physicist, about Stephen Hawking proving there is a God by rephrasing John's last Gospel in terms of quantum mechanics and gravity.


Meeting Jan 7, 2015 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 1, 2 and 6

Essay 1 - Introduction to the Defendant:
Chesterton says the pessimist is commonly spoke of as the man in revolt. He is not. It takes some cheerfulness to continue to revolt. The person really in revolt is the optimist, who generally lives and dies in a desperate and suicidal effort to persuade all the other people how good they are. Optimism replaces faith with hope. There is no such thing as blind faith. Pessimism and optimism are two extremes and neither is the desirable attitude. This is addressed in St Pope John-Paul's book Crossing the Threshold of Hope.

A knife which cuts clumsily and with difficulty is called a bad knife, which it certainly is not. It is only not so good as other knives. Likewise, we call the history of mankind bad, not because it is bad, but because we are better. The world is better than we think because of love. Things are good because they are positive.

Essay 2 - A Defense of Skeletons:
Chesterton writes; The tops of two or three high trees when they are leafless are so soft that they seem like the gigantic brooms of that fabulous lady who was sweeping the cobwebs off the sky. The outline of a leafy forest is, in comparison, hard. gross and blotchy. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance this idea of the skeleton had a vast influence in freezing the pride out of all earthly pomps and fragrance out of all fleeting pleasures. It was not because of the dread of death, but because of juvenile insolence of beauty and pride.

Today we have hospice at home and sick call or Extreme Unction kits

It is thought that the value and fascination of what we call Nature lie in her beauty. The highest and most valuable quality in Nature is not her beauty, but her generous and defiant ugliness. In other words, the valuable parts of nature are not those that are aesthetically pleasing but those that have philosophical beauty. This is addressed by St Augustine.

We discussed work done in neurology in separating the functions of the mind and brain. Related to this is work done by Rudolph Steiner in connecting science with spirituality,

Essay 6 - A Piece of Chalk:
In attempting to draw a cow, Chesterton always got it wrong, so he drew the soul of a cow. It was suggested that this was satire about modern art, in which it is difficult to ascertain any meaning. Referring to things found in his pocket, he mentions the pocket knife, the type of all human tools, an infant of the sword. Once he planned to write a book of poems about things in his pocket, but it would be too long.

He neglected to bring a piece of chalk that is white, which he explains is not the absence of color but is a very significant color. Similarly virtue is not the absence of vice, but is a vivid and separate thing. In reference to light, white consists of all colors, whereas for pigment, black is the absorption of all colors.

After struggling with despair over not having a piece of white chalk, he realized that in southern England he was sitting on an abundance of white chalk. We pondered whether this signifies the abundance of virtue made available by God.

This led to a comparison of allegory, which represents all significant elements of a true situation in a story, with myth, which is a story that explains a true situation. We discussed several great writers and related them to Chesterton, including George McDonald, C. S. Lewis, J. J. R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll. Chesterton emphasized myth over allegory.


Meeting Feb 4, 2015 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 3, 4 and 5

Essay 3 - On Certain Modern Writers and the Institution of the Family:
Chesterton says every one would admit that the family has been the main cell and central unit of almost all societies, except, such societies as that of Lacedaemon, which went in for "efficiency," and has, therefore, perished, and left not a trace behind. Lacedaemon raised children by tribes as suggested in Plato's Republic. One defense of the family is that it is not peaceful, not pleasant and not at one. "The supreme adventure is being born. There we do walk suddenly into a splendid and startling trap." "When we step into the family, by the act of being born, we do step into a world which is incalculable, into a world which has its own strange laws, into a world which could do without us, into a world that we have not made. In other words, when we step into the family we step into a fairy-tale".

"There is nothing really narrow about the clan, the thing which is really narrow is the clique". Today phones as well as the internet extend our world, facilitating the formation of niches or cliques. In regard to cliques, we discussed traditionalists vs contemporists.

"The club tends to produce the most degraded of all combinations-- the luxurious anchorite, the man who combines the self-indulgence of Lucullus (a conquering Roman general and politician) with the insane loneliness of St. Simeon Stylites (a pillar-hermit)."

"If we were tomorrow morning snowed up in the street in which we live, we should step suddenly into a much larger and much wilder world than we have ever known. And it is the whole effort of the typically modern person to escape from the street in which he lives". "The complaint we commonly have to make of our neighbours is that they will not, as we express it, mind their own business". "We dislike them because they have so much force and fire that they can be interested in us as well. What we dread about our neighbours, in short, is not the narrowness of their horizon, but their superb tendency to broaden it". "We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbour". We tend to choose people outside of our neighborhood to help, as displayed by the character Mrs. Jellyby in Charles Dickens novel, Bleak House, who was a "telescopic philanthropist" obsessed with an obscure African tribe, but having little regard to the notion of charity beginning at home.

"When Nietzsche has the incredible lack of humour and lack of imagination to ask us to believe that his aristocracy is an aristocracy of strong muscles or an aristocracy of strong wills, it is necessary to point out the truth. It is an aristocracy of weak nerves". A take away regarding Nietzsche: Mankind can be perfected through social engineering. The family is a building block. There is a duty toward humanity, to love humanity due to injustice. Every person is a particular. The family is uncongenial, and for the same reason, so is the monastery.

The is an old joke about religious people who seek societal status: An Episcopalian is a Presbyterian with a trust fund. A Presbyterian is a Methodist with a college education. And a Methodist is a Baptist with shoes.

Rob Bell, founder of Mars Hill Bible Church teaches that Hell is not a place of eternal torment, but rather a place of universal reconciliation (also known as universalism). Bell also questions whether Christians should focus on getting to heaven, instead of focusing on God's renewal and transformation of this world.

The cemetery is full of people that are indispensable. The death rate after retirement is high, because to many people work is their life.

"When Thomas Aquinas asserted the spiritual liberty of man, he created all the bad novels in the circulating libraries". The Game of Thrones was mentioned as an exemplary. The romance in a novel depends on events occurring without our permission. St Thomas taught that a novel should not only engage our intellect but also our will. It is amazing what God can do with a little thing.

The movie, "Stranger than Fiction" starring Will Ferrell, depicts a person whose life is dictated as a character in a novel. Thus events happened without his permission, which is necessary for romance. A Twilight Zone episode, A Nice Place to Visit, Apr 15, 1960, epitomizes the need for romance. It depicts a criminal that dies and enters an eternal place in which his every wish is granted. Eventually, out of boredom, he requests that he be allowed to go to the other place and then is told that he already is in the other place. Plato talks about this need for romance. It was mentioned that, for this reason, listening to recorded music or programs is less appealing than scheduled music or programs.

This essay is summed up by the last two sentences: "There is nothing baser than that infinity. They say they wish to be, as strong as the universe, but they really wish the whole universe as weak as themselves".

Essay 4 - On Running After One's Hat:
"We often hear grown-up people complaining of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train. Did you ever hear a small boy complain of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train? No".
"A man running after a hat is not half so ridiculous as a man running after a wife".

"Now a man could, if he felt rightly in the matter, run after his hat with the manliest ardour and the most sacred joy. He might regard himself as a jolly huntsman pursuing a wild animal, for certainly no animal could be wilder".

"I have known some people of very modern views driven by their distress to the use of theological terms to which they attached no doctrinal significance, merely because a drawer was jammed tight and they could not pull it out".

"An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered". We want to consider an inconvenience as an adventure because, persons like other persons and therefore personify objects so that they share in personhood. This is addressed by St Augustine.

We discussed St Thomas Aquinas' teaching on abeternity in regard to Christ's body and ours after death. Also, the mind-body problem

Essay 5 - Woman:
In the modern world, easier is better - harder is worse. The ability to chose leads to worrying about the choice. However, worrying is concern, so worry is love. Ordinary man wants to be free for higher culture. The average man is not freed. We have switched the value of work and life. We should be working to support children not more workers.

Women's liberation accepted the male model. Woman's world is small but she controls it. "There are some things that a man or a woman, as the case may be, wishes to do for himself or herself. He or she must do it inventively, creatively, artistically, individually--in a word, badly. Choosing your wife (say) is one of these things. Is choosing your husband's dinner one of these things? That is the whole question: it is never asked".

"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly". Chesterton, What's Wrong With The World. 1910.

Modern art is an example of the value of higher culture. Nothing is set so low as higher culture.

"So far from wishing her to get her cooked meals from outside, I should like her to cook more wildly and at her own will than she does". "Woman represents the despotic".

It was mentioned: Juventutem Michigan, founded by Paul Schultz, is a group of Catholic young adults (aged 18-35) who pursue holiness by attending the Traditional Latin Mass.


Meeting Mar 4, 2015 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 7, 8, 9 and 10

Essay 7 - What I Found in My Pocket
It was suggested that this is one of the less interesting essays. However, it resembles the writing of St Thomas Aquinas, who never ran out of things to say of created things, according to writter Josef Pieper. Chesterton finds romance in his pocket. He pulls out a coin and sees all money. He pulls out a pocket knive and sees a small sword. One thing he could not find was his train ticket, suggesting that practical things are the most overlooked.

Essay 8 - On Lying in Bed
From the essay, " I do not exactly know what Turkish delight really is; but I suppose it is Macedonian Massacres." It seems that the Turkish empire enjoyed attaching Greece. "Then the light of that white heaven broke upon my vision, that breadth of mere white which is indeed almost the definition of Paradise, since it means purity and also means freedom." Purity is freedom, sin is slavery.

"For my proposal to paint on it with the bristly end of a broom has been discouraged--never mind by whom; by a person debarred from all political rights--and even my minor proposal to put the other end of the broom into the kitchen fire and turn it into charcoal has not been conceded." Chesteron bemoaned prohibtion of alcohol, thinking next they will regulate tobacco.

"Of all the marks of modernity that seem to mean a kind of decadence, there is none more menacing and dangerous than the exultation of very small and secondary matters of conduct at the expense of very great and primary ones, at the expense of eternal public and tragic human morality. If there is one thing worse than the modern weakening of major morals it is the modern strengthening of minor morals". People tend to be ashamed for sleeping in. If you lie in bed, don't do it for a justifiable reason. Manners should be changeable, not principles.

Essay 9 - The Diabolist
From the essay, "I was idle because I was very much occupied; I was engaged about that time in discovering, to my own extreme and lasting astonishment, that I was not an atheist. But there were others also at loose ends who were engaged in discovering what Carlyle called (I think with needless delicacy) the fact that ginger is hot in the mouth." Thomas Carlyle was possibly referring to the need for a person named Rohan to believe in something newer and stronger (spicier) than athesim, which could only be Macchiavelism (The end justifies the means).

"women prefer to talk in twos, while men prefer to talk in threes. ... when you find (as you often do) three young cads and idiots you generally find that one of the three cads and idiots is (for some extraordinary reason) not a cad and not an idiot. ... there is almost always one man who seems to have condescended to his company; one man who, while he can talk a foul triviality with his fellows, can also talk politics with a Socialist, or philosophy with a Catholic". Himmler Gerbils were given as examples of people that would talk with refinement but would justify evil as artistic. Vaugner was a refined musian but was anitsemitic and Hitlers favorite composer. The diabolist of the essay is the condescending man of the three.

" 'I am becoming orthodox,' I said, 'because I have come, rightly or wrongly, after stretching my brain till it bursts, to the old belief that heresy is worse even than sin. An error is more menacing than a crime, for an error begets crimes. ... I hate modern doubt because it is dangerous.' 'You mean dangerous to morality,' he said in a voice of wonderful gentleness. 'I expect you are right. But why do you care about morality?' ". A concern for humanity, rather than individuals, is not morality, because humanity doesn't exist. In the movie The Third Man there is a seen on a ferris wheel, the Wiener Riesenrad, where antaganaist Harry Lime explains that his victims are insigficant much like the people below that appear like ants.

We talked about home schooling addressing the education of individuals rather than the class. It was suggested that the effectness of home schooling is subject and level dependant. Certain subjects and levels might benefit from specilist tutors and certain activies from shared resources. A concern exists that home schooling removes the best kids from public school thereby weakening it.

"... a burst of red sparks broke past. 'Aren't those sparks splendid?' I said. 'Yes,' he replied. 'That is all that I ask you to admit,' said I. 'Give me those few red specks and I will deduce Christian morality.' ... 'Perhaps,' he said, in his tired, fair way. 'Only what you call evil I call good.' ... I heard the Diabolist say, 'I tell you I have done everything else. If I do that I shan't know the difference between right and wrong.' " This is referred to as flatting morality. Being is good, evil is not being. The diabolist is analytical but doesn't make a judgement. We are not in a dualistic world.

Taylor Caldwell wrote a book, Grandmother and the Priests 1963, about a woman that built a house for priests.

Essay 10 - The Twelve Men
"... tragedy is the highest expression of the infinite value of human life. ... I saw with a queer and indescribable kind of clearness what a jury really is, and why we must never let it go." Let the professionals and experts be relegated to urgency. Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein in his book Time Enough for Love wrote "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." The more something is studied the less we remember.

Human souls have reason and freewill. This is discussed by C. S. Lewis in the books Out of the Silent Planet and The Great Divorce.

"The Fabian argument of the expert, that the man who is trained should be the man who is trusted, would be absolutely unanswerable if it were really true that a man who studied a thing and practiced it every day went on seeing more and more of its significance. But he does not." H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw were Fabians, a socialistic movement in the United Kingdom, founded in 1884.

Teaching is the best way of learning. If you break big laws you get small laws as seen by Richard III.

"Therefore, the instinct of Christian civilisation has most wisely declared that into their judgments there shall upon every occasion be infused fresh blood and fresh thoughts from the streets."

General discussion
It seems that morality of mankind is degenerating to a point of no return - more so than anytime in the past. This especially includes the experimentation with human gene alteration and reproduction. A question posed in the PhD thesis of Braugs is whether the Incarnation of Jesus would apply to such altered humans. Fr. James Schall wrote an enlightening article, The Enduring Nature of Scholasticism, in The Imaginative Conservative blog that describes philosophical books written by Josef Pieper and Edward Feser.


Meeting Apr 1, 2015 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15

Essay 11 - The Shop of Ghosts
This essay is like a dream, fairyland or parable. At the essay end, 'Mr. Dickens took off his hat with a flourish like a man calling a mob to rise. "I understand it now," he cried, "you will never die."'
Truth never goes away though it may be near death.

It was commented that celebration of Christmas as we know it, with Santa Claus, is only 2 centuries old. "The Night Before Christmas" by Clement Moore, for example, was written in 1873. It was also commented that Christmas is a redeemed pagan festival about culture, going back to the 13th century.

Chesterton states, "For my part, I think brightness more important than cleanliness; since the first is of the soul, and the second of the body. You must excuse me; I am a democrat; I know I am out of fashion in the modern world." But, it was commented, the soul and body are inseparable. This started a discussion about infinite worlds in which everything that can happen does, entropy, and the glorified body of Jesus which could do things we can't but that He could before his body was glorified.

Tradition seems to be dying, but author George MacDonald writes such perception doesn't link creativity from God.

Essay 12 - The Romantic in the Rain
"Shut up, an umbrella is an unmanageable walking stick; open, it is an inadequate tent. For my part, I have no taste for pretending to be a walking pavilion." Chesterton appreciates the rain. It is not just for us, but for other parts of nature, e.g., trees. "... for all the forests are drinking water. Moreover, the forests are apparently enjoying it ...".

"And indeed this is the last and not the least gracious of the casual works of magic wrought by rain: that while it decreases light, yet it doubles it. If it dims the sky, it brightens the earth. "

Essay 13 - The Mad Official
The essay starts with "Going mad is the slowest and dullest business in the world. " The mad official suggests a materialistic magician as described by author Michael O'Brien in his book "Trip to Alpha Centauri".

"If once the man could become conscious of his madness, he would cease to be man. He studies certain texts in Daniel or cryptograms in Shakespeare through monstrously magnifying spectacles, which are on his nose night and day. If once he could take off the spectacles he would smash them." ... "This slow and awful self-hypnotism of error is a process that can occur not only with individuals, but also with whole societies."

"For instance, I have a gun license. For all I know, this would logically allow me to fire off fifty-nine enormous field-guns day and night in my back garden." This contrasts literalism vs the spirit of law. It illustrates the normalization of absurdities. "These are peoples that have lost the power of astonishment at their own actions. ... These nations are really in danger of going off their heads en masse". Hypocracy is doing what you don't believe. It is the tribute that vice plays to virtue.

Oppostion to home schooling is an example of madness of officials that believe we need to take your kids away.

Essay 14 - The Mystagogue
"It is perfectly true that there is something in all good things that is beyond all speech or figure of speech. But it is also true that there is in all good things a perpetual desire for expression and concrete embodiment; and though the attempt to embody it is always inadequate, the attempt is always made. If the idea does not seek to be the word, the chances are that it is an evil idea. If the word is not made flesh it is a bad word." ... "The trend of good is always towards Incarnation." ... "The man who really thinks he has an idea will always try to explain that idea."

"They circulate a piece of paper on which Mr. Picasso has had the misfortune to upset the ink and tried to dry it with his boots, and they seek to terrify democracy by the good old anti-democratic muddlements: that "the public" does not understand these things; that "the likes of us" cannot dare to question the dark decisions of our lords." This represents the Darwinian materialistic view of art. Just trust. It is easier to corrupt words than ideas. Words have meaning.

"It was the Christians who gave the Devil a grotesque and energetic outline, ...". ...the thread is not broken that connects God With Nature, or Nature with men, or men with critics." Everything is a reflection of God. The devil obscures. In the Victorian age Puritan theology was rejected but Puritan practices were kept. This heartless philosophy was known as Utilitarianism. Chesterton, in his book The Victorian Age in Literature, calls this gap the "Victorian Compromise".

Father Robert Brungs SJ, co-founder of Institute for Theological Encounter with Science and Technology, promoted the integration of faith and science.

Essay 15 - The Architect of Spears
The Lincoln Cathedral took three centuries to build. It was questioned why the workers and architects had a will to persist over many life times. It was suggested that it was for the greater glory of God.

"No man ever got out of a Turkey carpet the emotions that he got from a cathedral tower." ... "There is more truth in this; indeed, there is real truth in it. Few of the old Christian cathedrals would have passed the Censor of Plays."

According to Peter Kreeft, change in music predates that in culture (zeitgeist -spirit of the age) Chant music is moving to the soul not the body (invokes dance). It harmonizes with itself (echoes). This depends upon reverberation influenced by architecture and furnishings (e.g. carpeting). Modern churches are acoustically poorer than gothic churches.

"The truth about Gothic is, first, that it is alive, and second, that it is on the march. It is the Church Militant; it is the only fighting architecture." Gothic is large, takes a century or more to build and is done in one breath.

"I could almost fancy he wore armour while he made that church; and I knew indeed that, under a scriptural figure, he had borne in either hand the trowel and the sword." ... "I could imagine for the moment that the whole of that house of life had marched out of the sacred East, alive and interlocked, like an army. ". Chesterton alludes to Ezra and Nehemiah, mentioned in books by those names in the old testament, who in the 5th century BC built a temple and protected it with "trowels and swords".


