Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Happy Birthday, Gilbert!

If G. K. Chesterton were still alive, he would be 133 years old today.

Of course, he died in 1936, but that doesn't mean the rest of us who are still among the living can't celebrate the birthday of the man described by the American Chesterton Society as an "overgrown elf...who laughed at his own jokes and amused children at birthday parties by catching buns in his mouth".

That said, in honor of Chesterton's birthday, I intend to catch buns in my mouth for the amusement of my children -- and have a libation in his honor. Not necessarily in that order, mind you, but probably so.

Here is what I wrote on my other blog in honor of this day last year:

"Who is G. K. Chesterton?" you may ask.

This excerpt from the American Chesterton Society's website -- titled, fittingly enough, "Who is this guy and why haven't I heard of him?" is as good of an introduction as you'll find:
Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) cannot be summed up in one sentence. Nor in one paragraph. In fact, in spite of the fine biographies that have been written of him, he has never been captured between the covers of one book. But rather than waiting to separate the goats from the sheep, let’s just come right out and say it: G.K. Chesterton was the best writer of the 20th century. He said something about everything and he said it better than anybody else. But he was no mere wordsmith. He was very good at expressing himself, but more importantly, he had something very good to express. The reason he was the greatest writer of the 20th century was because he was also the greatest thinker of the 20th century.

If you've never read anything written by Chesterton, I envy you.

I say these words because they are the same ones Chesterton spoke to a young boy in a London train station some 100 years ago when, in the course of their converesation, the boy said that he had never read anything by Charles Dickens.

Chesterton went on to tell the boy that he envied him because of the sheer joy he would experience upon reading Dickens for the first time.

Chesterton's wit, the clarity of his thought, and the diversity of his literary output--he wrote everything from novels to biographies, poetry to plays, studies of history to detective stories--all contributed to his unparalleled status as a writer.

Chesterton railed against many of the evils that plagued the world then, and plague the world even more so today, including sexual immorality, birth control, moral relativism, socialism, and unchecked capitalism.

We all could learn much by reading him, and enjoy ourselves in the process.

The following quotations should whet your appetite:
"What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism." - Sidelights on New London and Newer New York

"Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it." - A Miscellany of Men

"I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid." - Illustrated London News, 3 June 1922

"The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right." - ILN 28 October 1922

"Do not look at the faces in the illustrated papers. Look at the faces in the street." - ILN, 16 November 1907

"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around." - Orthodoxy, 1908

"I still hold. . . that the suburbs ought to be either glorified by romance and religion or else destroyed by fire from heaven, or even by firebrands from the earth." - The Coloured Lands

"How quickly revolutions grow old; and, worse still, respectable." - The Listener, 6 March 1935

"He is a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative." - Varied Types

"It is terrible to contemplete how few politicians are hanged." - The Cleveland Press, 1 March 1921

"It is true that I am of an older fashion; much that I love has been destroyed or sent into exile." - The Judgement of Dr. Johnson, Act III

"Love means loving the unlovable - or it is no virtue at all." - Heretics, 1905

"Women are the only realists; their whole object in life is to pit their realism against the extravagant, excessive, and occasionally drunken idealism of men." - A Handful of Authors

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people." - ILN, 16 July 1910

"Modern broad-mindedness benefits the rich; and benefits nobody else." - "The Church of the Servile State", A Utopia of Usurers

"Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists." - The Uses of Diversity, 1921

"Our materialistic masters could, and probably will, put Birth Control into an immediate practical programme while we are all discussing the dreadful danger of somebody else putting it into a distant Utopia." -GK's Weekly, 17 January 1931

"Atheism is indeed the most daring of all dogmas . . . for it is the assertion of a universal negative." - "Charles II", Twelve Types

"No sceptical philosopher can ask any questions that may not equally be asked by a tired child on a hot afternoon." - George Bernard Shaw

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." - What's Wrong With The World, 1910

More quotations can be found here.

Friday, May 25, 2007

More Evidence That "Comprehensive" Sex Education Is a Bad Idea

The Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health is at it again.

In partnership with Planned Parenthood, ICAH is part of a coalition whose goal is to strip all funding of abstinence education for Illinois schools and instead require them to use condom-based sex education programs.

Last year, ICAH held its annual fundraiser at Playboy's executive offices.

That event -- view the invitation here [PDF] -- included a VIP reception with Playboy CEO Christie Hefner, the daughter of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Several years ago, Christie decided that the company could make more money by producing increasingly harder-core pornography — something that even her father was reluctant to do for a long time.

This year, ICAH's annual fundraiser -- an adults-only event, of course, just like last year's -- is being held at Stone Lotus, "Chicago's premier liquor spa".

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Rich Men, Camels, and Needles, Oh My!

A few weeks ago, when I heard an ad for a chain of vasectomy clinics on the local Salem Radio affiliate, I couldn't help but call to mind this (HT: Mark Shea):

Friday, May 18, 2007


Our daughter Lucy shows who Haus Jansen will be rooting for this weekend:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"I Have No Doubt He Will Be Beatified."

