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22970Re: [mythsoc] Re: Christopher Hitchens on G.K.C.

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  • Mike Foster
    Mar 3, 2012
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      Thanks for the kind words.
      Indeed on JRRT on more critical on texts than, say, CSL was.
      Clyde Kilby told me that he’d sent JRRT one of his books & received no reply.  Warnie Lewis told Prof. Kilby, “Well, if he liked your book, it’d be the first one he liked.”
      But I agree with Tolkien:  GKC doesn’t hold up to re-reading in many cases.
      And as a recovering newspaper reporter, editor, adviser, GKC’s flippant attitude towards factuality miffs me.  His Dickens book is a sterling example.
      Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2012 10:54 AM
      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Christopher Hitchens on G.K.C.

      That is a moving account of what sounds like a godly man. Gilbert is poorer for not carrying it. Thanks for letting all of us read it.
      As for the unevenness of GKC's writing, I would like to know more specifically from you what you mean. That may be the case certainly. The exposure I have had to Chesterton has only been positive, and I have delighted in most all of what I've read of his. But perhaps I am too generous a reader. Certainly Chesterton was not for all tastes. Tolkien remarked to his son Christopher once:
      P[riscilla].... has been wading through The Ballad of the White Horse for the last many nights; and my efforts to explain the obscurer parts to her convince me that it is not as good as I thought. The ending is absurd. The brilliant smash and glitter of the words and phrases (when they come off, and are not mere loud colours) cannot disguise the fact that G. K. C. knew nothing whatever about the 'North', heathen or Christian. (Carpenter, ed., 1980, Letter 80, 3 September 1944)
      Tolkien did seem to be found more often criticizing what he didn't like in literature rather than praising what he did, however.

      Not all those who wander are lost.
                              - J. R. R. Tolkien

      On Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 3:10 PM, Mike Foster <mafoster@...> wrote:
      See John Lennon on Jesus.
      “It was His thick disciples muddling it up.”
      Chesterton was a very uneven writer, to say the least.
      This is one of the articles that GILBERT refused to print because Bernardin was not a true Catholic.  I also argued with the editor that his calling Michelle Obama “a vile, arrogant bitch” was not exactly Chestertonian debate.  I was also suspected of occasionally voting for Democrats:

                  Tuesday marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, the Chicago archbishop whose pacific pastoral ministry of reconciliation and amity endures.

                  His last book, The Gift of Peace, unforgettably recounts the spiritual and physical courage he demonstrated in his last three years.  It begins with a former seminarian’s false allegation of sexual misconduct, followed by his accuser’s recantation and Bernardin’s moving pilgrimage of forgiveness to the dying man.  It ends with discovery of the pancreatic cancer that, after 17 months, would take his life.  Completed on All Saints’ Day, 1996, only thirteen days before his death, a hand-written letter to readers is its preface:

                  “To paraphrase Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities, ‘it has been the best of times, it has been the worst of times.’  The worst because of the humiliation, physical pain, anxiety, and fear.  The best because of reconciliation, love, pastoral sensitivity and peace that have resulted from God’s grace and the support of so many people…God can write straight with crooked lines.”

                  With humbleness and wit, The Gift of Peace chronicles the joys and sorrows of Bernardin’s life.  Through it all shines the gentle benedictive voice of its author.

                  Sr. Rachel Bergschneider, OSB, pastoral associate at St. Thomas parish in Peoria Heights, is one admirer:

                  “It’s a marvelous book, a great testimony to his faith that death was such a friend to him.”

                  Peoria Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, remembers Bernardin’s visits to the University of  Notre Dame, where he assisted the Cardinal at Mass.  “[He was] very kind, very intelligent and gentle.  He realized near the end of his life that folks loved their Bishop and wanted him home rather than away at meetings--a good lesson for all Bishops.

                  His life and death are a legacy to all the faithful. He was a good shepherd to Chicago and served the universal Church as well.”     

                  Sr. Rachel agrees, noting his ministry for peace and the “Seamless Garment” consistent ethic of life from conception to death. 

                  She also praised “his efforts to bring people of different and diverse opinions to a consensus through the Common Ground Project he initiated.”

                  Bernardin’s book first confronts the “deep humiliation” of the 1993 sexual accusation.

                  Former Journal Star reporter Ray Long was covering politics for the Chicago Sun-Times when Bernardin convened a press conference to address the allegation.  Long’s editors called him in to be “the hammer.”

                  “Time was running short,” Long, sitting in the overcrowded room’s front row, recalled.  “The key question had not been asked.  So I asked, ‘I realize these are personal questions, but have you ever had sex of any kind?’

                  “Bernardin replied, ‘I’m 65 years old and I can tell you that all my life I have lived a chaste and celibate life’.”

                  Said Long:

                  “You had to ask the tough questions to be fair.  It was a hardball and he knocked it out of the park.”

                   “I could read in the eyes of the assembled journalists that they believed me,” Bernardin wrote.

                  Br. Donald Houde, CSV, who was an English teacher and later principal at Spalding Institute in Peoria and worked in the Chicago Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education while Bernardin was Archbishop, was there:

                  “He was calm and ready to follow the regulations that he set up for any priest who was guilty of that misconduct.  We who knew the Cardinal were numb in our unbelief.  We were in awe of his courage.  He went higher in our esteem.  Time and agony followed, and I was there when he held the press conference telling reporters with the same dignity that the young man admitted that he had lied.  He then told us he visited the young man and forgave him.”

                  Of that moment, when his tearful accuser apologized for the untrue allegation and accepted his offer to celebrate Mass with him right then, Bernardin wrote: “Never in my priesthood have I witnessed a more profound reconciliation.”

                  His decision to fully disclose the news of his cancer required even greater fortitude.  He was “dying publicly.”  His chronicle of his ordeal is frank but spare.  Gentle jokes pervade what could be a grim account.  He finds himself serving as an unofficial chaplain to some 700 fellow cancer patients, including the little girl who said, “I want to see that Pope man.”

                  “Suffering and pain make little sense to me without God,” he declares, “only in terms of their redemptive, salvific qualities.  My decision to go through my cancer in public has been to share a simple message: faith really matters.”

                  Concluding his book, Bernardin wrote, “I am both exhausted and exhilarated.  As I write these final words, my heart is filled with joy.      I am at peace”

                  “Chicago winters are harsh.  It is a time of dying….But we know that spring will soon come with all its new life and wonder.         

                  “It is quite clear I will not be alive in the spring.  But I will experience new life in a different way.”

                  “I will be home.”

                  This brave book is a precious portrait of a single soul’s triumph.  In a full life of dedication to his faith and his faithful, Joseph Bernardin saved his best for last.

                  Br. Houde: “He was a holy man.  He was shy.  He was very kind to people.  He was always very well prepared for the tasks ahead of him--yes, even death.”


      By Mike Foster

      Published in the Peoria Journal Star, November 11, 2006.

      Sent: Friday, March 02, 2012 8:44 AM
      Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Christopher Hitchens on G.K.C.

         So, you don't like Chesterton anymore because you had a falling
      out with the editor of a Chestertonian magazine?! Come on, Mike, I know
      you know that's hardly a valid critique of _Chesterton_!

         And, regarding Wendell, I won't dignify his wild ad hominem attacks
      on people he doesn't even know with any further response.



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