This Year in Jerusalem
LONDON, ONTARIO – After twelve hours in a climate-controlled metal tube sailing through the night from Toronto to Tel Aviv, I was staring into the mirror of a public washroom at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport in the late morning of Thursday, March 16th and marveling at what had become of my baby blues. I’d paid extra for a little more leg room which eased the strain from the waist on down but stiffened things up in the upper body; planted as I was a dozen rows ahead of my wife between similarly long-legged strangers who wouldn’t have understood if I’d curled up on one of their shoulders for even a minute of blessed oblivion. I did reportedly slip under for at least one short and shallow nap when my equally sleep-deprived wife walked past, saw me sawing logs and enviously muttered to herself, “You lucky dog.”
Ruffling Some Feathers
LONDON, ONTARIO – Yes, it’s early days yet but I think we may already have London’s feel good story of the year. Oh, what admirable sense and quiet resistance to witless tendentious mischief was shown by the parents of more than a third of the children enrolled at Eagle Heights elementary school on February 10th. Apparently without voicing a single word of protest to the principal or staff, those parents kept four hundred young students home rather than hand their tots over for a special day-long celebration of “diversity and inclusion” which the organizers were stupid enough to call ... hey, no red flags here, right? ... “Rainbow Day”.
The Impact of One True Voice
LONDON, ONTARIO – For my birthday last May, our favourite son gave us tickets for the Jordan Peterson lecture that month at Centennial Hall; a gig that got bumped to a very chilly night three weeks ago by a sudden conflict in Dr. Peterson’s schedule. (On the off chance that you’re reading this and don’t know very much about JP, this Hermaneutics post from March of 2018 will fill in his back story and give you some sense of why I regard him as one of the most important – and most urgently necessary – thinkers of our time: Dr. Peterson Will See You Now.
Dissecting the ChesterBelloc
LONDON, ONTARIO – A few months back in a sprawling essay on the Brontes, I recalled my delight at visiting Britain’s National Portrait Gallery where I encountered dozens of full-sized portraits of beloved authors that I’d previously seen only as miniature, muddy, black and white frontispieces to classic editions of their works. No single painting in that gallery’s forty rooms was harder to tear myself away from that day than Conversation Piece (1932) by Herbert James Gunn (1893–1964).
Grace for a Sceptical Time
LONDON, ONTARIO – Not a big honking screed today so I won’t bother sending this one out to my subscribers but will just slot this note in here to be discovered, incidentally, as it were.
The Baconians had their first banquet this week after a three-year pause for the Batflu. It was great to gather around the groaning board once again but our dinner did come with a couple of jarring signifiers of how relentlessly history keeps marching on, even when you think you’re just going to sit over here on the sidelines for a few dozen months until things get straightened out.
In Defense of Value Judgements
LONDON, ONTARIO – This month the Wrinklings, for the second time in their twenty-seven years, devoted an evening’s discussion to one of the shortest (sixty-four pages) and lesser known titles in the gem-packed canon of British author, Oxford literary scholar and Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis (1898–1963). The book we explored once again was The Abolition of Man: Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools (1943). That main title may seem to set off an alarm which the subtitle then tries to muffle. But the seasoned Lewis reader confidently proceeds, knowing that if any writer can make the latter fully redeem the former, it is he. Inspired and inspiring teacher that he was, Lewis’ uncanny facility for revelatory expression enabled him to develop any insight – no matter how abstruse or insignificant it might appear at first glance – into compelling expositions that are thrilling to read.
In the Not-So-Bleak Midwinter
LONDON, ONTARIO – Well, we’ll see if the increasingly alarmist weather forecasts of the last week fully bear their frigid fruit. It might seem perverse to say so but our hearts were actually warmed by one particular headline which read, “Arctic Blast this Week Brings the Coldest Christmas in Nearly 40 Years”. That old record-holder was thirty-nine years ago to be precise, the Christmas/New Years’ axis of 1983/1984, when we carried our second child and only son home from St. Joseph’s Hospital in a pre-warmed car with my father-in-law at the wheel, my wife decked out in her mom’s fur coat and the world’s newest Goodden wrapped up in enough blankets to approximately double his circumference. His older and younger sisters had the good sense to be born in the spring (of ’81) and the summer (of ’86) when such precautions were not called for.
It's Good to be Here
LONDON, ONTARIO – Following a two-year moratorium on such gatherings so as to flatten the infectious spread of a wicked man-made virus, last weekend we were able to attend a Christmas luncheon at the Delta London Armouries Hotel with a group of unhinged conservatives with whom we occasionally consort. It was great to get together with friends once again. And it was just as encouraging to see the dozens of other small parties (some of whom might even have been Communists or Liberals for all I know) freely mingling with nary a mask in sight at one of the finest smorgasbords in town.
How Goes the Haggis Hurling Campaign?
LONDON, ONTARIO – Almost five years and two City Councils since we first examined this issue in one of the first essays posted to the Hermaneutics blog, our civic leaders are once again agonizing over whether or not to strip the name of a London filmmaker from a South London park that was designated in his honour. The post below (the third to appear on this site) gives my take on how the situation stood on January 16, 2018. I will follow up this re-posting with a few observations about the latest developments in this squalid battle and speculate on how things will likely proceed in the continuing campaign to stuff the name of Paul Haggis down the municipal memory hole.
The Baconian Club Resumes
LONDON, ONTARIO – This week I delivered a paper for our first meeting in almost three years, entitled A Personal History of the Baconian Club in Four Obituaries.
A THIRTY-TWO month interruption in the proceedings of this rather unlikely club that I joined thirty-two years ago has been raising some existential questions and challenges in my mind. Like, why did I join this club in the first place?
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THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :