The Man Who Was The Day Before Friday
July 17, 2015 11:44 AM   Subscribe

G.K. Chesterton was one of the most accomplished authors of the 20th century, a devout Catholic and an endlessly fascinating man of contradictions. Should he be a saint?

Skip past the two sentences in the Atlantic article, the first beginning with "I recently watched an episode of National Geographic Channel’s Outlaw Bikers..." to avoid a spoiler to The Man Who Was Thursday.

An extensive series of lectures on Chesterton.

The Man Who Was Thursday (Gutenberg)
The Innocence of Father Brown.
Other books and essays at Gutenberg. (Note: three pages worth, 54 entries)

posted by dances_with_sneetches (43 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I have read and enjoyed (for the most part, except of course the horrible racism) all of his fiction. At least in his stories and novels, Chesterton comes off as absolutely unhinged about Jews, Black people, and especially Asians. Can a racist be a saint?
posted by Malla at 12:20 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've heard that about Chesterton before, Malla, and it's kept me from picking up his books. Is the racism so virulent that all his fiction should be avoided?
posted by Kattullus at 12:25 PM on July 17, 2015

I think the Father Brown mysteries are the worst offenders. I really love The Man Who was Thursday, so maybe that is causing me to forget anything offensive in there.
posted by Malla at 12:27 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Can a racist be a saint?

Does an Inquisitor count as a racist?
posted by clawsoon at 12:30 PM on July 17, 2015

Actually, I have often thought that a collection of the truly "innocent" stories of Father Brown (not all the the stories are problematic -- maybe not even most) would be a great collection. All the fun, none of the sads. But then I think that would be whitewashing a real and ugly thing.
posted by Malla at 12:32 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

I should have had other links.

No, he shouldn't be a saint.
Was he anti-Semitic?
No, he wasn't (that) racist.
In a time when many intellectuals supported eugenics, he wrote a book "Eugenics and Other Evils."

Chesterton was a man of huge contradictions.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:34 PM on July 17, 2015 [7 favorites]

G.K. Chesterton is one of those people for whom the word "problematic" was invented.

Perhaps it could be said in his defense that he's less racist than Lovecraft? And a lotta people still like Lovecraft?

And unlike Lovecraft (IMHO) he has a lot of human warmth and kindness and humor, and genuine wisdom and insight about the world. He's a great writer & fun to read.

But then bam, you get some racist bullshit dumped on you. Do you hold your nose and keep reading or do you say "fuck this" and throw the book aside?

Both are perfectly respectable choices to make, IMHO.
posted by edheil at 12:51 PM on July 17, 2015 [11 favorites]

Perhaps it could be said in his defense that he's less racist than Lovecraft? And a lotta people still like Lovecraft?

The difference is that nobody is trying to put HPL on altars or as a role model.

As for Chesterton, I haven't read him because so many repugnant fundamentalists fanboy him so much, from John C Wright to Juan Manuel de Prada (let's say that he's the Spanish Jonathan Chait or something similar).
posted by sukeban at 12:58 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

dances_with_sneetches makes the very good point that Chesterton was violently opposed to some bad things of his time (and ours)! He denounced and derided a lot of things that actually needed denouncing and derision.

But sometimes he was off base in a way that is, from our perspective, truly appalling.
posted by edheil at 12:59 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

(It's not that I'm boycotting Chesterton, it's that he's incredibly low on my to-read queue)
posted by sukeban at 12:59 PM on July 17, 2015

In my view his claim to immortality must rest in part on his being memorably quoted in one of Borges' finest essays, The Analytical Language of John Wilkins, which I think is almost a Mefi Sacred Text, for its oft-mentioned passage about the supposed Encyclopedia. It concludes...

Leaving hopes and utopias apart, probably the most lucid ever written about language are the following words by Chesterton: "He knows that there are in the soul tints more bewildering, more numberless, and more nameless than the colours of an autumn forest... Yet he seriously believes that these things can every one of them, in all their tones and semitones, in all their blends and unions, be accurately represented by an arbitrary system of grunts and squeals. He believes that an ordinary civilized stockbroker can really produce out of this own inside noises which denote all the mysteries of memory and all the agonies of desire"
posted by Segundus at 1:04 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

I once watched "G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense", a television series in which the president of the American Chesterton Society elucidated his views on (almost) everything in 14 episodes, set in what could only be described as a Catholic man-cave. His views on women were so antiquated as to be unintentionally hilarious, and of course predicated on the assumption that there would always be a man to provide for them and do the thinking for them.

