Sunday, November 21, 2010

Four stories

Happy feast of Christ the King!

Just in case you are searching to find "something good to read"

Loome posted four of my short stories about that famous American booktown called Quayment:

The Story of "Driftwood"

The Story of "Serendipity"

The Story of the Wreck of the Argent Eagle

The Story of How Mark Earned a Dragon

I neglected to post these links previously. Now you have them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

CQT #2, or, an interesting discovery!

I must tell you, quite briefly, of an interesting discovery, one which I did not expect to find. I presume that you have read Chesterton's curious collection of stories called The Club of Queer Trades - and I also presume that you found them enjoyable.

Well, taking those two points as given, I have some good news. No; possibly, I have great and wonderful news. I have just finished reading another collection of short stories called Parker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie. There is no attribution - but Mr. Pyne and his business is very clearly a derivative, and I think if you read them, you will understand what I mean. They do not stand alone, but appeared to me very distinctly as followup episodes to those of Basil Grant.

It is possible that you may disagree once you try them. But I think you will enjoy them, and may find the same Chestertonian quality there. At the very least please try "The Case of the City Clerk"...

Dancing, Angels, Needles, Getting to the Point

I will start today's study with what may seem a totally pointless excerpt:
The eighteenth century writers overdid the rounded and complete phrase; the writers of twentieth century overdo the broken and suggestive phrase. The former seems heavy and turgid to the latter; the latter would seem simply half-witted to the former. But the real interest is not of this sort in the case of either. The real interest is in certain fundamental ideas, and even ideals, that are behind the difference. Even in the loosest comedy, even in the most conversational repartee, the men of the Age of Reason had the classical ideal, which is the ideal of completeness. The point of the repartee was a point in the sense that it was an end; as the point of a needle is the end of a needle; as the point of a sword is the end of a sword. Indeed, as it happens, the needle of epigram did sometimes end with the sword of destruction. The eighteenth century epigram might end with a duel, but it did not end with a dash. It was a not an unfinished sentence; it might be a slander, but not half a slander. Now the fragmentary character of much modern dialogue arises from an idea of spontaneity; an idea which has its spiritual value, but is at least quite contrary to the classical ideal of completeness. The modern dramatic person is so spontaneous that he starts speaking before he knows what he has to say, or whether he has anything to say.
[GKC ILN Nov 5 1932; thanks to Frank Petta and my mother]
Though I am even worse than a twentieth-century writer - I am, in fact, a writer of the twenty-first century - I do have a point to this, and you may see it before the end - if you are able to keep from laughing in the wrong places.

You will recall that in the last three weeks we have seen Mary in the house of Elizabeth and Zachary - and so, after three months, she returned to Nazareth.

Now the image of Mary going down the road - both coming for her visit to Elizabeth and going back - is foreseen in the travels of the ancient Israelites who bore the Ark of the Covenant with them on their journey. It is an awesome parallel, more exalted than any simile or metaphor: the profound thing which the Church calls "a type": in the old Ark was kept the Law; in the new Ark was kept the Law-Giver. How profound and awesome this is to think about. You may recall, perhaps, this unusual and mysterious poem by Chesterton:

"The Holy Of Holies"

"Elder father, though shine eyes
Shine with hoary mysteries,
Canst thou tell me what in the heart
Of a cowslip blossom lies?"

"Smaller than all lives that be,
Secret as the deepest sea,
Stands a little house of seeds,
Like an elfin's granary."

"Speller of the stones and weeds,
Skilled in Nature's crafts and creeds,
Tell me what is in the heart
Of the smallest of the seeds."

"God Almighty, and with Him
Cherubim and Seraphim,
Filling all eternity
Adonai Elohim."
[GKC CW10:50]
Though his parents were at best "nominal" Christians, I still like to think of GKC speaking with them, and the eerie snapshot of them we get in a most unlikely place:
When your father told you, walking about the garden, that bees stung or that roses smelt sweet, you did not talk of taking the best out of his philosophy. When the bees stung you, you did not call it an entertaining coincidence. When the rose smelt sweet you did not say "My father is a rude, barbaric symbol, enshrining (perhaps unconsciously) the deep delicate truths that flowers smell." No: you believed your father, because you had found him to be a living fountain of facts, a thing that really knew more than you; a thing that would tell you truth to-morrow, as well as to-day. And if this was true of your father, it was even truer of your mother; at least it was true of mine...
[GKC Orthodoxy CW1:360]
And lest you find yourself uncertain of GKC's meaning of that poem, I should tell you that Adonai Elohim are titles or names of God.

