Friday, June 15, 2007

The Illuminating, Civilizing Power of Chesterton's Lamp-posts

As I mentioned in the previous post, the most I will try to do in these updates of the American Chesterton Society's annual conference is to share a few highlights -- highlights which I hope will be at least a small stimulus for you to plan on being present in future years and/or to order tapes of the presentations from 2007's conference and before. So, let's get to it.

The highlight of the morning's sessions for me was Robert Moore-Jumonville's fine, funny and feisty talk, "Why Did the Lamp-post Cross the Road? Chesterton's Theory of Civilization." Robert's thorough-going survey of Chesterton's work concentrated on the lamp-post, that most obtrusive of Chestertonian objects, and how it was used by the great writer to stress the doctrine of the visible, tangible, and intoxicating divinity in simple man-made things. His overview thus noted the lamp-post motif in The Man Who Was Thursday, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, a 1909 Illustrated London News article, poems, and more as he argued that it served to "illuminate" Chesterton's principled praise of order, civilization, man obeying the dominion mandate, and man accepting the honor of being a co-creator with God.

Like is frequent with these presentations, Mr. Moore-Jumonville's talk would be of great value in helping newcomers and novices better understand and appreciate the writings of G. K. Chesterton. But there was more than enough solid research and keen insight to please the most veteran of Chesterton's readers as well.