Perhaps his variety of common sense was more appropriate to Victorian times.
posted by Soliloquy at 1:04 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

A saint isn't "a really, really nice person who was anachronistically progressive". It's someone to whom miracles can be positively attributed to (for a given value of "positively"). Some of the great saints of history are recorded as being right bastards.

As for whether his racism should stop you from reading him, I'd say his is fairly typical of the time. In general, if you ignore the fact that he hated pretty much everything that wasn't England, Catholicism, or beer (e.g. Germans, Jews, Voltaire, Marx, Continental Philosophy in general, Protestantism, cats, the Japanese, people who opposed toll roads, Socialists, Spiritualists, Darwin, Queen Elizabeth, Anarchists, Atheists, Capitalists, Pacifists, heretics, boors but not necessarily Boers), you'll find G.K. Chesterton a near-endless font of some of the finest prose the English language has to offer.
posted by Palindromedary at 1:05 PM on July 17, 2015 [9 favorites]

At least in his stories and novels, Chesterton comes off as absolutely unhinged about Jews, Black people, and especially Asians.

Yeah, it's not just his fiction: his non-fiction is just as bad. It's particularly frustrating because, in some respects, I think that Distributism actually has some important things that modern anti-capitalism could learn from, but when you're reading Chesterton on economics, it's hard to avoid the nagging fear that you're probably a page or two away at most from some off-handed aside that casually implies that both capitalism and communism are mostly the fault of sinister cosmopolitan Jews.

Speaking of Borges, I remember reading a Borges essay that claimed that most of Chesterton's racism and antisemitism was superficial and due of the "baleful influence" of Hillaire Belloc, but I think Chesterton and Belloc were each as bad as the other, and Borges was just more willing to forgive somebody who could write as well as Chesterton could.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 1:13 PM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

What I find is so fascinating about Chesterton is that he is so wildly a mixture of both ends of the spectra at the same time. I find The Man Who Was Thursday more anti-fascist than anti-anarchist. And that's not because he was finding middle ground or saying both are bad. I think he was saying we need some anarchy as a cure.

I don't agree that he was typical of his time. There is nothing typical about Chesterton. Kipling was typical and I loathe Kipling's works. That was racism and to me it infused virtually everything Kipling wrote.

Chesterton was like a fascinating columnist who you agree with half of the time because he nails the argument and whom you gawk at for his rubbish.

Chesterton was snobbish, bombastic but ... self-effacing which goes back to his contradictions. Chesterton was like C.S. Lewis with real writing skills and without the forced arguments. To me, he is endlessly fascinating, even though he was wrong half the time.

But, you know, maybe I haven't picked through enough of his more racist moments.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:26 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Chesterton is great and fascinating and, yes, "problematic". So are many people. Doesn't mean he isn't well worth reading.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:29 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Holy shit, no, he should not be a saint. In addition to the critiques leveled above, he was also a homophobe and stupid about women. (He actually had some sympathy for socialists, though.) And an anti-Semite, don't forget - an anti-Semite during the twenties and thirties.

And he wasn't just "typical of his time" - he was born in 1874 and lived until 1936, so he was a contemporary or near-contemporary of Proust, Joyce, Henry James, Woolf, WEB Dubois, Ida Tarbell, Oscar Wilde, Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman...his attitudes were ridiculously retrograde for at least the last third of his life but they didn't really change. More, he was a Catholic sympathizer because he saw a conservative strain in Catholicism that he felt was missing from English national life.

He did have a strain of radicalism and radical sympathy in him - read "The Queer Feet" if you like, or "The Sign of the Broken Sword", or "The Miracle of Moon Crescent" (which is a very astute story about a lot of stuff). I imagine he wasn't a bad guy - even to despised categories - if you actually knew him in person.

