June 12, 2011

G K Chesterton

O God of earth and altar, you gave G. K. Chesterton a ready tongue and pen, and inspired him to use them in your service: Mercifully grant that we may be inspired to witness cheerfully to the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
image by the hand of Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

13 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

A fine quick icon for the month of June, Tobias. I've not read Chesterton for a very long time.

If you continue with the series, you will have material for an illustrated calendar. "The Saint of the Month Calendar" by Tobias Haller.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Mimi. I'm really enjoying playing with the different media. This one was basically India ink but with touches of acrylic wash. I just got a set of four India inks in black, carmine, indigo and white, and I think I'll try that next. I've also enjoyed the colored Conté crayons, but they are a bit messier and the final work has to be "sealed" with a "fixatif." I have to find someone for July now!

I've not read GKC in years, but I've several of his works downloaded onto my "Nook"!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tobias, You're like a child with a new box of crayons. Wait! You ARE a child with a new box of crayons and a new set of india inks.

My second son has never forgiven me for not buying him the big box of 64 Crayola crayons. I thought 32 crayons were more than enough. Had I known how much having the large box meant to him....

TLH said...

Oh wow. That's a really awesome icon there. I had no idea you were an artist.

PseudoPiskie said...

A local priest did this when given the tools. I won't embarrass him by pointing out your work.

This is really excellent, Tobias. It's fun to watch you experiment and improve with each icon. You are so talented in so many areas. How lucky we are!

4 May 1535+ said...

Hi, Tobias--

I love the icon.

I downloaded _The Wisdom of Father Brown_ for my Kindle and was surprised at the racism in "The God of the Gongs." GKC does condemn lynchings, but that's about the only redeeming moment in the whole piece, which uses "negro" and the n-word pretty much interchangeably, rising to this rhetorical achievement: "for a month or two the main purpose of the British Empire was to prevent the buck n..... (who was so in both senses) escaping by any English port."

I realize all the usual cautions about GKC being a child of his time, etc., but it is still a bit unsettling.

JCF said...

Hmmm. Love the portrait, less so the man. He's the very model of the Post-Post-Vat2 Popoid Reactionary we see (e.g. EWTN) so much of today (and to hear his take on, say, Buddhism? Could he be any more prejudiced/ ugly-Western Imperialist/willfully-ignorant? Yuck.)

Anonymous said...

Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.
Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton : The Illustrated London News, 1905-1907 (1986), p. 71
-just wonderful
Best,
Seamus

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, G.M, TLH, and P.P. It is fun to continue experimenting with the different media. Crayola is not, I think, however, in my future.

As to comments about GKC's blind spots -- which clearly he had. He died in 1936. That is no excuse, but it is important to see him as a man of his time, or, rather, even a bit reactionary for his time. I do think it somewhat unfair, though, to negate all of his good because of his bad. That he is picked up as a hero of the modern reactionaries says more about them than him -- as they are being, in our day, even more reactionary than he was!

Marshall Scott said...

My professor of Systematic Theology held up Fr. Brown as a model for priesthood, based on the "The Secret of Father Brown," the Prologue in the book of the same name.

"No man's really any good until he knows how bad he is, or might be; till he's realized exactly how much right he has to all this snobbery, and sneering, and talking about 'criminals,' as if they were apes in a forest ten thousand miles away; till he's got rid of all the dirty self-deception of talking about low types and deficient skulls; till he's squeezed out of his soul the last drop of the oil of the Pharisees; till his only hope is somehow or other to have captured one criminal, and kept him safe and sane under his own hat."

I commend the Prologue, and encourage folks to read the mysteries with that understanding of what Chesterton had in mind. It seems to me, in my own study, remarkably incarnational, and remarkably Benedictine.

As for seeing him in his own context: I think we gain little by bowdlerizing our own history, whether by avoiding difficult facts (like, say, unpleasant parts of the Constitution), or avoiding difficult aspects of our cultural history, including in literature. If we gloss over those points we now find unpleasant and of which we now disapprove, we will miss how far we have come - and we will miss how little we have really changed, and how far we have left to go.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Hear, hear, on all counts, Marshall. One of the things I like most about GKC is his influence on the thinking of CS Lewis, a similarly flawed but thoughtful man. That sense that the moral compass points to oneself before it points to others is a vital knowledge, too often lost in the church itself.

As to bowdlerizing, don't get me started. What you cite is one of the reasons I resist "tidied" versions of Scripture, and a chief dislike of the NRSV is its attempt to liberalize its blatant sexism, or ignore the difficult bits by excising them from the lectionary. Much better to acknowledge even divinely inspired work as part of the culture in which it came into form.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Marshall, what lovely and wise words from Chesterton.

Tobias, I could not agree more about the bowdlerized bibles. I keep my RSV handy.

Marshall Scott said...

For those who want a particularly good vision of the Gospel, I commend the last story in the same collection, "The Chief Mourner of Marne."

"We have to touch such men, not with a bargepole, but with a benediction," he said. "We have to say the word that will save them from hell. We alone are left to deliver them from the despair when your human charity deserts them. Go on your own primrose path pardoning all your favourite vices and being generous with your fashionable crimes; and leave us in the darkness, vampires of the night, to console those who really need consolation; who do things really indefensible, things that neither the world nor they themselves can defend; and none but a priest will pardon. Leave us with the men who commit the mean and revolting and real crimes; mean as St. Peter when the cock crew, and yet the dawn came."

You might get the impression that I think a lot of this....