Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens
Dickens reading his
works before an
Third Degree: Charles Dickens
The author of A Christmas Carol will forever be loved and remembered at Yuletide.  As you prepare your holiday meals and tend to the house, play one or all of the following versions of this classic tale.  Below, I've embedded the version from the 1950s narrated by Vincent Price.

If you prefer, here is a link to Lionel Barrymore's narration of A Christmas Carol from 1938.  Here is a link to a 1910 silent version.  To hear Orson Wells and The Mercury Theater performing A Christmas Carol in 1938, click here

Second Degree: G.K. Chesterton
Gilbert Keith Chesterton wrote many of the forwards for Dickens' books.  In 1906, Chesterton also wrote the definitive biography of Charles Dickens.
"The common mind means the mind of all the artists and heroes; or else it would not be common. Plato had the common mind; Dante had the common mind. Commonness means the quality common to the saint and the sinner, to the philosopher and the fool; and it was this that Dickens grasped and developed. In everybody there is a certain thing that loves babies, that fears death, that likes sunlight: that thing enjoys Dickens. And everybody does not mean uneducated crowds; everybody means everybody."
I'm just discovering Chesterton, so I'm going to steal his bio from Dale Ahlquist, president of The American Chesterton Society. 
G.K. Chesterton was 6'4", weighed
over 300 pounds, and wrote an essay
every day

Atheist C.S. Lewis read
The Everlasting Man
and soon
after became Christian.
Born in London, Chesterton was educated at St. Paul’s, but never went to college...He wrote over 4000 newspaper essays, including 30 years worth of weekly columns for the Illustrated London News,and 13 years of weekly columns for the Daily News. He also edited his own newspaper, G.K.’s Weekly. (To put it into perspective, four thousand essays is the equivalent of writing an essay a day, every day, for 11 years. If you’re not impressed, try it some time...Chesterton was equally at ease with literary and social criticism, history, politics, economics, philosophy, and theology. His style is unmistakable, always marked by humility, consistency, paradox, wit, and wonder...stood 6’4" and weighed about 300 pounds, usually had a cigar in his mouth, and walked around wearing a cape and a crumpled hat, tiny glasses pinched to the end of his nose, swordstick in hand, laughter blowing through his moustache. And usually had no idea where or when his next appointment was.
H.G. Wells
Ghandi was inspired by
Chesterton's writing
This absent-minded, overgrown elf of a man...who wrote a book called The Everlasting Man, which led a young atheist named C.S. Lewis to become a Christian...This was the man who wrote an essay in theIllustrated London News that inspired Mohandas Gandhi to lead a movement to end British colonial rule in India...Chesterton debated many of the celebrated intellectuals of his time: George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, Clarence Darrow...to debate Chesterton is to lose!

Why not purchase this book
and read it during Great Lent?

Chesterton argued eloquently against all the trends that eventually took over the 20th century: materialism, scientific determinism, moral relativism, and spineless agnosticism. He also argued against both socialism and capitalism and showed why they have both been the enemies of freedom and justice in modern society.
And what did he argue for? What was it he defended? He defended "the common man" and common sense. He defended the poor. He defended the family. He defended beauty. And he defended Christianity and the Catholic Faith. 
Enjoy this reenactment of a Chesterton debate.

The pope's ruby slippers on British land! His trip was
paved with the blood and bodies of martyrs and held
with the mortar of Chesterton's words.
Chesterton converted to Catholicism, but, like many converts, once converted, he was a powerful voice of truth and justice.  I believe that Pope Benedict XVI's journey to Great Britain was paved by the blood of martyrs, but mortared with the words of G.K. Chesterton.  His wit and charm disarm us and bring us closer to his core message of Christian love.  For more on Chesterton's conversion click here.

First Degree: Pope Pius XI
Pius XII
Upon the death of G. K. Chesterton, Pope Pius XI declared that we had lost "a gifted defender of the faith."  The papal nuncio, Giovanni Pacelli (who would become Pope Pius XII,) sent condolences to Chesterton's widow.
Pius XI

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