13 January 2011

On the feast of St. Hilary...

an article on one of my favorites...

Hilaire Belloc: Defender of the Faith

...A. N. Wilson in his biography of Belloc wrote: “If I created a character in a novel as Hilaire Belloc, people would not believe it.” Belloc was a paradox: a lyrical poet who never read any contemporary poetry; a rhymester whose high finks still charm children; an artilleryman on bivouac at Toul who smelled the Revolution as “France went by”; an aging monarchist who savored the last charge of Charles I at Naseby; the most versatile and certainly the finest English prose stylist in this and possibly any century, who grumbled from the liberty of his battered old boat, the Nona, “dear reader, read less and sail more” even as he lusted for bigger and better-paying audiences; the perpetual wanderer tramping Europe, burning for adventures even as he sang the praises of a rooted peasantry and a hearth steeped in seasonable traditions that “halted the cruelty of time”; the enemy of the rich and of capitalist greed, who once asked for a bucket of money as a birthday gift; the passionate advocate of Truth, who once groused, however, “that the truth always limps”; the drummer boy of an English-speaking Catholicism he helped make proud of itself.

...Belloc did not give a damn for what anybody thought of him. He wrote his life of King James II in a hotel on the edge of the Sahara in ten days: “It is full of howlers and is the fruit of liberty.” He walked to Rome as a young man, coming in upon the Appian Way on a mule drawn cart — but with his feet dragging on the road so his vow would not be broken.

His vigor was legendary, and I have mentioned as well his lust for life. Belloc — and this is a key to understanding his role as a Catholic apologist — was a man totally at home in this world, but one who knew it was an illusion to be so at home. There was not a trace of Manicheanism in him, and he called puritanism, in his biography of Louis XIV, an “evil out of the pit”, meaning the pit of hell.

The rest is here.

04 January 2011


I don't care what the modern calendar says--Epiphany is not until January 6th, and therefore Christmas is still being celebrated. So you can put off taking down the lights and tree till then (or even wait until February 2nd, if you wish)...

We spent a snowless Christmas out in southern California. Our bungalow overlooked this hillside leading to Strand Beach, where a miles-long walkway leads from cliff to oceanside. Torture, I know. We were lucky enough to be a few short minutes from the San Juan Capistrano Mission. We spent Christmas morning there assisting at the extraordinary form Mass in the Serra Chapel, California's oldest building, whose altar once welcomed Bd. Junipero Serra, and which now houses his relics.

Where's the foie gras?

Jeff Steiner (who issues a wonderfully helpful "Americans in France" newsletter monthly) comments on French fast-food franchise Quick's debut of its foie gras burger. The verdict: good, but he wishes there were more of it...