Meeting May 6, 2015 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20

Essay 16 - Don't
Chesterton suggests he very much would like to write a book with a string of vetoes telling the rationalists not to be so utterly irrational, He would call it "Don'ts for Dogmatists". It would include: (1) Don't use a noun and then an adjective that crosses out the noun, e.g., don't say, "I look for a larger religion with no special dogmas". (2) Don't say you're not going to say a thing and then say it. (3) Don't use secondary words as primary words, e.g., "Does Happiness help Progress?" (4) Don't say "There is no true creed; for each creed believes itself right and the others wrong". Diversity might show that most of the views must be wrong, but not that they all must be wrong. Some diversity doesn't conflict. (5) If someone calls your doctrine mad, don't reply that the madmen are only the minority and the sane are the majority. (6) Don't say that the idea of human equality is a absurd, because there are differences among humans. (7) Don't say that Primitive man knocked down a woman with a club and carried her away. Animals don't act that way.

Essay 17 - The Mystery of the Mystics
It was suggested that this essay is a critique of gnosticism, which teaches that salvation is achieved through a system or process. Gnosticism characteristically jumps from uncertain truth to certain untruth. This is addressed in the writings of Eric Voegelin

"The rationalist of the ordinary modern type will never do justice to the mystic until he realizes that the mystic finds himself in the presence , not of clockwork chaos which science reveals, but of the fragments of a larger law. The mystic seeks a version of the universe in which everything becomes orderly ...".

Such an utterance as "God is Love" overwhelms us like an immeasurable landscape on a clear day ... . We may call it a dark saying, but we have an inward knowledge that it is we who are dark. There is a general prejudice to take material things for granted, there is no connection between cause and effect. Chesterton calls this superstition. Mysticism, or a sense of the mystery of things, is simply the most gigantic form of common sense.

"The true key of Christian mysticism is not so much self-surrender ,,, as self-forgetfulness ...". This is discussed in the book Abandonment to Divine Providence by Rev Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751).

Essay 18 - A Much Repeated Repetition
The essay asserts "Of all earthly studies history is the only one that does not repeat itself". It was agreed that history doesn't repeat itself, but it recurs. There are patterns. For example, the article "A Scientific Civilizational Perspective On The Theory Of Revolution", coauthored by fellow SE Chesterton Society member Stephen Satkiewicz, presents a classic four stage formula for a revolutionary cycle, consisting of the phases 1) The Old Order 2) Moderate Regime 3) Radical Regime 4) Counter-Revolutionary Regime (Thermidor).

"Of a living thing we have a divine ignorance - the definition of romance". "The Christian gospel is literally a story; that is a thing in which one does not know what happens next". "If you want to find our isolation and divinity, you must pick up a penny novelette." St Augustine told stories.

Essay 19 - The Maxims of Maxim
"Some attention is still due to the extraordinary idea which Sir Hiram here represents and champions ... that the man of science is in controversial, philosophical, or moral matters likely to care for truth more than another man". We discussed this idea from both sides. Descartes postulated his Dream Argument that the act of dreaming provides evidence that the senses we trust to distinguish reality from illusion should not be fully trusted. Phenomenology is the study of how knowledge is established through our collective senses. Saints John Paul, Edith Stein, Thomas Aquinas and also Dietrich von Hildebrand developed Phenomenology.

God can not be used as a means. Man masters the atom. but provides sermons on war crimes.

"Although Sir Hiram Maxim groups truth and logic together, it is not necessary that he should fail in both, ... but for the excess of the romantic in his temperament". "Logic and truth have very little to do with each other". It was suggested that some truth can be reached through logic, such as by Natural law. The ten commandments, for example, can be arrived at by Natural law. Reason is reasonable. Some truth is innate. Synderesis is a term from scholastic philosophy that signifies the innate principle in moral consciousness of every person, which directs him to good and restrains him from evil.

Essay 20 - The Book of Job
The Book of Job, as well as the Old Testament, has unity. Some people "are reading back into the pre-Christian scriptures a purely Christian idea the idea of saints, the idea that the chief instruments of God are very particularly good men." "the Old Testament idea was much more what may be called the common-sense idea, that strength is strength, that cunning is cunning, that worldly success is worldly success, and that Jehovah uses these things for His own ultimate purpose, just as He uses natural forces or physical elements." Men have said I don't understand the Book of Job and reject it. But if you look at all this then you will understand. Socrates says a wise man knows that he is ignorant.

"philosophy is either eternal or it is not philosophy. The modern habit of saying, 'This is my opinion, but I may be wrong,' is entirely irrational." Such a person is a philodoxist. There is a tendency to be tolerant of persons but not ideas. The index of forbidden books was abolished in the 1960's. Some people believe prosperity is a reward for virtue. Some question whether Job shows God is a tyrant.

Aristotle introduced the term "human flourishing" - the innate potential of each individual to live a life of enduring happiness, penetrating wisdom, optimal well being and authentic love and compassion. Peter Kreeft addresses this at Lighthouse Media.


Meeting Jun 3, 2015 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27

Essay 21 - Cheese
This essay promotes distributism by depicting the superiority of locally provided goods. e.g. cheese, rather than globally provided goods, e.g. soap. "If the Grand Lama has soap it is Brown's Soap. There is nothing subtly and strangely Buddhist, nothing tenderly Tibetan, about his soap. I fancy the Grand Lama does not eat cheese (he is not worthy), but if he does it is probably a local cheese, having some real relation to his life and outlook. Safety matches, tinned foods, patent medicines are sent all over the world; but they are not produced all over the world.".

"The waiter brought me cheese, indeed, but cheese cut up into contemptibly small pieces; and it is the awful fact that instead of Christian bread, he brought me biscuits." Biscuits (crackers) are mass produced and preserved to last a long-time, unlike bread which is local and fresh. Cheese serves to introduce other subjects that benefit from being local, e.g., television and local mom and pop stores. "You can get a whisky and soda at every outpost of the Empire ... . But you are not tasting or touching any environment, as in the cider of Devonshire or the grapes of the Rhine. You are not approaching Nature in one of her myriad tints of mood, as in the holy act of eating cheese." According to Hippocrates, everything in a location correlates.

Essay 22 - On Gargoyles
We agreed that there are no pets in hell, because they can not choose no to go to hell. We could not agree whether there are pets in heaven.

"All the exaggerations are right, if they exaggerate the right thing. Let us point to heaven with tusks and horns ... . The frog's eyes stand out of his head because he is staring at heaven. The giraffe's neck is long because he is stretching towards heaven. " Exaggeration is good if everyone knows it.

"He saw piled in front of him frogs and elephants, monkeys and giraffes, toadstools and sharks, all the ugly things of the universe which he had collected to do honour to God." He said "This is real art! This is Realism!" "That, I fancy is the only true origin of Realism. Realism is simply Romanticism that has lost its reason."

Essay 23 - The Fading Fireworks
"For though I am neither a Protestant nor a Pagan, I cannot see without sadness the flame of vesta extinguished, nor the fires of the Fifth of November: I cannot but be touched a little to see Paganism merely a cold altar and Protestantism only a damp squib."

"They were still sufficiently at one with the old religious life of Europe to exhibit one of its most notable peculiarities; the slow extraction of pleasurable associations from terrible or even painful dates and names." A noted example, is an Italian dish called the Eyes of St Lucy. "Nothing so stamps the soul of Christendom as the strange subconscious gaiety which can make farces out of tragedies, which can turn instruments of torture into toys." "St. Valentine was a priest and denied himself the love of women; but his feast has been turned into a day for love-making." "They are at least somewhat singular things to brandish when one is renouncing the Pope and all his works; unless we do it on the principle of the man who expressed his horror of cigars by burning them one at a time."

"The Christian windows are solid and human, made of heavy lead, of hearty and characteristic colours; but behind them is the light. The colours of the fireworks are as festive and as varied; but behind them is the darkness."

We compared Chesterton with C.S. Lewis. Lewis is syllogistic, while Chesterton is intuitive. We discussed the doctrine Imago Dei, which asserts that humans are created in the image of god and therefore should love God and one another. This doctrine is both revealed and is inferred by natural law. Our discussion led into apologetics. Several books where mentioned 1) The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and 2) Why I am a Christian by Davis Woods.

Essay 24 - The Furrows
"There are some very clever people who cannot enjoy the joy unless they understand it. There are other and even cleverer people who say that they lose the joy the moment they do understand it. Thank God I was never clever, and I could always enjoy things when I understood them and when I didn't."

"But the splendour of furrowed fields is this: that like all brave things they are made straight, and therefore they bend." "Try to grow straight, and life will bend you." This an argument for no ideal. to accommodate evil, e.g. euthanasia.

Essay 25 - The Meaning of Dreams
"For the truth is that there will always be religions so long as certain primeval facts of life remain inexplicable and therefore religious." This suggests the term god of the gaps, used to describe observations in which gaps in scientific knowledge are taken to be evidence of God's existence. People seek the ultimate. People thinking they have explained global warming is religion, which is politically charged.

"But if we take a large and lucid view of the main history of mankind we shall be driven to the conclusion that nothing is upon the whole so natural as supernaturalism." It is a strange and amusing fact that even the materialist who believes that death does nothing except turn a fellow-creature into refuse, only begins to reverence a fellow-creature at the moment that he has turned into refuse,"

"Spiritual forces, abroad in the world, simply disguise themselves under material forms." If a disease has a natural cure then it is not demonic. "... there is something mystical and undefined behind al things which we love and hate , which makes us love or hate them". "The metaphysicians of the middle ages ... had a theory that every object had two parts its accidents and its substance." This applies to transubstantiation and to Schrodinger's cat.

Essay 26 - On Being Moved
"For it is the point of all deprivation that it sharpens the idea of value; and, perhaps, this is, after all, the reason for the riddle of death". "The true democracy consists in declaring that every chair is a throne". Moving is sad. Everyone belongs to a place, which has familiarity. This is addressed by the writer Christopher Dawson.

Essay 27 - The Pickwick Papers
This is a review of a novel by Charles Dickens, which is available free at Gutenberg. It has been made into a radio play on Orson Welles's Mercury Theater On the Air (11/23/1938).

"Justice existed when there was no need of judges, and mercy existed before any man was oppressed". They are not barbaric.

"The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists, as the mother can love the unborn child". That's the trouble with in vitro fertilization, the parents are detached.

"In creative art the essence of a book exists before the book or before even the details or main features of the book; the author enjoys it and lives in it with a kind of prophetic rapture". "In the case of a man really humorous we can see humour in his eye before he has thought of any amusing words at all".

"The larger the man's mind, the wider his scope of vision, the more likely it will be that anything suggested to him will seem significant and promising; the more he has a grasp of everything the more ready he will be to write anything".

Chinese kids must suffer from the lack of mystical exposure. They are missing out on something they don't know they're missing. This is illustrated in the movie The Wizard of Oz when the audience is first exposed to color. Likewise, in the TV series Pleasant Ville only certain people could see in color. This phenomena is described in the Allegory of the Cave or Plato's Cave. It was commentated ET in the movie is a parallel of Jesus. Likewise, Tolkien's book Lord of the Rings has a parallel to Jesus. The book Radiation of Fatherhood by Fr. Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) further illustrates this.

Dickens has a canvas in which characters have character, not homogenized.

"The English poor live in an atmosphere of humour; they think in humour". Mother Theresa made it a point to live with the poor. "... the whole tone of the book was fun, he felt that he ought to keep out of it any great experiments in sadness ... This is the one book in which Dickens was, as it were, forced to trample down his tender feelings;". There is a difference between English and British humour.


Meeting Jul 1, 2015 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 28, 29, 30, 31 and 32

Essay 28 - The Bluff of the Big Shops
"Confronted with modern efficiency the customer is silent; well aware of that organizations talent for sacking the wrong man. In short, organization is a necessary evil - which in this case is not necessary." It was suggested that the most efficient government is a dictatorship - provided that the dictator is perfect. This was challenged based on the definition of efficient.

"He had been taught by his American friend that advertisement can hypnotize the human brain; that people are dragged by a deadly fascination into the doors of a shop as into the mouth of a snake; that the subconscious is captured and the will paralyzed by repetition; that we are all made to move like mechanical dolls when a Yankee advertiser says, "Do It Now. But it never seemed to occur to anybody to resent this." In the tv series Madmen, it is stated that you make the lie. Much advertising was aimed at convincing women to smoke. Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si' refers to this as the sin of consumerism. Wants become needs and thus it becomes good to satisfy them.

"The very first thing to do is to tell these American poker-players that they do not know how to play poker. For they not only bluff, but they boast that they are bluffing. ... because they are admittedly bluffing, we can call their bluff. They are always telling us that the success of modern commerce depends on creating an atmosphere, on manufacturing a mentality, on assuming a point of view. ... that their commerce is not merely commercial, or even economic or political, but purely psychological." It was suggested that this is artificial intelligence.

"Very little is left free in the modern world; but private buying and selling are still supposed to be free; and indeed still are free; if anyone has a will free enough to use his freedom. "

"It is they who say that It Pays to Advertise; that is, to tell people in a bullying way that they must Do It Now, when they need not do it at all." In other words, a scam.

Essay 29 - On Architecture
The background is kept in mind for architecture. For example, Skyscrapers in the US have a blue background. where as buildings in England have a cloudy or grey background. Buildings in Chicago are flat and feature falling water. The Johnson Wax building, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is an exception.

Architecture is designed organically, serving the intended purpose. In the past, a temple was placed in the center of a city to serve God, not the city. The Mayans did this, Today, the city hall is placed in the center. " ... it is not so much a question of the preservation of London churches as of the preservation of London. London has a soul of its own; it therefore has a soul to be saved." The book of Daniel indicates that places have spirits or guardian angels that look after them. Constantinople abandoned the Church because of Rome and therefore its soul died. It was suggested that the spirit of a place is in the mind of the observer. St Hildegard of Bingen, doctor of the church, believed the spirit of a place is something objective.

Petra is an ancient city famous for its rock-cut architecture. Other cities were built on water. Detroit is a city known to be tough.

Essay 30 - On Shakespeare
Some people say Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare. It was suggested that Bacon possibly did so in order to debate himself. History tends to judge that Bacon himself won and Shakespeare lost. It was asserted that Shakespeare did exist and that he was a political character.

"It may be difficult to imagine Shakespeare greater than Shakespeare. But it is possible that if his friends had triumphed and his cause and faith revived, he might in some unthinkable transfiguration have been greater than himself." This might refer to the Church of England vs The Catholic Church. Henry V invaded Ireland and sent slaves to the Caribbean. Slavery in the US south is modeled after that in Ireland.

Essay 31 - The Slavery of Free Verse
"The truth most needed today is that the end is never the right end. The beginning is the right end at which to begin." This applies to the Supreme Court, which begins with the desired ruling and then interprets the law to support it. "He will not begin at the right end; because he happens to have come first on the wrong end."

Politicians tend to structure society on rights rather than responsibilities. For example, free speech rather than responsible speech. Viktor E. Frankl recommends that the Statute of Liberty on the east coast be augmented by a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast. JFK's speech comes to mind, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country".

"I do not despise the man who says the first (You always look so nice), because he means the second (Your eternal summer shall not fade); and what he means is more important than what he says". "I have always had the fancy that if a man were really free, he would talk in rhythm and even in rhyme". It is easy to remember Homer and Dante.

"For a potato is a poem". "It is the idea that, at the back of everything, existence begins with a harmony and not a chaos". Intuition. Presuppositions are important to argument (synderesis). Synderesis is a term from scholastic philosophy that signifies the innate principle in moral consciousness of every person, which directs him to good and restrains him from evil. Genesis involves form and chaos. Tolkien provides a translation of the Book of Daniel.

"Freedom is fullness, especially fullness of life; and a full vessel is more rounded and complete than an empty one, and not less so". Choose path to open not close vocation.

"It is certain that words such as 'birds' and 'sweet', which are as plain as 'fish' or 'stone', can be combined in such a miracle as 'Bare ruined quires where late the sweet birds sang' ".

Poetry has less and less space in history. It seems great poets, such as Homer, Dante and Shakespeare, lived in the distant past. One notable exception is the currently living well-known poet Wendell Berry.

Poetry is language of the soul. A book by Karl Stern Flight from Woman discusses two modes of thought rational or scientific, associated with men, and poetic or intuitive, associated with women. The book portrays a scientific revolution over the last 300 years, influenced by men such as Descartes, that has yielded a defeminization or dehumanization of society. This is further discussed in essays written by Edith Stein. In considering Descartes, it was quipped "I am but I don't think".

Essay 32 - Turning Inside Out
"And the moral is not fashionable in the Press at the moment; for it is to the effect that a woman may gain a professional success at the price of a domestic failure". "If education is the highest function in the State, why should anybody want to be emancipated from the highest function in the State"? "In short, if education is really the larger matter, then certainly domestic life is the larger matter; and official or commercial life the lesser matter". A student studied things he didn't want to know from somebody who didn't want to teach.

"For the idea of a non-parental substitute is simply an illusion of wealth". "In the case of comparative poverty, which is the common lot of mankind, we come back to a general parental responsibility, which is the common sense of mankind. We come back to the parent as the person in charge of education". "We cannot insist that the first years of infancy are of supreme importance, and that mothers are not of supreme importance; or that motherhood is a topic of sufficient interest for men, but not of sufficient interest for mothers". Mothers are taught that education is boring and therefore it is.

"I mean that anything on a grand scale gives the illusion of a grand success. Curiously enough, multiplication acts as a concealment. Repetition actually disguises failure".

"In dealing with the one man you would really have a far huger and harder job than in dealing with your throng of thousands". Today people know people online but not in-person. They play games and do things with people but treat them as non-existent. It's like bowling alone.


Meeting Aug 5, 2015 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 33, 34, 35 and 36

Essay 33 - On Turnpikes and Medićvalism
"For though to-day is always to-day and the moment is always modern, we are the only men in all history who fell back upon bragging about the mere fact that to-day is not yesterday." There are many inventions of the medieval court that exist today, such as mandatory appeal.

" Lastly, we might well ask, is it indeed so certain that our roads suffer from the slowness of petrol traffic; and that, if we can only make every sort of motor go faster and faster, we shall all be saved at last? That motors are more important than men is doubtless an admitted principle of a truly modern philosophy ..." In modern culture progress is more important than people. The state lasts longer than man. Government is the one thing that we protect.

Essay 34 - The Drift from Domesticity
"There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, 'I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away.' " For example, anti-psychotic medicine. Another example, changes in liturgy, from facing East and the use of Latin directed by Annibale Bugnini under Pope Paul VI. "It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious."

"Among the traditions that are being thus attacked, not intelligently but most unintelligently, is the fundamental human creation called the Household or the Home. This is exemplified by divorce and characterized by Cartesian Dualism. thoughts vs feelings.

"We are merely told that in this or that case a particular temperament was tormented by a particular environment; but nobody even explained how the evil arose, let alone whether the evil is really escaped." For example, parents are arrested for their children playing unsupervised. Anybody that wants to be a policeman shouldn't be. Society is inside out.

"But what strikes me as astounding, in a logical sense, is that not one of these myriad novelists and newspaper-men ever seems to think of asking the next and most obvious question. It never seems to occur to them to enquire what becomes of the opposite obligation. If the child is free from the first to disregard the parent, why is not the parent free from the first to disregard the child?"

We talked about how changes in recent times have caused such corruption that we are in need of a major correction, perhaps starting over from scratch rather than enduring evil, such as Planned Parenthood. for example, which must be destroyed. This is similar to the fall of Rome, but it was asked which fall, that due to military defeats in the second century or that due to the rise of Christianity in the third century. In the article The failure of the pro-life movement, Capitalism is indicated as the root cause of society's fall. Charles Johnston is a prophet who claims to talk to an angel about a coming "great storm" that will affect all of humanity, consisting of a series of catastrophic events in the very near future. It will be an act of mercy from God to correct us from evil ways and become more righteous.

"If Dick or Susan wish to destroy the family because they do not see the use of it, I say as I said in the beginning; if they do not see the use of it, they had much better preserve it." "This (the family structure) is the social structure of mankind, far older than all its records and more universal than any of its religions; and all attempts to alter it are mere talk and tomfoolery." Such as was done by the "Kennedy" court. "But the truly extraordinary suggestion is often made that this escape from the home is an escape into greater freedom." "But the main point is that the world outside the home is now under a rigid discipline and routine and it is only inside the home that there is really a place for individuality and liberty." "It is only the domestic discipline that can show any sympathy or especially any humour. I do not say that the family always does do this; but I say that the State never ought to attempt it."

"But so long as the children are children, they will always be the subjects of somebody. The question is whether they are to be distributed naturally under their natural princes, ... " Public schools are obedient to the state, which acts as the shepherd and children should be good sheep. "People do not know what they are doing; because they do not know what they are undoing. " "Each family considers only its own case and the result is merely narrow and negative." "But the hospitality of a house will always be different from the hospitality of a hotel. "

Individuals are not personalized and placed into buckets. We are individually affected by our environment. Epigenetics is the study, in the field of genetics, of cellular and physiological phenotypic trait variations that are caused by external or environmental factors that switch genes on and off and affect how cells read genes instead of being caused by changes in the DNA sequence. In large cities we have skyscrapers which are big black caves.

Essay 35 - On Vulgarity
It was suggested that Chesterton is using "vulgar" (which means "of the people") incorrectly and that a better word might be "crass".

"When some body tries to impress us, either with his wit or assurance, or knowledge of the world, or power, or grace, or even poetry and ideality, and in the very act of doing so shows he has low ideas of all these things ? that is Vulgarity. In other words, a thing is only vulgar when its best is base." "Thus there is the man who wishes first to prove that he is a gentleman, and only proves two things; first, that he is vulgar enough to prefer being a gentleman to being a man; and second, that he has a hideously stunted and half witted notion even of being a gentleman."

Essay 36 - On a Humiliating Heresy
"Dean Inge (Anglican clergyman) declares, with a sort of gloomy glee, that some absurd American statistics or experiments show that heredity is an incurable disease and that education is no cure for it." "One would imagine that the really intolerable insult to human dignity would be to say that human life is not determined by human will." "There are all sorts of ways in which this humiliating heresy expresses itself. One is the perpetual itch to describe all crime as lunacy." "And it is the whole point about Macbeth that he does know what he is doing. It is not a tragedy of Fate but a tragedy of Freewill." This concept is depicted in the "The Great Divorce" by C.S. Lewis and described by St Jerome, Hell is paved with skulls of Bishops. There is a tendency to justify certain behavior based on that everyone is doing it. This is addressed by C. S. Lewis his book of essays "Weight of Glory" "Almost all our pseudo-science proceeds on the principle of saying that one thing follows on another thing, and then dogmatizing about the third thing that is to follow."


Meeting Sep 2, 2015 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 37, 38, 39. 40 and 41

Essay 37 - On Original Sin
"But, standing at the end of the great scientific nineteenth century, he thought it time to announce that the one doctrine he did not believe in was Original Sin. Standing at the beginning of the still more scientific twentieth century, Mr. Aldous Huxley calmly announces that the one doctrine he does believe in is Original Sin. He may be a sceptic or a heretic about many things, but on that point he is quite orthodox. " In Brave New World everyone fails. John, the savage, commits suicide. A perfect world does not take into account original sin. In 1984 by George Orwell, everyone gives up. In Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, most everyone becomes illiterate.

"The man in the mere routine of modern life is content to say that a modern gallows is a relatively humane instrument or that a modern cat-o?-nine tails is milder than an ancient Roman flagellum. But the original thinker will ask why any scourge or gibbet was ever needed, or ever even alleged to be needed? And that brings the original thinker back to original sin." Why do people who don't believe in original sin have complaints. Original SIn can be defended by common sense - something is wrong with the universe.

"I suggest, therefore, with great respect, that it is not even now a case of having to admit that the old religion had come very near to the truths of the most modern science. It is rather a case of the most modern science having come very near to the truths of the old religion - but not quite near enough." The last chapter of the book The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature, by C. S. Lewis, presents a summary of medieval cosmology and evolution. Keats talked about evolution. Darwin didn't introduce evolution but found evidence for it. It is difficult to see how evolution can arrive at the rational soul. Walter Percy, in his book The Message in the Bottle, describes how Helen Keller learned the word for water by a delta (triangle) of three entities water (the word), water (the liquid), and Helen, which he says is "absolutely irreducible" and is thus the building block for all of human intelligence.

We further discussed evolution regarding biological vs spiritual, macro vs micro, that nature speaks for God and that in the middle ages a new Rome architecture was built.

Essay 38 - On Jane Austen in the General Election
"Mr. Wickham was one of those very formidable people who tell lies by telling the truth. ... What Mr. Wickham could not be trusted to do was to tell the rest of the story; which made it a very different story." "It was a very fortunate day for professional politicians when some reactionaries began to accuse them of being demagogues. The truth is that they seldom dare to be demagogues; and their greatest success is when they talk with delicacy and reserve like diplomatists. A dictator has to be a demagogue; a man like Mussolini cannot be ashamed to shout. " Gentlemen know what they want and they want it badly. Politics as usual is based on pushing ideals beyond their applicability. Conservatism is an ideal but should be tempered with pragmatism. Generally we work between two vices.

Essay 39 - On Essays
"I take perhaps my greatest literary pleasure in reading them (essays); after such really serious necessities of the intellect as detective stories and tracts written by madmen." A thesis is written to prove a point, whereas an essay is freeform verse written to discuss a topic. A Plenarium is a collection of commentaries (essays) such as those written by Thomas Aquinas, Fr Robert Spitzer wrote a thesis published as a book New Proofs for the Existence of God.

"The mediaeval man thinks in terms of the Thesis, where the modern man thinks in terms of the Essay. It would be unfair, perhaps, to say that the modern man only essays to think - or, in other words, makes a desperate attempt to think. But it would be true to say that the modern man often only essays, or attempts, to come to a conclusion." Francis Bacon almost invented the essay. In Hilaire Belloc essays he says he's going to prove something but never does.

"Martin Luther, a very mediaeval man in most ways, nailed up on the door the theses he proposed to prove." Protestants lost Natural Law from Solo Scriptura. We discussed that priests have faculties from the bishop.

Essay 40 - On Evil Euphemisms
"Somebody has sent me a book on Companionate Marriage; so called because the people involved are not married and will very rapidly cease to be companions."

"The case for murder" It might be called "the practice of Social Subtraction." Or, " We may call it Life-Control or Free Death". Evil co-opts good or apes the good. Evil can not get along on its own steam.

"Everybody has always known about birth-control, even if it took the wild and unthinkable form of self-control." In the book Brave New World there appeared death control. We experienced Dr. Kervorkian. There was much concern about the death of Cecil the lion. In the wild there are predators and there is lunch. Guardian angels are often considered psychic phenomenon.

"When somebody wishes to wage a social war against what all normal people have regarded as a social decency, the very first thing he does is to find some artificial term that shall sound relatively decent. He has no ... real courage that would pit vice against virtue."

Essay 41 - A Plea for Prohibition
An outline of the essay is seen in the last paragraph; "Let Congress or Parliament pass a law not only prohibiting fermented liquor, but practically everything else. ... bread, beef, boots, hats, coats, chalk, cheese, leather, linen, tools, toys, tales, pictures or newspapers. Then ... all human families will begin vigorously to produce all these things for themselves; and the youth of the world will really return."

"I know an American university where practically every one of the professor brews his own beer; some of them experimenting in two or three different kinds." The industrial revolution is running out of steam. This addressed in the book The Rise and Fall of American Technology by Lynn G Gref. Home schooling is good for education. This is addressed in the book Successful Fathers by James B. Stenson.

Meeting Oct 7, 2015 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 42, 43, 44, 45, 46 and 47

Essay 42 - The American Ideal
"The real, natural Americans are candid, generous, capable of a beautiful wonder and gratitude; enthusiastic about things external to themselves; easily contented and not particularly conceited. They have been deliberately and dogmatically taught to be conceited. They have been systematically educated in a theory of enthusiasm, which degrades it into mere egotism. The American has received as a sort of religion the notion that blowing his own trumpet is as important as the trump of doom." "An egotist heresy, produced by the modern heathenry, has taught them against all their Christian instincts that boasting is better than courtesy and pride better than humility."

"What has happened to America is that a number of people who were meant to be heroic and fighting farmers, at once peasants and pioneers, have been swept by the pestilence of a particular fad or false doctrine; the ideal which has and deserves the detestable title of Making Good. The very words are a hypocrisy," "The very simple explanation of this puzzling contradiction is that they were perfectly nice and normal people in themselves, but they had never been left to themselves by those who were always telling them to assert themselves."

Essay 43 - Marriage and the Modern Mind
"Wives and husbands seem to leave home more in the manner of somnambulists." "I have never known any one of the disputants begin by asking what marriage is." "Marriage, humanly considered, rests upon a fact of human nature, which we may call a fact of natural history."

"The young of the human species, if they are to reach the full possibilities of the human culture ... must be under the protection of responsible persons through very long periods of mental and moral growth. I know there are some ... that say they could do just as well without education. But they lie ..." We related this to the writings of Ayn Rand and to St Augustine.

"That is, in practical experience, the basic idea of marriage; that the founding of a family must be on a firm foundation; that the rearing of the immature must be protected by something patient and enduring." The idea of marriage has been criticized in the name of what is called the Modern Mind. "The first obvious or apparent question is how they deal with the practical problem of children". "... they propose to get rid of ... the problem of babies in one of three typically modern ways. One is to say that there shall be no more babies." "Another is that the father should instantly send the babies ... to a distant and inaccessible school." "The third way ... is to imitate Rousseau, who left his baby on the door-step of the Foundling Hospital." It was mentioned that in Scotland, a case worker is assigned to every case. We related this to the book It takes a Village.

Essay 44 - Magic and Fantasy in Fiction
We discussed Harry Potter and St Michael standing on the head of a dragon.

"The ecclesiastic in question always uses it ('magic') as covering all the rather wide field of religious doctrines in which he does not happen to believe." For a similar reason, it was suggested that the word "cult" not be used, although some such word is needed.

"The word Magic was widely used as a term of abuse ...Magic was the abuse of preternatural processes, by lower agents whose work was preternatural but not supernatural." "In contrast with this, ... the good miracles ... are always acts of restoration. They give the victim back his personality; and it is a normal and not a super-normal personality." " ... black magic is that which blots out or disguises the true form of a thing; while white magic, in the good sense, restores it to its own form and not another."

"But the Mass is exactly the opposite of a Man seeking to be a God. It is God seeking to be a Man."

Essay 45 - On the New Prudery
"(i) The child must never read fairy-tales or be allowed to hear about fairies. (2) The child must never hear of the very existence of fighting in any form. (3) The child must be strictly guarded from the shameful rumour that there is such a thing as religion or religious beliefs."

"Whatever we may think of the relative claims of the two religions, one fact is now logically self-evident: that the new religion, very bit as much as the old religion, will be a persecuting religion."

"This new idealist is not even new, in the manner of the babe unborn. He is our own Puritan great-grandfather dread-fully risen from the dead. "

Essay 46 - On the Return of the Barbarian
"Now, ever since Herr Hitler began to turn the beer-garden into a bear-garden, there has been an increasing impression on sensitive and intelligent minds that something very dangerous has occurred. A particular sort of civilization has turned back towards barbarism." "The bother with the barbarian is that he is right by accident, and sometimes does not know why he is right."

"That is, they have perpetually turned back, by a sort of introspective or centripetal movement, from the judgement of Christendom to the judgement of Germany." American churches are supported by donations, whereas German churches are supported by taxes.

"That is the advantage of being a sentimentalist, You only remember what you like to remember. It is also the advantage of being a barbarian." Sophistry defends anything by logic.

Essay 47 - On Man: Heir of All the Ages
"Nevertheless, there are some of us who do hold that the metaphor of inheritance from human history is a true metaphor, and that any man who is cut off from the past, and content with the future, is a man most unjustly disinherited; and all the more unjustly if he is happy in his lot, and is not permitted even to know what he has lost." For example, The Latin Mass and the song Amazing Grace.

Three phases: 1) belief in the "the spiritual element in life" 2) people live a ritual life in which there is no distinction between sacred and profane 3) rise of world religions, expressed by Sir Thomas Browne's phrase: "the soul is greater than the sun". We discussed Isaiah and predictive prophesy, Noah and the flood, The complete Human Being, and Ember and Rogation days.

We discussed an interesting cartoon video St. Patrick's Bad Analogies presented by Luthern Satire, which illustrated teaching about the Holy Trinity.


Meeting Nov 4, 2015 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 48, 49, 50, 51, 52 and 53

Essay 48 - On the Instability of the State
"Good communications corrupt good manners. " For example, texting.

"Now Eugenics of that sort is, always has been, and always must be, merely a violent assault on The Family. It is, by definition, the taking away from The Family of the decisions that ought to belong to The Family. When those decisions are made in the domestic and individual way, in which they should be made, nobody in his senses ever dreams of describing the decision as Eugenics." China micromanages population. "One of those statements (not considered quite respectable) is this: 'The Family comes first; it comes before the State; its authority and necessity are anterior to those of the State.' " The state is considered to be omniscient in regard to illness, child-protection, etc.

"In some ways a lunatic asylum or a convict settlement are much better organized, are certainly much more elaborately organized, than the hugger- mugger of human beings doing as they like outside."

"The Family seemed the frailest thing in the world; and the State the strongest thing in the world. But it is not really so. It is not so, when we take the life of a man over large areas of time or space. It is not so, when we pass from the static nineteenth century to the staggering twentieth century. It is not so when we pass out of peaceful England to riotous Germany or gun-governed America. Over all the world tremendous transformations are passing over the State, so that a man may go to bed in one State and get up in another. " We talked about gun control and the purpose of the 2nd amendment.

"In the break-up of the modern world, The Family will stand out stark and strong as it did before the beginning of history; the only thing that can really remain a loyalty, because it is also a liberty." People are more concerned about pets than the family, but they get back together to survive.

Essay 49 - The Romance of Childhood
"So I always found that I was much more attracted by the microscope than the telescope." "I have felt that the world is conceiving liberty as something that merely works outwards. And I have always conceived it as something that works inwards." We discussed the need for privacy. The question was posed, why do we need privacy if we have nothing to hide. It's an Old Testament law. Without it, we are unable to survive. We have a right to be known as a complete person. It's necessary for freedom.

"He (the child) uses his imagination to invent imaginary limits." "This game of self-limitation is one of the secret pleasures of life."

Essay 50 - The Surrender upon Sex
"The excitement of conversion is still open to the atheist and the diabolist; and everybody can be converted except the convert." "It (birth control) is in fact, of course, a scheme for preventing birth in order to escape control."

"We are all somewhat wearily aware that some Modern Churchmen call such continuous change progress; as when we remark that a corpse crawling with worms has an increased vitality; or that a snowman, slowly turning into a puddle, is purifying itself of its accretions." "Nothing else, except the Faith, can trust itself to go on being itself." "But they thought that in some very extreme and extraordinary cases a divorce was allowable." "Any man with eyes in his head, whatever the ideas in his head, who looks at the world as it is today, must know that the whole social substance of marriage has changed; just as the whole social substance of Christianity changed with the divorce of Henry VIII." The marriage contract is the one contract that the state refuses to enforce. We talked about annulment with impediment. "The world has admitted the exception; and the exception has become the rule." When someone creates chaos, people want law and order.

Essay 51 - Reflections on a Rotten Apple
"... in the fable of the man who sold razors, and afterwards explained to an indignant customer, with simple dignity, that he had never said the razors would shave. When asked if razors were not made to shave, he replied that they were made to sell. That is A Short History of Trade and Industry during the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries." It was stated that Costco sells products with cheaper parts, but will then sell you a warrantee.

"It is not the fundamental reason in things that is at fault; it is a particular hitch or falsification, arising from a very recent trick of regarding everything only in relation to trade. Trade is all very well in its way, but Trade has been put in the place of Truth. Trade, which is in its nature a secondary or dependent thing, has been treated as a primary and independent thing; as an absolute. The moderns, mad upon mere multiplication, have even made a plural out of what is eternally singular, in the sense of single. They have taken what all ancient philosophers called the Good, and translated it as the Goods."

The best attended masses are on Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday, because you get something.

"In other words, these people are incapable of imagining any good except that which comes from bartering something for something else." That is goods are good.

"In all normal civilisations the trader existed and must exist. But in all normal civilisations the trader was the exception; certainly he was never the rule; and most certainly he was never the ruler. " "In principle, prosperity might be very great, even if trade were very bad."

"The complexity of commercial society has become intolerable, because that society is commercial and nothing else. " In response to the attack of 9-11, Bush said keep buying stuff.

Oscar Wilde "said in one of his plays: 'A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing'. " Things are judged by their price not their value.

Robin Hood was not a redistributionist. He was watching the kingdom by stealing from a corrupt government.

"I am certain that nothing solid can be built ... upon ... bullying people into purchasing what they do not want, ... pretending that you are teaching men to hope, because you do not leave them one intelligent instant in which to despair."

Essay 52 - Babies and Distributism
"I despise Birth-Control first because it is a weak and wobbly and cowardly word. It is also an entirely meaningless word; and is used so as to curry favour even with those who would at first recoil from its real meaning. "

"my contempt boils over into bad behaviour when I hear the common suggestion that a birth is avoided because people want to be "free" to go to the cinema or buy a gramophone or a loud-speaker. ... they chain themselves to the most servile and mechanical system ... The cinema is a machine ... expressing the most vulgar millionaires' notion of the taste of the most vulgar millions. The gramophone is a machine for recording such tunes as certain shops and other organisations choose to sell. The wireless ... is marked by the modern mark of all three; the impotence of the receptive party. ... The amateur cannot challenge the actor".

Essay 53 - The Rout of Reason
" I am especially wondering what has become of the human power of reason in this age, Hume or Huxley, or any of the rationalists who were really rational , could never have kept a straight face in the presence of the preposterous confusions of thought that are now called arguments by Sir Arthur Keith or the Bishop of Birmingham."

"If we must have material parables, in an age that has lost the power of abstract thought, the more modern parable would obviously be much closer of the two." Thoughts are replaced by bumper stickers. We talked about critical thinking versus logical thinking. Subjective math is now thought in Common Core, e. g., "base ten" arithmetic in which numbers are converted to fives or tens before performing arithmetic operations.

"What troubles me is that denial is no longer rational; that any rationalist could see that it is not rational."

"When Bishop Barnes suggested that chemical investigations might test Transubstantiation, it was no occasion for the skies to fall, as at a sublime blasphemy." "I need only say that anybody who really believes it fully understands how some people do not believe it."

"As I say, the old lucid agnostics would have said it was impossible ultimately to define the mind. But they did not find it impossible to use the mind;"

I am not at all disturbed about the future of the Faith; but I am disturbed about the future of the doubters;" Faith is one of the three definitions of reason. Mike Flynn pointed out that Stephen Hawking pidgeon-holed God to the point that we don't need Him (Mike Flynn's Journal).

We discussed the blog The Plenarium by member Jon Hess.
Hillsdale college is offering a free online course on C.S. Lewis.
Click to sign up.


Meeting Dec 2, 2015 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 54, 55, 56, 57 and 58

Essay 54 - Mary Queen of Scots
"... most of us know that there did straggle down the centuries from the time of Mary Stuart a controversy, especially a Scottish controversy , between those who were her champions and those who were her enemies. I need not say they were in practice divided in religion, … There is no other interpretation of history." Religion is a major part of geopolitics. We are post secular trying not to be religious. The ruling elite is not religious. e.g., George Soros.

Chesterton says that Elizabeth is uncertain, but she is evil. He is anti-aristocracy.

"I think no problem in history is more subtle or more difficult than that of deciding exactly how far the great men and woman who drank the new wine of the new learning, who came suddenly into the full current of the old pagan culture, really lost their heads: I will not say lost their souls. On the whole, my own opinion is that a person like Mary Stuart very probably did lose her head and most certainly did not lose her soul." The renaissance brought slavery back. Woman lost many of their advantages, e.g. inheritance and to hold property. The second daughter of a family often went to the convent because of the lack of inheritance, This is reflected today in the form of marriage, in which the bride is handed over by her father to the groom - women like belonging to the male.

"The conception of the right of a king or queen to the territory that they governed was to the people of those times what private property was to the people of the nineteenth century, and what, for all I know, the absolute omnipotence of politicians may be to the people of the twenty-first century."

"If Mary did murder her husband, she knew she was a murderess." The present time is worse because before people knew they were evil. Russian authors' characters knew what they were doing was wrong.

"She (Mary) is perhaps the one example in all human history of a person who was killed for being in good health." She stood for civilization. You can draw a straight line from Henry the 8th to Karl Marx who exploited the working poor.

Essay 55 - George MacDonald
MacDonald's children's books are very good. He is considered to be the father of fantasy. He guided C. S. Lewis to Christianity.

"It (Pilgrim's Progress) hardly suggests how near both the best and the worst things are to us from the first, even especially from the first." He portrayed wonder in the ordinary. In the Wizard of Oz Dorothy concluded there is no place like home. Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory about a journey to heaven.

"When the evil things besieging us do appear, they do not appear outside but inside." In Matthew 15.11, Jesus said "It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man."

"George MacDonald did really believe that people were princesses and goblins and good fairies, and he dressed them up as ordinary men and woman."

MacDonald said "God is easy to please and hard to satisfy."

MacDonald escaped Scottish Calvinism. He believed that one should love God and try not to sin. We discussed the Icon of the Trinity and Why I am a Christian by Dave Wood.

"In Burns it (Calvinistic orthodoxy) was driven out of its due course like a madness; in Scott it was only tolerated as a memory." Robert Burns was raised in a Calvinistic atmosphere. He was a romantic.

"In his (Burns) particular type of literary work he did indeed realize the apparent paradox of a St. Francis of Aberdeen, seeing the same sort of halo round every flower and bird. Burns referred to St. Francis of Assisi as St. Francis of Aberdeen.

Essay 56 - Tolerating Other Religions
"It (the Parliament of Religions) had all the evils of a Parliament. It had the narrow novelty, the deaf dignity, the profound isolation and unpopularity that a Parliament so often commands."

"Generally, the difficulty is not to tolerate other people's religion. The trouble is to tolerate our own religion. Or rather ,,, to get our own religion to tolerate us." Chesterton states in his book What's Wrong with the World, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."

"The person we really find exasperating is he who does not understands our beliefs, an yet also does not agree with his own." We discussed the validity of communion in the Orthodox church and that of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX).

"So we, as Christians, should always believe that this is a white world with black spots, not a black world with white spots." We discussed moral dualism and Ying and Yang.

Essay 57 - The Efficiency of the Police
The police bring order to everything but their own. "What is wanting in them is the breath of life - or, in other words, people taking some sort of interest in their work. Such an organization is the very opposite of an organism, It has no vitality, because it does not truly believe in its own aim in life." That's what is wrong with Europe, they bring in immigrants that don't respect their way of life. In the U.S. we have "safe zones" on college campuses.

"Our officials are so much occupied in controlling diet and details of medical theory, and disputed points of decorum in the arts, that such a trifle as a corpse on a doorstep or an assassination a few yards from a lamp-post appears almost in the nature of an irritating and unexpected addition to their daily toils." This is exemplified by Mayor Bloomburg of NYC. "It is the nature of a net so stretched to break everywhere; and the practical result of our bureaucracy is something very near to anarchy."

"The truth is that any advance in science leaves morality in its ancient balance; and it depends still on the inscrutable soul of man whether discovery is mainly a benefit or mainly a calamity."

"It is not unlikely that in the recent chaos of creeds and codes, from which we are only gradually emerging, there may be a much larger percentage than in steadier periods of really educated men in a mood to be enemies of society." In 1973 mental institutions were shut down, which is a double-edged sword. It was suggested that about 1% of people are schizophrenic.

Essay 58 - About Beliefs
"There is no sort of logical connexion between believing in one marvelous event and believing in another, even if they were exactly alike and not utterly different. ... the comparison between the Gospel miracle and the Arabian fairy-tale (Aladdin) is about the most unfortunate comparison in the world. For in the one case there is a plain and particular reason for thinking the thing true ... And in the other case there is a plain and particular reason for realizing that the tale is not only untrue, but is not even meant to be true."

The Apostles might have hidden it (the Body of Jesus} in order to announce a sham miracle, but it is very difficult to imagine men being tortured and killed for the truth of a miracle which they knew to be a sham."

"I merely pause for a moment upon this wild and preposterous parallel as a passing example of the queer way in which skeptics now refuse to follow an argument and only follow a sort of association or analogy."

"But this particular point is not concerned with religion, but is connected in a curious way with science. The point is this: the Magic (in the ancient sense) and Medicine (in the modern sense) are really in one way very like each other."

"We may say that the great Greek ideal was to have no use for useful things. The Slave was he who learned useful things; the Freeman was he who learned useless things." All vocation is viewed on what it does for my cares. That is the purpose of vocational schools. It was suggested that Rush Limbaugh promotes this view. It was also suggested that Liberal Arts is an end in its self.

"And the note of this sort of science (magic-based medicine), which Mr, Dawson traces to the East, is that it always boasts of possessing Power, as distinct from the other sort set upon enjoying Truth." "So some modern hygienic idealists are rather more concerned about health than is quite healthy."

We discussed Catholicism versus conservatism. Joseph de Maistre, French conservative Catholic, stated every country gets what they deserve. Christopher Dawson, Catholic historian, said religion and culture are closely connected. Two web links for Christopher Dawson a list of his writings and a site about his work maintained by his grandchildren.


Meeting Jan 6, 2016 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 59, 60, 61, 62 and 63

Essay 59 - The Common Man
"The thesis is this: that modern emancipation has really been a new persecution of the Common Man. If it has emancipated anybody, it has in rather special and narrow ways emancipated the Uncommon Man." Modern society searches for the next minority. Anything is permissible as long as it has consent.

"The point is that, here again, the Common Man does not generally want to write a book, whereas he may occasionally want to sing a song." "In the actual atmosphere of the age, men will still be arrested for using a certain kind of language, long after they cannot be arrested for writing a certain kind of literature." "Liberal economics too often meant merely giving to those already rich the liberty to grow richer, and, magnificently granting to the poor the permission to remain rather poorer than before." "The poor man was prevented from gambling, precisely because he did not gamble so much as the rich man." We tend to generalize the problem with one person to all similar persons. "There is no normal thing that cannot now be taken from the normal man." "Thus far my thesis is this: that it is not the Uncommon Man who is persecuted; but rather the Common Man. "

"And the actual catastrophes we have suffered, including those we are now suffering, have not in historical fact been due to the prosaic practical people who are supposed to know nothing, but almost invariably to the highly theoretical people who knew that they knew everything. The world may learn by its mistakes; but they are mostly the mistakes of the learned." We all seem to know everything perfectly. People who think they are expert in one thing, think they are expert in everything, e.g., Stephen Hawking and many presidential candidates.

"To go back no further than the seventeenth century, the quarrel between the Puritans and the populace was originally due to the pride of a few men in being able to read a printed book, and their scorn for people who had good memories, good traditions, good stories, good songs, and good pictures in glass or gold or graven stone, and therefore had less need of books. It was a tyranny of literates over illiterates." Cecil Chesterton, younger brother of G. K., wrote a book A History of the United States that claims people know nothing about the middle ages.

"Perhaps the best and broadest of them was a most monstrous and mythical superstition of Adam Smith; a theological theory that providence had so made the world that men might be happy through their selfishness; or, in other words, that God would overrule everything for good, if only men could succeed in being sufficiently bad." Capitalism breaks down when people don't want more money, Hudge and Gudge.

"The Common Man may well be the victim of a new series of tyrannies, founded on this scientific fad of regarding him as a monkey. But it is doubtful whether he can be much more persecuted for having the instincts of a moron, than he has already been for having the instincts of a man."

Essay 60 - Two Stubborn Pieces of Iron
"The home is the really important thing, and always will be." "The sexes can work together in a school-room just as they can breakfast together in a breakfast-room; but neither makes any difference to the fact that the boys go off to a boyish companionship which the girls would think disgusting, while the girls go off to a girl companionship which the boys would think literally insane. "

"The whole value of the normal relations of man and woman lies in the fact that they first begin really to criticise each other when they first begin really to admire each other. And a good thing, too. I say, with a full sense of the responsibility of the statement, that it is better that the sexes should misunderstand each other until they marry." "But if you have any idea that co-education would do more than parade the sexes in front of each other twice a day, if you think it would destroy their deep ignorance of each other or start them on a basis of rational understanding, then I say first that this will never happen, and second that I (for one) should be horribly annoyed if it did."

Essay 61 - The Revival of Philosophy--Why?
"The best reason for a revival of philosophy is that unless a man has a philosophy certain horrible things will happen to him. He will be practical; he will be progressive; he will cultivate efficiency; he will trust in evolution; he will do the work that lies nearest; he will devote himself to deeds, not words. " We tend to depend on catch phrases and bumper stickers in arguments such as defending marriage. Anthony Esolen has written about this in Crisis Magazine and in the articleHow the Church Has Changed the World: For God is Light published by the Catholic Education Resource Center.

"And what would happen if you went up to the next practical man you met and said to the poor dear old duffer, 'Where is your Pragma?' " The business world needs metaphysics.

"A man has, already entangled hopelessly in his own mind, (1) a hearty and human desire for money, (2) a somewhat priggish and superficial desire to be progressing, or going the way the world is going, (3) a dislike to being thought too old to keep up with the young people, (4) a certain amount of vague but genuine patriotism or public spirit, (5) a misunderstanding of a mistake made by Mr. H. G. Wells, in the form of a book on Evolution." This has been addressed by Robert Heinlein in Time Enough for LoveEvery man has to be a generalist and by P. J. O'Rourke.

"Philosophy is merely thought that has been thought out." "But if he only means that miracles can be believed in the twelfth century, but cannot be believed in the twentieth, then he is wrong again, both in theory and in fact. " This is thinking about thinking.

"If a man is a fool for believing in a Creator, then he is a fool for believing in a miracle; but not otherwise. Otherwise, he is simply a philosopher who is consistent in his philosophy." "Thus, when so brilliant a man as Mr. H. G. Wells says that such supernatural ideas have become impossible "for intelligent people", he is (for that instant) not talking like an intelligent person. In other words, he is not talking like a philosopher; because he is not even saying what he means."

Essay 62 - If I Had Only One Sermon to Preach
"If I had only one sermon to preach, it would be a sermon against Pride. The more I see of existence, and especially of modern practical and experimental existence, the more I am convinced of the reality of the old religious thesis; that all evil began with some attempt at superiority; some moment when, as we might say, the very skies were cracked across like a mirror, because there was a sneer in Heaven." "Pride is a poison so very poisonous that it not only poisons the virtues; it even poisons the other vices." Matthew Kelly in his book Becoming the Best Version of Yourself addresses this. We live in a "self-esteem" culture. Biologically, we are worthless, psychologically we think highly of ourself. Vanity vs pride.

"The wickedest work in this world is symbolised not by a wine glass but by a looking-glass; and it is not done in public-houses;, but in the most private of all private houses which is a house of mirrors." Pride is the unwillingness to be taken.

We talked about the traditional mass vs the new mass: poetry vs prose, layered vs nonlayered, symbolism, every vestment had a meaning, gargoyles seen by God but not us.

"Pride consists in a man making his personality the only test, instead of making the truth the test." Each of us is highly unlikely to have existed, depending on a long series of actions.

Essay 63 - Scipio and the Children
"These things are an allegory; for there is something of the same contrast between the acid taste of party politics, especially anti-clerical politics, which is all that is exported to the English papers from Spain," You can read this about our own country.

"Nobody seems to have the itch of interference; nobody is moved by that great motto of so much social legislation; 'Go and see what Tommy is doing, and tell him he mustn't.' ". Definition Puritan: somewhere someone is worried about someone having fun. We considered a pagan vs a puritan.

"He shot an arrow that hit his father; probably because he was aiming at something else. He shot an arrow that hit me; but I am a BROAD target." Boys can't play, they must take it serious. It's about you winning.

Note
This meeting was the last to be attended by long-term member Matt Hill. He is leaving to serve at St Anne parish in the city of Escanaba in the Michigan upper peninsula, as a preliminary step of being accepted into a seminary in the Diocese of Marquette. We acknowledged his valuable contributions to our discussions with a Chesterton tankard and a biography of Frances Chesterton. We'll miss him at our meetings, but perhaps he can participate virtually. We wish him well in his vocation.


Meeting Feb 3, 2016 In Defense of Sanity:
Essays 64, 65, 66 and 67

Essay 64 - The Philosophy of Islands
"Well, man has been from the beginning of time this unknown monster. People have always differed about what part of him belonged to himself, and what part was merely an accident. People have said successively that it was natural to him to do everything and anything that was diverse and mutually contradictory; that it was natural to him to worship God, and natural to him to be an atheist;" "It would at least appear that we tend to become separated from what is really natural, by the fact that we always talk about those people who are really natural as if they were goblins." We discussed what is natural and unnatural. It depends on the amount of human processing, perhaps involving chemical change. Alternatively, it depends on whether something is in accordance with natural law or against whatness.

"The things which really come first are the things which we are accustomed to think come last. The instinct for a pompous intricate and recurring ceremonial, for instance, comes to a child like an organic hunger; he asks for a formality as he might ask for a drink of water." We related this to architecture.

"For what is the idea in human nature which lies at the back of this almost automatic ceremonialism? Why is it that a child who would be furious if told by his nurse not to walk off the kerbstone," Children make rule for games that they strictly enforce.

" the hero only becomes a hero when he has before him and behind him men who are not heroes;" "No man wishes the thing he loves to grow, for he does not wish it to alter."

Essay 65 - The Artistic Side
"I still hold that it is the main earthly business of a human being to make his home, and the immediate surroundings of his home, as symbolic and significant to his own imagination as he can;" "That is the way in which objects ought to be seen; separate; illuminated; and above all ; contrasted against blank night or bare walls;" A baby discovers his feet. If you think this world as a prison, it is a pretty nice prison.

"But that blood-red curtain I saw from the train either commemorated no martyrdom; or the man crucified within did not know that his martyrdom was commemorated." He sees art by looking into peoples windows. His key to wonder about everything is to see something for the first time.

Essay 66 - What Is Right with the World
It was wondered why the source of this essay was named 'The Apostle and the Wild Ducks'. We related this book to the writings of Charles Williams who is commemorate by The Charles Williams Society

"The one perfectly satisfactory element at the present crisis is that all the prophecies have failed." "We therefore come back to the primary truth, that what is right with the world has nothing to do with future changes, but is rooted in original realities." Our nature after original sin is concupiscence.

"To say of the bulk of human beings that they are uneducated is like saying of a Red Indian hunter that he has not yet taken his degree. He has taken many other things. And so, sincerely speaking, there are no uneducated men." We talked about the purpose of education - whether it was to prepare one for work or to follow your passion.

"No traditions in this world are so ancient as the traditions that lead to modern upheaval and innovation." "No traditions in this world are so ancient as the traditions that lead to modern upheaval and innovation."

"But this faith (that existence was fundamentally and purposely good) is not attacked only by the black, consistent pessimist. The man who says that he would sooner die is best answered by a sudden blow with the poker, for the reply is rightly logical, as well as physically very effective. "

"The most dangerous thing in the world is to be alive; one is always in danger of one's life. But anyone who shrinks from this is a traitor to the great scheme and experiment of being." People shy away from risk. Ayn Rand was an unhappy sincere atheist. Stephen Hawking is an atheist who asserts that our universe is the only possible one out of many. We discussed science vs religion.

"I mean the idea that unity is itself a good thing; that there is something high and spiritual about things being blended and absorbed into each other. " "There is nothing specially right about mere contact and coalescence." "There is of course, another kind of unity of which I do not speak here; unity in the possession of truth and the perception of the need for these varieties." We discussed that it is ok to have ethnic parishes -universal not unity.

"Europe at present exhibits a concentration upon politics which is partly the unfortunate result of our loss of religion, partly the just and needful result of our loss of our social inequality and iniquity. These causes, however, will not remain in operation for ever. " The founding fathers of the European Union (EU) were devout Catholics. See the interview of Catholic Historian Alan Fimister, Catholic Origins of the European Union, by Dominic Baster. Philip Jenkins wrote about the state of Christianity a few years ago (as well as an entire book outlining it in more detail).

"Religion is returning from her exile; it is more likely that the future will be crazily and corruptly superstitious than that it will be merely rationalist." France is the most secular but celebrates the traditional mass. See the article France's Catholic Revolution by Dr. Gregg from the Acton Institute and this article by Peter L. Berger about the issue of religion coming back from its exile

Essay 67 - The Spice of Life
"It seems to me that a great many people, whom I am far from calling mummies or mad bulls, are at this moment paying rather too much attention to the spice of life, and rather too little attention to life." Creativity is dying, watching movies, etc,. We lose the ability to produce. We talked about Thomas Merton, who was infatuated with Buddhism. Hindus believe that all religions are different paths to God.

