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LONDON, ONTARIO – Abandoned at home for 90 hours of uninterrupted bachelor slovenliness this week, I was able to take a deep dive into my own journalistic archives and was, in turn, engrossed, surprised, appalled and delighted by what I found down there. As I waved my wife goodbye and strapped on my spelunking gear, I had a few definite items in mind that I was searching for and did indeed locate over the course of almost four days. But here’s what made this week so special. Once I committed to dropping down that hole, all manner of lost writings and red herrings came swarming into view and because I wasn’t expected anytime soon to come back up to cook or talk or change a lightbulb, I got yanked away in every possible direction and reacquainted myself with subterranean caverns and nooks that I hadn’t visited or considered in years.
We bring you this week’s HERMANEUTICS one day early to chime with Father’s Day which is the subject of our latest essay and to get the jump on our semi-annual rattling of the tin cup. If you enjoy Hermaneutics and have the means to contribute to its operations, please consider hitting the SUPPORT button and check out some of the remarkably convenient ways we have of relieving you of your money. Some of our readers send along a monthly contribution; others pony up a little something when they’re feeling flush. All donations are gratefully received and help the cause of lively and often London-centric commentary, the like of which is not to be found anywhere else.
LONDON, ONTARIO – For a good few years now, I’ve wanted to write a Father’s Day essay focusing not on what magnificent, homage-worthy creatures dads are – though indeed many are and my own was not the least among them – but on the salutary effect that creating and helping to raise a crop of kids can have on a chap. Now that my work in this field of high honour would appear to be about 97.3% completed, I wish to review some of what I discovered and gratefully acknowledge what a thrilling and fulfilling adventure it has been to help prepare three worthy and lovable souls to make their way in the world.
LONDON, ONTARIO – A mere 35 years after my Catholic conversion, I suppose I should be a little chagrined to admit that it is only in these last few months of Lent and Easter that I finally got the hang of how to operate the Rosary and am finding it a very powerful devotional instrument in the way that it commands and directs and focuses my prayer. What took me so long?
OTTAWA, ONTARIO – Though my legs and lower vertebrae sympathetically throbbed at the prospect of spending another 16 out of 24 sleep-deprived hours sandwiched into a chartered bus barreling back and forth between London and Ottawa for the National March for Life, I thought it was important on several fronts to lend my support to the May 9, 2019 edition of what is the largest and most under-reported protest of any kind to visit our nation’s capital each year.
LONDON, ONTARIO - Let’s start with an excerpt from the introduction to the book of my collected plays, Speakable Acts (2017), concerning the background to my second play, Suffering Fools first produced in 1988 . . . .
LONDON, ONTARIO – Back in the late ‘80s / early ‘90s, some incarnation of our downtown business association got it into their heads that they needed to define the precise boundaries of downtown London. No doubt there was some issue about membership dues or eligibility for tax breaks that made such tortuous calculations seem necessary. But merchants and Londoners generally (there had been dark mutterings in the press) were starting to chafe at the exclusionary, snobbish overtones of the whole exercise until the gentle elder statesman of downtown shopkeepers, Fred Kingsmill, stood up at an association confab and contributed his two cents’ worth: “I always think of downtown London as being anywhere within the sound of St. Paul’s bells.”
LONDON, ONTARIO – For those of us who alternately enjoy and suffer from our status as lifelong Londoners, the sense of loss we can experience when demolition or an extensive architectural makeover messes with some beloved cityscape, can be almost as desolating as the death of an old friend. Considering that the only investment we have in such properties is emotional or associative, our grief in such instances is a kind of indulgence that we’re not really entitled to. We’re not on the hook for maintaining or upgrading such buildings. We don’t have to pay for the impracticality of perpetuating the outmoded and we don’t have to try to find tenants to rent out such relics and somehow make them sort of viable. And yet when property owners or landlords do what they deem necessary to turn some sort of profit, we can nonetheless feel violated and robbed; as if they’ve just made off with some significant portion of our civic identity and didn’t have the decency to check with us first to see if we were amenable. It's touchy, tetchy stuff that can breed outrage and resentment for developers and conservationists alike.
LONDON, ONTARIO – During a late summer visit with an old friend last September, we nursed our drinks in the moonlight on his back porch as we discussed a whole raft of newly-crafted social and political conventions that have somehow won wide purchase and which, taken in their totality, leave us feeling like alienated and vaguely criminal geezers from another planet. Though our subject matter was disconcerting, we luxuriated in the rare pleasure of being able to operate our vocal cords in a free-wheeling atmosphere where obligatory boxes of obeisance did not have to be ticked before we could proceed; where taking offense, throwing a snit or crying like a baby would not be regarded as compelling counter arguments. What were some of these preposterous new conventions which we neither accept nor uphold?
LONDON, ONTARIO – Having stretched myself quite fruitfully with my reading of The Divine Comedy on the occasion of Dante’s 750th birthday, I more recently decided it was time to finally immerse myself in the writings of St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) and read the two works for which he is best known, Confessions and The City of God. If you require a significant milestone to jog your historical reading, then by all means take advantage of this 1665th anniversary of his birth to acquaint yourself with this incomparably influential ‘Doctor of the Church’. After sacred scripture and documents produced by various ecumenical councils, no authority is cited so frequently in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as St. Augustine.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Some forty-five years ago I impulsively picked up a book on a remainder table at the East London branch of Robert’s Holmes Book Shop for the princely sum of 99 cents. I’d never heard of its author before (or since) and its utterly bewildering title, Inglorious Wordsworths, was the product of some cross-referential convolution that soared clear over top of my then 20 year-old head.
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THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :