Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Happy 140th Gilbert!

Well, it's G. K. Chesterton's 140th Birthday, and also the day known in the Davis household as "Chesterton Day". For those who don't know, Chesterton was an artist, journalist, amateur theologian, poet, philosopher, playwright, and apologist. He wore a cape, carried a sword-cane, and kept a bar of chocolate in his pocket at all times. He was known for often sitting down in the middle of the sidewalk in London to draw pictures with chalk, dictating entire books with no revision or proofreading, and showing up two hours late for his own wedding: he explained to his wife that he had needed to stop on the way to the church to buy a pistol so that he could defend her from pirates on their honeymoon in Norfolk. He carried on lively public debates with atheists like George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, H.G. Wells, and even Clarence Darrow (of "Scopes Monkey Trial" fame).

In honor of the big man's b-day, I picked a couple of great quotes from him for you to chew on for a bit. Enjoy!

"To smatter the tongues of men and angels, to dabble in the dreadful sciences, to juggle with pillars and pyramids and toss up the planets like balls, this is that inner audacity and indifference which the human soul, like a conjurer catching oranges, must keep up forever. This is that insanely frivolous thing we call sanity... if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."
-from What's Wrong With the World 

(A note on the above quote: In context, Chesterton is talking about mothers and why mothers need to have a broad, liberal arts education. It's a defense of the generalist over and against the specialist, of the amateur over the professional. Go ahead and read the whole essay. It's short.)

"Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously. The latest fads of culture, the latest sophistries of anarchism will carry us away if we are uneducated; we shall not know how very old are all new ideas...The uneducated man will always care too much for complications, novelties, the fashion, the latest thing. The uneducated man will always be an intellectual dandy."
-from The Illustrated London News, Dec. 2, 1905

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