If you want to read some GK Chesterton that won't prove extremely discomforting, you might start with the Father Brown stories "The Blue Cross", "The Queer Feet", "The Mirror of the Magistrate", "The Vampire of the Village", and (IIRC) "The Oracle of the Dog". Also I think the stories in The Club of Queer Trades are mostly pretty charming, especially the house agent one.

I haven't read his essays in so long that I no longer remember which ones are not full of racism and misogyny.

He's a strange one and his landscapes are wonderfully baroque and eerie. I often think of bits of his descriptions, like " It was one of those journeys on which a man perpetually feels that now at last he must have come to the end of the universe, and then finds he has only come to the beginning of Tufnell Park".

This bit has influenced me quite a lot at different times in my life, even though I don't really buy the Christian/non- argument:

There is,” said Father Brown dryly; “and that is the real difference between
human charity and Christian charity. You must forgive me if I was not altogether
crushed by your contempt for my uncharitableness to-day; or by the lectures you
read me about pardon for every sinner. For it seems to me that you only pardon the
sins that you don’t really think sinful. You only forgive criminals when they
commit what you don’t regard as crimes, but rather as conventions. So you tolerate
a conventional duel, just as you tolerate a conventional divorce. You forgive
because there isn’t anything to be forgiven.....Go on your own
primrose path pardoning all your favourite vices and being generous to your
fashionable crimes; and leave us in the darkness, vampires of the night, to console
those who really need consolation; who do things really indefensible, things that
neither the world nor they themselves can defend; and none but a priest will
pardon. Leave us with the men who commit the mean and revolting and real
crimes; mean as St. Peter when the cock crew, and yet the dawn came."

Which is from The Chief Mourner of Marne, a story whose plot revolves around "even murder is better than being gay".
posted by Frowner at 1:52 PM on July 17, 2015 [6 favorites]

He was a proper genius. Not a run of the mill clever person or talent, a true, distinct and terrifying genius. I find myself both agreeing and disagreeing more strongly with Chesterton than with almost any other thinker. His racial views were repugnant, even for their time. His prejudice against Nietzsche was embarrassing, given how much they have in common. His writing is a stronger tonic against nihilism and despair than almost anything else I know. He defended Dickens from critical sneering.

The idea of canonising anyone is insane, but Chesterton particularly, I think. He was profoundly human, in all his contradictions, his brilliance and his idiocy, kindness and hate. Setting him up as a symbol is ridiculous, idolising Chesterton is puerile and repellent. If you engage with him, think about his arguments, work out where he's right and where he's wrong, then he is a good author to read. He is also a good author to read for the purpose of pure entertainment. But he is a terrible author to adopt as a role model or teacher. Basically, yes, he is just like Nietzsche in this respect, always valuable but never trustworthy.
posted by howfar at 1:55 PM on July 17, 2015 [7 favorites]

I also often think of "A Ballade of Suicide" when I'm feeling bad:

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall;
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours–on the wall–
Are drawing a long breath to shout “Hurray!”
The strangest whim has seized me. . . . After all
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

because I picture all the neighbors being "hooray" and then I think "fuck you, neighbors".
posted by Frowner at 1:55 PM on July 17, 2015 [10 favorites]

absolutely unhinged about Jews, Black people, and especially Asians

He was no more or less so than about 98 percent of the men and women of his time. It's wrong to judge him by the standards of 2015. He was also (most offensive to me) an enthusiastic supporter of the Great War. But, aging, this makes him just like all but a tiny few of his countrymen and women. There is no record of his Chesteron treating a minority -- or anyone else -- cruelly. His worst crime is the casual use stereotypical racial and ethic tropes -- none of which are crucial to the meaning of his work.
posted by Modest House at 2:07 PM on July 17, 2015

And he wasn't just "typical of his time" - he was born in 1874 and lived until 1936, so he was a contemporary or near-contemporary of Proust, Joyce, Henry James, Woolf, WEB Dubois, Ida Tarbell, Oscar Wilde, Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman

Citing luminaries of literature to prove that he didn't have typical attitudes is a bizarre approach. The sort of expressions about blacks, Asians etc that Chesterton filled his stories with were a dime a dozen in average people's opinions of the time (though other writers too expressed them). One only has to grab newspaper articles or magazines of the period to find a constant barrage of such expressions. The 1930s weren't an era of common racial brotherhood where the foreigner was considered an equal of the Anglo-Saxon, and that's as late as you can go and still discuss Chesterton (though you can grab 1940s and 50s stuff by others and still readily come across it).

