Monday, December 15, 2014

St. Gilbert?

I'm so late on this but last year a priest was assigned to begin investigating if a cause for G.K. Chesterton's canonization should be opened. Some people are overjoyed, others are not. I read one essay by Stephen Drummel a few weeks ago that said Chesterton was too fat (well gee Sherlock, we never noticed), smoked cigars and drank his wine from a tumbler instead of a proper wine glass and that  he got crabby if anyone interfered with him while he was trying to chow down. He also was messy. Mr. Drummel doesn't come out and call Chesterton a drunken slob but he gets darn close to that.  In response to the essay a Dale Ahlquist, the premier US based G.K. Chesterton expert, wrote  that sure Gilbert was a big man but so was St. John XXIII (Pope Pius XI and St. Gertrude the Great were not fly weights either) and for what it's worth,  Pope St. Pius X dipped snuff and  St. Damian smoked and that  passionately liking wine doesn't make one a confirmed drunkard.

Is Drummel rough but absolutely right or is  Ahlquist correct? I don't know but several other sources throughout the decades have pointed out--- and this, I think will be the real deal breaker-- that although Chesterton was a Zionist for a time, it was only because he distrusted Jews and wanted them out of England and Europe. Later in his life he concluded that immigration to Palestine wouldn't work because of the Arabs who were already there and suggested that a carving a country out of territory in Africa might be the answer.  Chesterton's fans are hopeful that one day he'll be canonized but I wouldn't bet any money on it.

5 comments:

Steve Dalton said...

Mr. Drummel wasn't the only one who thought Chesterton was intemperate. The article quoted several people who knew GK quite well, and who saw him in action. Also, I was married to an alcoholic, and I had another relative who was one, and frankly, based on my own experiances, and what these folks say about Ol' Chesty, I think he was a glutton and a winebibber.

Dymphna said...

I'll trust your judgment Steve. Living with or just having an alcoholic relative gives a greater detection ability than most people. As probable alcoholic, and a strong critic of Judaism I'd say GKG's chances of sainthood are between slim and none.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"Chesterton was too fat"

As he noted, so was St Thomas Aquinas.

As to St Bridget, Sven Stolpe or someone liked to note she was actually rather slim, when in most iconography she is shown as a rather fat matron.

Well, duh, the iconography which portrays her as slim might be from when she was a 13 year old bride, while the other might be from when she was a widow with 8 live childbirths behind her.

"As probable alcoholic,"

Or probably stopped just in time. Belloc said later (Return to the Baltic) he and Chesterton had been in the risk zone.

However, neither of them became drunkards.

Neither of them drank so much they could not control themselves.

St Augustine mentioned "I have often been tipsy, but never drunk".

As for drinking rather great quantities, well, if you are used to it, it won't make you drunk.

And in such a case, it is just impertinent for someone to interfere.

However, that state of heightened toleration, as Belloc noted, is a risk zone.

"Also, I was married to an alcoholic, and I had another relative who was one, and frankly, based on my own experiances, and what these folks say about Ol' Chesty, I think he was a glutton and a winebibber."

Glutton is possible.

Winebibber is unclear. If you mean drunk, you are wrong. The occasion when he confused the corkscrew and the house key was BEFORE he had used the corkscrew.

If you mean it is sinful to drink much and often even within the limit of not getting drunk, you are not Catholic.

Get thee to the sect of Kent Hovind (though they are immoderate chicken eaters, as I recall his description of it), OUT of the Church of God!

Btw, did your wife DIE from some alcohol related disease? You said you WERE married to one. I didn't consider you as THAT old as to be a widower under normal circumstances.

My grandmother was probably alcoholic, but that is beside the point. She was often drunk and that is a state which, unpleasant as it is to others, Chesterton never descended to.

"a strong critic of Judaism"

OK, St John who in his narrative uses "Jews" as lump word for the in His lifetime on Earth diverse groups of enemies of Christ?

Or Our Lord in Apocalypse, in the chapters that include Letters to the Churches (I think BOTH ch 1 and ch 2)? Or more recently, Father Maximilian Kolbe?

Or in between, St John Chrysostomus?

And what about the Inquisitor who condemned Jews who had committed a sacrilege against the Blessed Sacrament to death? "Saint John of Capistrano (San Giovanni da Capistrano, 1386–1456) was Franciscan friar, famous as a preacher, inquisitor, and crusader." (70 years old at death, btw, back in the Middle Ages when one was supposed to die at 35-40 sth ....)

And St Justin Martyr, in Dialogue with the Jew Tryphon?

Seriously!

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"St. Thomas Aquinas typically heads the list, and St. John XXIII is given as a recent example."

If Vatican II is considered as one of his miracles, I don't give much for that "sainthood". Fat or not.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"Regarding food, a lady who hosted Chesterton for several weeks said he “[d]idn’t care for salads or vegetables” and ate mainly meat and potatoes. But drinking seemed to form the most dangerous threat to Chesterton’s health. Fr. O’Connor, the basis for Chesterton’s Fr. Brown, related that at one party, Chesterton had been drinking “to the detriment of social intercourse.” Chesterton was unsteady to the point that Fr. O’Connor offered him his arm, which Chesterton “refused… with a finality foreign to our friendship.” He then tripped and landed full on his arm, breaking it."

Around 1914, time of his physical breakdown?

He only converted in "He entered full communion with the Catholic Church in 1922."

By 1914 and 1915 he can hardly have been knowing Fr. O'Connor yet.

I suspect Fr. John Udris might have been lying or Steven Drummel might have been confused about diverse things he was told by him.

Oh, wait ... it seems I was wrong.

"I liked him very much; but if you had told me that ten years afterwards I should be a Mormon Missionary in the Cannibal Islands, I should not have been more surprised than at the suggestion that, fully fifteen years afterwards, I should be making to him my General Confession and being received into the Church that he served."

Meaning, he met Fr. O'Connor in 1907.

Yes, Fr. O'Connor can - chronologically speaking - have been at that occasion before he had convinced Chesterton of converting.

I had not noticed that he met him so long before his conversion.

Now, the occasion in 1914 was ALSO before his conversion.

You know how St Christopher behaved before his?

Back to weight:

The internet ubiquitously lists Chesterton as a 6’4, 300 pound man. 6’4 was the estimate of Chesterton’s secretary: Chesterton gave his height as 6’2. As for weight, Chesterton said it had “never been accurately calculated.” Chesterton’s weight was not so simple and static; it went through phases.

300 pound?

Well, I got my Clerihew right:

Gilbert Keith Chesterton
weighed - he was so ble'st - a ton
retained the worst three hundred pound
the rest within his books are found.

And frankly, by now I think you could make 700 pounds of books, even if only making one example per title and no essays overlapping between them, from my blogging too.