Hilaire Belloc

The Tyranny of Tolerance

When the Supreme Court re-defined marriage in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision to include same-sex relationships, it was immediately clear that this sea change would create a conflict between this newly-discovered constitutional right, and the first freedom listed in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights: the right of religious liberty. Everyone from pundits [...]

When the “Reformers” Abandoned the Eucharist

The first lines of Belloc’s 1936 book, The Characters of the Reformation, are these: “The break-up of united western Christendom with the coming of the Reformation was by far the most important thing in history since the formation of the Catholic Church fifteen hundred years before.” We live in a time when the Reformation is [...]

Belloc’s Hills and the Sea

Hilaire Belloc’s Hills and the Sea was published in 1906. It is a collection of his journalism from that era in periodicals long since gone. Luckily for us, his writing remains. These 38 essays are a mix of reflection and philosophy, personal memoir, and travel writing—some with English settings, some foreign. In fact, the geography [...]

Three Paths to Rome

Once asked what book he’d like to be stuck with on a desert island, G.K. Chesterton reportedly responded in the way one would expect of him: Thomas' Guide to Practical Shipbuilding. He was being facetious, and his real answer was The Pickwick Papers. The question is a fun one to consider, but frankly, I’d beg [...]

“Worshipping the Devil by Default”

In his very first homily at the Missa Pro Ecclesia in the Sistine Chapel, Pope Francis quoted the famous words of Leon Bloy, stating “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” Nature abhors a vacuum. Our experience of the material world tells us that things tend to occupy vacancies; substances naturally move [...]

What is Distributism? A Controversial Alternative to Socialism and Plutocracy

Distributism is the name given to a socio-economic and political creed originally associated with G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. Chesterton bowed to Belloc’s preeminence as a disseminator of the ideas of distributism, declaring Belloc the master in relation to whom he was merely a disciple. “You were the founder and father of this mission,”Chesterton [...]

Meeting Chesterton After His Death

Tomorrow, it will be 78 years since G.K. Chesterton took his last breath on this earth. His death was front page news around the world and was met with an outpouring of spontaneous groans and genuine grief. Thousands of people who had never met Chesterton but who had welcomed him into their homes through his [...]

Distinguishing Between Authentic and Heretical Ecumenism

Pope Francis’s visit with the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew in Jerusalem on May 25 elicited the familiar curiosity and hope that accompanies such gestures shared between persons of different faith traditions, in this case persons of the highest leadership and authority in their respective Churches, coming together in at least some degree of commonality and fellowship. [...]

What Have We Learned from Universities?

The recent news that Pope Francis has appointed a commission of prelates to reevaluate a former Pontifical university in Peru has elicited a few sardonic remarks, and perhaps even some earnest hopes, that the Vatican might take a similarly incisive interest in the condition of certain Catholic institutions in the United States. As unlikely as [...]

Robert Hugh Benson’s Come Rack! Come Rope!

Robert Hugh Benson was born in 1871, the youngest son of E.W. Benson, a distinguished Anglican clergyman who counted the Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, amongst his friends. In 1882, when Benson was eleven-years-old, his father became Archbishop of Canterbury. Having taken Anglican orders himself, it was Benson who read the litany at his father’s [...]

Hilaire Belloc, Cautionary Tales and Bad Child’s Book of Beasts

I remember the first time I read John Senior's Death of Christian Culture. That it ended with a reading list was, well, something of a surprise. There was everyone you would expect—Dickens and Scott, Austen and Wister—and some I had never met. But what struck me the most were the unknown titles from authors I [...]

Falling Through The Catholic Literary Cracks

Over at The Catholic Herald (UK), Roy Peachey has an intriguing piece on a number of Catholic writers he fears are being left by the wayside -- not for any fault in their craftsmanship or in their ability to be relevant, but simply for geographic reasons: Most English language studies of the Catholic novel - and, I would guess, [...]

Chesterton Was Fat

  There is much talk of the possible canonization of one of Catholicism's favorite "secular saints," G. K. Chesterton. Inevitably, people point to one thing that doesn't sit well in the American consciousness: Chesterton was fat.   I hear little buzzings about it all over, and the subject of gluttony vs. abstemiousness comes up repeatedly [...]

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