The Charm of the Chesterbelloc

The latest episode of a seven-part podcast series on “The Charm of the Chesterbelloc” is about to be posted in the Inner Sanctum of my personal website, The series looks at the friendship of Belloc and Chesterton and also compares and contrasts their gifts. I consider which of them is the finer novelist, poet, essayist, biographer, and defender of the Faith. Who is greater? Belloc? Or Chesterton?
I invite those who would like to support me and my work to consider becoming donor-subscribers by joining the Inner Sanctum. Apart from this podcast series, there is also an exclusive 45-part college-level course that I give on Tolkien and Lewis, new podcasts each week on all sorts of topics, and well over 100 exclusive articles, in addition to my weekly “Ladydale Diary” in which I muse on this and that and tell of what’s happening in the Pearce family and what I’m working on and doing. 
Please keep up with what I’m doing and support my work by becoming a donor-subscriber to the Inner Sanctum. Thanks! 

Join Me at an Online Literature Conference

On the evening of Friday, March 13th I’m giving the keynote lecture at an online literature conference. “Re-Enchanting the World: The Legacy of the Inklings” promises to be an exciting and indeed an enchanting conference which people can attend from the comfort of their own homes. My own lecture will be entitled “Narnia & Middle-earth: When Two Worlds Collude”. Please do join me.
Full description and to register:

Why the Hammer and Sickle Should Be Treated Like the Swastika

If someone were to ask you to think of either extreme of the political spectrum, odds are you would immediately picture a swastika at one end and a hammer and sickle at the other. Regardless of your views on the left-right paradigm or whether or not you subscribe to horseshoe theory, we (rightfully) tend to perceive fascism and communism as the standard ideologies of the extreme.

For Your Penance

With Lent approaching, it is time to think again about how to answer the annual question, “So, what are you giving up for Lent?”  Or, its variation, “What are you doing for Lent?”  Often, the emphasis is on you; the person asking the question is poised to use your answer as a springboard for talking about what the questioner is giving up or doing.

Of course, Lent is not a roaring beast we need to placate by human sacrifice.  Lent was made for us; we were not made for Lent.  Although one use of Lent can be as a kind of pause button between the self-indulgence of Mardi Gras and its resumption forty days later, a more spiritually edifying use of Lent is for beginning a new chapter in one’s life.

Here, let me propose a most challenging form of asceticism, a daring, even daunting, kind of self-discipline to begin in Lent before trying it out year-round.  Think of it as learning a new language; Lent will be the immersion period, lessons where it is all right to make mistakes but start over.  After forty days, some fluency should emerge.

This Lenten penance is simple, but far from easy:  Avoid beginning sentences with the first person.  To put it another way, train the mind to rethink speech patterns so that the subject of each sentence is not oneself.

For example:  “I like that lamp.”  Well, really, who cares?  As if my liking that lamp confers some special honor upon it.  All the same, “I like that lamp” means that the rest of the conversation centers around me and what I like about lamps.  Even if the catalyst were something other than lamps, the conversation soon becomes boring, none of us being all that fascinating.

Instead, try:  “That’s a good lamp.”  The focus then turns from me to that lamp.  It’s a much more interesting statement, subject to discussion, since it begs the question, “What makes a lamp good?”  Then we can consider what others, maybe Aristotle or Augustine, Russell Kirk or Roger Scruton, used to say about things and about being good.

This challenge of verbal fasting from oneself goes double for the clergy, since to whom more has been given, more is expected.  As one’s Lenten homilies are leading the faithful closer to God, try not to lose one’s flock by shepherding them through a forest of personal pronouns.  After all, especially during Lent, someone must decrease and Someone else must increase.