He had the usual casual asides to ape-like features, animal/savage cunning, cannibals, foreign exoticism, and so on that were the stock in trade of much writing of the period. He doesn't put a lot of effort into it; he just sort of drops it there, expecting the reader to come along. He was painfully typical late Victorian in that regard.

His actual unusual stances would be his staunch Catholicism, or his opposition to the Boer War, which he saw as a bullying attack on a much weaker opponent, and which made him the target of abuse as the war was wildly popular at home.
posted by Palindromedary at 2:11 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Citing luminaries of literature to prove that he didn't have typical attitudes is a bizarre approach.

But we can't have it both ways - we can't say "well, he was a genius, but don't compare him to other literary geniuses except when it's flattering to him". The guy was smart, he read books, he lived in London, he went to plays, he wasn't some ignoramus from Outer East Grinstead who could be excused for having stupid ideas because he'd never even met a Jewish person, etc. "I am a genius who has lots of opportunity to read, travel and learn, but don't judge me for having the same biases as a farm laborer who's never been more than ten miles from my village". (Also, honestly, The God of the Gongs totally is unhinged about race.)

(Also, like, Oscar Wilde and so on were popular. There were lots of people who were less racist, less sexist and less anti-Semitic whose books sold like hotcakes - like Dickens! It's not like Dickens was a model for desirable racial and gender attitudes, but he sure was no Chesterton.)
posted by Frowner at 2:20 PM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

The people who want to make him a saint want to do so because of his reactionary worldview, not in spite of it, although they probably insist that the main part of modernity they object to is materialism.
posted by thelonius at 2:25 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Also, Chesterton was still writing virtually on his deathbed - you can't convince me that his ideas were all totally normal in 1936 - there was lots and lots of popular literature by that point contesting racism and misogyny and anti-Semitism, plenty of it by white people and by men and non-Jews. (Not all of it that great, but still.)
posted by Frowner at 2:29 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Chesterton was seven years older than PG Wodehouse, for instance, and while Wodehouse sure had his racist and fucked up moments, he's nothing like Chesterton. And he was pretty popular!
posted by Frowner at 2:31 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Even in his own time, one of the most common criticisms of Chesterton was that he was an anti-Semite and an ultra-reactionary, so, while I certainly have sympathy for the argument that one shouldn't judge historical figures by modern standards of morality, I don't see how it can hold much water in this particular case. It's true that that stuff wasn't quite so beyond the pale in those days, which was why he and George Bernard Shaw could be such good friends in spite of disagreeing about so much, which would never happen now, but it's not at all as if nobody but a tiny vanguard realized this stuff was wrong.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 2:33 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

But we can't have it both ways - we can't say "well, he was a genius, but don't compare him to other literary geniuses except when it's flattering to him". The guy was smart, he read books, he lived in London, he went to plays, he wasn't some ignoramus from Outer East Grinstead who could be excused for having stupid ideas because he'd never even met a Jewish person, etc.

It's hard to say how much of what you said is addressed to me vs. to the thread in general, so forgive me if I get this a bit mixed up.

My only rejection of the comparison to other well-known writers was against the idea that any famous writer necessarily represents the common attitudes of the times. Certainly some do, and that is why they become famous (and why some of these people are later forgotten, as time leaves them and their attitudes and styles behind). But I know for a fact that what Chesterton writes regarding race (I'm not as comfortable discussing the anti-Semitism, as it's an area I'm not as familiar with) is so very common that it's almost boring; I don't even blink when I see it, because everyone and their dog, in the age of empire, mass colonization, scientific racism, etc, wrote of the inferiority of the exotic savage. It runs for decades, in all English-speaking countries and certainly France and Germany too (the extent of my reading), well past Chesterton's time. I must own myself dozens of short stories with such casual, unthinking expressions. Yes, there were some who thought better. That doesn't really mean much, other than reflecting well on those people. You can come up with a vast list of people that didn't share his ignorant attitudes. It doesn't make those attitudes any less typical, because the list of those who did share them was exponentially greater.