But that idea - God is in the heart of a seed? Can we mean that?

Of course. But I am not trying to get to a matter of ontology, a detailed point of metaphysics here. I want to take it as a parallel to Mary's Divine Pregnancy, where God really was hidden in an exceedingly tiny form. Which may sound like a paradox, but then this isn't a Chestertonian invention. Remember, it was Mary who said "My soul magnifies the Lord." [Lk 1:46]

Clearly, the Being Who has no physical dimension cannot be properly said to occupy space - which is why, like the so-called "squaring of the circle" we have misunderstood the puzzle in the famous "angels dancing on the head of a pin". Ah, that old puzzle, so much more fun to play with than those of Zeno or Cantor, neither of whom seemed to have lived, for Zeno never moved and Cantor never shaved, or perhaps his wife shaved him. (If you do not understand, you will have to wait for an explanation, as I am late today and cannot afford an aside!)

I knew GKC spoke on this, and had to play some games in order to find out where. Here is one, which is well worth your consideration:
Superficially one would fancy that complexity of civilisation and subtlety of thought would go together, but they do not. It is really easier to think with delicacy and exactitude if the materials are popular and plain. It is easier to count with counters than to count with the various fragments of a jig-saw. It is easier to point to things with a stick than with a bundle of sticks. It is easier to argue exhaustively about the squaring of the circle over a halfpenny and a halfpenny stamp than to illustrate the same point by comparing Trafalgar Square and the Coliseum. It is notable that nearly all the old typical enigmas of the intellect on which sages sharpened their wits were presented under the emblem of some common or even domestic object. The needle on which all the angels of the schoolman were to dance was presumably a common sewing or darning needle. The Accumulating Heap which has delighted so many sophists was originally, I suppose, a heap of salt on the table, or of sand by the sea. Achilles, perhaps, can hardly be called a common or domestic object, but the tortoise has a claim to that description: moreover, the problem can be as well discussed under the old figures of the tortoise and the hare. It is easier to consider the other great calculation of progress in the form of a climbing frog; and another under such primary symbols as corn, a river, a fox, a goose, and a man. The question of the frog was probably first debated by some solitary philosopher or hermit, in a quiet region and a simple age, actually watching the struggles of the frog. The setting of the second problem bears witness to its origin among agricultural persons, yokels and countrymen who have more time to think. All the subtleties of Political Economy begin with words that might be the beginning of some great primitive epic poem, "There is a man on an island."

The entangled conditions of an elaborate civilisation like ours are not favourable to carrying thought to a fine point. We are in no danger of discussing how many holy angels can dance on the point of a needle. We are so inordinately proud in reflecting how many poor devils are engaged in making the needle that we never think of that object in the more exquisite relations to space or measurement.
[GKC ILN Oct 7 1911 CW29:165-6]
Suggestive, indeed. But far more relevant and impressive is this:
In the good old days of Victorian rationalism it used to be the conventional habit to scoff at St. Thomas Aquinas and the mediaeval theologians; and especially to repeat perpetually a well-worn joke about the man who discussed how many angels could dance on the point of a needle. The comfortable and commercial Victorians, with their money and merchandise, might well have felt a sharper end of the same needle, even if it was the other end of it. It would have been good for their souls to have looked for that needle, not in the haystack of mediaeval metaphysics, but in the neat needle-case of their own favourite pocket Bible. It would have been better for them to meditate, not on how many angels could go on the point of a needle, but on how many camels could go through the eye of it. But there is another comment on this curious joke or catchword, which is more relevant to our purpose here. If the mediaeval mystic ever did argue about angels standing on a needle, at least he did not argue as if the object of angels was to stand on a needle; as if God had created all the Angels and Archangels, all the Thrones, Virtues, Powers and Principalities, solely in order that there might be something to clothe and decorate the unseemly nakedness of the point of a needle. But that is the way that modern rationalists reason. The mediaeval mystic would not even have said that a needle exists to be a standing-ground for angels. The mediaeval mystic would have been the first to say that a needle exists to make clothes for men. For mediaeval mystics, in their dim transcendental way, were much interested in the real reasons for things and the distinction between the means and the end. They wanted to know what a thing was really for, and what was the dependence of one idea on another. And they might even have suggested, what so many journalists seem to forget, the paradoxical possibility that Tennis was made for Man and not Man for Tennis.
[GKC The Thing CW3:167-8]
It would be fun to talk about Purpose, or about how this excerpt speaks to my own discipline of computer science, or relates to Subsidiarity... but we are trying to get to some point here, and I do NOT mean that as a pun.

