This past Wednesday we had the privilege of chatting with Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society, on our radio show. His ardent love and enthusiasm for the thought and virtue of GK Chesterton is contagious – we found ourselves talking about it for the rest of the evening.
Among the many prophetic insights of Chesterton which Dale shared with us, the one that most struck a chord with us was GKC’s realization that the west was facing the rise of a new Dark Ages (and remember, he saw this coming some 80 years ago), with an attack on the sanctity and autonomy of the family. In these new times, he said, the family would be as the monasteries of old during the Dark Ages of barbarian invasions – luminous beacons tasked with preserving truth, beauty, craft, art, life, and culture. (For an in-depth look at how exactly the monasteries did this, read How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas Woods, Jr).
Wow! Think about that for a moment: the family, the domestic church, as Pope John Paul II often called it, acting in the capacity of the monasteries which did so much to preserve, transform, and build the culture of Europe. As quickly as the barbarians burned the monasteries to the ground, the monks began anew, rebuilding churches, re-copying ancient manuscripts. They were hardy and resilient; like weeds, they just kept coming back.
Home is where the hearth is. It is also the first place we should find holiness, beauty, art, and truth. That hearth that warms our homes is to be more than just a cozy place to gather our families. God is asking us to stoke that fire until it becomes a blazing beacon of light, whose brilliance will shine out against the darkness of a culture of death and hopelessness. And as you stoke the hearth fire in your own home, others will be kindled, too. One thing about fire, it’s hard to contain, and this fire of truth and beauty is the kind that needs to spread.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Jn 1:5
Listen to our interview with Dale Ahlquist:
To learn more about GK Chesterton, or to find out more about the American Chesterton Society, including their upcoming conference, click here. You’ll find lots of resources, events, and other things to feed your mind and your soul.
And if you’re new to the writings of Chesterton, you’ll find great suggestions on where to start reading by checking out their Chesterton reading plan.
Consider a subscription to Gilbert Magazine (one of our favorite publications), an artfully and thoughtfully produced periodical devoted to Chesterton’s thought and writings.