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#1 Overstreet

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 10:54 AM

Mark Shea: Award-winning Catholic blogger. Writer. Speaker. Movie star?

G.K. Chesterton’s classic book “Manalive” was published in 1912 and took place mostly in England. But the movie is set in modern times in an ambiguous “anywhere and nowhere” location.



#2 Tyler

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 11:11 AM

The trailer said "coming alive in 2009." Does that mean it's out already?

#3 Overstreet

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 11:56 AM

Here's Mark's latest update.

#4 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 11:01 AM

Manalive is easily in my favorite top 5 of Chesterton's books. In fact, G.K. Chesterton has always been a major reason why I liked the film Fight Club (one particular scene comes to mind).

It's nice to know that someone else like Shea even knows the book exists, much less loved it enough to make a little film about it. Anyone who hasn't read it, should do so, asap.

Edited by Persiflage, 30 June 2010 - 11:02 AM.


#5 Tyler

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 11:11 AM

I listened to the LibriVox version, if that counts. The reader was pretty good. There's a version of The Man Who Was Thursday on the site that was done well, too.

I haven't thought of Manalive in relation to Fight Club. Which scene are you thinking of?

#6 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 11:41 AM

I haven't thought of Manalive in relation to Fight Club. Which scene are you thinking of?


"Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel's life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted."

#7 Overstreet

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 03:21 PM

Aside: Whenever I quote G.K. Chesterton (as I did here on my blog) and somebody fires back saying, "Mr. Chesterton is wrong" (as they did on that post and on my Facebook page),I so wish Chesterton were alive to engage the debate.

Edited by Overstreet, 06 July 2010 - 09:35 PM.


#8 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 03:33 PM

Overstreet wrote:
: Aside: Whenever I quote G.K. Chesterton (as I did here on my blog) and somebody fires back saying, "Mr. Chesterton is wrong" (as they did on that post),I so wish Chesterton were alive to engage the debate.

Well, Chesterton certainly IS wrong in that case, and on two levels:

First, he presents a false dichotomy between creation and evolution (although, as your commenter notes, you don't need to believe in natural selection simply to note that people evolve unequally as individuals; from the womb to adulthood, we are all very, very unequal -- and it is, indeed, this very inequality that we celebrate when we celebrate "diversity").

Second, he suggests that the divine creation of men and women as equals (oh, wait a minute, Chesterton didn't believe women should be given the vote, did he?) is the "only" basis for democracy, when in fact there are other, less theological reasons for believing that democracy is, as Churchill supposedly said, the worst form of government except for all the others.

#9 Overstreet

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 05:26 PM

For the record, in response to the commenters on my blog and FB, Mark Shea writes:

Chesterton is, of course, perfectly right and the people who are calling him a racist are fools who don’t get that he was the enemy of the racial theories which, in the 20s, were appealing to Darwin and looking forward to Hitler.

Here’s his take (1923) on the looniness of the then red-hot latest theory of Aryan progenitors of the Nordic Superman which was to be funny right up until it became state policy under National Socialism. http://www.wikilivre...i/The_Thing/23. Chesterton has great respect for peoples and ethnic and national groupings because he believes in things like families and the home. He has nothing but contempt for the notion of a Master Race. He believes in patriotism, but despises nationalism. For the former is a species of love, while the latter is a species of Pride.

Here’s my own take on the purely mystical notion of equality: http://www.mark-shea.com/HE36_f.html People who think you can derive it from an atheistic materialist worldview are simply muddy thinkers.


Edited by Overstreet, 06 July 2010 - 09:35 PM.


#10 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 07:08 PM

Well, again, like I said, you don't need to subscribe to any particular theology in order to believe that each person should have a say in how the country is run (or however you want to define "democracy"). A healthy skepticism re: anyone's claims to know what everyone else should do ought to suffice. So the "mysticism" of the Declaration of Independence (or any other deist document) is ultimately neither here nor there.

And while Chesterton was certainly right to oppose the notion that there is or can be such a thing as a "Master Race", it would be folly to assume that Darwin necessarily leads to Hitler, or that a healthy recognition of genetic diversity among humans necessarily leads to the belief that any given race can or should be the master of all the others. Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

BTW, who is Shea "responding" to when he refers to "the people who are calling [Chesterton] a racist"? I don't see any of your commenters calling him that.

#11 Overstreet

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 09:34 PM

Ah, I confused matters by forgetting to mention that, on Facebook, somebody responded to the quote by saying Chesterton's reference to "evolving unequally" was an expression of "his 19th century racism." I've now amended those posts.