You see, it is very easy to talk abstractedly about abstracts. You might as well put and advertisement into the newspaper, or post a want-ad through MONSTER or some such thing:
Required: Angels. Must be capable of dancing. Please submit your resume with skillset and relevant references, etc, etc.
Hee hee. Ah yes. As I was saying, it is easy to be abstract about abstractions. You don't need to fill out W-4's for angels, even if they are most capable dancers. However, if you want human dancers and expect them to dance, you will need to deal with a lot more than the question of how much room you will give them to dance upon.

And that is the point, (sorry if this seems like a pun) the point of the Ark. Maybe angels never danced anywhere near human sewing implements (Did you know some people argue that it was the head of a PIN, not a needle? A fitting topic for another heresy and subsequent formation of yet another Christian sect, oh my.) But one thing is sure: when David danced "with all his might" before the ark of the covenant, he took up some room. [See 2 Kings 6:14]

So, too, did Jesus - and by the time He had been in the womb for three months, He began to dance as well. We have made only a faint start, in our hasty and brief discussions, at the relevance of the Incarnation, but this, like the whole "paradox" thing, is a matter for accepting, not for abstract argument. When physical beings dance, they take up room. Their matter matters. We can discuss things like the electromagnetic force or the Exclusion Principle and all that some other time, if you feel it necessary, but I don't. You don't need to know what those things are in order to understand how to dance. The issue is farmore important than the abstraction, though it comes down to the same things as Zeno's "motion is impossible" or Cantor's fuss about infinity, or the ancient Greek struggles of "squaring the circle" - and that last is more to the point (no pun) than the others, since it relates to something which CAN be done, though not in the way the puzzle is expressed: just as it is true that a Virgin can be pregnant with a Son, without any of the natural means by which that occurs. (If you do not understand, you need to re-read what Gabriel said about how nothing is impossible for God [Lk 1:37] You also need to find out exactly what "squaring the circle" means, and why it is both possible (as a mathematical idea) and impossible (in its original Greek form).

Oh yes. This seems so abstract, doesn't it? But it is not. It is just as realistic, as practical, and as relevant as farming or automotive mechanics or electricity or ... sewing. And it is all encapsulated in this elegant and brief commentary on one of the most difficult matters in Christianity, one directly tied to the matter of Mary and her Divine Pregnancy, to the "fruit of her womb":
As to Transubstantiation, it is less easy to talk currently about that; but I would gently suggest that, to most ordinary outsiders with any common sense, there would be a considerable practical difference between Jehovah pervading the universe and Jesus Christ coming into the room.
[GKC The Thing CW3:180]
The Eucharist is, in the most literal sense, the fruit of Mary's womb... No wonder David danced before the ark; no wonder we still use his song-lyrics at Holy Mass.

PS: some other time, perhaps, we can talk about "squaring the circle" and who found its ultimate proof, or about Zeno, or even about Cantor. And also then I might give you my own answer, which is not the one you will usually hear, to the puzzle about the angels dancing on a needle (or pin) - which is, of course both the point and THE END.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Something of an Else

Ah, there are certain priceless verbal jewels, and my title is one of them. It comes from something I read in high school, quoted in Science Digest for June 1972, a magazine my chemistry teacher let me borrow:

Here is something of an else. If water from the ocean is mixed with vapor it is lighter than air. It's the oddest truth.

The article was called YOUNG SCIENTISTS TACKLE MYSTERIES OF THE DEEP" by Harold Dunn - a grade school teacher collecting youngsters' malapropisms for 20 years. (These were transcribed for me by my mother, who assisted me in so many ways.)

Today I have Something of an Else to tell you.

As you may know, I dislike it when my computer has free time, so I assign it various projects. One of them is... ah, but perhaps I better not say.

However, one of the results I think I may reveal is this.
The number
399 999 959 999 993
is prime, and also a palindrome.
As that young scientist observed so long ago, it's the oddest truth.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chesterton, Mary and St. Paul???

Today marks the third of the nine weeks of our studies of Mary's Divine Pregnancy, as we follow the Life of Our Lord through Chesterton's writings.

