Remembering the Sacred While Celebrating the Season

“If anyone wants to hold the end of a chain which really goes back to the heathen mysteries,” says G. K.Chesterton in his book Heretics, “he had better take hold of a festoon of flowers at Easter or a string of sausages at Christmas.” Why?

According to Chesterton — himself a convert to Roman Catholicism — everything from from science to the French Revolution is “of Christian origin.” However, he says, “there is one thing, and one thing only, in existence at the present day which can in any sense accurately be said to be of pagan origin, and that is Christianity” — or, rather, Christian ritual and aesthetics. Continue reading “Remembering the Sacred While Celebrating the Season”

The Death and Rebirth of Culture

I recently made the mistake of purchasing a used book online, not realizing that it had a previous owner’s comments scrawled inside. Although I, like probably everyone who still has a quaint attachment to paper, have seen this before, I was struck by these comments in particular.

Though short — mostly only four or five words at most — the scribbler’s nauseating snobbish personality and sense of self-importance shined through. He had dated many of his worthless comments, addressed the publisher (Oxford University Press) in several of them — as if to psychically alert them to his overblown sense of self-importance — and had concluded the 300-plus page book with, “Interesting, but reference material.” He had, of course, signed and dated this as well, as if it were equivalent to Picasso signing Guernica. Continue reading “The Death and Rebirth of Culture”

The Romantic Nature of Men

I’ve sometimes been criticized by my female friends for suggesting that men might be more romantic than women. Women have to remind their boyfriends or husbands to do the little things like remembering an anniversary or Valentines Day, they remind me. Most men don’t want to go for walks along the beach at sunset, and they aren’t interested in dancing or flowers. But that’s not really what I mean by “romantic.”

The history of the term reveals something curious. From about the beginning of the 14th century, at least, “romance” referred to a story about a knight and his heroic deeds. Only from the 17th century did the term begin to refer to the “love story,” and only in the early 20th century was “a romance” used to describe a love affair.   Continue reading “The Romantic Nature of Men”