We had a great group including new faces X 3 meet at C. J. Muggs on Monday evening, the 21st. Our topic was Chesterton’s eschatology which could be interpreted as his personal end or as his take on the final four things (death, judgment, heaven & hell. The former seemed to prevail with folks having checked out biographies of GKC and his own Autobiography, which is the route I took, especially concentrating on the final chapter.
Mary Josephine “Maisie” Ward’s biography was what Larry worked on and shared some passages from about how Chesterton was in fact weighed down in his last couple of years, with his staff and family encouraging him to slow down and not work as much as he was. Fr. Vincent (McNabb?, a friend of GKC’s) described him “. . .as heartbroken by public events” and is quoted in Ward’s book as saying, “He was crucified to his thought.” The theme of gratitude came up here as it does also in his “Autobiography”
In the last chapter of his autobiography, Chesterton spends a lot of time discussing dandelions and confession. An observation was made that a person that has confession/absolution available to him should have very little to fear— true in one sense and yet easier to say than to actually demonstrate. GKC also recalled two very early poems of his, “By The Babe Unborn” and “The Beatific Vision”, which is worth reproducing here:
The Beatific Vision
Through what fierce incarnations, furled
In fire and darkness, did I go,
Ere I was worthy in the world
To see a dandelion grow?
Well, if in any woes or wars
I bought my naked right to be,
Grew worthy of the grass, nor gave
The wren, my brother, shame for me.
But what shall God not ask of him
In the last time when all is told,
Who saw her stand beside the hearth,
The firelight garbing her in gold.
Shannon had some very touching observations about the approach of death from her experience as a hospice nurse- those were very poignant and on the mark. And Randy contributed some insights from his work dealing with depressives. Confession was also compared and contrasted with such approaches as AA and psychoanalysis.
A wonderful Chesterton quotation was shared from “All Things Considered” (1908): “it might be reasonably be maintained that the true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.”
This is just a hurried sketch of our conversation and I’m sure it is totally inadequate to the contributions of many who attended; I hope others will add their comments/recollections/amendments/etc.
We look forward to October 19th when we will consider “Chesterton on St. Thomas More”; the book The Well and the Shallows has a chapter devoted to him written in 1935 after More was canonized by the Catholic Church. Our meeting will be immeasurably richer with you joining us!!!