"I am perfectly certain that all our world will end in despair, unless there is some way of making the mind itself, the ordinary thought we have at ordinary times, more healthy and more happy than they seem to be just now, to judge by most modern novels and poems."

"What we have to teach the young man of the future, is how to enjoy himself. " Technology interferes with communication. Do things the slow way. "The first and startling effect of all this noise is silence."

We listed some of our favorite Essays: Cheese, If I Had Only One Sermon to Preach, The Common Man, On Jane Austen in the General Election, The Spice of Life and A Piece of Chalk. It was suggested that these essays be rewritten using modern language.


Meeting Mar 2, 2016 The Everlasting Man:
Introduction and Chap I Part I

Introduction
It is better to view a large thing from the outside. Christians are inside Christianity and hampered in their view of it. Christians have a hard time defending their beliefs - why they are Christians. Most of the world are in-between inside and outside. The difference is imminent vs transcendent, public vs private or objectivism vs relativism (rights oriented). The modern world is in a gray area. Plato said that the alternative to a belief in God is arbitrary power. Relativism leads to tyranny.

Chap I - The Man in the Cave
"Only I do not believe in being dehumanized in order to study humanity." I think therefor God is! We talked about Deism and the ontological nature of God. We can know God exists because reason exists. We have intuition, which seems to be the alternative to reason, but both reason and intuition supports the believe in the existence of God. We have an intellect and are able to subcreate. We are made in God's image. We questioned whether machines or animals have an intellect. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has no artifice. Animals can not reason, although some have been trained to appear to use sign language.

"Nobody can imagine how nothing could turn into something. Nobody can get an inch nearer to it by explaining how something could turn into something else. It is really far more logical to start by saying 'In the beginning God created heaven and earth' even if you only mean 'In the beginning some unthinkable power began some unthinkable process.' For God is by its nature a name of mystery, and nobody ever supposed that man could imagine how a world was created any more than he could create one. But evolution really is mistaken for explanation. It has the fatal quality of leaving on many minds the impression that they do understand it and everything else; just as many of them live under a sort of illusion that they have read the Origin of Species." We discussed Pascal's wager and St Thomas Aquinas' five proofs of God's existence. Richard Dawkins, on the other hand, coined the word meme to mean cultural entities that evolve much like biological genes. St Hildegard defended the belief in unicorns noting their mention in the Bible.

"But this notion of something smooth and slow like the ascent of a slope, is a great part of the illusion. It is an illogically as well as an illusion; for slowness has really nothing to do with the question. An event is not any more intrinsically intelligible or unintelligible because of the pace at which it moves." Roland Mousiner stated "History has no direction of its own accord, for it is shaped by the will of men and the choices they make. Yet with every second that passes, men are making their choice by their behavior." in a critique to the Annales School of history. The Annales school was in its infancy when Chesterton wrote "Everlasting Man" but its emphasis on the "Long Duree" seems rather relevant to Chesterton's point about emphasizing slow evolution.

"But if we attempt to regard him, as it were, as a quadruped standing on his hind legs, we shall find what follows more fantastic and subversive than if he were standing on his head." Chesterton does not like the framing of evolution. We discussed Mendel introducing the science of genetics, the basis of heredity.

"So far as I can understand, his chief occupation in life was knocking his wife about, or treating women in general with what is, I believe, known in the world of the film as 'rough stuff.' I have never happened to come upon the evidence for this idea; and I do not know on what primitive diaries or prehistoric divorce-reports it is founded." There were letters on the cave wall. "Art is the signature of man."

"A priest and a boy entered sometime ago a hollow in the hills and passed into a sort of subterranean tunnel that led into a labyrinth of such sealed and secret corridors of rock." "The whole of the current way of talking is simply a confusion and a misunderstanding, founded on no sort of scientific evidence and valued only as an excuse for a very modern mood of anarchy. If any gentleman wants to knock a woman about, he can surely be a cad without taking away the character of the cave-man, about whom we know next to nothing except what we can gather from a few harmless and pleasing pictures on a wall." We want to feel better than others and therefore make caricatures of them. The Inquisition was more just than the secular courts.

It was mentioned that paintings in Lascaux Cave, which were discovered a few years after Chesterton's death, prove his point about prehistoric people being sophisticated artists. Here are more photos of the artwork and the interior, very breath-taking! Lascaux is one of the most famous and best preserved examples of prehistoric art, even nicknamed the "sistine chapel of the Paleolithic".

Meeting Apr 6, 2016 The Everlasting Man:
Chap II Part I

Chap II - Professors and Prehistoric Men

"The science whose modern marvels we all admire succeeds by incessantly adding to its data." As if to say without evidence you don't know anything. "We talk very truly of the patience of science; but in this department it would be truer to talk of the impatience of science. Owing to the difficulty above described, the theorist is in far too much of a hurry. We have a series of hypotheses so hasty that they may well be called fancies, and cannot in any case be further corrected by facts."

A prehistoric matriarchy was conjectured. Traditionally, the Navajos are a matriarchal society, with descent and inheritance determined through one's mother. Such a society is referred as matrilineal.

We discussed whether oral tradition is part of history. The Carcadia Subduction Zone in the northwest was mentioned as an example. It caused an earthquake in 1700, which was made known mostly by oral history from indigenous people.

It was remarked that Chesterton was semantic. We discussed the issue of stressing semantics in debates. This led to a comparison of philosophy with science. Were a scientist sees a problem to solve, a philosopher sees a mystery to ponder. A scientist might seek how to cure cancer, while a philosopher asks why. Science makes inquiry into truth as a means to an end, philosophy is an end into itself. Christianity provides a basis for reality, ethics and a spectrum of other things. Synderesis is the innate principle in the moral consciousness of every person which directs the agent to good and restrains him from evil.

"Human civilization is older than human records. That is the sane way of stating our relations to these remote things. Humanity has left examples of its other arts earlier than the art of writing; or at least of any writing that we can read." "In short, the prehistoric period need not mean the primitive period, in the sense of the barbaric or bestial period. It does not mean the time before civilization or the time before arts and crafts. It simply means the time before any connected narratives that we can read." We considered the difference between history and prehistory. The distinction is based upon the existence of written records. "Prehistory" indicates that which occurred before organized writing systems occurred (which was around 5000 years ago). Comparison of prehistory with a ancient history indicates the difference is fluid because of the pictorial records, such as Linear A There have been recent attempts to abolish this distinction, claiming it's arbitrary. We discussed the Indus Valley civilization as an example of a culture with writing that we can not read nor understand. More information can be found here.

The book Religion in Human Evolution by Robert Bellah discusses these notions of history and religion. Bellah comments on the book here and here.

"A man of the future finding the ruins of our factory machinery might as fairly say that we were acquainted with iron and with no other substance; and announce the discovery that the proprietor and manager of the factory undoubtedly walked about naked-or possibly wore iron hats and trousers. It is not contended here that these primitive men did wear clothes any more than they did weave rushes; but merely that we have not enough evidence to know whether they did or not." "Such speculators rather tend to forget, for instance, that men in the modern world also sometimes make marks in caves." A noted example is "Kilroy was here" We pondered on what a man in the distant future might think about finding a discarded paper coffee cup from today.

We related this to ideas from Einstein, Heizenburg, Pascal and Fr Georges LaMaitre (the Big Bang Theory). For a more in-depth analysis on how the Big Bang theory relates to Catholic theology, more specifically St Thomas Aquinas.

"It is commonly affirmed, again, that religion grew in a very slow and evolutionary manner; and even that it grew not from one cause; but from a combination that might be called a coincidence. Generally speaking, the three chief elements in the combination are, first, the fear of the chief of the tribe (whom Mr. Wells insists on calling, with regrettable familiarity, the Old Man), second, the phenomena of dreams, and third, the sacrificial associations of the harvest and the resurrection symbolized in the growing corn ."

"It is quite true that young men often become poets in the spring; and it is quite true that when once there are poets, no mortal power can restrain them from writing about the skylark. But the poems did not exist before the poets. The poetry did not arise out of the poetic forms. In other words, it is hardly an adequate explanation of how a thing appeared for the first time to say it existed already . Similarly, we cannot say that religion arose out of the religious forms because that is only another way of saying that it only arose when it existed already."

"It is not impossible, in the sense of self-contradictory, that we should see cows fasting from grass every Friday or going on their knees as in the old legend about Christmas Eve. ... But spring and death and even dreams, considered merely as experiences, are their experiences as much as ours. The only possible conclusion is that these experiences, considered as experiences, do not generate anything like a religious sense in any mind except a mind like ours." Are knowledge of this axiomatic.

"Touching this matter of the origin of religion, the truth is that those who are thus trying to explain it are trying to explain it away." Christopher Hitchings, for example.

"Looking from our human standpoint up the long perspective of humanity, we simply recognize this thing as human. If we had to recognize it as animal we should have had to recognize it as abnormal." "For clothes are very literally investments and man wears them because he is a priest. It is true that even as an animal he is here different from the animals." Abnormality does not prove that normal is not normal.

"The first is the fact that original sin is really original. Not merely in theology but in history it is a thing rooted in the origins. Whatever else men have believed, they have all believed that there is something the matter with mankind. This sense of sin has made it impossible to be natural and have no clothes, just as it has made it impossible to be natural and have no laws." Original sin is a common notion. In Greek mythology, Pandora opened a jar (or box) and released all evils upon the Earth.

"We can say that the family is the unit of the state; that it is the cell that makes up the formation." That the family is the unit of the state contradicts that the individual is the unit of the state. Distributism is the wide spread distribution of property. It is related to subsidiarity, a central part of Catholic social teaching,

Ralph Wood published a book Chesterton: The Nightmare Goodness of God (Making the Christian Imagination)

Meeting May 4, 2016 The Everlasting Man:
Chap III Part I first half

Chap III - The Antiquity of Civilization

"But it has appeared to a good many intelligent and well informed people quite as probable that the experience of the savages has been that of a decline from civilization. Most of those who criticize this view do not seem to have any very clear notion of what a decline from civilization would be like. Heaven help them, it is likely enough that they will soon find out." "But a professor of the future would err in supposing that the Russian army of 1936 was a naked Scythian tribe that had never been out of the wood. It is like saying that a man in his second childhood must exactly copy his first. " Feminists project back to support their present cause. Babylon and Egypt are as far back as we can go in history. Their past is similar. Civilization destroys history, e.g. the eugenics movement. "But it is obvious on the face of it that any peoples reduced for any reason to a ruder life would have some things in common. If we lost all our firearms we should make bows and arrows; but we should not necessarily resemble in every way the first men who made bows and arrows. It is said that the Russians in their great retreat were so short of armament that they fought with clubs cut in the wood."

"A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy." H. G. Wells denigrates religion in history.

"Even touching these great civilizations with which our written history begins there is a temptation of course to be too ingenious or too cocksure." Humans are humans and will always be humans. Middle ages looked back. Technology did not advance rapidly until the 1900's. Teenagers didn't exist in past agrarian societies. Children would do the work of an adult as soon as they were able. A North Saga chieftain assigned a warship to his 10-year old son.

"It is far more probable that a primitive society was something like a pure democracy. To this day the comparatively simple agricultural communities are by far the purest democracies. Democracy is a thing which is always breaking down through the complexity of civilization. Anyone who likes may state it by saying that democracy is the foe of civilization." "Even on an evolutionary assumption of the most materialistic sort, there is really no reason why men should not have had at least as much camaraderie as rats or rooks. "

"It may be said then that primitive government, like primitive art and religion and everything else, is very imperfectly known or rather guessed at; but that it is at least as good a guess to suggest that it was as popular as a Balkan or Pyrenean village as that it was as capricious and secret as a Turkish divan." " I think it interesting, for instance, that liberal institutions have been traced even by modems back to barbarian or undeveloped states, when it happened to be convenient for the support of some race or nation or philosophy. So the Socialists profess that their ideal of communal property existed in very early times. " John Maclean coined the slogan "Forward and backwards to Communism". The paradox of going "forward and backwards" might have amused Chesterton. We discussed scripture willing to die for, and depravity of man moves to power.

"But the first chapters of the romance have been torn out of the book; and we shall never read them." Entire philosophies are built on the missing chapters. Barbarism and civilization live side by side, simple vs. complex.

"The two great truths we know about these two great cultures happen to contradict flatly the two current fallacies which have just been considered. The story of Egypt might have been invented to point the moral that man does not necessarily begin with despotism because he is barbarous, but very often finds his way to despotism because be is civilized." Every revolution is a restoration. People hunger for moral health.

Georgios Anagnostopoulos wrote the book A Companion to Aristotle. Thomas Aquinas brought Aristotle to the world, St Augustine brought Plato.

"The other binding force besides the king, and perhaps older than the king, is the priesthood;" and military power sources. We discussed worship of nature and the notion that population should be cut to save the world.

"It comes of course from the fact that men are moved most by their religion; especially when it is irreligion. For them anything primary and elemental must be evil." Religion is the highest ideal.

"They have never put the spirit of youth into their descriptions of the youth of the world. It follows that amid all their primitive or prehistoric fancies there are no jokes. There are not even practical jokes, in connection with the practical inventions. And this is very sharply defined in the particular case of hieroglyphics; for there seems to be serious indication that the whole high human art of scripture or writing began with a joke." Charles Dickens is comedic, his stories are full of jokes. "And if people must write romances about ancient Egypt (and it seems that neither prayers nor tears nor curses can withhold them from the habit), I suggest that scenes like this would really remind us that the ancient Egyptians were human beings."

"It is admitted that we owe most of this science to the priests." Mayan days were based on particular gods.

"If we were at rest in a real paganism, instead of being restless in a rather irrational reaction from Christianity, we might pay some sort of pagan honor to these nameless makers of mankind." Dalai Lama yelled at Thomas Merton for wearing his habit. Peter Kreeft says we are going back to pagans. Pagans got married and are now divorcees. Younger people are going to Latin mass.

" It is not necessarily an indefensible thing that the state grew more despotic as it grew more civilized; it is arguable that it had to grow more despotic in order to grow more civilized."

"It is the fact that men actually lose variety by complexity." " Babylon also we first hear of when it is already civilized; for the simple reason that we cannot hear of anything until it is educated enough to talk." "Mr. W. B. Yeats who has a historical imagination to match his mythological imagination (and indeed the former is impossible without the latter) wrote truly of the men who watched the stars 'from their pedantic Babylon.' "

Meeting Jun 1, 2016 The Everlasting Man:
Chap III Part I second half

Chap III - The Antiquity of Civilization

"we see many of the same social problems as in ancient Egypt or modern England; and whatever its evils this also was one ,of the earliest masterpieces of man." Humans are humans, they haven't changed over 5000 years. We find nomads and settled people through out history. Nomads, such as Genghis and Kublai Kahn, tend to be warriors, whereas settled people are defensive. The bordering territory of Mongolia is the reason China put up the great wall.

"Now it is worth while to pause upon that story because, as has been suggested, it directly contradicts the impression still current, that nomadism is merely a prehistoric thing and social settlement a comparatively recent thing. There is nothing to show that the Babylonians had ever wandered; there is very little to show that the tribes of the desert ever settled down." Whether people are nomads or settlers depends on the climate. The Huns were nomadic and the Romans were settlers, but there was a cross over. The Cheyenne Indians where nomadic and fought to prevent the Blacks Hills from being settled.

"But I am not at issue in this book with sincere and genuine scholars, but with a vast and vague public opinion which has been prematurely spread from certain imperfect investigations, and which has made fashionable a false notion of the whole history of humanity. It is the whole vague notion that a monkey evolved into a man and in the same way a barbarian evolved into a civilized man and therefore, at every stage we have to look back to barbarism and forward to civilization." People like drama, they tend to pit science vs. religion. Theology, the study of the absolute, is a science. St Anselm characterized it as faith seeking understanding. St Anselm originated the ontological argument for the existence of God. Heresy is generally based on a half-truth, which is worse than a lie.

"But in one sense there is a significance in the old Slavery. It stands for one fundamental fact about all antiquity before Christ something to be assumed from first to last. It is the insignificance of the individual before the State. It was as true of the most democratic City State in Hellas as of any despotism in Babylon." In the Hellenist state, non citizens non-citizens supported citizens for leisure for thinking. It is Christian belief that individual lives matter. St Paul in Ephesians 5:22 advised wives to be submissive to their husbands, but husbands to love their wives.

"But there are two other reasons for beginning with the two fixed points of Egypt and Babylon. For one thing they are fixed in tradition as the types of antiquity; and history without tradition is dead." "There is unfortunately one fallacy here into which it is very easy for men to fall even those who are most intelligent and perhaps especially those who are most imaginative. It is the fallacy of supposing that because an idea is greater in the sense of larger therefore it is greater in the sense of more fundamental and fixed and certain." "But the curious thing is that in certain mental states he can feel much more certain about the Chinese Empire that he cannot see than about the straw hut that he can see." God is demonstrating His greatness through the immensity of the Universe. The European Union is admired because it is larger than the constituent states.

"Now modern people are perpetually arguing in this way and they extend it to things much less real and certain than the Chinese Empire. They seem to forget for instance that a man even certain of the Solar System as he is certain of the South Downs."

"But the more remote and unrecorded was the racial problem, the more fixed was this curious inverted certainty in the Victorian man of science. To this day it gives a man of those scientific traditions the same sort of shock to question these things which were only the last inferences when he turned them into first principles. He is still more certain that he is an Aryan even than that he is an Anglo-Saxon, just as he is more certain that be is an Anglo-Saxon than that he is an Englishman. He has never really discovered that he is a European. But he has never doubted that be is an Indo-European." We discussed race vs. ethnic group. Race depends on who draws the circles. In NAZI Germany certain individuals were considered honoree Aryan.

"But the difference lies in the element of tradition; the tradition of these lost cultures has been broken off, and though the tradition of China still lives, it is doubtful whether we know anything about it. Moreover, a man trying to measure the Chinese antiquity has to use Chinese traditions of measurement; and he has a strange sensation of having passed into another world under other laws of time and space." "The first act of common sense is to recognize the difference between a cloud and a mountain." It was suggested that a mountain has identity, a cloud doesn't.

In understanding the Bible concerning ceremonial law vs moral law, you had to be there. Some cultural anthropologists can't understand certain cultures, e.g., Chinese Tao, because they lack Christian understanding. Disciples spread Christianity to the ends of the world. Christopher Dawson has written much about the relationship of religion and culture.

As a sidebar we discussed two books: 1) The Far Reaches by Michael D. Gubser, which studies Phenomenology, Ethics, and Social Renewal in Central Europe and 2) God and Post-Modern Thought: Philosophical Issues in the Contemporary Critique of Modernity by Józef Zycinski.

Meeting Jul 6, 2016 The Everlasting Man:
Chap IV Part I first half

Chap IV God and Comparative Religion

The question was posed, What is the context of this chapter? It was replied, it is to counter the belief that all religions are the same.

"The modern world is madder than any satires on it; long ago Mr. Belloc made his burlesque don say that a bust of Ariadne had been proved by modern research to be a Silenus." Tertullian believed that the Resurrection is true because it's impossible (Credo quia absurdum). In other words, you can't make this stuff up. He was associated with the Montanists at the end of his life. Peter Kreeft stated that either Jesus was insane or he was truly God.