As for how his intelligence should have obviated his attitudes, that supposes that all it takes to not be racist is to be smart. This is, sadly, not so. If anything, an intelligent person can more strongly buttress their shitty attitudes with a mask of scientific or other logical reasoning, making it harder to sway them (witness the popularity of anthropometry amongst the educated). There have been a great number of extremely intelligent people in history who bore extremely reprehensible opinions, even when credible counterarguments were available, and even through to today (such as the many horrible people who like Chesterton, for instance).
posted by Palindromedary at 2:43 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ah, Chesterton. I used to love his writing, but that was back when I appreciated a witty and coherent defense of Christianity.

I'd compare him to Robert Heinlein, not because of any shared ideology, but because they're both highly entertaining, and alternately make you think and make you want to throw the book against the wall. Both were contrarians who could make fun of present-day society and yet found nothing more ridiculous than radicals who wanted to change it.

For what it's worth, Chesterton wasn't a reactionary, he was a Liberal. From 2015, everybody a century ago may look completely horrible, but it's worth trying to understand what the various positions were at the time, and not just assume everyone was a Tory.

(Frowner, Wodehouse is a lot of fun, but you might want to look up his WWII activities before declaring him safer than Chesterton, who roundly condemned Hitler.)
posted by zompist at 3:30 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

As a Jew, I am...not impressed by the idea that we should steer clear of Chesterton, lest we be exposed to his anti-Semitism. You expose yourself to many things, even things which contain bad things, with the expectation that you will be able to distinguish good ideas from bad. That approach to reading was actually...well, a big part of the Jewish tradition I grew up with.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:04 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

(Frowner, Wodehouse is a lot of fun, but you might want to look up his WWII activities before declaring him safer than Chesterton, who roundly condemned Hitler.)

Wodehouse's WWII "activities"* were entirely derived from the fact that he was fundamentally apolitical.

To quote Orwell quoting Wodehouse: "I never was interested in politics. I’m quite unable to work up any kind of belligerent feeling. Just as I’m about to feel belligerent about some country I meet a decent sort of chap. We go out together and lose any fighting thoughts or feelings."

Wodehouse was not a Nazi sympathiser. There is not a jot of evidence to suggest he was anything of the sort. And while, yes, there are moments in Wodehouse that are toe-curlingly racist in a modern context, they are simply not comparable to Chesterton's descriptions of Oriental evil and Jewish greed.

These are two writers I love. But while Wodehouse is sometimes incidentally marred by the customary prejudices of his time, Chesterton's writing and worldview are fully implicated in his racism. I can deal with that, but I'm not going to handwave it away, and I have to engage seriously with the implications when I read Chesterton, in a way that is not necessary for Wodehouse. Partly that's because Chesterton was attempting something very different to Wodehouse, but it's also because he was much more of a racist.

*In scare quoted possibly unfairly, but it does seem a loaded word in this context.
posted by howfar at 6:04 PM on July 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

I highly recommend GK Chesterton's Father Brown mysteries; haven't read anything else of his - sure there are some problematic parts but he is a wonderful writer and these are for the most part really good & thoughtful stories
posted by Bwithh at 6:18 PM on July 17, 2015

How does the miracle thing work here? He needs 3 officially proven miracles for canonization I think ? But there aren't any so far ?
posted by Bwithh at 6:22 PM on July 17, 2015

How does the miracle thing work here?

That would be an ecumenical matter.
posted by howfar at 6:27 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

I highly recommend GK Chesterton's Father Brown mysteries; haven't read anything else of his - sure there are some problematic parts but he is a wonderful writer and these are for the most part really good & thoughtful stories

The Man Who Was Thursday, Eugenics and Other Evils, The Ball & The Cross, and The Everlasting Man are all pretty great.