Edited by Overstreet, 06 July 2010 - 09:35 PM.


#12 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 04:57 PM

Aside: Whenever I quote G.K. Chesterton (as I did here on my blog) and somebody fires back saying, "Mr. Chesterton is wrong" (as they did on that post and on my Facebook page),I so wish Chesterton were alive to engage the debate.

At least every once in a while, there's a group that does a recreation of a Chesterton debate -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI4rpNrkfps

Edited by J.A.A. Purves, 09 September 2012 - 10:01 PM.


#13 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 05:32 PM

By the way, Chesterton is always casually mentioning his problems with the theory evolution in his books. An excerpt from the jury trial in Manalive for example -

"Mr. Moon's contention at present," interposed Pym, "is not, even if veracious, inconsistent with the lunatico-criminal view of I. Smith, which we have nailed to the mast. Science has long anticipated such a complication. An incurable attraction to a particular type of physical woman is one of the commonest of criminal per-versities, and when not considered narrowly, but in the light of induction and evolution—"

"At this late stage," said Michael Moon very quietly, "I may perhaps relieve myself of a simple emotion that has been pressing me throughout the proceedings, by saying that induction and evolution may go and boil themselves. The Missing Link and all that is well enough for kids, but I'm talking about things we know here. All we know of the Missing Link is that he is missing—and he won't be missed either. I know all about his human head and his horrid tail; they belong to a very old game called `Heads I win, tails you lose.' If you do find a fellow's bones, it proves he lived a long while ago; if you don't find his bones, it proves how long ago he lived. That is the game you've been playing with this Smith affair. Because Smith's head is small for his shoulders you call him microcephalous; if it had been large, you'd have called it water-on-the-brain. As long as poor old Smith's seraglio seemed pretty various, variety was the sign of madness: now, because it's turning out to be a bit monochrome—now monotony is the sign of madness. I suffer from all the disadvantages of being a grown-up person, and I'm jolly well going to get some of the advantages too; and with all politeness I propose not to be bullied with long words instead of short reasons, or consider your business a triumphant progress merely because you're always finding out that you were wrong."

Chesterton also explained his proposition that successful democracy must be grounded in the idea of natural law (of a divine origin), instead of on the theory of evolution, in his book, What I Saw in America (which is where that quote is originally lifted from) -

The last hundred years has seen a general decline in the democratic idea. If there be anybody left to whom this historical truth appears a paradox, it is only because during that period nobody has been taught history, least of all the history of ideas ... The highest point of democratic idealism and conviction was towards the end of the eighteenth century, when the American Republic was 'dedicated to the proposition that all men are equal.' It was then that the largest number of men had the most serious sort of conviction that the political problem could be solved by the vote of peoples instead of the arbitrary power of princes and privileged orders. These men encountered various difficulties and made various compromises in relation to the practical politics of their time; in England they preserved aristocracy; in America they preserved slavery. But though they had more difficulties, they had less doubts. Since their time democracy has been steadily disintegrated by doubts; and these political doubts have been contemporary with and often identical with religious doubts. This fact could be followed over almost the whole field of the modern world; in this place it will be more appropriate to take the great American example of slavery. I have found traces in all sorts of intelligent quarters of an extraordinary idea that all the Fathers of the Republic owned black men like beasts of burden because they knew no better, until the light of liberty was revealed to them by John Brown and Mrs. Beecher Stowe.

One of the best weekly papers in England said recently that even those who drew up the Declaration of Independence did not include negroes in its generalisation about humanity. This is quite consistent with the current convention, in which we were all brought up; the theory that the heart of humanity broadens in ever larger circles of brotherhood, till we pass from embracing a black man to adoring a black beetle. Unfortunately it is quite inconsistent with the facts of American history. The facts show that, in this problem of the Old South, the eighteenth century was more liberal than the nineteenth century. There was more sympathy for the negro in the school of Jefferson than in the school of Jefferson Davis. Jefferson, in the dark estate of his simple Deism, said the sight of slavery in his country made him tremble, remembering that God is just ... It was not until the scientific sophistries began that brotherhood was really disputed. Gobineau, who began most of the modern talk about the superiority and inferiority of racial stocks, was seized upon eagerly by the less generous of the slave-owners and trumpeted as a new truth of science and a new defence of slavery. It was not really until the dawn of Darwinism, when all our social relations began to smell of the monkey-house, that men thought of the barbarian as only a first and the baboon as a second cousin. The full servile philosophy has been a modern and even a recent thing; made in an age whose invisible deity was the Missing Link. The Missing Link was a true metaphor in more ways than one; and most of all in its suggestion of a chain.

