In which Chesterton destroys the cynic and the sentimentalist:
I’ve already talked a little about the wonder that pervades Chesterton’s writing — it should be easy as pie to see how such wonder is a death knell to cynicism. (It’s hard to grouse about the glass being half empty when the very existence of the glass and its contents amazes you.) But if the right kind of wonder is a death knell to cynicism, it’s also a death knell to mawkish optimism. Reading Chesterton, you’re reminded to keep your eyes open as wide as you possibly can. You see the beauty and the ugliness. The trick is remembering which one wins.
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The Planetary Omnibus by Warren Ellis & John Cassaday
Nearly halfway through this 850 page whopper and thoroughly enjoying myself. It’s a sci-fi romp with big ideas, an elaborate plot, a colorful cast, and some of the most beautiful artwork I’ve ever seen in a graphic novel. (Seriously. The artwork alone might be worth the price of the book.)
Second Opinion by Theodore Dalrymple
Subtitled “A Doctor’s Dispatches from the Inner City”, this collection of essays is sharp, eloquent, insightful, grim, and grimly funny. It doesn’t quite rise to the sheer and untrammeled excellence of Our Culture, What’s Left of It, but it’s Dalrymple, and Dalrymple is worth a read any day of the week.
Hamlet by Shakespeare
I’ve been intending to read this one for some time now, but Hanna at Book Geeks Anonymous recently gave it such a glowing review that I was compelled to delay no longer.
What’s on your bookshelf right now?
I’m over at Torrey Gazette today with a tribute (of sorts) to G.K. Chesterton and his vision of the ordinary. Go have a look-see.
In her detective novel The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Dorothy Sayers compares books to lobster shells: “We surround ourselves with ’em, then we grow out of ’em and leave ’em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development.” The same may be said of authors.
And yet, inarguable as the comparison may be on some level, I think we can all point to exceptions that have achieved a certain “supra-lobster shell” status in our lives. These are the books and authors we can’t seem to grow out of, because no matter where we are in life, they still fit.
Chesterton is one of those for me. I discovered his writing six or seven years ago, and much as I’ve come to dislike the phrase “love affair” as a descriptor for things other than actual love affairs, it hits fairly near the mark. I’d like to think I’m proof that one can be staunchly Reformed Presbyterian and still count G.K.C. a defining influence in one’s life. (There is, of course, the distinct possibility the old papist would throw an ink blotter at my head if he knew, but you can’t win ’em all.)
“When fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
– Stephen King, ‘Salem’s Lot (p. 200)
The rash of sting videos released by the Center for Medical Progress not only exposed Planned Parenthood, but also reignited debate in Christian circles over the nature and moral legitimacy of deception.
The Hebrew midwives (Exodus 1:15-20) and Rahab (Joshua 2:1-5) have long been enough to convince me that there are cases where deception is not only excusable, but praiseworthy (dare I say, righteous?). Others have not been so persuaded.
In an effort to defend the legitimate use of deception, my friend Joshua Torrey – the mover and shaker behind Torrey Gazette – wrote a series of posts on the subject. These posts have recently been revised, expanded, and compiled into a single volume. It’s available for free right now in MOBI, EPUB, and PDF formats. For anyone with questions about the biblical case for ‘holy deception’, Torrey’s book is a sane and studied place to start.
Also, for the love of all that is sensible, subscribe to TG. It’s just one of those things you won’t regret.