At his best, Chesterton uses sparkling wit and paradox to illuminate the magic of existence. I'm especially struck by his repeated idea that the ordinary is more special than the extraordinary.

At his worst, he shares old, stupid, wrong opinions about things - but even then, even at his very worst, I find it valuable to see how otherwise smart, wonderful people can artfully express idiotic ideas. Nobody should escape that kind of critical lens.

His anti-Semitism is particularly pronounced in The Ball & The Cross, but its expression is so utterly ridiculous that I could only laugh at it. I can't think of any real harms that it visited upon me. If anything, I'm far more insulted by the idea that I ought to take it more seriously.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:14 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Reading up more on some of his anti-Semitic statements. Hmm. Well, the post provoked a good discussion.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:27 PM on July 17, 2015

The Tremendous Adventures of Major Brown from The Club of Queer Trades is my favourite Chesterton story.

I try not to judge the past by the present too much, but I've been reading Virginia Woolf's diaries and every so often I put them aside and sigh, WTF Virginia, what the fuck. I'm far more critical of writers who took immense pleasure in being terrible (Evelyn Waugh, Kingsley Amis), or ones who were sexist and homophobic when they should have known better (Mary Renault, Patricia Highsmith).
posted by betweenthebars at 1:07 AM on July 18, 2015

howfar: Orwell's article is excellent, thanks for the pointer.

Still, Orwell's defense of Wodehouse is that he was "stupid" and that his mental life was not only pre-WWII, but pre-WWI. But "stupidity" is a loaded term for Orwell. It's how he habitually describes the British ruling class: "Clearly, there was only one escape for them-- into stupidity. They could keep society in its existing shape only by being unable to grasp that any improvement was possible." (From "England Your England".)

A lot of the better Chesterton is the earlier stuff. I like this essay by Adam Gopnik, which pays tribute to his readability and brilliance and fully acknowledges his frequent (and increasing-over-the-decades) awfulness.
posted by zompist at 1:47 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Incredible writing output. Supposedly he could write one thing and dictate another at the same time. I can't even manage to finish CampNaNaWriMo (unless the next couple weeks go well.)

Writing fast isn't a saint-quality miracle, though.
posted by michaelh at 6:28 AM on July 18, 2015

From a couple of years ago: Can this Jew-hater G K Chesterton be a saint?

We're not talking about a writer who drops an anti-Semitic or racist expression into a story. Chesterton actively campaigned for the exclusion of Jews from English public office, on the grounds that they were disloyal. He wanted them to be forced to wear distinctive clothing. He wanted them put into ghettoes ("some sort of self-governing enclave with special laws and exemptions.") He was very, very, anti-Semitic indeed.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:38 AM on July 18, 2015

michaelh: Writing fast isn't a saint-quality miracle, though.

It's probably evidence he sold his soul to the devil.
posted by Kattullus at 7:41 AM on July 18, 2015

After reading this post and the comments I sat down and read Chesterton's "The Club Of Queer Trades" for the first time. Such charming, funny, and wonderfully-written stories, aside from one which just disgusted me: The Painful Fall Of a Great Reputation, Chapter Two in the book. The sneering anti-Semitism in the story is particularly offensive due to Chesterton's facile skill in innuendo. The word Jew is never mentioned, but "Oriental" is his obvious code-word.

By the way, I thought Adam Gopnik's 2008 New Yorker essay, linked in a comment above, was well worth reading.
posted by Agave at 8:34 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well as a gay Anglican person of color I obviously disagree with GK Chesterson on multiple levels. And where one doesn't agree with him, one finds him infuriatingly smug.

I also happened to be rereading his biography of St Thomas earlier today (before I saw this thread) and it is stunningly hilarious, brilliant and intelligent.

So, um, sure he is a saint. If we're going to make people be absolutely perfect before we acknowledge their status then let's kick St Paul off the rolls, in the meantime we should work with the humans we have.

caveat: I am Anglo-Catholic and Catholics of the Roman Sort may be more, dare I say, puritanical on the issue....
posted by tivalasvegas at 1:50 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ugh, "Chesterson". My autocorrect is an absolute heathen.
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:01 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

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