"In the days of my youth the Religion of Humanity was a term commonly applied to Comtism, the theory of certain rationalists who worshipped corporate mankind as a Supreme Being." "Man is not indeed the idol; but man is almost everywhere the idolater." Pagans at the time of Christ were different than modern pagans. Pagans tend to change toward monotheism. Norse villages come together. Seerer preach Chist. Odin was hung from a tree. Some Catholic traditions are attributed to paganism, Santa Claus. Tolkien was a devout Catholic.

"The human beings become less human by becoming less separate; we might say less human in being less lonely. The human beings become less intelligible as they become less isolated; "

"I remarked that there was something slightly odd about despising and dismissing the doctrine of the Trinity as a mystical and even maniacal contradiction; and then asking us to adore a deity who is a hundred million persons in one God, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance."

"Industrialism actually boasts that its products are all of one pattern; that men in Jamaica or Japan can break the same seal and drink the same bad whiskey, that a man at the North Pole and another at the South might recognize the same optimistic label on the same dubious tinned salmon. " We all do the same thing, but we are diverse.

"I will advance the thesis that before all talk about comparative religion and the separate religious founders of the world, the first essential is to recognize this thing as a whole, as a thing almost native and normal to the great fellowship that we call mankind. This thing is paganism;" Paganism is naturalistic. gnostic, antimaterial.

"But the other eastern religions, or what we call religions, not only do not resemble the Church but do not resemble each other. " Greeks had virtue, They danced around God without knowing God. The God for which we have no name, but made all other gods.

"In truth the Church is too unique to prove herself unique. For most popular and easy proof is by parallel and here there is no parallel." "Then the professor of the new science of Comparative Nomadics could pass easily on to something different; even if it was very different. He could remark on the wandering adventure of the English who had scattered their colonies over so many seas and call them nomads. " Marxism is based on atheism. Communism is dedicated to the collective. It was mentioned that Slavoj Žižek, a prominent Marxist philosopher, is known for his fondness for Chesterton. Hegel - Chesterton: German Idealism and Christianity is one example of his writings about Chesterton.

"Instead of dividing religion geographically and as it were vertically, into Christian, Moslem, Brahmin, Buddhist, and so on, I would divide it psychologically and in some sense horizontally, into the strata of spiritual elements and influences that could sometimes exist in the same country, or even in the same man." "In considering the elements of pagan humanity, we must begin by an attempt to describe the indescribable. Many get over the difficulty of describing it by the expedient of denying it, or at least ignoring it; but the whole point of it is that it was something that was never quite eliminated even when it was ignored." Some psychologists believe that people subject to an exorcist have a mental disorder. Pope Francis says that demons are active.

"That is exactly the attitude of most paganism towards God. He is something assumed and forgotten and remembered by accident; a habit possibly not peculiar to pagans. Sometimes the higher deity is remembered in the higher moral grades and is a sort of mystery. But always, it has been truly said, the savage is talkative about his mythology and taciturn about his religion." A higher standard scares them. They all believe in the Fall. Plato said. if God is as good as we believe He is, then we are all doomed. That is God has no mercy. People think we are on a downward trend.

" I repeat that in our special sacramental sense there is, of course, the absence of the presence of God. But there is in a very real sense the presence of the absence of God. We feel it in the unfathomable sadness of pagan poetry for I doubt if there was ever in all the marvelous manhood of antiquity a man who was happy as St. Francis was happy." We discussed happiness. Drug addicts are not happy.

"As to what it means, a man will learn far more about it by lying on his back in a field and merely looking at the sky than by reading all the libraries even of the most learned and valuable folklore. " That's where wonder begins, which is the beginning of wisdom. You can't abolish natural law.


Meeting Aug 3, 2016 The Everlasting Man:
Only two people attended, so it was decided to cancel the discussion for the meeting.

Meeting Sep 7, 2016 The Everlasting Man:
Chap IV second half and Chap V

Chap IV God and Comparative Religion

"A thing of this kind can only be an impression and a rather subtle impression; but to me it is a very strong impression made by pagan literature and religion. I repeat that in our special sacramental sense there is, of course, the absence of the presence of God. But there is in a very real sense the presence of the absence of God." There is something, but they don't know what its. Reason is a gift from God and leads us to Him.

"The whole pagan world set itself to build a Pantheon. They admitted more and more gods, ... They may have regarded it as an enrichment of their religious life; but it meant the final loss of all that we now call religion. It meant that ancient light of simplicity, that bad a single source like the sun, finally fades away in a dazzle of conflicting lights and colors. God is really sacrificed to the Gods; in a very literal sense of the flippant phrase, they have been too many for him" All of the gods had one father.

"But exactly what it lost by these larger ideas is the largest idea of all. It is the idea of the fatherhood that makes the whole world one. And the converse is also true."

"They had one of the colossal cornerstones of the world: the Book of Job. It obviously stands over against the Iliad and the Greek tragedies;" How is suffering justified if God is not good. Don't make a bet with God.

Saint Isidore of Seville (560-636 ad) was declared the Patron Saint of the Internet by Pope John Paul II.

"All this mythological business belongs to the poetical part of men. It seems strangely forgotten now adays that a myth is a work of imagination and therefore a work of art. It needs a poet to make it. It needs a poet to criticize it." "Mythology, then, sought God through the imagination; or sought truth by means of beauty, in the sense in which beauty includes much of the most grotesque ugliness." There are two kinds of truth - 1) prosaic truth determined by faith and reason and 2) poetic truth determined by its beauty.

Chap V Man and Mythologies

"There are too many keys to mythology, as there too many cryptograms in Shakespeare." Scholars are searching for the lynch pin, but there is no deeper meaning.

"It is strange that aesthetics, or mere feeling, which is now allowed to usurp where it has no rights at all, to wreck reason with pragmatism and morals with anarchy, is apparently not allowed to give a purely aesthetic judgment on what is obviously a purely aesthetic question. We may be fanciful about everything except fairy-tales." People synthesize God in part on simple things. There is a cave with an opening aligned to view the sun at winter solstice, which has been interpreted as evidence of God. Pragmatism is the opposite of reason. The University of Chicago has announced < href="http://www.thecollegefix.com/bulletin-board/university-chicago-freshmen-dont-safe-spaces/">it has no safe zones.

"I would undertake to trace a notion like that of the Golden Bough through individual modern novels as easily as through communal and antiquated myths." The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer is a study of comparative religion and a study of magic and religion.

"Suppose we read 'And in the hour when the King extinguished the candle his ships were wrecked far away on the coast of Hebrides! We do not know why the imagination has accepted that image before the reason can reject it; or why such correspondences seem really to correspond to something in the soul." C. S. Lewis has said that literature is important. People let their guard down and let the truth seep in. Testimonies are huge. Actions speak louder than words. "The second consequence is this; that in these pagan cults there is every shade of sincerity and insincerity. In what sense exactly did an Athenian really think be bad to sacrifice to Pallas Athene?" Theories are good but actions are important.

"They have the sort of sincerity that they always had; the sincerity of art as a symbol that expresses very real spiritualities under the surface of life. But they are only sincere in the same sense as art; not sincere in the same sense as morality. "

"Sometimes it would seem that the Greeks believed above all things 'in reverence, only they bad nobody to revere. But the point of, the puzzle is this: that all this vagueness and variation arise from the fact that the whole thing began in fancy and in dreaming; and that there are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds." This reflects Aristotle.

"Behind all these things is the fact that beauty and terror are very real things and related to a real spiritual world; and to touch them at all, even in doubt or fancy, is to stir the deep things of the soul."

"In so far as all this sort of paganism was innocent and in touch with nature, there is no reason why it should not be patronized by patron saints as much as by pagan gods."

"They satisfy some of the needs satisfied by a religion; and notably the need for doing certain things at certain dates; the need of the twin ideas of festivity and formality. But though they provide a man with a calendar they do not provide him with a creed. A man did not stand up and say 'I believe in Jupiter and Juno and Neptune,' etc., and she stands up and says 'I believe in God the Father Almighty' and the rest of the Apostles' Creed. Many believed in some and not in others, or more in some and less in others, or only in a very vague poetical sense in any. There was no moment when they were all collected into an orthodox order which men would fight and be tortured to keep intact." The question was posed: How does Chesterton know this?

"But in reality the rivers mythology and philosophy run parallel and do not mingle till they meet in the sea of Christendom. Simple secularists still talk as if the Church had introduced a sort of schism between reason and religion. The truth is that the Church was actually the first thing that ever tried to combine reason and religion. There had never before been any such union of the priests and the philosophers."

Romano Guardini, a Catholic Priest, wrote the book The Lord in 1937. It's a look at Jesus' life and what he did from His love.

"Those who talk about pagan Christs have less sympathy with paganism than with Christianity." "We might as well say that a boy playing at robbers is the same as a man in his first day in the trenches; or that a boy's first fancies about 'the not impossible she' are the same as the sacrament of marriage."


Meeting Oct 5, 2016 The Everlasting Man:
Chap VI first half

Chap VI The Demons and the Philosophers

It was suggested that the first half of the chapter concerned diabolical practices typified by present-day former satanic wizard Zachery King, who had performed ritual baby sacrifices in abortion clinics and attended Bohemian Grove. He gave a talk discussing this and his conversion to Catholicism at Saints Cyril and Methodius Church.

"A man did not exactly go into the wood to meet a nymph; he rather went with the hope of meeting a nymph. It was an adventure rather than an assignation. But the devil really kept his appointments and even in one sense kept his promises; even if a man sometimes wished afterwards, like Macbeth, that he had broken them." People had a different mindset. Poseidon was the ocean as well as the god of the ocean.

There were two shifts in our world - from paganism to Christianity and from Christianity to scientific - St Augustos. Rational and mysticism is blended by Christianity.

"They are acting like a Parisian decadent at a Black Mass. But the Black Mass has to hide underground from the presence of the real Mass. In other words, the demons have really been in hiding since the coming of Christ on earth. " They wore masks that were ugly, representing tragedy vs. comedy.

"Their enormous images could be set up in public temples in the centre of populous cities. And all over the world the traces can be found of this striking and solid fact, so curiously overlooked by the moderns who speak of all such evil as primitive and early in evolution, that as a matter of fact some of the very highest civilizations of the world were the very places where the horns of Satan were exalted." To get evil, something has to propel it. There is hopefulness with paganism, but at some point you need to get something done, so you make a pact with the devil. Acts of Europeans because they are civilized are worse than the Aztecs. Spanish conquistadors are said to mock the Aztec atrocities.

Richard Weaver published the book Ideas have Consequences in 1948, which states that the medieval age is Christian but modernism isn't. Alexis de Tocqueville commented that Americans intended to start their own businesses (distributism), crafts or farm, but couldn't initially afford to start, so they worked for large businesses.

"The one man meditated on metaphysics as the other man did on mathematics; for the love of truth or for curiosity or for the fun of the thing. But that sort of fun never seems to have interfered very much with the other sort of fun; the fun of dancing or singing to celebrate some rascally romance about Zeus becoming a bull or a swan. "

"I should divide heathen humanity by the name of The Philosophers. I confess that it covers in my mind much that would generally be classified otherwise; and that what are here called philosophies are very often called religions. I believe however that my own description will be found to be much the more realistic and not the less respectful. But we must first take philosophy in its purest and clearest form that we may trace its normal. outline; and that is to be found in the world of the purest and clearest outlines, that culture of the Mediterranean of which we have been considering the mythologies and idolatries in the last two chapters." There are four heathen divisions: superstitions, mythologies, idologies and philosophies.

"The most intense interest of the incident of Akenahten, commonly called the Heretic Pharaoh, lies in the fact that he was the one example, at any rate before Christian times, of one of these royal philosophers who set himself to fight popular mythology in the name of private philosophy. Most of them assumed the attitude of Marcus Aurelius, who is in many ways the model of this sort of monarch and sage."


Meeting Nov 2, 2016 The Everlasting Man:
Chap VI second half

Chap VI The Demons and the Philosophers

"Polytheism, or that aspect of paganism, was never to the pagan what Catholicism is to the Catholic. It was never a view of the universe satisfying all sides of life; a complete and complex truth with something to say about everything. It was only a satisfaction of one side of the soul of man, even if we call it the religious side; and I think it is truer to call it the imaginative side." There is a difference between philosophy and religion. Neoplatonism makes a religion out of Platonism.

"But he very seldom thought of pitting his nature of the gods against the gods of nature." This is idealism. Plato and Aristotle reject idealism. It was suggested that an ideal is more real than an instance. For example, a circle or a triangle are each an ideal, but can not be instantiated exactly because of the discreteness of matter.

"The one man meditated on metaphysics as the other man did on mathematics; for the love of truth or for curiosity or for the fun of the thing. " "Plato however seemed sometimes almost to fancy that ideas exist as men do not exist; or that the men need hardly be considered where they conflict with the ideas. He had something of the social sentiment that we call Fabian in his ideal of fitting the citizen to the city, like an imaginary head to an ideal hat; and great and glorious as he remains, he has been the father of all faddists." They got close to God but never reached Him. Greek philosophy has been synthesized with Christianity.

"The general compromise remained; whether it was that the Greeks thought their myths a joke or that they thought their theories a joke. There was never any collision in which one really destroyed the other, and there was never any combination in which one was really reconciled with the other. They certainly did not work together; if anything the philosopher was a rival of the priest. But both seemed to have accepted a sort of separation of functions and remained parts of the same social system." Civilization is modeled after Sparta rather than Athens.

"The most intense interest of the incident of Akenahten, commonly called the Heretic Pharaoh, lies in the fact that he was the one example, at any rate before Christian times, of one of these royal philosophers who set himself to fight popular mythology in the name of private philosophy. " "In art he was a realist because he was an idealist; for realism is more impossible than any other ideal. But after all there falls on him something of the shadow of Marcus Aurelius; stalked by the shadow of Professor Phillimore." "But it is true that Nature is really looking for something; Nature is always looking for the supernatural. "

"Now those who seem to be nearest to the study of Buddha, and certainly those who write most clearly and intelligently about him, convince me for one that he was simply a philosopher who founded a successful school of philosophy, and was turned into a sort of divus or sacred being merely by the more mysterious and unscientific atmosphere of all such traditions in Asia. " The Dalai Lama is picked based on reincarnation.

"He proposed a way of escaping from all this recurrent sorrow; and that was simply by getting rid of the delusion that is called desire. It was emphatically not that we should get what we want better by restraining our impatience for part of it, or that we should get it in a better way or in a better world. It was emphatically that we should leave off wanting it. If once a man realized that there is really no reality, that everything, including his soul is in dissolution at every instant, he would anticipate disappointment and be intangible to change, existing (in so far as he could be said to exist) in a sort of ecstasy of indifference."

"And though the figure is but a symbol, we can see how sound is the symbolic sense that produces it, the parallel symbol of the Wheel of Buddha generally called the Swastika. The cross is a thing at right angles pointing boldly in opposite directions; but the Swastika is the same thing in the very act of returning to the recurrent curve. That crooked cross is in fact a cross turning into a wheel." It's a symbol of the sun. Nazi's tried to claim to be Christian. "In other words the cross, in fact as well as figure, does really stand for the idea of breaking out of the circle that is everything and nothing. It does escape from the circular argument by which everything begins and ends in the mind." Matthew O'Brien defended words and symbols. There are only 12 different plots for books.

"Christianity does appeal to a solid truth outside itself; to something which is in that sense external as well as eternal. It does declare that things are really there; or in other words that things are really things. In this Christianity is at one with common sense; but all religious history shows that this common sense perishes except where there is Christianity to preserve it." It is a paradox to defend sacred truth of Catholicity as well as other religions. We discussed whether religion in general was good, good and bad or neutral. Religion was defined as the attempt to find the absolute. "But while many fancies might be used as figures of the truth, the truth itself is abstract and absolute; though it is not very easy to sum up except by such figures. Christianity does appeal to a solid truth outside itself; to something which is in that sense external as well as eternal."

We were led to a discussion whether God is not constrained by logic. A classical question is, can God create a rock heavier than He can left? Some of us said no, but others said yes because God operates in a domain way beyond ours. For example, humans are constrained to a single-dimensional unilateral time domain. But God might work in a multidimensional bi-directional time domain. So what appears contradictory to us might be resolved in a time dimension unseen by us. For example, in this unseen dimension God creates a heavy rock which at first He can't lift, but later He grows in strength so that He can, later still He makes the rock heavier so that he can't and so on. So by finite induction, He creates a rock heavier than He can lift.

The Archdiocese of Detroit Synod on Evangelization was announced to take place November 18-20, 2016 at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit.


Meeting Dec 7, 2016 The Everlasting Man:
Chap VII

Chap VII The War of the Gods and the Demons

Chesterton says that people don't fight wars for what he calls economic reasons. Economics is an over-loaded word, which in this case means materialistic or pragmatic. He used the Punic wars as an example.

"The materialist theory of history, that all politics and ethics are the expression of economics, is a very simple fallacy indeed. It consists simply of confusing the necessary conditions of life with the normal preoccupations of life, that are quite a different thing." "And if you leave things like all the religious wars and all the merely adventurous explorations out of the human story, it will not only cease to be human at all but cease to be a story at all. The outline of history is made of these decisive curves and angles determined by the will of man. Economic history would not even be history." Wars are caused by feelings. World War I, for example, was fought because of hatred of German actions and the love of our homeland.

"And any number of normal doubts and day-dreams are about existence; not about how we can live, but about why we do." Judge by what a person says. In history you only hear about nobility and affluent individuals who cause wars and perish rather than the little or common people who go about their livelihood and persevere. An example is Elan Musk, who is the head of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, SolarCity; OpenA, Zip2 and PayPal.

"I mean the consideration of what things meant in the mind of a man, especially an ordinary man; as distinct from what is defined or deduced merely from official forms or political pronouncements." " So long as we neglect this subjective side of history, which may more simply be called the inside of history, there will always be a certain limitation on that science which can be better transcended by art. So long as the historian cannot do that, fiction will be truer than fact. There will be more reality in a novel; yes, even in a historical novel."

"Upon one or other of these is based the historical judgment about the real reasons that sustained the struggle. Governments fight for colonies or commercial rights; governments fight about harbors or high tariffs; governments fight for a gold mine or a pearl fishery. It seems sufficient to answer that governments do not fight at all. Why do the fighters fight? What is the psychology that sustains the terrible and wonderful thing called a war?" War is not practical. Fighters don't have the same motive as the king. We compared Pearl Harbor, which inspired many volunteers to enlist, with 9-11, which inspired many fewer volunteers. "Whatever starts wars, the thing that sustains wars is something in the soul; that is something akin to religion. It is what men feel about life and about death." "They are generally two ideas, which are only two sides of one idea. The first is the love of something said to be threatened, if it be only vaguely known as home; the second is dislike and defiance of some strange thing that threatens it.'

Rome won the last Punic war because they were fighting for something they loved, their homeland. Chesterton seem to indicate they also won because they believed in gods, which stood for good, whereas Carthage believed in demons, which stood for evil. We discussed the occult, Bohemian Grove, magic, C. S. Lewis and Harry Potter.


