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Chesterton Society Meeting

April 19, 2016 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

From Spencer Roundtree:

Happy Easter, everybody! Christ is risen!

Our reading of The Everlasting Man will continue with chapter 3, “The Antiquity of Civilization

The next Father Brown story is the first story in The Scandal of Father Brown, “The Scandal of Father Brown” (is there an echo in here?)

I’ve been doing some reflecting on the readings from The Everlasting Man so far. And I think the first couple of chapters, and even the third chapter to a degree, are really introductory, or maybe I should say preliminary. In these chapters Chesterton is dealing with matters that are most efficiently taken care of and settled at the beginning so they don’t intrude into the flow of the later argument.

In thinking about these chapters we need to remember that this book is a response to HG Wells’ book, An Outline of History. Chesterton had to deal with the “Cave Man” and Prehistoric Man because Wells dealt so extensively on those topics. In these early chapters Chesterton is endeavoring to correct the flawed conception of the Nature of Man and Mankind that flowed out of materialistic, Darwinian, evolutionary thought. Our conception of the Nature of Man is fundamental and necessarily colors and influences our view of history and historic events. One’s view of history and historical events if one believes mankind is the product of strictly natural forces and processes – and even accidents – is necessarily different from the view of someone who believes Man is the crowning feat of Creation, and is, indeed, created in God’s image.

Because Chesterton spends a lot of time correcting the leaps and lapses of logic, and the unfettered musings of the popular mythology about prehistoric man and the cave man, his tone is more negative and corrective. Since this is a fundamental principle, he wants to set things straight at the very beginning, or else it will become a distraction if it keeps popping up in later discussions.

We also need to remember this book is an historical treatment, as was H G Wells’s book. It is not a scientific treatise. Chesterton takes Wells (and I presume, by his tone, other similar writers) to task for violating the principles of his discipline (history). He accuses Wells of taking the evidence – the relics – of prehistoric man, but then going well beyond what the evidence will allow makes unfounded, sweeping generalizations about the nature and character of early mankind. Chesterton points out not only its unscientific nature of the discussion, but mainly its failings as a History. Wells is allowing his prejudices to dictate the significance of the facts rather than submitting to the disciplines of the historical method.

The first two chapters were important because they deal with propositions that become presuppositions for subsequent discussion. If not dealt with here at the beginning of the argument, we soon end up disagreeing without really understanding why we disagree. The nature of Man is something of a First Principle, something that is not always in the forefront of an argument, but something that undergirds it.

In this third chapter he is finally able to deal with history, properly speaking. This chapter deals with the dawn of recorded history. And at this dawn of history, Chesterton points out, Man is already highly civilized and culturally developed. He still spends some time correcting some unfounded prejudices of other historians, but he is starting to focus on the historical matter and to analyze and critque it more than questioning and challenging other erroneous historians.

The last couple of pages of this chapter where he is discussing Troy and Homer’s Iliad are quite eloquent, beautifully and strikingly written.

Happy reading! I hope to see you all Tuesday evening, April 19th.



And now, on a lighter note .. .. ..

The Logical Vegetarian
You will find me drinking rum,
Like a sailor in a slum,
You will find me drinking beer like a Bavarian
You will find me drinking gin
In the lowest kind of inn
Because I am a rigid Vegetarian.

So I cleared the inn of wine,
And I tried to climb the sign,
And I tried to hail the constable as “Marion.”
But he said I couldn’t speak,
And he bowled me to the Beak
Because I was a Happy Vegetarian.

Oh, I know a Doctor Gluck,
And his nose it had a hook,
And his attitudes were anything but Aryan;
So I gave him all the pork
That I had, upon a fork
Because I am myself a Vegetarian.

I am silent in the Club,
I am silent in the pub.,
I am silent on a bally peak in Darien;
For I stuff away for life
Shoving peas in with a knife,
Because I am a rigid Vegetarian.

No more the milk of cows
Shall pollute my private house
Than the milk of the wild mares of the Barbarian
I will stick to port and sherry,
For they are so very, very,
So very, very, very, Vegetarian.


April 19, 2016
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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