I had a chore this morning and was able to devote a long time in meditation upon the matter. I garnered some interesting insights, but it is doubtful how I can reduce them to words... at least I can write something about them, and some of them may be of utility. They arose from my hope to bring St. Paul into the picture - which must sound very strange. It is likely that Saul of Tarsus did not exist at the time when Mary visited Elizabeth and assisted her.

(An aside: Even great Church Fathers debated on whether Mary was there for the birth of John the Baptist, though my own belief is that she was there. it is the simplest explanation for our possession of the Canticle of Zacharias, the Benedictus, chanted in the hinge-hour of the Morning Office. But let us return to St. Paul.)

It is not my own idea about St. Paul, though perhaps I am expressing it in a bolder sense than others have. I seem to recall reading something in a book by Dom John Chapman, (whose works were brought to my awareness by Fr. Jaki) or maybe it was Fr. Giuseppe Ricciotti, most of whose splendid works I have read. In particular there is one on St. Paul and another on that book of the Bible, the sequel to the Gospels, which we usually call "Acts" - though he points out the original Greek title omits both articles, so we ought to call it "Acts of Apostles". Hm. It must be there, unless it was in his Life of Christ. But the idea is very simple. We all know there are four Gospels: those according to Matthew, to Mark, to Luke, and to John. We also know (if we are attentive) that only two of those are Apostles: Matthew (also called Levi) and John; the others were at most disciples. But they were very special ones, acting rather like Watson for Holmes: Mark was the sidekick secretary to St. Peter, and Luke served St. Paul in the same way. And that is very clear if you read that book called "Acts", which suddenly changes from a third-person narrative to "we did this" and "we sailed there" and so forth - and the we can be no other than the author Luke and St. Paul. Now, since the gospel of Luke is merely a record of that which was preached by his primary, we are led (kicking and screaming, perhaps!) to the conclusion that we owe the Gospel stories for the first three Joyful mysteries - the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the Nativity - to St. Paul.

Now what does any of that have to do with Chesterton?

It is rather simple. Speaking as a mere layman, a tech and a scientist - but also as a story-writer, and a reader of GKC, I have a distinct impression of St. Paul as what we would now call a Media Personage. Maybe not quite an anchorman, or a editorial columnist, or a talk-radio host... but a Publisher, a Broadcaster: one who would boldy go into the Areopagus and be "in your face" with his listening audience - willing (indeed!) even to quote their own material back at them.

Oh yes; maybe you didn't know? That trick where Scholastics like Aquinas quoted their opponents, Chesterton quoting Shaw or Benedict XVI quoting Nietzsche - that's quite Biblical. St. Paul quoted Pagan authors to the Pagans. See Acts 17:28 where St. Paul quotes a poem on Minosses (written by Epimenides of Crete in the sixth scentury BC) and Phenomena of Aratus and Hymn to Jupiter of Cleanthes, poets of the third century BC. [See Ricciotti, Acts of the Apostles 276]

The evidence I might assemble is vast, and I do not have the time today to give you anything but a hint of how the argument proceeds. It takes the famous "Analogy of the Body" from St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (1Cor12, argued also in Romans 12) and see this as paralleling Chesterton's mighty (and as yet unstudied) Mystical Anthropology: the true study of Homo cadens, Man the Fallen:
Man is a contradiction in terms; he is a beast whose superiority to other beasts consists in having fallen.
[GKC The Ball and the Cross, chapter 1]
But thereare two other Pauline texts which fit together and "close" (as the mathematicians say) the set: the two which speak of the mystery of Christ's incarnation. The one - ah so tiny and so precious, the single sapphire gleaming among his rubies, the humble voice heard, not as Luke recorded his fervent preaching, but as Paul himself wrote to the Galatians:
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman... [Gal 4:4]
And why does Paul remind us of this? It is quitelike Dickens, reminding us at the beginning of his Christmas Carol that Marley was dead. For if, as Paul told the Corinthians, he would speak of nothing but Christ and Him crucified, there cannot be a body to crucify unless He first took a body unto Himself:
[Jesus Christ] Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. [Phil 2:6-8]
It is here, as we see St. Paul kneeling (as I envision him) by Mary, listening to her tell these three priceless stories, that we can understand his fire for Christ and Him crucified. Just as there cannot be an empty tomb without Calvary, there can be no Calvary unless there was first a Bethlehem - and that fiat in Nazareth.