... Evolution became more and more a vision of the break-up of our brotherhood, till by the end of the nineteenth century the genius of its greatest scientific romancer saw it end in the anthropophagous antics of the Time Machine. So far from evolution lifting us above the idea of enslaving men, it was providing us at least with a logical and potential argument for eating them. In the case of the American negroes, it may be remarked, it does at any rate permit the preliminary course of roasting them. All this materialistic hardening, which replaced the remorse of Jefferson, was part of the growing evolutionary suspicion that savages were not a part of the human race, or rather that there was really no such thing as the human race. The South had begun by agreeing reluctantly to the enslavement of men. The South ended by agreeing equally reluctantly to the emancipation of monkeys.

That is what had happened to the democratic ideal in a hundred years. Anybody can test it by comparing the final phase, I will not say with the ideal of Jefferson, but with the ideal of Johnson. There was far more horror of slavery in an eighteenth-century Tory like Dr. Johnson than in a nineteenth-century Democrat like Stephen Douglas. Stephen Douglas may be mentioned because he is a very representative type of the age of evolution and expansion; a man thinking in continents, like Cecil Rhodes, human and hopeful in a truly American fashion, and as a consequence cold and careless rather than hostile in the matter of the old mystical doctrines of equality. He 'did not care whether slavery was voted up or voted down.' His great opponent Lincoln did indeed care very much ... I doubt if the spirit of the age was not much more behind Douglas and his westward expansion of the white race. I am sure that more and more men were coming to be in the particular mental condition of Douglas; men in whom the old moral and mystical ideals had been undermined by doubt but only with a negative effect of indifference. Their positive convictions were all concerned with what some called progress and some imperialism. It is true that there was a sincere sectional enthusiasm against slavery in the North; and that the slaves were actually emancipated in the nineteenth century ...

And in so far as we owe the change to Lincoln, we owe it to Jefferson. Exactly what gives its real dignity to the figure of Lincoln is that he stands invoking a primitive first principle of the age of innocence, and holding up the tables of an ancient law, against the trend of the nineteenth century; repeating, 'We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator, etc.,' to a generation that was more and more disposed to say something like this: 'We hold these truths to be probable enough for pragmatists; that all things looking like men were evolved somehow, being endowed by heredity and environment with no equal rights, but very unequal wrongs,' and so on. I do not believe that creed, left to itself, would ever have founded a state; and I am pretty certain that, left to itself, it would never have overthrown a slave state.

Against all this irresistible force stood one immovable post. Against all this dance of doubt and degree stood something that can best be symbolised by a simple example. An ape cannot be a priest, but a negro can be a priest. The dogmatic type of Christianity, especially the Catholic type of Christianity, had riveted itself irrevocably to the manhood of all men. Where its faith was fixed by creeds and councils it could not save itself even by surrender. It could not gradually dilute democracy, as could a merely sceptical or secular democrat. There stood, in fact or in possibility, the solid and smiling figure of a black bishop. And he was either a man claiming the most towering spiritual privileges of a man, or he was the mere buffoonery and blasphemy of a monkey in a mitre. That is the point about Christian and Catholic democracy; it is not that it is necessarily at any moment more democratic, it is that its indestructible minimum of democracy really is indestructible. And by the nature of things that mystical democracy was destined to survive, when every other sort of democracy was free to destroy itself ...

There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man. That is a perfectly simple fact which the modern world will find out more and more to be a fact. Every other basis is a sort of sentimental confusion, full of merely verbal echoes of the older creeds. Those verbal associations are always vain for the vital purpose of constraining the tyrant.


Edited by Persiflage, 08 July 2010 - 05:33 PM.


#14 Thom Wade

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 07:19 AM

[quote name='Persiflage' date='08 July 2010 - 06:32 PM' timestamp='1278628377' post='226854']


There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man. That is a perfectly simple fact which the modern world will find out more and more to be a fact. Every other basis is a sort of sentimental confusion, full of merely verbal echoes of the older creeds. Those verbal associations are always vain for the vital purpose of constraining the tyrant.[/quote]
[/quote]


Certainly, moral laws are easier to justify when based in religion. It requires no defense other than "God says..."

#15 SDG

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 07:24 AM

Certainly, moral laws are easier to justify when based in religion. It requires no defense other than "God says..."

Ensuing discussion split to new "God and the moral argument" topic.

#16 Rushmore

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 08:30 PM

Apparently this premiered at the Chesterton Conference in Reno this August, but I can't seem to find word on it from anyone who's seen it. SDG/Overstreet (or anyone else), have you guys heard anything?