Meeting Jan 4, 2017 The Everlasting Man:
Chap VIII

Chap VIII The End of the World

"He was one of a group of eccentrics I had come across in my wanderings who had a new religion called Higher Thought;" "Then my companion said to me: 'Do you know why the spire of that church goes up like that? I expressed a respectable agnosticism, and he answered in an off-hand way, 'Oh, the same as the obelisks; the Phallic Worship of antiquity! Then I looked across at him suddenly as he lay there leering above his goat like beard; and for the moment I thought he was not Pan but the Devil. No mortal words can express the immense, the insane incongruity and unnatural perversion of thought involved in saying such a thing at such a moment and in such a place." Chesterton was angry at first and then became calm. Architect Duncan Stroik says that a spire fighting against gravity is like our approach to God.

Christianity from history is centered on Christ. Pagans were attracted to Christianity, but thought it to be too good to be true. To them all gods were unknown and didn't understand the nature of the absolute. Plato almost gets the crucifixion. Myth and Christianity are based on what is observed.

"Pessimism is not in being tired of evil but in being tired of good. Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy." We don't recognize virtue. Tolerance is considered a virtue. Virtue takes effort.

"The truth is that one of the weaknesses in nature-worship and mere mythology had already produced a perversion among the Greeks, due to the worst sophistry; the sophistry of simplicity. Just as they became unnatural by worshipping nature, so they actually became unmanly by worshipping man. If Greece led her conqueror, she might have misled her conqueror; but these were things he did originally wish to conquer-even in himself. It is true that in one sense there was less inhumanity even in Sodom and Gomorrah than in Tyre and Sidon. When we consider the war of the demons on the children we cannot compare even Greek decadence to Punic devil worship. But it is not true that the sincere revulsion from either need be merely pharisaical." " Let any lad who has had the look to grow up sane and simple in his day-dreams of love hear for the first time of the cult of Ganymede; he will not be merely shocked but sickened." Chesterton believes Rome sincerely thought the Greeks and Carthage were evil.

"That something is called democracy. He has probably heard the word a good many times and even used it himself; but he has no notion of what it means." You lose democracy the closer you come to civilization. We count every vote rather than value each vote. It would be better to apply subsidiarity to voting similar to distributism. The electoral college is a step towards this idea.

Paginsm just before Christ led to a feeling of emptiness, similarly the melting pot characterization of the US leads to emptiness that everybody recognizes. It was argued that the US is more characterized as a fruit salad. Many of the accidental differences dissolve but not various values. Virgil wrote poems about natural law. Dante used him as a guide through Hell to Purgatory. In the Iliad by Homer, Hector and Archilles fought but didn't kill each other. Ajax shot Achilles in the heal with an arrow guided by the god Apollo.

"I am not of the De Rougemont school of scientific folk-lore. I do not believe that mythology must begin with eroticism. But I do believe that mythology must end in it. I am quite certain that mythology did end in it. Moreover, not only did the poetry grow more immoral, but the immorality grew more indefensible. ... The effect of this staleness is the same everywhere; it is seen in all drug-taking and dram-drinking and every form of the tendency to increase the dose." When they rejected the good, there is nothing left. Atheism drove a person to the other side. A true atheist would be a god, because he would be all knowing.

"At that stage even of paganism therefore the peasant songs and dances sound fainter and fainter in the forest. ... It is proverbial that what would once have been a peasantry came a mere populace of the town dependent for bread and circuses; which may again suggest to some a mob dependent upon doles and cinemas."

"In the great Virgilian poems there is already something of the sadness; but the loves and the household gods linger in lovely lines like that which Mr. Belloc took for a test of understanding; incipe Parve Puer risu cognoscere matrem (from Virgil in the fourth Eclogue: 'begin to greet thy mother with a smile'."

"That unnatural simplification of everything into one system or another, which we have noted as the fault of the philosopher, revealed at once its finality and its futility. Everything was virtue or everything was happiness or everything was fate or everything was good or everything was bad; anyhow, everything was everything and there was no more to be said; so they said it."

"The limits that paganism had reached in Europe were the limits of human existence; at its best it had only reached the same limits anywhere else." Something is explained by its largeness.

"The Jews still held their secret certainty of it jealously behind high fences of exclusiveness; yet it is intensely characteristic of the society and the situation that some fashionable figures, especially fashionable ladies, actually embraced Judaism. But in the case of many others I fancy there entered at this point a new negation. Atheism became really possible in that abnormal time; for atheism is abnormality."

"Lucretius, the first evolutionist who endeavored to substitute Evolution for God, had already dangled before men's eyes his dance of glittering atoms, by which he conceived cosmos as created by chaos."

"There was no God; if there had been a God, surely this was the very moment when He would have moved and saved the world."

"New tortures have been invented for the madmen who have brought good news. That sad and weary society seems almost to find a new energy in establishing its first religious persecution,"


Meeting Feb 1, 2017 The Everlasting Man:
Chap I part II

Chap I The God in the Cave

"This sketch of the human story began in a cave; the cave which popular science associates with the cave-man and in which practical discovery has really found archaic drawings of animals. The second half of human history, which was like a new creation of the world, also begins in a cave. There is even a shadow of such a fancy in the fact that animals were again present;" " God also was a Caveman, and, had also traced strange shapes of creatures, curiously colored upon the wall of the world ; but the pictures that he made had come to life." It was wondered whether the reason cavemen created pictures on cave walls was similar to that for God's creation.

The world makes sense as a narrative. Illness makes sense in context of the whole story. Thomism provides a view that combines free will and pre-destination. Humans have free-will but are guided by prevenient grace to do good. Rain falls on the just and on the unjust. Clouds follow natural law and do not have free will. Peter Kreeft, wrote a summa of the Summa Theologiae by St Thomas Aquinas.

" Any agnostic or atheist whose childhood has known a real Christmas has ever afterwards, whether be likes it or not, an association in his mind between two ideas that most of mankind must regard as remote from each other; the idea of a baby and the idea of unknown strength that sustains the stars." That God came to Earth as a baby doesn't make sense. God wanted to be close to us, not flashy. We are the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

"Omnipotence and impotence, or divinity and infancy, do definitely make a sort of epigram which a million repetitions cannot turn into a platitude. It is not unreasonable to call it unique." Repeatedly saying the Rosary doesn't diminish its importance. Archbishop Fulton Sheen responded to the question about repeating the rosary, what do say to your wife?

"Perhaps it could have been best conveyed by the characteristic expedient of some of the medieval guilds, when they wheeled about the streets a theater with three stages one above the other, with heaven above the earth and hell under the earth. But in the riddle of Bethlehem it was heaven that was under the earth." The cave of Bethlehem was inverted, Heaven below and Hell above.

Generations have spirits that plagued them. Moloch demanded child sacrifice. During the industrial revolution in England, the fire used in foundries was called Moloch's fire.

"I fear that many modem critics Will see only a faded classicism in the fact that men like Crashaw and Herrick conceived the shepherds of Bethlehem under the form of the shepherds of Virgil." " If the world bad ever had the chance to grow weary of being demoniac, it might have been healed merely by becoming sane. But if it bad grown weary even of being sane, what was to happen, except what did happen? Nor is it false to conceive the Arcadian shepherd of the Eclogues as rejoicing in what did happen. One of the Eclogues has even been claimed as a prophecy of what did happen." "But it is quite as much in the tone and incidental diction of the great poet that we feel the potential sympathy with the great event; and even in their own human phrases the voices of the Virgilian shepherds might more than once have broken upon more than the tenderness of Italy Incipe, parve puer, risu cognoscere matrem" (Begin to greet thy mother with a smile).Virgil died 19 BC.

"Mythology had many sins; but it had not been wrong in being as carnal as the Incarnation." Why did Christ come at the time he did? Plato hypothesis, they needed someone like Christ to come.

The wise men went to the cave. "these learned men did come, to find themselves confirmed in much that was true in their own traditions and right in their own reasoning. Confucius would have found a new foundation for the family in the very reversal of the Holy Family; Buddha would have looked upon a new renunciation, of stars rather than jewels and divinity than royalty. These learned men would still have the right to say, or rather a new right to say, that there was truth in their old teaching. But after all these learned men would have come to learn. They would have come to complete their conceptions with something they had not yet conceived; even to balance their imperfect universe with something they might once have contradicted. Buddha would have come from his impersonal paradise to worship a person. Confucius would have come from his temples of ancestor-worship to worship a child."

"The Church contains what the world does not contain. Life itself does not provide as she does for all sides of life. That every other single system is narrow and insufficient compared to this one; that is not a rhetorical boast; it is a real fact and a real dilemma. Where is the Holy Child amid the Stoics and the ancestor-worshippers? Where is Our Lady of the Moslems, a woman made for no man and set above all angels? Where is St. Michael of the monks of Buddha, rider and master of the trumpets, guarding for every soldier the honor of the sword? What could St. Thomas Aquinas do with the mythology of Brahmanism, he who set forth all the science and rationality and even rationalism of Christianity? Yet even if we compare Aquinas with Aristotle, at the other extreme of reason, we shall find the same sense of something added. Aquinas could understand the most logical parts of Aristotle; it is doubtful if Aristotle could have understood the most mystical parts of Aquinas."

"It is the same with all the modern attempts at Syncretism. They are never able to make something larger than the Creed without leaving something out. I do not mean leaving out something divine but something human; the flag or the inn or the boy's tale of battle or the hedge at the end of the field. The Theosophists build a pantheon; but it is only a pantheon for pantheists. They call a Parliament of Religions as a reunion of all the peoples; but it is only a reunion of all the prigs. Yet exactly such a pantheon had been set up two thousand years before by the shores of the Mediterranean; and Christians were invited to set up the image of Jesus side by side with the image of Jupiter, of Mithras, of Osiris, of Atys, or of Ammon. It was the -point of history. refusal of the Christians that was the turning If the Christians had accepted, they and the whole world would have certainly, in a grotesque but exact metaphor, gone to pot." We should have dialog, but we should have something to talk about. A person that argues with you, cares about you.

"Those who charged the Christians with burning down Rome with firebrands were slanderers; but they were at least far nearer to the nature of Christianity than those among the moderns who tell us that the Christians were a sort of ethical society, being martyred in a languid fashion for telling men they had a duty to their neighbors, and only mildly disliked because they were meek and mild."

Wise men sought wisdom. "But the Wise Men must be seeking wisdom; and for them there must be a light also in the intellect. And this is the light; that the Catholic creed is catholic and that nothing else is catholic." "The Magicians were gazing at the strange pentacle with the human triangle reversed; and they have never come to the end of their calculations about it."

"There is something defiant in it also; something that makes the abrupt bells at midnight sound like the great guns of a battle that has just been won." "By the very nature of the story the rejoicings in the cavern were rejoicings in a fortress or an outlaws den; properly understood it' is not unduly flippant to say they were rejoicing in a dug-out. It is not only true that such a subterranean chamber was a hiding-place from enemies; and that the enemies were already scouring the stony plain that lay above it like a sky." "There is in this buried divinity an idea of undermining the world; of shaking the towers and palaces from below; even as Herod the great king felt that earthquake under him and swayed with his swaying palace."

"They are three distinct and commonly contrasted things which are nevertheless one thing; but this is the only thing which can make them one. The first is the human instinct for a heaven, ... The second element is a philosophy larger than other philosophies, ... And the third point is this; that while it is local enough for poetry and larger than any other philosophy, it is also a challenge and a fight." "This is the trinity of truths symbolized here by the three types in the old Christmas story; the shepherds and the kings and that other king who warred upon the children."

" It is rather as if a man had found an inner room in the very heart of his own house, which he had never suspected; and seen a light from within. It is if he found something at the back of his own heart that betrayed him into good. It is not made of what the world would call strong materials; or rather it is made of materials whose strength is in that winged levity with which they brush and pass."

We compared man's search to understand God with the book Flatland by A Square (Edwin Abbott Abbott). A free copy of the book is available here for download from Gutenberg in various formats.


Meeting Mar 1, 2017 The Everlasting Man:
Chap II part II

Chap II The Riddles of the Gospel

"The argument which is meant to be the backbone of the book is of the kind called the reductio ad absurdum. It suggests that the results of assuming the rationalist thesis are more irrational than ours; but to prove it we must assume that thesis. Thus in the first section I often treated man as merely an animal, to show that the effect was more impossible than if he were treated as an angel. In the sense in which it was necessary to treat man merely as an animal, it is necessary to treat Christ merely as a man." People have just assumed this and concluded that t is true. John Mark Reynolds pointed out hypocrisy by asserting you can have eitheratheism or true love. God is true love as demonstrated by the cross. Atheists argue that true love is a deception because it requires free will, which is impossible in a material world, as argued by Skinner, Freud and Young (although Young later accepted free will). However, artificial intelligence (AI) is impossible because machines do not have free will, although machines mimic intelligence. As soon as you admit spirituality, your on the right track. Jesus was more than the sum of His parts.

"We have all heard people say a hundred times over, for they seem never to tire of saying it, that the Jesus of the New Testament is indeed a most merciful and humane lover of humanity, but that the Church has bidden this human character in repellent dogmas and stiffened it with ecclesiastical terrors till it has taken on an inhuman character." The church is more merciful than people claim.

"The Peter whom popular Church, teaching presents is very rightly I the Peter to whom Christ said in forgiveness, Feed my lambs! He is not the Peter upon, whom Christ turned as if he were the devil, crying in that obscure wrath, get thee behind me, Satan! Christ lamented with nothing but love and pity over Jerusalem which was to murder him. We do not know what strange spiritual atmosphere or spiritual insight led him to sink Bethsaida lower in the pit than Sodom. ... If there is one aspect of the New Testament Jesus in which be may be said to present himself eminently as a practical person, it is in the aspect of an exorcist. There is nothing meek and mild, there is nothing even in the ordinary sense mystical, about the tone of the voice that says 'Hold thy peace and come out of him.' It is much more like the tone of a very businesslike lion-tamer or a strong-minded doctor dealing with a homicidal maniac." This is not like mythological literature. The supernatural is not the same as mythological. The gospel is straight-forward, business like not embellished.

"First, a man reading the Gospel sayings would not find platitudes. If he had read even in the most respectful spirit the majority of ancient philosophers and of modem moralists, he would appreciate the unique importance of saying that he did not find platitudes. It is more than can be said even of Plato. It is much more than can be said of Epictetus or 'Seneca or Marcus Aurelius or Apollonius of Tyana. And it is immeasurably more than can be said of most of the agnostic moralists and the preachers of the ethical societies; with their songs of service and their religion of brotherhood." " For instance, he would not find the ordinary platitudes in favor of peace. He would find several paradoxes in favor of peace. He would find several ideals of non-resistance, which taken as they stand would be rather too pacific for any pacifist. He would be told in one passage to treat a. robber not with passive resistance, but rather with positive and enthusiastic encouragement, ... There is nothing that throws any particular light on Christ's attitude towards organized warfare, except that he seems to have been rather fond of Roman soldiers." Mt 8.8 "But the centurion replied, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed."

"The statement that the meek shall inherit the earth is very far from being a meek statement. I mean it is not meek in the ordinary sense of mild and moderate and inoffensive. To justify it, it would be necessary to go very deep into history and anticipate things undreamed of then and by many unrealized even now; such as the way in which the Mystical monks reclaimed the lands which the practical kings had lost. If it was a truth at all, it was because it was a prophecy. But certainly it was not a truth in the sense of a truism."

"But the point here is that if we could read the Gospel reports as things as new as newspaper reports, they would puzzle us and perhaps terrify us much more than the same things as developed by historical Christianity. For instance: Christ, after a clear allusion to the eunuchs of eastern courts, said there would be eunuchs of the kingdom of heaven. If this does not mean the voluntary enthusiasm of virginity, it could only be made to mean something much more unnatural or uncouth. It is the historical religion that humanness it for us by experience of Franciscans or of Sisters of Mercy. The mere statement standing by itself might very well suggest a rather dehumanized atmosphere; the sinister and inhuman silence of the Asiatic harem and divan. This is but one instance out of scores; but the moral is that the Christ of the Gospel might actually seem more strange and terrible than the Christ of the Church."

"It is certainly not the morality of another age, but it might be of another world." "But Christ in his view of marriage does not in the least suggest the conditions of Palestine in the first century. He does not suggest anything at all except the sacramental view of marriage as developed long afterwards by the Catholic Church. It was quite as difficult for people then as for people now. It was much more puzzling to people then than to people now. Jews and Romans and Greeks did not believe and did not even understand enough to disbelieve, the mystical idea that the man and the woman had become one sacramental substance." Marriage is not tied to the time. Christ did not get his teaching from His time nor any time, therefore He must be outside of time.

"The truth is that, when critics have spoken of the local limitations of the Galilean, it has always been a case of the local limitations of the critics. He did undoubtedly believe in certain things that one particular modern sect of materialists do not believe. But they were not things particularly peculiar to his time. It would be nearer the truth to say that the denial of them is quite peculiar to our time. Doubtless it would be nearer still to the truth to say merely that a certain solemn social importance, in the minority disbelieving them, is peculiar to our time. He believed, for instance, in evil spirits or in the psychic healing of bodily ills; but not because he was a Galilean born under Augustus. It is absurd to say that a man believed things because he was a Galilean under Augustus when be might have believed the same things if he had been an Egyptian under Tutankhamen or an Indian under Gengis Khan." Modernism is more of an anomaly than Jesus. Modernists do not see Jesus as the fulfillment of the natural order.

" He certainly did not get his argument against divorce from the Mosaic law or the Roman law or the habits of the Palestinian people. It would appear to his critics then exactly what it appears to his critics now; an arbitrary and transcendental dogma coming from nowhere save in the sense that it came in him." This is not just any man saying this. He was able to call out hypocrisy without being hypocritical.

"I maintain therefore that a man reading the New Testament frankly and freshly would not get the impression of what is now often meant by a human Christ. The merely human Christ is a made-up figure, a piece of artificial selection, like the merely evolutionary man. Moreover there have been too many of these human Christs found in the same story, just as there have been too many keys to mythology found in the same stories. ... There must surely have been something not only mysterious but many sided about Christ if so many smaller Christs can be carved out of him." Everything must point to a true religion.