No; I have not lost sight of Chesterton in my rambles through the New Testament - but remember I am seeing a harmony here, not a dissonance. I will leave you with something from one of Chesterton's ILN essays which may help illuminate the matter; it is another one of those immense surprises which joins many topics and yet is still really addressing the only One that matters - er - I should say, the only One Who matters. "You cannot evade the issue of God; whether you talk about pigs or the binomial theory, you are still talking about Him." [GKC Daily News Dec 12 1903 quoted in Maycock, The Man Who Was Orthodox] But that was an aside. Here is the excerpt:
Everybody knows that a new school of sceptics has recently appeared, especially in America; they call themselves the Behaviorists, and Mr. Harvey Wickham calls them the Misbehaviorists. So far as I can understand, their philosophy is rooted in a theory of physiology: the theory that thought is originally a sort of movement of the body rather than the brain. "There is nothing in the brain," I think one of them has written, "except a lot of neurons. We do not think with our minds. We think with our muscles." Those of us, that is, who are so old-fashioned as to think at all; for we have all seen vigorous representatives of the rising generation who suppose that everything can be done with the muscles, and whom nobody, not even a psychologist of the far-off nineteenth century, would accuse of merely using their minds. I am not especially concerned with the truth or falsehood of this fancy. While it is flourished, like the majority of such fancies, with a vague defiance directed towards orthodoxy or tradition, it really has no sort of importance for them. It is an excellent example of the rule about nearly all such new notions that are valued as new negations. The new scientific theory never does really deny the old religious theory. What it does do is to deny - or, rather, destroy - the old scientific theory. And it was precisely in the name of that old theory that religion was once to have been destroyed. The heretics never attack orthodoxy; the heretics only avenge orthodoxy on each other.

It does not matter to any Christian whether God has made a man to think with his brains or his big toe. But it did matter very much to the recent type of Materialist that a man could only think with his brains. He was perpetually basing all sorts of destructive arguments on an analysis of what he called the convolutions and the "matter" in the brain. He was as devoted as M. Hercule Poirot to The Little Grey Cells; but, alas! with far less brilliant and entertaining results. All that the Behaviorist does is, in every sense, to dash out the brains of the old Materialist. There is no question of his touching the soul, even the soul of an old Materialist, for that escapes him as completely as it does every other kind of material analysis, including that of the old Materialist himself. What he abolishes is not the soul, but the cells on which his predecessor depended for the denial of the soul. If ever we do really come to talk about a brilliant idea flashing through our biceps, or a curious and original theory creeping up the calf of our leg, it may sound to some a little funny, or even fantastic. It will not make the slightest difference to those who believe that God made an invisible spirit as part of an invisible order. But it will make nonsense of pages and pages of recent realistic literature, in which the crumbling grey matter proved that nothing but death awaited even the primary form of mind, or in which the soul was supposed to have been tracked to its lair and killed in a cell under the cavern of the skull. Libraries of nineteenth-century scepticism would become as much lumber; but the mystical passage in St. Paul about the glorified body would not be in the least affected either way. It would be amusing, to irreverent persons like Mr. Harvey Wickham, if men ever began to look for the Differential Calculus in their deltoid muscles or to conceal a joke somewhere near the joint of the elbow. But it would only contradict the man who said that all truths were in the human skull or all jokes a decay of brain-stuff; not the man who says that jokes come from man, or that man and mathematical truths come from God.
[GKC ILN July 5 1930 CW35:335-337]

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Vir and Vis - Closer Than in the Dictionary

I was going to call this something like "A Bold and Manly Incarnation" but that didn't give quite the image, so I went to those two Latin words, vir which means "man, the male" (as opposed to homo which is "man the species") and vis which means "force, power, strength".

I deal with this here, while we are considering the mystery of the Visitation (Luke 1:39-56) since there are two incarnations going on at this point: our Lord and John the Baptist. Two great men, manly men, powerful men. I must also point to the word "virtue" and note that it descends to us fromt he Latin virtus, which is connected to the first of our title's pair, even though one might expect it to be linked to the second. (In case you are wonderined the two Latin terms of our title themselves arise from different predecessors, at least according to my references.)

