Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dale Ahlquist in Denver: Post-Event Reflections

American Chesterton Society Chairman Dale Ahlquist visited Denver this weekend after stopping off in Colorado Springs for the Thomas Aquinas Society Conference. He spoke at St. Vincent De Paul, outlining the prophetic nature of Chesterton's writings and feeding the audience with many Chestertonian one-liners.

It was a good introduction for the newcomer, yet I couldn't escape feeling like I could have written, though not delivered, a similar lecture with only a small loss of quality. When one is mouthing Chesterton quotations along with the speaker, this feeling seems all the more justified.

The post-lecture reception was modest but enjoyable. More noteworthy was the next evening's dinner at a Denver GKC Society member's home. A bit of peach brandy flavored the conversations, inebriating in their own right. Mr. Ahlquist was as engaging in person than he is on his television series, and everyone left happy.

One of our visitors was Peter Burnell, a visting professor at DU, whose new book The Augustinian Person looks like a very worthy read.

Perhaps the most surprising remark of the evening concerned an account of Marquette University's choice of Chesterton's Orthodoxy as a common book for entering freshmen some two decades ago. It is alleged that a leftist professor and sympathetic students so detested the choice that they actually engaged in a bookburning. Chesterton's work of Christian apologetics was consigned to the flames just like the angry mob did to his story The Man Who Was Thursday in Sinclair Lewis' anti-fascist novel It Can't Happen Here. I have been unable to confirm this pre-Internet story, but it is a very curious account.

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