Archives For G.K Chesterton

Red Halo: Assisi In Chains

February 25, 2017 — 4 Comments

Red Halo RL2017In his biography of St. Francis of Assisi, G.K.Chesterton refers to something he calls a ”Red Halo”. He does this twice in the book. (Link)

Each time the phrase is found in reference to Francis of Assisi. The first occurrence is when some town folk rush to put out a fire where Assisi was praying with Clare of Assisi, only to find, not a fire, but him collapsed and a Red Halo surrounding them. The second is when the younger Assisi is held captive in a dungeon after gearing up as a citizen soldier to fight in a skirmish with a warring neighbour. Evidently, their squad was captured.

‘Something very vast and universal was already present in that narrow dungeon; and such a seer might have seen in its darkness that red halo of caritas caritatum which marks one saint among saints as well as among men.’ [i]

The once-an-atheist, Chesterton wasn’t to my knowledge, and wide reading of his work, into, nor was he an advocate of mysticism. So it’s fair to say that “Red Halo’’ is for intent and purposes a metaphor used to emphasise what he sees as being a strange alien quality to Assisi; something to suggest that Assisi was grasped by something, or rather, someone not of this world.

This week’s instrumental is inspired by that phrase.

‘If a man may well doubt whether he is worthy to write a word about St. Francis, he will certainly want words better than his own to speak of the friendship of St. Francis and St.Clare. I have often remarked that the mysteries of this story are best expressed symbolically in certain silent attitudes and actions. And I know no better symbol than that found by the felicity of popular legend, which says that one night the people of Assisi thought the trees and the holy house were on fire, and rushed up to extinguish the conflagration. But they found all quiet within, where St. Francis broke bread with St. Clare at one of their rare meetings, and talked of the love of God. It would be hard to find a more imaginative image, for some sort of utterly pure and disembodied passion, than that red halo round the unconscious figures on the hill; a flame feeding on nothing and setting the very air on fire.’ [ii]

As for the creative process, my primary goal was to use a riff I had come up with on a tablet. That didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped and as a result, the tune changed into what you hear in the YouTube video. The focus of the melody is the piano. The lead guitar was down in two parts. My idea here was to use it as a filler. The bass is both guitar and keys running through an FX. I also had not intended on the harmony in the background. When I fiddled with the second lot of keys in the effects on audacity the second set turned out as it is in the recording. Slightly eerie, but intensely cool, given the subject matter. As with all things I’m doing here, I’m learning a lot each time and having fun doing it.

As with all of my music, because I am only using free mixing software at the moment, all are best heard through decent speakers or headphones. I’ve found that some headphones cut out the base and others swing the sound to mono.

Pax Christi!


Notes:

[i] Chesterton, G.K. 1923 Saint Francis of Assisi, Henderickson Classics

[ii] ibid, 1923

Music & Art are my own.

(©RL2017)

Five links_Jpeg

Gathered here, are some of the best bits and pieces I’ve encountered online over the past few weeks. Some reflective, some serious, some just plain hilarious.

1. Everyday Heroes [Video]: Water bombing, aircraft, inferno extinguishers. Along with the song, something about this just shouts awesome.

2. Chesterton’s uniqueness appears to know no bounds.

G.K Chesterton from Alarms and discursions‘Science & Art without morality are not dangerous in the sense commonly supposed. They are not dangerous like a fire, but dangerous like a fog. A fire is dangerous in its brightness; a fog in its dullness; and thought without morals is merely dull, like a fog.

The fog seems to be creeping up the street; putting out lamp after lamp. But this cockney lamp-post… is still crowned with its flame; and when the fathers have forgotten ethics, their babies will turn and teach them’

(The Essential Chesterton Collection, 2009. Kindle Ed. 7612-7615 – This version is real cheap via Amazon at the moment)

3. There are a few versions of this old story on YouTube, this one is the most dramatic and amusing. Instead of an Irish accent  on the other end of the comms, it’d be funnier with an Aussie one. (“Just sayin’…” 🙂 )

 

4. We’ve just about finished watching through the T.V series Duck Dynasty. This meme epitomises the gutsy edge to this Cajun delight. Even though it’s structured up unto a point (what reality TV show isn’t?), that doesn’t hinder the serious message being promoted through all the bells and whistles (or in this case duck calls, camo, camaraderie and comedy).

