Some Things Are Worth Contemplation
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “Speaking of contemplation, let’s go to the Dude Maker Hotline and say hello to our friend Joseph Pearce, who is the editor in chief of the magnificent St. Austin Review, a writer at The Imaginative Conservative website.” Check out today’s transcript for the rest….
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: It is contemplation that would sober people up here. Speaking of contemplation, let’s go to the Dude Maker Hotline and say hello to our friend Joseph Pearce, who is the editor in chief of the magnificent St. Austin Review, a writer at The Imaginative Conservative website. Joseph, as we learned yesterday, your daughter went to school with a friend of ours who’s a listener in Florida named Dawn.
Joseph Pearce: That one came from the left field, that’s for sure.
Mike: How are you?
Pearce: I’m doing merry well. How are you?
Mike: He said he’s doing merry well, in case you didn’t get it. I had to ask you now, do you have the window open for me and are we going to hear the chickens today?
Pearce: I do have the window open for you, and I hope we can hear the chickens. They’re well-behaved at the moment.
Mike: My second statement to you, my friend, you and I need to exchange email addresses. You must not have known this, but you came and spoke at the Chesterton Society in Ponchatoula, Louisiana three weeks ago.
Pearce: I did.
Mike: I live seven minutes from the Chesterton –
Mike: Yes! I live right down the road and I had no idea. I didn’t even know that – I’ve passed the – I’ve actually stopped and taken pictures of the statue of Chesterton. I’ve told friends: They’ve got a Chesterton center in Ponchatoula. I thought it was just a gathering hall that the guy was a Chesterton fan, almost like a reception hall, if you will. I had no idea that there was a Chesterton Society there.
Pearce: I was there. Kevin O’Brien from Theater of the Word was there. Dale Ahlquist of The American Chesterton Society was down there. If we’d known you were seven minutes away, we’d have come and badgered you.
Mike: I would have been happily badgered.
Pearce: Probably after a couple of beers where badgering is much more fun.
Mike: I understand this is a yearly event, so I won’t miss it next time.
Pearce: It is. It’s always early March. In that case, I look forward to actually getting to meet you in the flesh. It’s good to know that that’s something that’s likely to happen soon.
Mike: It is. That would be a real delight to go to a Chesterton Society meeting, since I try to read Chesterton almost every day. I can’t do it every day but almost every day.
Pearce: Having your talent on their doorstep, once they know that, they’re probably going to badger you to actually be taking part in these conferences. You realize that?
Mike: If I keep reading Chesterton and talking like I was talking before you came on about just war and contemplation, they’re going to carry me off in a white straightjacket. Help the listeners out out there. You have studied and written about things like this your career since you got Jesus, literally and figuratively and practically. Why can’t we contemplate anymore? I actually had a listener and a supporter of this network send me a string of very not-nice electronic correspondence where he remonstrated against me contemplating things. They don’t want contemplation, Joseph. They want a never-ending stream of data.
Pearce: Data and trivia is what they want. I wrote something fairly recently at The Imaginative Conservative called “Distracting Ourselves to Death.” I actually distinguish between taking time, which is good, and wasting time, which is bad. To take time is actually to step out of the busyness of our day and spend time in the presence of the good, the true, and the beautiful in silence and in contemplation and in prayer. I also suggest something else that’s very unfashionable these days, that we actually try to reintroduce ourselves to poetry. The point with poetry is it forces you to slow down. You can’t read poetry in top gear. You have to read it at a slower pace in order to take it in.
These things are actually good for us, and, paradoxically, they take time rather than wasting it. In other words, we’re actually fitting our lives, which is something to be much more fruitful in terms of turning us into better, happier, more full human beings. It’s a bit like spiritual bodybuilding, quite frankly. Take the time to contemplate so that we can actually grow in our understanding of the cosmos in which we find ourselves. If we failed to do that, we’re basically like tumbleweeds just being blown around by the winds of change, by the winds of time, by the fashions and the fads. We find no peace of mind, no peace of heart.
Mike: You mention that and I now hold in my hand the latest issue of the St. Austin Review, which is the Shakespeare issue. I was excited that this came in yesterday knowing that you were going to be on because I can talk to you about it. I was reading Frank Brownlow’s essay about what Shakespeare’s editors don’t know. I noticed what you just said. I was rushing through the poetry and I went: Wait a minute. Slow down. Go back and read that again. [speaking Latin] “When the cock crows, the sun wakes up and frees the skies from darkness. When he crows, all night prowlers leave the paths of sin.” That’s deep. You can’t read that and not contemplate it, can you?
Pearce: Exactly. See, what’s happening there, though, is we’ve actually penetrated beneath the surface of the trivial level on which we tend to live, particularly in our banal culture where we never really get beyond the trivial. How long did that take you to read that Latin, translate to English? Probably 15 seconds. Then we spend the next minute or so pondering it. That’s the best two minutes of the day we’re going to spend, and the most important, and the one that’s actually going to change our lives, and the two minutes we’re most likely to remember two months from now, rather than the rest of the day which will be forgotten in a blur of nothing.
Mike: I’ll remember that Ted Cruz insulted Donald Trump’s wife, and then Donald Trump’s wife insulted Ted Cruz’s wife. I’ll remember all those things and then go onto the next – as we were talking about last week with another guest, people that live in Western civilization have a serious attention problem. We’ll be talking, just like in the middle of this sentence here, and suddenly go: Squirrel!
