Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chestertonality at Chicago Midway

This time I am the flying-inner. No, I haven’t been drinking, or selling
drinks; I just got back from a plane trip to Florida to see Ave Maria
University. (You might see an article on Distributism and Ave Maria later, you
might not.) No, I did not see Joseph Pearce, or Fr. Fessio, although I did see
Tom Monahan. One of you needs to go there and start a Chesterton society.
But the most strikingly Chestertonain thing I saw (besides a copy of one volume
of the Complete Works of Chesterton that I brought with me) was actually in
Chicago Midway airport. In the interest of diversity, someone had put up a
poster exhibiting common elements of human culture from around the world:
eating, children, and something else (the commas are important). And, to my
temporal shame, my first reaction was, well, incomplete.
You see, the one picture that really caught my eye was of two children in
Bosnia, a boy and a girl. The boy was holding a toy machine gun, and the girl
was standing next to him. Both were in front of a stone wall that had a hole in
Naturally but unfortunately, my first reaction was one of pity: pity for the
fact that for these children, this is somewhat real: they may very well have
seen or known someone who was killed in just such a manner. Is the boy hating
his pretended enemies? Is he scarred for life?
But I don’t think Chesterton would worry, at least not about the hate element.
The key is the girl. What is more natural, childlike, and Chestertonian than
for a prince to defend his princess? For the American child, playing at knights
and princesses may be a wholesome exercise, but it is a pretend one. For the
Bosnian children, playing at knights and princesses is real and even necessary,
yet no less romantic for being so. It is right to pity the sorry state of
Bosnia and the effect it may have on the children, but this sorry state makes
the actions depicted in the picture all the more important.

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