"Above all, would not such a new reader of the New Testament stumble over something that would startle him much more than it startles us? ... It were better to rend our robes with a great cry against blasphemy, like Caiaphas in the judgment, or to lay hold of the man as a maniac possessed of devils like the kinsmen and the crowd, than to stand stupidly debating fine shades of pantheism in the presence of so catastrophic a claim. There is more of the wisdom that is one with surprise in any simple person full of the sensitiveness of simplicity, who should expect the grass to wither and the birds to drop dead out of the air when a strolling carpenter's apprentice said calmly and almost carelessly like one looking over his shoulder: 'Before Abraham was, I am.' "


Meeting May 3, 2017 The Everlasting Man:
Chap III part II

Chap III The Strangest Story in the World

The first several pages introduces concepts that the pagans didn't have, but Christ did. Before Christ, people didn't honor children, but since Christ they do. It is novel that Christ claimed to be God. "To the merely rationalistic mind, it would sound like saying that bud must be more beautiful than a flower or that an unripe apple must be better than a ripe one. In other words, this modern feeling is an entirely mystical feeling. It is quite as mystical as the cult of virginity; in fact it is the cult Of virginity. But pagan antiquity had much more idea of the holiness of the virgin than of the holiness of the child. For various reasons we have come nowadays to venerate children; " "There is perhaps nothing so perfect in all language or literature as the use of these three degrees in the parable of the lilies of the field; in which he seems first to take one small flower in his hand and note its simplicity and even its impotence; then suddenly expands it in flamboyant colors into all the palaces and pavilions full of a great name in national legend and national glory; and then, by yet a third overturn, shrivels it to nothing once more with a gesture as if flinging it away ' . . . and if God so clothes the grass that today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven-how much more. . . .' "

"It is by rather an unlucky metaphor that we talk of a madman as cracked; for in a sense he is not cracked enough. He is cramped rather than cracked; there are not enough holes in his bead to ventilate it. This impossibility of letting in daylight on a delusion does sometimes cover and conceal a delusion of divinity. It can be found, not among prophets and sages and founders of religions, but only among a low set of lunatics ."

"But there is another quality running through all his teachings which seems to me neglected in most modem talk about them as teachings; and that is the persistent suggestion that he has not really come to teach." We discussed particular vs universal concepts and referenced the book Ideas have Consequences by Richard Weaver. Only recently have particulars become important.

"God is God, as the Moslems say; but a great man knows he is not God, and the greater he is the better he knows it. That is the paradox; everything that is merely approaching to that point is merely receding from it. Socrates, the wisest man, knows that he knows nothing. A lunatic may think he is omniscience, and a fool may talk as if he were omniscient. But Christ is in another sense omniscient if he not only knows, but knows that he knows." It is better for one to let God be God, rather than to try to impose one's will on Him.

"It is fitting that the New Man or the Second Adam should repeat in so ringing a voice and with so arresting a gesture the great fact which came first in the original story; that man differs from the brutes by everything, even by deficiency; that he is in a sense less normal and even less native; a stranger upon the earth. It is well to speak of his wanderings in this sense and in the sense that he shared the drifting life of the most homeless and hopeless of the poor." St Augustine says we are in the new kingdom. "On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn." A lot changed: The Oracle of Delphi stopped working and paganism became more monotheistic e.g. neoplatonism and the Norse god Thor.

"He is looking for truth and not looking for death. Death is but a stone in the road which can trip him up. His work in life is to wander on the roads of the world and talk about truth forever." "Now compared to these wanderers the life of Jesus went as swift and straight as a thunderbolt. It was above all things dramatic; it did above all things consist in doing something that had to be done." "We are meant to feel that Death was the bride of Christ as Poverty was the bride of St. Francis." A new age thinking is that Christ was merely an enlightened man.

"Jesus of Nazareth was less prudent in his miracles. When Jesus was brought before the judgment-seat of Pontius Pilate, he did not vanish. It was the crisis and the goal; it was the hour and the power of darkness. It was the supremely supernatural act of all his miraculous life, that he did not vanish." Judas, perhaps, expected that Jesus would vanish, so betraying Him would not be so serious.

"Every attempt to amplify that story has diminished it. The task has been attempted by many men of real genius and eloquence as well as by only too many vulgar sentimentalists and self-conscious rhetoricians."

"Rome was almost another name for responsibility . Yet he stands forever as a sort of rocking statue of the irresponsible. Man could do no more. Even the practical bad become the impracticable. Standing between the pillars of his own judgment-seat, a Roman had washed his hands of the world. There too were the priests of that pure and original truth that was behind all the mythologies like the sky behind the clouds. It was the most important truth in the world; and even that could not save the world." "Since that day it has never been quite enough to say that God is in his heaven and all is right with the world; since the rumor that God had left his heavens to set it right." "The cry of this spirit also was heard in that hour, 'It is well that one man die for the people!"

We discussed analytical vs continental philosophy and made reference to Alvin Plantinga (analytical), Peter Kreeft (theology) and Edward Feser (metaphysics).


Meeting Jun 7, 2017 The Everlasting Man:
Chap IV part II

Chap IV The Witness of the Heretics

Christ founded the Church on Peter as on a rock. "It is yet another example of a thing that could only fully expand and explain itself afterwards, and even long afterwards. And it is yet another example of something the very reverse of simple and self-evident even in the language, in so far as it described a man as a rock when he had much more the appearance of a reed." A chain is as strong as the weakest link. Peter was the weakest link. Peter jumped out of the boat and swam toward Jesus, Judas swam away from Jesus.

"The Christian creed is above all things the philosophy of shapes and the enemy of shapelessness. That is where it differs from all that formless infinity, Manichean or Buddhist, which makes a sort of pool of night in the dark heart of Asia; the ideal of uncreating all the creatures." The eastern religions tend to be shapeless. "If the faith had faced the world only with the platitudes about peace and simplicity some moralists would confine it to, it would not have had the faintest effect on that luxurious and labyrinthine lunatic asylum." When one reaches Nirvana, you lose your identity. Taoists believe in a trinity called The Three Pure Ones.

"We have all heard people say that Christianity arose in an age of barbarism. They might just as well say that Christian Science arose in an age of barbarism. They may think Christianity was a symptom of social decay, as I think Christian Science a symptom of mental decay. They may think Christianity a superstition that ultimately destroyed a civilization, as I think Christian Science a superstition capable (if taken seriously) of destroying any number of civilizations. But to say that a Christian of the fourth or fifth centuries was a barbarian living in a barbarous time is exactly like saying that Mrs. Eddy was a Red Indian. And if I allowed my constitutional impatience with Mrs. Eddy to impel me to call her a Red Indian, I should incidentally be telling a lie." "For good or evil, it was preeminently the product of a civilized age, perhaps of an over-civilized age. This is the first fact apart from all praise or blame; indeed I am so unfortunate as not to feel that I praise a thing when I compare it to Christian Science. But it is at least desirable to know something of the savour of a society in which we are condemning or praising anything; and the science that connects Mrs. Eddy with tomahawks or the Mater Dolorosa with totems may for our general convenience be eliminated." " On its legal and military side it was the Roman Empire; but it was very many-sided. It might be called superstitious in the sense that it contained a great number of varied superstitions; but by no possibility can any part of it be called barbarous." Mrs Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of Christian Science.

"Those who maintain that Christianity was not a Church but a moral movement of idealists have been forced to push the period of its perversion or disappearance further and further back." The Da Vinci Code is a throwback.

"The date of the Fourth Gospel, which at one time was steadily growing later and later, is now steadily growing earlier and earlier; until critics are staggered at the dawning and dreadful possibility that it might be something like what it professes to be. The last limit of an early date for the extinction of true Christianity has probably been found by the latest German professor whose authority is invoked by Dean Inge. This learned scholar says that Pentecost was the occasion for the first founding of an ecclesiastical, dogmatic, and despotic Church utterly alien to the simple ideals of Jesus of Nazareth." Dean Inge is noted for eugenics. Chesterton constantly argued with him. "Tolstoy or some great preacher of peace among peasants has been shot as a mutineer for defying conscription; and a little while afterwards his few followers meet together in an upper room in remembrance of him."

"It is nonsense to say that the Christian faith appeared in a simple age; in the sense of an unlettered and gullible age. It is equally nonsense to say that the Christian faith was a simple thing; in the sense of a vague or childish or merely instinctive thing. Perhaps the only point in which we could possibly say that the Church fitted into the pagan world, is the fact that they were both not only highly civilized but rather complicated." "The Church had to be both Roman and Greek and Jewish and African and Asiatic. In the very words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, it was indeed all things to all men." "Christianity then was not merely crude and simple and was the very reverse of the growth of a barbaric time. But when we come to the contrary charge, we come to a much more plausible charge. It is very much more tenable that the Faith was but the final phase of the decay of civilization, in the sense of the excess of civilization; that this superstition was a sign that Rome was dying, and dying of being much too civilized." Charlemagne was the father of Europe.

"Now that purity was preserved by dogmatic definitions and exclusions. It could not possibly have been preserved by anything else. If the Church had not renounced the Manicheans it might have become merely Manichean. If it had not renounced the Gnostics it might have become Gnostic." Gnostics were considered to have hidden knowlege. The believed Mary was male, the Holy Spirit was female, and that this world is evil. Jean Borella wrote an article on Gnosticism published in Chesteron Review and The Veil in which he states, "I would like to propose a third thesis: a somewhat ambitious attempt, but nothing ventured nothing gained! This thesis seems to correspond to the historical data recalled above. It is this: Christianity is a gnostic religion. It is even true gnosis, gnosis in all its purity. "


Meeting Jul 5, 2017 The Everlasting Man:
Chap V part II

Chap V The Escape from Paganism

"If the missionary says, in fact, that he is exceptional in being a Christian, and that the rest of the races and religions can be collectively classified as heathen, he is perfectly right." This is the rejection of relativism.

"all real scholars who have studied the Greek and Roman culture say one thing about it. They agree that in the ancient world religion was one thing and philosophy quite another. There was very little effort to rationalize and at the same time to realize a real belief in the gods. There was very little pretense of any such real belief among the philosophers." In ancient Greece, the never combined religion and philosophy. The difference is faith. Gods were treated as mere superheroes. Evil is the perversion of good. C. S. Lewis referred to evil as bent good.

"The modern European seeking his religion in Asia is reading his religion into Asia. Religion there is something different; it is both more and less. He is like a man mapping out the sea as land; marking waves as mountains; not understanding the nature of its peculiar permanence. It is perfectly true that Asia has its own dignity and poetry and high civilization." Moslemism in Europe is but one step away from Christianity. There are differences in beliefs among Moslems as there are among Christians and Catholics. Some Catholics use the Orans Posture during the Our Father at mass, which is proscribed by the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM).

"It was very realistically caught in the atmosphere of Hasten; and a very horrible atmosphere too. It is even more vivid in such glimpses as we get of the genuine and ancient cults of Asia. Deeper than the depths of metaphysics, far down in the abysses of mystical meditations, under all that solemn universe of spiritual things, is a secret, an intangible and a terrible levity. It does not really very much matter what one does. Either because they do not believe in a devil, or because they do believe in a destiny, or because experience here is everything and eternal life something totally different," People didn't believe they were working out their salvation. Religion was a cultural touchstone, not something changing their lives. "I have read somewhere that there were three great friends famous in medieval Persia for their unity of mind. One became the responsible and respected Vizier of the Great King; the second was the poet Omar, pessimist and epicurean, drinking wine in mockery of Mahomet; the third was the Old Man of the Mountain who maddened his people with hashish that they might murder other people with daggers. It does not really much matter what one does." "The Sultan in Hassan would have understood all those three men; indeed he was all those three men. But this sort of universalist cannot have what we call a character; it is what we call a character. He cannot choose; he cannot fight; he cannot repent; he cannot hope."

Asian religion is like psychology. Buddhists are happy when they stop wanting.

During our discussion an enthusiastic bystander interrupted to say the bible supports believe in reincarnation in that Elijah was reincarnated as John the Baptist. One of us replied that St John was not Elijah and that Elijah was not reincarnated. See Catholic Answers.

We considered whether Allah is the same as the God of Abraham. Certainly they have different qualities attributed to them, but this might be explained as differences of our individual understanding of God. It comes down to the identity of God, which we were not capable of defining.

"There would still be Levantines secretly sacrificing to Moloch as there are still Thugs secretly sacrificing to Kalee." "The rule is that pre-Christian or pagan history does not produce a Church Militant; and the exception, or what some would call the exception, is that Islam is at least militant if it is not Church. And that is precisely because Islam is the one religious rival that is not pre-Christian and therefore not in that sense pagan. Islam was a product of Christianity; even if it was a byproduct; even if it was a bad product. It was a heresy or a parody emulating and therefore imitating the Church. It is no more surprising that Mahometanism had something of her fighting spirit than that Quakerism had something of her peaceful spirit. After Christianity there are any number of such emulations or extensions. Before it there are none."

Gnostics were the first heretics. "Dogma gives man too much freedom when it permits him to fall. Dogma gives even God too much freedom when it permits him to die." "This is a manly and a rational negation for which I for one shall always show respect. But I decline to show any respect for those who first of all clip the wings and cage the squirrel, rivet the chains and refuse the freedom, ... tell us they have a freer thought and a more liberal theology."

Religion is man seeking God, Christ's humanity is the opposite.


Meeting Aug 2, 2017 The Everlasting Man:
Chap VI part II and Conclusion

Chap VI The Five Deaths of the Faith

Chesterton describes the Church as alive, it sheds its own skin. "At least five times, therefore, with the Arian and the Albigensian, with the Humanist sceptic, after Voltaire and after Darwin, the Faith has to all appearance gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases it was the dog that died. How complete was the collapse and how strange the reversal, we can only see in detail in the case nearest to our own time." Young priests are on fire, Sisters for Life have been established in Ann Arbor, the Dominicans are restoring our faith. There is always a new crop. "But the first extraordinary fact which marks this history is this: that Europe has been turned upside down over and over again; and that at the end of each of these revolutions the same religion has again been found on top." The Catholic faith is so old that every scandal that could have happened did.

"In considering the war of the Albigensians, we come to the breach in the heart of Europe and the landslide of a new philosophy that nearly ended Christendom forever. ... It was the Gnostics returning; but why did the Gnostics return? Because it was the end of an epoch, like the end of the Empire; and should have been the end of the Church. It was Schopenhauer hovering over the future; but it was also Manichaeus rising from the dead; that men might have death and that they might have it more abundantly." Gnosticism is a belief that spirit is good but the body is bad. St Dominic, along with the friars, is said to be involved with these crusades, but he said we use the bible to fight Gnosticism. Heresies take beliefs to an extreme. We are fighting the devil, who continually challenges the Church, which dies and then reborn.

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it." "There are people who say they wish Christianity to remain as a spirit. They mean, very literally, that they wish it to remain as a ghost. But it is not going to remain as a ghost. What follows this process of apparent death is not the lingering of the shade; it is the resurrection of the body. These people are quite prepared to shed pious and reverential tears over the Sepulchre of the Son of Man; what they are not prepared for is the Son of God walking once more upon the hills of morning."

"`Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.'" Christianity was born in the peak of civilization.

"If it were an error, it seems as if the error could hardly have lasted a day."


Current book
Meeting Sep 6, 2017 The Napoleon of Notting Hill:
Book I, Chap I &2

Chap I Introductory Remarks on the Art of Prophecy

"And one of the games to which it is most attached is called "Keep to-morrow dark," and which is also named (by the rustics in Shropshire, I have no doubt) "Cheat the Prophet." The players listen very carefully and respectfully to all that the clever men have to say about what is to happen in the next generation. The players then wait until all the clever men are dead, and bury them nicely. They then go and do something else. That is all. For a race of simple tastes, however, it is great fun." This is a reference to the book itself, which predicts in 1904 what might happen in 1984. "For human beings, being children, have the childish wilfulness and the childish secrecy. And they never have from the beginning of the world done what the wise men have seen to be inevitable. They stoned the false prophets, it is said; but they could have stoned true prophets with a greater and juster enjoyment. Individually, men may present a more or less rational appearance, eating, sleeping, and scheming. But humanity as a whole is changeful, mystical, fickle, delightful. Men are men, but Man is a woman."

Perhaps at the time Chesterton wrote this book, there was an obsession about the future. "Thus, for instance, there were Mr. H. G. Wells and others, who thought that science would take charge of the future; and just as the motor-car was quicker than the coach, so some lovely thing would be quicker than the motor-car; and so on for ever. And there arose from their ashes Dr. Quilp, who said that a man could be sent on his machine so fast round the world that he could keep up a long, chatty conversation in some old-world village by saying a word of a sentence each time he came round." This book is not science iction". We discussed solipsism, which is the view that the self is all that can be known to exist. Suppose that we and all we experience is just a computer simulation. However, it was asserted, a computer can not experience paradox. Ray Kurzweil suggests that with the technological singularity we can live forever by extracting the brain and supporting it artificially.

"Then Tolstoy and the Humanitarians said that the world was growing more merciful, and therefore no one would ever desire to kill. And Mr. Mick not only became a vegetarian, but at length declared vegetarianism doomed ("shedding," as he called it finely, "the green blood of the silent animals"), and predicted that men in a better age would live on nothing but salt. And then came the pamphlet from Oregon (where the thing was tried), the pamphlet called 'Why should Salt suffer?' ... And on the other hand, ... Dr. Zoppi ... held that ... cannibalism should be held to mean eating a member of the Empire, not eating one of the subject peoples. ... who should, he said, be killed without needless pain. ... and, living in London, had to subsist entirely on Italian organ-grinders." "Sir Paul Swiller read his great paper at the Royal Society, proving that the savages were not only quite right in eating their enemies, but right on moral and hygienic grounds, since it was true that the qualities of the enemy, when eaten, passed into the eater." Certain people believed that eating the heart of their enemy destroyed their spirit.

Chap II The Man in Green

"The reason (that England was the same in the story as when Chesterton wrote it) can be stated in one sentence. The people had absolutely lost faith in revolutions. All revolutions are doctrinal such as the French one, or the one that introduced Christianity. For it stands to common sense that you cannot upset all existing things, customs, and compromises, unless you believe in something outside them, something positive and divine. Now, England, during this century, lost all belief in this. It believed in a thing called Evolution. And it said, 'All theoretic changes have ended in blood and ennui. If we change, we must change slowly and safely, as the animals do. Nature's revolutions are the only successful ones. There has been no conservative reaction in favour of tails.'" Trump tends to say things to counter such absense of belief.

"In this manner it happened that everything in London was very quiet. That vague and somewhat depressed reliance upon things happening as they have always happened, which is with all Londoners a mood, had become an assumed condition. There was really no reason for any man doing anything but the thing he had done the day before." "Now, there is a law written in the darkest of the Books of Life, and it is this: If you look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it the thousandth time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time. So the short Government official looked at the coat-tails of the tall Government officials, and through street after street, and round corner after corner, saw only coat-tails, coat-tails, and again coat-tails—when, he did not in the least know why, something happened to his eyes. Two black dragons were walking backwards in front of him. Two black dragons were looking at him with evil eyes." Things were so routine that there was a need for imagination for excitment. It was suggested that routine is good to prevent dementia.

"he (Juan del Fuego, President of Nicaragua) tore off a strip or rag of paper, yellow in colour .. he pinned the piece of yellow paper to ... his breast ... he stabbed his left palm. The blood fell (and soaked a rag that) ... was pinned beside the yellow paper." "Nicaragua has been conquered like Athens. Nicaragua has been annexed like Jerusalem," cried the old man, with amazing fire. The Yankee and the German and the brute powers of modernity have trampled it with the hoofs of oxen. But Nicaragua is not dead. Nicaragua is an idea." It was for this idea that he wanted to wear the colors of Nicaragua. Juan del Fuego prophesied Daniel Ortega, current president of Nicaragua.

" 'Do you really mean,' asked the President, incredulously, 'that you choose any ordinary man that comes to hand and make him despot that you trust to the chance of some alphabetical list...' ". We discussed the relative merit of doing so.