--Pope Benedict, speaking last week about Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated while celebrating Mass in San Salvador, El Salvador on 24 March 1980.

I've had a special admiration for Romero ever since I first saw the eponymous film about his life (and death) -- an admiration that was strengthened greatly when my wife and I visited his tomb during a trip to El Salvador seven years ago.

If you haven't seen the movie, run, don't walk, to the nearest Blockbuster and rent it. Or, better yet, stay where you are and get it from Netflix.

This is hardly an “I’m gonna make me some popcorn and take it easy tonight” type of movie, but as far as showing the ugly reality of man’s inhumanity to man, and the insane brutality that so typified life in Central America in the last quarter of the last century, it’s amazing. The closing scene, and a few others, too, are absolutely stunning -- all the more so, because despite some artistic license, the movie is depicting events that really happened.

More background on Romero here.

Friday, May 11, 2007

It's Nice to Know We're on the Right Side in the Clash of Civilizations

From the New York Post earlier this week, we are treated to a story the likes of which we often hear about this time of year - one about uber-rich kids spending obscene amounts of Daddy's money on prom.

Out of Austria, we see this headline: "Activists Want Chimp Declared a Person".

Meanwhile, in the UK, the misanthropes at Optimum Population Trust are wringing their hands about the number of babies being born -- because, you know, babies cause global warming. The money quote:

The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child.

And this, according to Mark Shea, is currently "the most popular commercial in Europe":


Square Zero: Babies Are Eating the Planet!

Posts from my other blog, Generations for Life:

Monday, May 7, 2007

It's a Boy!

Jose James Jansen -- named after his grandfathers -- was born at our house at 2:06am on Sunday, May 6. He weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces.

His three sisters are thrilled to have a baby brother, and his parents are equally thrilled to have a son. The biggest question that remains at this point is what we will call him -- Joey, Joe, J.J., or maybe even his actual name, Jose. Or perhaps a nickname to be given later.

Time will tell. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

"The Gomer Pyle Axiom of High and Low Expectations"

A few weeks ago, Mark Shea came up with the Gomer Pyle Axiom of High and Low Expectations:

The Gomer Pyle Axiom of High and Low Expectations states that those who are expected to meet expectations disappoint us more than those from whom we expect nothing. If Enrico Caruso opens his mouth to sing and his voice cracks, it's a crushing disappointment. When Gomer Pyle opens his mouth and a voice of moderate tone and talent comes out, it's a feat worthy of celebration.

The context for the axiom was politics, and, more specifically, the two major political parties - which, for some time now, Shea has referred to as "The Evil Party" and "The Stupid Party". (Guess which is which.)

The further context for the Pyle Axiom was how the two major parties generally view abortion:

Similarly, a pro-life Democrat is tiny a flower in a very big desert. You want to encourage it to spread. But a GOP pol who promises us, yet again, that the check is in the mail and he working to do something aboutt abortion, and who then takes our vote and gives nothing except rhetoric deserves just the amount of loyalty I give him. I'm certainly glad and grateful for the appointment of Roberts and Alito. But I'm also aware that Bush picked an incompetent pro-choice sycophant for AG and that his first choice for the court had absolutely nothing to do with pro-life (or even pro-competence) issues in the case of groupie Harriet Miers. Bush might as well have picked up a megaphone and declared that, if the nominee happened to be pro-life, that was great, but it certainly didn't influence his choice. What mattered was loyalty to the theory of the unitary executive. I'm delighted with the guys he did eventually pick, but out of the total pool of GOP nominees since 1980, the score is still pretty depressing.

In other words, on the issue of abortion, he holds the Stupid Party to a higher standard than he does the Evil Party.

Makes sense, methinks.

I think he's on to something with the Pyle Axiom, and it seems to me it has applications in countless other settings as well. To take but one example (also relating to abortion, as it happens, but which could also relate to other subjects): media coverage.

A few months ago, an article appeared in the Chicago Tribune on pregnancy resource centers. It contained numerous quotes from workers from actual PRCs, as well as from representatives from pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood. While I had some complaints about the article, after reading it, it seemed reasonably well balanced. In essence, I thought that it was about as fair a treatment of the subject as one could expect.

Some pro-lifers, however, work themselves into a lather over articles like this one (and the very highly publicized Time Magazine cover story on PRCs from a few months back). When I hear complaints like these from fellow pro-lifers, I can't help but wonder: What did they expect?

We know that most members of the mainstream media don't regularly attend worship services, are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping abortion legal, and personally believe that Judeo-Christian sexual morality is outmoded.

That said, we oughtn't be gobsmacked when we sense bias in the MSM against the beliefs we hold dear.

Enrico Caruso they ain't.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Amnesty International Officially Endorses the Sacrament of Abortion

This is a shame - especially considering that AI was founded by Peter Benenson, a convert to Catholicism - but if we didn't see this "policy change" coming, shame on us.

Once an organization starts bandying about shibboleths like "sexual and reproductive rights", it's impossible for said organization to not support abortion.

HT: Amy Welborn