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PostPosted: 22 Sep 2010, 13:02 
Grand Poobah
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Joined: 18 Sep 2007, 11:26
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Location: Buffalo, NY ... 196542.ece
Try these four statements on for size, and ask yourself what era they seem to describe:

• “What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism.”

• “All government is an ugly necessity.”

• “A great curse has fallen upon modern life with the discovery of the vastness of the word Education.”

• “For fear of the newspapers politicians are dull, and at last they are too dull even for the newspapers.”

Sound modern, don’t they? Even strangely applicable to the America— and the Western New York—we sometimes seem to live in. (From the Wall Street financial meltdown to the state of public schools to the milquetoast style of many politicians.)

Exactly. Those lines were written about a century ago by G. K. Chesterton— yet they seem just as interesting and relevant today.

That’s why, if a fledgling Chesterton Society in Western New York gets its way, the British author, who died in 1936, will be revived as a popular author, and even reintroduced into schools and public arenas.

“His real appeal is his prophetic writings,” said Philip Viverito of the Town of Tonawanda, who founded the local chapter of the American Chesterton Society last year. “If you read the book ‘What’s Wrong With the World?’, he was really writing about what is wrong today.”

The local chapter, which holds monthly meetings in Amherst, will host an evening of Chesterton appreciation Thursday, beginning at 7 p. m. in St. Timothy Catholic Church, 565 East Park Drive, in the Town of

Tonawanda. Admission is $7 at the door.

At the event, two well-known national figures on Chesterton will speak.

Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society and host of the popular EWTN program “The Apostle of Common Sense,” will speak about Chesterton, along with Chuck Chalberg, who performs as the portly, bespectacled author on the EWTN show.

Ahlquist, on the phone with The Buffalo News from the society’s headquarters in Minneapolis, said that the time is right for a Chesterton revival.

“Our show on EWTN has helped generate a lot of interest in Chesterton. It’s broadcast all over the world,” said Ahlquist, who has written two books on the author. “What’s happening is, you’re starting to see Chesterton quoted a lot more — in newspaper articles, essays, political speeches, even in the movies.

“It means people are starting to discover him. The quotes are starting to float around—Chesterton is, if nothing else, quotable. That’s what’s going to lead to a full-fledged Chesterton revival, in my opinion.”

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, author (if it wasn’t obvious) of the lines at the top of this story, was born in London in 1874 and never went to college. Yet he became one of the most beloved and talked-about writers of his day.

During the course of his multifaceted career, he wrote newspaper columns, poetry, plays, and more than 100 books, from collections of essays to biographies to histories, as well as volumes of criticism.

Born a Protestant, Chesterton converted to Roman Catholicism later in his life, and became a defender of faith, reason and common sense against modernistic tendences toward atheism and pessimism, watered- down tradition, excessive consumerism and wrong-headed patriotism, among other things.

“My attitude toward progress has passed from antagonism to boredom,” Chesterton told the New York Times magazine, in typically pithy fashion, in 1923. “I have long ceased to argue with people who prefer Thursday to Wednesday because it is Thursday.”

The American Chesterton Society was started by Ahlquist in 1996 and now boasts 2,400 members. There are some 40 local chapters of the society throughout the country, including Buffalo and Rochester.

The national society helped Viverito and his wife Lynne, a co-founder of the local chapter, connect with others in Western New York interested in the author. Viverito sent out an initial query, and had no idea what sort of response — if any — he would get.

“At the first meeting, we had about a half dozen people show up. We had it at Wegmans, between — literally — the meat and the potatoes,” Viverito said with a laugh. “Now we usually have between 10 and 12 people show up each month.”

Like Chesterton himself, Viverito said, the group’s evenings are meant to be fun and thought-provoking in equal measure.

“Anyone can read a bunch of books, but if you don’t discuss them [it’s not as satisfying],” he said. “This way, we can meet monthly with people who have a similar interest.”

The Western New York Chapter of the G. K. Chesterton Society meets for discussion and conviviality on the first Thursday of each month at the Barnes & Noble bookstore on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst, starting at 7 p. m.

The group’s Web site is http://americanchestertonso

For more information, contact Viverito at .

Chloride and Sodium: Two terribly dangerous substances that taste great together!

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