Monday, November 30, 2009

Two new book reviews coming

When I get done with Chesterton's views on America, I am going to talk about two other books: The Bridge at Andau by James Michener, about the Hungarian uprising of 1956; and Battleground by Hilaire Belloc, a history of Syria and Palestine (written 1935) which has some very interesting comments about Islam.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More about America by GKC

. . . that compromise will be a Servile State. But it will also be the supreme and by far the most constructive and conclusive result of the industrial movement in history; of the power of machinery or money; of the huge populations of the modern cities; of scientific inventions and resources; of all the things before which the agricultural society of the Southern Confederacy went down. But even those who cannot see that commercialism may end in the triumph of slavery can see that the Northern victory has to a great extent ended in the triumph of commercialism. And the point at the moment is that this did definitely mean, even at the time, the triumph of one American type over another American type. . .

* * *

One type of American state conquered and subjugated another type of American state; and the virtues and values of the latter were very largely lost to the world.

* * *

The Old South had qualities of humane civilisation which have not sufficiently survived; or at any rate have not sufficiently spread. It is true that the decline of the agricultural South has been considerably balanced by the growth of the agricultural West. It is true, as I have occasion to emphasise in another place, that the West does give the New America something that is neraly a normal peasantry, as a pendant to the industrial towns. . . . In so far as America is saved it is saved by being patchy; and would be ruined if the Western patch had the same fate as the Southern patch. When all is said, therefore, the advantages of American unification are not so certain that we can apply them to a world unification.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nothing serious

With my midnight meds, I usually have a midnight snack, something starchy and a banana. Also in my fridge I have a couple pounds of miniature chocolate bars that I bought for Hallowe'en and never gave away because there was far less demand than I thought there would be.

So I just have to eat up all these little chocolate bars before they get stale.

All those who feel sorry for me, raise your hands.

Hmmmm . . . . I didn't think so.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More G.K.C. in America

Presidents and Problems

"All good Americans wish to fight the representatives they have chosen. All good Englishmen wish to forget the representatives they have chosen. This difference, deep and perhaps ineradicable in the temperaments of the two peoples, explains a thousand things in their literature and their laws.
. . .
"For this is especially the secret of the monarch or chief magistrate in the two countries. They arm the President with the powers of a King, that he may be a nuisance in politics. We deprive the King even of the powers of a President, lest he should remind us of a politician.
. . .
"The American Republic is the last medieval monarchy. It is intended that the President shall rule, and take all the risks of ruling. . . . All the popular Presidents, Jackson and Lincoln and [Theodore] Roosevelt, have acted as democratic despots, but emphatically not as constitutional monarchs. In short, the names have been curiously interchanged; and as a historical reality it is the President who ought to be called a King."

Isn't it interesting how well the present occupant of the White House fits this description?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints and All Souls

After my dad died in 2002, following (I hope and pray) my mom to God's hands, I had a dream.

I was walking arm in arm with my five brothers and sisters on a very wide road through gently rolling countryside on a mild day in the summer. My older brother's daughters and grandchildren were behind him, one sister's sons were behind her, another sister's three children were behind her. Cousins were spread out to the right and left of us . . . but there was no one in front of us anymore.

"The souls of the just are in the hands of God, and no misfortune shall befall them . . . ." (from memory). Pray for them anyway. Praying for the souls of my dad and mom and all who have gone before me is one way of honoring them. The fourth commandment doesn't end with our parents' deaths.

More about America by GKC

. . . I found myself before a faded picture [in a hotel in Nashville]; and from the dark canvas looked forth the face of Andrew Jackson, watchful like a white eagle.

. . . Most Englishmen know a good deal of American fiction, and nothing whatever of American history. They know more about the autocrat of the breakfast-table than about the autocrat of the army and of the people, the one great democratic despot of modern times; the Napoleon of the New World. The only notion the English public ever got about American politics they got from a novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin; and to say the least of it, it was no exception to the prevalence of fiction over fact. Hundreds of us have heard of Tom Sawyer for one who had heard of Charles Sumner; and it is probable that most of us could pass a more detailed examination about Toddy and Budge than about Lincoln and Lee. But in the case of Andrew Jackson it may be that I felt a special sense of individual isolation; for I believe that there are even fewer among Englishmen than among Americans who realise that the energy of that great man was largely directed towards saving us from the chief evil which destroys the nations to-day. He sought to cut down, as with a sword of simplicity, the new and nameless enormity of finance; and he must have known, as by a lightning flash, that the people were behind him, because all the politicians were against him. The end of the struggle is not yet; but if the bank is stronger than the sword or the sceptre of popular sovereignty, the end will be the end of democracy. It will have to choose between accepting an acknowledged dictator and accepting dictation which it dare not acknowledge. The process will have begun by giving power to people and refusing to give them their titles; and it will have ended by giving the power to people who refuse to give us their names.