Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Catholic Fiction: Talk ...and Action

Some time ago, someone out here in the E-cosmos wrote something complaining about how people no longer care about poetry. No, I do not have the e-link; moreover, it is not important, because I wrote a poem as a reply, which you can find here.

Now, I have recently read another discussion about fiction, specifically Catholic fiction, begun by a wonderful poet named Meredith, which you can find here. I am not going to enter that discussion, as interesting as it is, but because I have something to tell you - yes, I have a Purpose in this posting (some of the Tooks sat up and listened attentively, hee hee) - I must state that what I am about to tell you did not arise because of that discussion.

But perhaps I will write just a quick word on the issues raised by Meredith and her commenters. It is not an easy discussion to have, dealing with matters of classification as well as suitability for publication, and the difficulties related to getting one's writing published (in the sense of having it printed by an existing company which prints books). I cannot speak to that, but the issue of classification is hard enough to solve. I don't recall noticing that fiction is classed according to religion, but I understand "Catholic Fiction" to mean a story which either (1) includes Catholicism as a real part of the lives of its characters or (2) speaks to, or about, the Catholic faith, or (3) has a strong sense of the One True Story and reflects that One Light. Note: just because a writer is a practicing Catholic does not in itself make his work "Catholic" - though it should. But I am not writing about this, particularly, or as a scholastic endeavour to distinguish... you'll understand why shortly. This is a preamble to something else... a Purpose. (drum roll begins here)

Yes, for such diverse titles as The Man Who Was Thursday, Manalive, or the non-Father-Brown fiction of GKC, or Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings or Janney's The Miracle of the Bells or even Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth might be argued to be "Catholic" within one or the other of these senses... We are talking about fiction, not necessarily fantasy, but imaginary worlds which somehow have a Catholic style, or present uplifting characters (who may not be precisely Catholic, but act so)...

But when we say fiction, we aren't looking for technical texts, or dogmatic studies, or prayer books. We want a story. And as we all know (let's say it together) "Every short story does truly begin with creation and end with a last judgment." [GKC, The Everlasting Man CW2:379] But I am sure Uncle Gilbert will agree that perhaps this may also be true of longer stories.

Well, then. I have been moved to write something... and perhaps my writing might do for fiction what I previously did for poetry - but better, for that poem was a joke, and addressed the topic in counterargument by its very existence.

Yes, I have written a story. It may be considered "Catholic" in some sense, though it is not at all about details of doctrine or practice, except in the most incidental manner. The religion appears, in a manner similar to the way the food eaten by the characters appears: just as a matter of every-day life. When one writes about food in a story, one rarely bothers with the recipes, or the metabolism, or the intervening details of getting the food from the kitchen to the mouth. But typically one likes to hear what the meal was! In the same manner, one might wish to know a little more than the mere fact that someone "went to church" - without giving the dogmatic issues, the precise liturgical forms, a summary of the homily, or the interior dispositions of the characters (even assuming the author himself would dare to judge such things!) After all, I like Rex Stout's "Nero Wolfe" mysteries, and like to read what Fritz made for dinner; I like to hear about the altar and the statues in St. Michael's church in Russell Janney's Coaltown... But where am I to find a story which has food and Catholicism and humour, and believable technology, and that right mix of Chestertonian magic?

I don't know.

So, like the Little Red Hen, I have done it myself.

It is a mystery, of course, and is based on my own experiences, yet is quite a fantasy, since its world is now long past and vanished, as much as castles and dragons are gone.

But I think it is good, and I think you might also find it so (though you must remember it is a story, not a textbook or a tech manual or a prayerbook, hee hee!)

Very well. (Insert symbol crash here, hee hee)

So if you are ready for a new, Catholic (in some sense or other), Chestertonian, high-tech adventure, please go to:

and see for yourself: cable TV, cars, rock-and-roll, Latin, food, swimming, shipwrecks, puns, books, Greek, secret passages, Carmelites, magic, work, beer, murder, humour, drugs, love... all kinds of things. Very Chestertonian.

I hope you will enjoy it.

Paradoxically yours,
Dr. Thursday.

PS Yes, I know it's already been posted over on the ACS blogg and at Flying Stars, but I've been busy, hee hee. I have posted this now because there will most likely be other books forthcoming from this same source, and you may wish to get started reading. And if you do happen to know someone who deals with the printing of books, and is interested.... we may talk.

PS: I forgot to tell you that it has pictures...

Say - don't you wonder why they have Latin quotes on those big screens? Heh, heh. Yep, real Latin. And that, believe it or not, was based on reality. Very high tech.


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