Friday, June 15, 2007

Well Served By Youth

Christopher Chan's presentation as a recent college graduate just a couple of years ago remains one of my all-time favorite sessions here at the annual American Chesterton Society conference and even in the brief time he had today, he did not disappoint. Chris' perspective on The Man Who Was Thursday was that the novel needs to be lived rather than merely read. In other words, his conviction is that the work provides both inspiration and a blueprint for Christian activism, an accurate guide for a lifestyle befitting one who (like Chris) would love to be a member of the novel's police force entrusted with saving the world. Also, the delivery was charming and convincing, Chan having a rare talent as a communicator. Very good stuff.

The second panel of the afternoon was comprised of only young men, all recent B.A. graduates of St. Thomas University in Houston, Texas. All three of these young fellows shared shrewd perceptions into Chesterton. Especially valuable to me were 1) Jorge Iglesias' brief description of three virtues peculiar to Fr. Brown in detective fiction as well as this sage quotation from Kafka ("Chesterton is so joyful, you might almost believe he had found God."); 2) Mike Streeter's balanced, well-argued comparison of Chesterton with British skeptic, David Hume (no easy task); and 3) Rob MacArthur's comfortable and humorous primer on three basic Chestertonian themes: the rediscovery that comes from "circumnavigation," the grateful love of particulars, and the overwhelming intellectual and spiritual power of surprise.

How good and hopeful it is to learn from young Chesterton scholars like Chan, Streeter, MacArthur and Iglesias. I commend the ACS for giving them the chance to address such a forum... and I thank the ACS for the rich blessing of us hearing their inspirational talks.