Pearce: Let me give you an example, though. Something that’s worth rushing through is a headline where Donald Trump is insulting Ted Cruz’s wife. All right. I’ve got the headline. Trump has insulted Cruz’s wife. That’s all I need to know. Why would I then want to click on the article and read the sordid details? That’s something that is worth skirting over, rushing over. Nothing else needs to be said about it. Trump has been unkind to Cruz’s wife, that’s it. The rest of it, quite frankly – anything else that’s juicy is just gossip. We’re better not to have it in our heads in the first place.
Mike: I’m reminded, the other day my friend David Simpson and I were talking about the movie Braveheart. This is how far from the mundane, the despicable, the nasty, the unhygienic, the miserable, the dark and gray and awful existence of the days of William Wallace from whence we have come. Every day it’s sunshine, moonbeams, gumdrops, and streets paved with gold. In the movie, William Wallace is in the tent with the queen, the princess, and the king, the king’s valet. The king’s valet says that this man is a savage liar, in Latin. William Wallace answers him in Latin and says: I am a savage but I’m not a liar. My point in this is, and we see this early in the movie –
Pearce: I’d forgotten that line actually. I haven’t seen Braveheart for years. I did enjoy it when I watched it, even though the English are portrayed in it like the SS. Mel Gibson has a problem with the English but that’s fine. I’d forgotten that line. Very good. Of course, I hear “Sir, I am a savage” in Latin in response. It’s a perfect repost.
Mike: I was trying to remember the word for beast but I don’t know the word for savage. I can say the rest of it in Latin. My point in thinking about that and when David said that is, I said: David, in the earlier part of the movie, we saw young William Wallace being tutored by that man of his who he called father. That was all oral tradition. They weren’t writing anything. You repeat, repeat, repeat. This man learned – he didn’t go to university. He didn’t go to any private school. He was still able to learn and speak Latin. When the queen says something in French, he answers her in French. He actually knows French, too. The point is, the people that we think in the past, from Shakespeare’s age, that were just blithering idiots and the most miserable people that God ever created and who would ever want to go back and live then or who would want to live a life like that, most of these people had an education that if you tried to buy it you couldn’t get it at Harvard or Oxford today, could you?
Pearce: Right. There’s an historian called Michael Ward. He did some research into grammar schools in Shakespeare’s time, in other words, in late Elizabethan England or middle Elizabethan England. The average grammar school student at the age of 16 would have a grasp of Latin and Greek which would shame someone who got a first-class honor’s degree at Oxford and Cambridge today in the classics. The point is, what we’re guilty of is very similar to racism. We look upon the past as a foreign country that’s populated by people that are inferior to us merely because they’re from the past. We don’t have to take them seriously because we are superior to them. It’s a superciliousness which is the same sort of thing as racism. I don’t have to take you seriously because you’re different from me.
Mike: I’m fascinated by – I didn’t get to read much of the issue here – the bent, if I’m to understand this correctly, the bent of the Shakespeare issue of the St. Austin Review is that Shakespeare – I did read your editorial, your introduction. You believe, you’ve got research, and I think you’re getting ready to publish something that says that Shakespeare was a Roman Catholic.
Pearce: Yes. The evidence is absolutely overwhelming. I’ve actually published three books already on the evidence of Shakespeare’s Catholicism. The first is called The Quest for Shakespeare, which looks at the biographical and historical evidence for Shakespeare’s Catholicism. Then there’s two other books, Through Shakespeare’s Eyes and Shakespeare On Love, which looks at the textual evidence from the plays for Shakespeare’s Catholicism. The evidence is overwhelming. When confronted by the evidence, what we actually get from the secular academy is silence, an embarrassed silence and let’s change the subject. They can’t really engage the documentary evidence for Shakespeare’s Catholicism because it’s overwhelming. It’s beyond all reasonable doubt.
Mike: Let me ask you, I don’t know if you’ve seen the Roland Emmerich film Anonymous.
Pearce: I know of it. I actually wrote about it on the basis of what I’d read about it. I haven’t actually seen it. I wouldn’t watch it because of the nonsense of the idea that the Earl of Oxford wrote the plays. The first chapter of my book The Quest for Shakespeare is entitled “Will the Real Shakespeare Please Stand Up?” I basically demolish the argument that the Earl of Oxford wrote the plays. It’s just silly quite frankly. It doesn’t hold water once you start looking at from the objective gaze of history.
Mike: Folks, if you’re interested in this subject – this, to me, is what we ought to be talking about, stuff like this. Again, there goes Mike and Joseph contemplating again. The movie contemplates the idea or proposes the idea – as you said it’s preposterous. I don’t know that much about it, but I’ll get your book and I’ll read it. It’s a very well-made film, by the way. Now that you told me it’s not true it’s not so well made.
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Mike: One of the propositions – there were two. There was an actor named William Shakspeare and there was a writer that went under the penname of William Shakespeare. That’s the plot. Of course, you said the Earl of Oxford is the actual author and that’s what they go through in the movie here. I think one of the things that Emmerich did add to the film – now, he didn’t make Elizabeth out to be the queen of martyring Catholics as she could have been, but he did make her out to be a pretty loose and promiscuous lass, to the point where she was being whisked away several times during her reign to go pop babies out – she was never married – to give birth to children that had no fathers because she didn’t have a king. I don’t know how much of that is true.
Pearce: It’s salacious. One thing we can be absolutely sure of is the actual nickname given to her during her lifetime by her sycophantic subjects was “the virgin queen,” which is clearly absurd and ludicrous. She was anything but. Of course, the most important thing about that is it’s ascribing to a worldly monarch who’s a tyrant who tortures her own subject, a title which belongs to the Blessed Virgin and to nobody else. That’s something of the demonic spirit of Elizabethan England.
End Mike Church Show Transcript