Friday, May 22, 2015

Good Story 108: St. Francis of Assisi

Julie and Scott discuss St. Francis. They both wonder at the parenting skill of St. Francis' dad, who bought his kid fancy armor and sent him to war with the city next door. ("Have fun storming the castle!") And then they wonder at the rest of the good saint's life. St. Francis of Assisi by G.K Chesteron.

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  • St. Francis's A Meditation on the "Our Father"

  • Quotes from Encountering Truth by Pope Francis

  • The Joyful Beggar by Louis de Wohl

  • Eifelheim by Michael Flynn, discussed in Episode 7 of Good Story

  • Heaven and Hell: Visions of the Afterlife in the Western Poetic Tradition by Louis Markos

  • Who Would Dare to Love ISIS (A Letter From the People of the Cross)

  • Shepherd Book: I brought you some supper. But, if you'd *prefer* a lecture, I've a few very catchy ones prepped. Sin and hellfire. One has lepers.

  • Pope Francis' Miracle
    I meant to bring this up during the podcast, when we were talking about St. Francis and Pope Francis. I wondered if St. Francis's joy was infusing the pope. — Julie
    John Allen says that people keep saying Pope Francis doesn't act like the guy they knew back in Buenos Aires. He's always cared about the poor, but this beaming, shoot-from-the-hip, joyful fellow is someone even his sister says she doesn't recognize. As Allen reports it in his new book, there's a supernatural explanation. And it's one that makes me feel God's giving us the pope He wants us to have. As Allen tells it (whole piece here):
    Over Christmas 2013, a veteran Latin American cardinal who has known Bergoglio for decades made an appointment to see his old friend in the Santa Marta, the hotel on Vatican grounds where the pope has chosen to reside. (He lives in Room 201, a slightly larger room than the one he stayed in during the conclave that elected him, giving the pontiff enough space to receive guests comfortably).
    The cardinal, who didn’t wish to be named, said he looked at Francis and, referring to the exuberance and spontaneity that are now hallmarks of his public image, said to him point-blank: "You are not the same man I knew in Buenos Aires. What’s happened to you?"
    According to the cardinal, this was Francis’ answer: “On the night of my election, I had an experience of the closeness of God that gave me a great sense of interior freedom and peace," the cardinal quoted the pope as saying, "and that sense has never left me.”

    Dickens in an unfinished autobiography:
    In the door there was an oval glass plate, with COFFEE-ROOM painted on it, addressed towards the street. If I ever find myself in a very different kind of coffee-room now, but where there is such an inscription on glass, and read it backward on the wrong side MOOR-EEFFOC (as I often used to do then, in a dismal reverie,) a shock goes through my blood.
    G.K. Chesterton in his book Charles Dickens:
    Herein is the whole secret of that eerie realism with which Dickens could always vitalize some dark or dull corner of London. There are details in the Dickens descriptions - a window, or a railing, or the keyhole of a door - which he endows with demoniac life. The things seem more actual than things really are. Indeed, that degree of realism does not exist in reality: it is the unbearable realism of a dream. And this kind of realism can only be gained by walking dreamily in a place; it cannot be gained by walking observantly. Dickens himself has given a perfect instance of how these nightmare minutiae grew upon him in his trance of abstraction. He mentions among the coffee-shops into which he crept in those wretched days one in St. Martin's Lane, "of which I only recollect that it stood near the church, and that in the door there was an oval glass plate with 'COFFEE ROOM' painted on it, addressed towards the street. If I ever find myself in a very different kind of coffee-room now, but where there is such an inscription on glass, and read it backwards on the wrong side, MOOR EEFFOC (as I often used to do then in a dismal reverie), a shock goes through my blood." That wild word, "Moor Eeffoc," is the motto of all effective realism; it is the masterpiece of the good realistic principle - the principle that the most fantastic thing of all is often the precise fact. And that elvish kind of realism Dickens adopted everywhere. His world was alive with inanimate objects.
    And, finally, not C.S. Lewis but J.R.R. Tolkien in On Fairy Stories:
    The word Mooreeffoc may cause you to realise that England is an utterly alien land, lost either in some remote past age glimpsed by history, or in some strange dim future reached only by a time-machine; to see the amazing oddity and interest of its inhabitants and their customs and feeding-habits.

  • Prayer in front of the Crucifix of San Damiano

    Most High, glorious God,
    enlighten the darkness of my heart
    and give me true faith, certain hope, and perfect charity,
    sense and knowledge, Lord,
    that I may carry out Your holy and true command. Amen


    1. I remember suggesting that you cover cover Chesterton last year so I am happy for this discussion. Plus it reminds me that this specific book is do for a re-read.

      Chesterton's works are amazingly re-readable. As Scott mentioned you could pretty much dip his books in highlighter fluid. Something you pass over one time, strikes you on another read.

      + If you look at a thing 999 times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it for the 1000th time,
      you are in danger of seeing it for the first time. (GKC)

      One of GKC's books I have put on an annual re-read schedule is Orthodoxy. Written before he was Catholic, but really written by the Catholic already in him. It was written as a fuller response to his book Heretics. It strikes me anew each time I read it even being familiar with it.

      Still as much as I love his writings, it is his example I really admire. Considering that some of his great friends were people like H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw, people whose viewpoints were pretty much the antithesis of GKC's own. GKC critiques them in his writings, he once quipped regarding George Bernard Shaw comparing him to Venus de Milo in that what is there is good. They continuously dueled with words, often pointed words; yet they remained friendly there whole life. One of the great errors of the current time is the idea that to like someone you have to agree with everything they believe. That any disagreement requires an "unfriending." Any critique of a persons viewpoint is seen as a direct attack on the person. I really hope GKC's cause for sainthood goes forward since he is such a great example, really so was his wife.

      + “The aim of argument is differing in order to agree; the failure of argument is when you agree to differ.” (GKC)

    2. Orthodoxy is one I want to read but first I have The Everlasting Man in my sights.

      Like you, I admire Chesterton's example most of all. I love the stories about him laughing his head off at a telling shot by an opponent at his expense. And of cordially saying, afterwards, well now that's done; what about dinner?

      These days that seems almost unthinkable doesn't it? It's all or nothing.

    3. You mention Dante's Divine Comedy-- I have been reading Rod Dreher's "How Dante can Save Your Life" and it very powerful, worth reading.

      1. I've had my eye on that book since it was published. Just waiting for the library to get it. It is one of the pointers I had in mind that made me think about rereading the Divine Comedy. So glad to hear that it is as good as I hoped it would be!