Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas and the Aesthetes

by G.K.Chesterton, an excerpt from his book---the title of which leaps lightly off his tongue--- Heretics

"...The strange truth about the matter is told in the very word "holiday." A bank holiday means presumably a day which bankers regard as holy. A half-holiday means, I suppose, a day on which a schoolboy is only partially holy. It is hard to see at first sight why so human a thing as leisure and larkiness should always have a religious origin. Rationally there appears no reason why we should not sing and give each other presents in honour of anything--the birth of Michelangelo or the opening of Euston Station. But it does not work. As a fact, men only become greedily and gloriously material about something spiritualistic. Take away the Nicene Creed and similar things, and you do some strange wrong to the sellers of sausages. Take away the strange beauty of the saints, and what has remained to us is the far stranger ugliness of Wandsworth. Take away the supernatural, and what remains is the unnatural.

And now I have to touch upon a very sad matter. There are in the modern world an admirable class of persons who really make protest on behalf of that antiqua pulchritudo of which Augustine spoke, who do long for the old feasts and formalities of the childhood of the world. William Morris and his followers showed how much brighter were the dark ages than the age of Manchester. Mr. W. B. Yeats frames his steps in prehistoric dances, but no man knows and joins his voice to forgotten choruses that no one but he can hear. Mr. George Moore collects every fragment of Irish paganism that the forgetfulness of the Catholic Church has left or possibly her wisdom preserved. There are innumerable persons with eye-glasses and green garments who pray for the return of the maypole or the Olympian games. But there is about these people a haunting and alarming something which suggests that it is just possible that they do not keep Christmas.

It is painful to regard human nature in such a light, but it seems somehow possible that Mr. George Moore does not wave his spoon and shout when the pudding is set alight. It is even possible that Mr. W. B. Yeats never pulls crackers. If so, where is the sense of all their dreams of festive traditions?

Here is a solid and ancient festive tradition still plying a roaring trade in the streets, and they think it vulgar. If this is so, let them be very certain of this, that they are the kind of people who in the time of the maypole would have thought the maypole vulgar; who in the time of the Canterbury pilgrimage would have thought the Canterbury pilgrimage vulgar; who in the time of the Olympian games would have thought the Olympian games vulgar. Nor can there be any reasonable doubt that they were vulgar.

Let no man deceive himself; if by vulgarity we mean coarseness of speech, rowdiness of behaviour, gossip, horseplay, and some heavy drinking, vulgarity there always was wherever there was joy, wherever there was faith in the gods. Wherever you have belief you will have hilarity, wherever you have hilarity you will have some dangers. And as creed and mythology produce this gross and vigorous life, so in its turn this gross and vigorous life will always produce creed and mythology. If we ever get the English back on to the English land they will become again a religious people... The absence from modern life of both the higher and lower forms of faith is largely due to a divorce from nature and the trees and clouds. If we have no more turnip ghosts it is chiefly from the lack of turnips.

Christmas Truce WWI. Ordinary
people do not want to fight

The Christmas Stamp

by James G. Bruen, Jr.

“Did you ever have one of those moments?” asked Adam Pynes as he sat down next to his roommate on their townhouse’s concrete stoop. The townhouse shaded the two young men from the mid-afternoon summer sun. Don Amero didn’t reply. Adam pried the tops off two beer bottles, handing one to his friend before drinking deeply himself. “I mean one of those times when nothing changes but everything changes? When the humdrum is shattered in a flash but no one notices but you?”

Don lifted his beer to his lips.

“Just look at this townhouse development,” continued Adam. “Rows and rows of townhouses split by a narrow road lined by parking spaces. They’re all the same. One’s white, one’s light blue; one has a small shrub, another a small tree; but basically, they’re all the same. What could be more humdrum? Suppose a pig floated down in a parachute and landed squealing in the middle of the street, and you were the only one who noticed! You alone noticed the flying pigs. Would that mean you’re crazy?”

“I haven’t seen any parachuting pigs,” laughed Don. “And I bet you haven’t either.”

“No, I haven’t,” said Adam, “though I read about them once. But my situation’s even more troublesome. And it’s nothing to laugh about....Read it all

--->Charles Dickens vs. the Malthusians...

Belloc: "Paganism once erected into a system
, once having taken on full shape, and proceeding to positive action, must necessarily become a formidable and increasingly direct opponent of the Catholic Church. The two cannot live together, for the points upon which they would agree are not the points which either thinks essential"---More

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