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5. Lastly, if you have ever wondered what would have happened should the remaining members of Led Zeppelin become a “worship band”. Here Tim Hawkins pulls off a pretty close interpretation of how it might have turned out:

Images: G.K Chesterton, Alarms and Discursions 1910; Jase Robertson, (Pinterest)

ID-100221200 (1)I’ve been working on the planned posts which form a trilogy-in-sum brief on the closing part of Barth’s C.D I.II.

The problem is that finding the time to do it well has been more of a challenge than I anticipated – given that, and the serious issues in the news at the moment, I’m kind of avoiding finishing it.

So instead, today I’m posting some weekend G.K Chesterton lite.

For an academic, he appears free of the quest to be liked, shared or even celebrated.  Not being one to take himself too seriously, Chesterton is a reminder that serious reflection in life involves laughter, not just clinical-objective observation. More than this, he understood that the space and time we allow for laughter in our relationships is often way too small. Often, it is something temporary, lost to the impact of distraction; a casualty of circumstance.

He wasn’t fond of what he calls ’intellectual fog’[i]. (A term of his that I’m fond of, and one that pretty much describes the dangers of academic arrogance[ii]. This means anything that sucks the beauty and benefit out of reading, involving the form, content and unreasonable criticisms/suspicions applied to a text – e.g.: ad hominem, reductio ad absurdum et.al).

Most of us would agree on this point: that copious amounts of data (images) being fed through our technologically intertwined lives can weigh us down.

When this happens we should be careful to not let the intellectual fog ‘creep up the street; and put out lamp after lamp.’[iii]

In order to do this, when the time comes, we might aim at being more generous with our laughter. With the full understanding that just as the tears and sighs of broken hearts can move grief up through our lungs right towards the ears of God. Tears can also be the result of our hearts being reoriented towards joy.

In the light of Chesterton’s ability to see past his own ego and that of his peers and by employing such things as humour to do so, he, in my view, avoids being neatly packaged into any box of anti-intellectualism.

Perhaps when critics of Chesterton talk about him in this context, they might actually be missing the dry humour in some of Chesterton’s criticism of unnecessary over-sophistication.

For example:

‘I was sharply reminded that I had entered Babylon, and left England behind. The waiter brought me cheese, indeed, but cheese cut up into contemptibly small pieces; and it is the awful fact that, instead of Christian bread, he brought me biscuits.
Biscuits–to one who had eaten the cheese of four great countrysides! Biscuits–to one who had proved anew for himself the sanctity of the ancient wedding between cheese and bread! I addressed the waiter in warm and moving terms.
I asked him who he was that he should put asunder those whom Humanity had joined. I asked him if he did not feel, as an artist, that a solid but yielding substance like cheese went naturally with a solid, yielding substance like bread; to eat it off biscuits is like eating it off slates.
I asked him if, when he said his prayers, he was so supercilious as to pray for his daily biscuits. He gave me generally to understand that he was only obeying a custom of Modern Society. I have therefore resolved to raise my voice, not against the waiter, but against Modern Society, for this huge and unparalleled modern wrong.[iv]

This weekend why not take a deep breath, exhale gently, and with me, consider the reasons why the world needs to constantly be reminded of Barth’s admonition that:

‘Those who cannot sigh with others and laugh a little about themselves are warmongers[v]

Sources:

[i] Chesterton, G.K 1910, Alarms and Discussions: ‘Cheese’ Kindle Ed.441-448(‘Alarms and Discursions’ 1910, Kindle Ed. 441-448)
[ii] Chesterton, G. K. The Essential G. K. Chesterton Collection (400+ works) (Illustrated) (Kindle Ed. 2009 Loc. 7613-7614)
[iii] Ibid, ‘Science and art without morality are not dangerous in the sense commonly supposed. They are not dangerous like a fire, but dangerous like a fog. A fire is dangerous in its brightness; a fog in its dullness’
[iv] Chesterton, G. K. What I saw in America. Prohibition in Fact and Fancy: The Essential G. K. Chesterton Collection (400+ works) (Illustrated) (Kindle Ed. 2009. Locations 68335-68336)
[v] Barth, K. 1961 der götze wackelt (The Idol Wobbles – exact translation T.B.C)  Insights, (Selected by Ebherhard Busch, 2009) Westminster John Knox Press p.12
(h/t to Ben @ Faith & Theology, where I first read about Chesterton’s ‘Alarms and Discursions’)

Image credit: ‘Lighting Decor’, Courtesy of FeelArt