Why would I bring up "man" or "power" in such a context? Jesus is only a very few cells, though in the three months He and Mary reside at Zachary and Elizabeth's, He is clearly a Man:
At three months the progressive modeling of the external genitalia has attained characteristics that are recognizable as distinctively male or female.
[Arey, Developmental Anatomy, 335]
This may seem entirely inappropriate to bring up in such a context - or perhaps it provides a most grand and mystical insight. Indeed, if you are able to locate an authentic text on human development, you will be astounded, and it will provide much for your meditation: for example, just 3 weeks after the Annunciation, the Sacred Heart of Jesus began to beat - a beat which continued until 3PM on Good Friday... another time I may provide some more for you about this. But let us resume today's topic.

You will, perhaps, recall one of my favourite GKC quotes (oh how many I have! Like my best friends, I have many, how can I rate one ahead of another?) which comes from his letter to his fiancee, Frances Blogg, July 8, 1899:
... I am black but comely [Canticle of Canticles 1:4] at this moment: because the cyclostyle has blacked me. Fear not. I shall wash myself. But I think it my duty to render an accurate account of my physical appearance every time I write: and shall be glad of any advice and assistance...

To return to the Cyclostyle. I like the Cyclostyle ink; it is so inky. I do not think there is anyone who takes quite such a fierce pleasure in things being themselves as I do. The startling wetness of water excites and intoxicates me: the fieriness of fire, the steeliness of steel, the unutterable muddiness of mud. It is just the same with people.... When we call a man "manly" or a woman "womanly" we touch the deepest philosophy.
[quoted in Ward, Gilbert Keith Chesterton 108-9]
Ah, the deepest philosophy. Now, what does this "manly" quality have to do with the larger topic, that of the Incarnation?


That happens to be presented by GKC himself in the firey "Blatchford Controversies" which you can find in CW1:
Now when Christianity came, the ancient world had just reached this dilemma. It heard the Voice of Nature-Worship crying, "All natural things are good. War is as healthy as the flowers. Lust is as clean as the stars." And it heard also the cry of the hopeless Stoics and Idealists: "The flowers are at war: the stars are unclean: nothing but man's conscience is right and that is utterly defeated."
Both views were consistent, philosophical and exalted: their only disadvantage was that the first leads logically to murder and the second to suicide. After an agony of thought the world saw the sane path between the two. It was the Christian God. He made Nature but He was Man.
Lastly, there is a word to be said about the Fall. It can only be a word, and it is this. Without the doctrine of the Fall all idea of progress is unmeaning. Mr. Blatchford says that there was not a Fall but a gradual rise. But the very word "rise" implies that you know toward what you are rising. Unless there is a standard you cannot tell whether you are rising or falling. But the main point is that the Fall like every other large path of Christianity is embodied in the common language talked on the top of an omnibus. Anybody might say, "Very few men are really Manly." Nobody would say, "Very few whales are really whaley."
[GKC "Why I Believe in Christianity" CW1:384-5]
Amazing, isn't it? Indeed, very few men are really Manly - but we have a standard, a measure, even though at this point in our study, both Jesus and John are yet hidden from our view.

Indeed, He is hidden - and yet His presence is acknowledged. Elizabeth herself asserts that presence: since Mary "proceeded in haste", and even allowing for travel time, we expect that she was barely a month pregnant: something unknowable without modern biochemistry. Yet Elizabeth proclaims her as mother. [Lk 1:43]

I am well aware of how close I come to one of the Great Secrets, which we must not speak of - this one in particular which all know, and on which most preserve its dignity by keeping silent. I must, however, give you GKC's own relevant words, even as it comes close to this grave matter, for it is something we need to speak about:
In the dull, dusty, stale, stiff-jointed and lumbering language, to which most modern discussion is limited, it is necessary to say that there is at this moment the same fashionable fallacy about Sex and about Property. In the older and freer language, in which men could both speak and sing, it is truer to say that the same evil spirit has blasted the two great powers that make the poetry of life; the Love of Woman and the Love of the Land. It is important to observe, to start with, that the two things were closely connected so long as humanity was human, even when it was heathen. Nay, they were still closely connected, even when it was a decadent heathenism. But even the stink of decaying heathenism has not been so bad as the stink of decaying Christianity. The corruption of the best...

For instance, there were throughout antiquity, both in its first stage and its last, modes of idolatry and imagery of which Christian men can hardly speak. "Let them not be so much as named among you." [Ephesians 5:3] Men wallowed in the mere sexuality of a mythology of sex; they organised prostitution like priesthood, for the service of their temples; they made pornography their only poetry; they paraded emblems that turned even architecture into a sort of cold and colossal exhibitionism. Many learned books have been written of all these phallic cults; and anybody can go to them for the details, for all I care. But what interests me is this:
In one way all this ancient sin was infinitely superior, immeasurably superior, to the modern sin. All those who write of it at least agree on one fact; that it was the cult of Fruitfulness. It was unfortunately too often interwoven, very closely, with the cult of the fruitfulness of the land. It was at least on the side of Nature. It was at least on the side of Life. It has been left to the last Christians, or rather to the first Christians fully committed to blaspheming and denying Christianity, to invent a new kind of worship of Sex, which is not even a worship of Life. It has been left to the very latest Modernists to proclaim an erotic religion which at once exalts lust and forbids fertility. The new Paganism literally merits the reproach of Swinburne, when mourning for the old Paganism: "and rears not the bountiful token and spreads not the fatherly feast." The new priests abolish the fatherhood and keep the feast - to themselves. They are worse than Swinburne's Pagans. The priests of Priapus and Cotytto go into the kingdom of heaven before them.[cf Mt 21:31]
[GKC The Well and the Shallows CW3:501-2, emphasis added]
Yes, alas, there are people today who dislike hearing about pregnancy, and yet how else did they arrive here on earth? Let us return to our scene, the old Jewish mother and the young Jewish mother, both rejoicing in their fertility, so much so that Mary could sing how she achieved something as impossible as her Divine maternity: the mystery of the Magnificat: her soul made even God Himself look bigger. (Don't you think of Mary when you see those silly inscriptions on your car's mirrors: "objects appear larger than they are" or whatever it is. Hee hee.)

Moreover, the unborn John "leaped for joy" as Mary's greeting was heard by Elizabeth [Lk 1:44] What does that mean? It was simply an acknowledgement of the presence of the Unborn God-Man, hidden in the tabernacle, the Ark of the New Covenant, which is Mary. And the leap is "type" for any and all acts of adoration, acts which are among the most manly of all possible actions for a man:
The crux and crisis is that man found it natural to worship; even natural to worship unnatural things. The posture of the idol might be stiff and strange; but the gesture of the worshipper was generous and beautiful. He not only felt freer when he bent; he actually felt taller when he bowed. Henceforth anything that took away the gesture of worship would stunt and even maim him forever. Henceforth being merely secular would be a servitude and an inhibition. If man cannot pray he is gagged; if he cannot kneel he is in irons.
[GKC The Everlasting Man CW2:244]
Now, you may recall that last week I quoted the famous bit from Orthodoxy which links this scene to the fairy tale called "Cinderella": the phrase exaltavit humiles = "He has lifted up the humble" from Mary's Magnificat [Lk 1:52] Today, we see in this same scene another verse from the same context, but this time about another fairy tale:
There is the chivalrous lesson of "Jack the Giant Killer"; that giants should be killed because they are gigantic. It is a manly mutiny against pride as such.
[GKC Orthodoxy CW1:253]
I have just one more item to present, and it ties off both the Blatchford matter as well as the one I alluded to with the excerpt from The Well and the Shallows, and yet unites the sense of the manly character - the Power of the Man - to that necessary trait of Christianity which gives us the term "Church Militant": the idea that we Christians (both male and female) are at War - with "the world, the flesh and the devil":
These can be called the essentials of the old orthodoxy, of which the chief merit is that it is the natural fountain of revolution and reform; and of which the chief defect is that it is obviously only an abstract assertion. Its main advantage is that it is the most adventurous and manly of all theologies. Its chief disadvantage is simply that it is a theology. It can always be urged against it that it is in its nature arbitrary and in the air. But it is not so high in the air but that great archers spend their whole lives in shooting arrows at it - yes, and their last arrows; there are men who will ruin themselves and ruin their civilization if they may ruin also this old fantastic tale. This is the last and most astounding fact about this faith; that its enemies will use any weapon against it, the swords that cut their own fingers, and the firebrands that burn their own homes. Men who begin to fight the Church for the sake of freedom and humanity end by flinging away freedom and humanity if only they may fight the Church. This is no exaggeration; I could fill a book with the instances of it. Mr. Blatchford set out, as an ordinary Bible-smasher, to prove that Adam was guiltless of sin against God; in manoeuvring so as to maintain this he admitted, as a mere side issue, that all the tyrants, from Nero to King Leopold, were guiltless of any sin against humanity.
[GKC Orthodoxy CW1:343-4]