“How do you expect me to follow THAT?”

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(This is a simul-post with Ignitum Today)

At daily Mass on Friday, the priest made a reference to this article in the Wall Street Journal.  The idea was that modern fiction is not, in fact, faithless, but contains faith in but a whisper–as opposed to the literary giants of the 20th Century whose faith was quite prominent: figures like G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, like the Inklings, the literary circle of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, or like the poet Roy Campbell and the novelist Evelyn Waugh.

The Inklings

This sort of a lull in strong Catholic writers hearkened back to something which we both said and heard while playing a new game we got for Christmas: Uncle Chestnut’s Table Gype.  Each of us has a copy, so we are hoping to share the joy of the game with others.  However, one of the special things about this game is that pieces can jump other pieces, Chinese-Checkers-style.  And when one player gets a phenomenally good series of jumps (often landing in the other home row), the next player whose turn it is hangs her head in her hands and goes, “How on EARTH do you expect me to follow THAT up?”  After a series of smaller, subtler moves, she may end up with a monumental jump, prompting the cycle to repeat again.

Such is the way of the world in the literary field now, it seems.  Greats such as G.K. Chesterton (whose writings about Table Gype are actually the basis of the game), J.R.R. Tolkien, and Flannery O’Connor have just gone before us.  We have hung our head in our hands and asked how we are supposed to follow that up.  And we are quietly moving our pieces around, setting the board for a most phenomenal move.

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One response »

  1. Great blog post! Being a huge fan of the Inklings too, I can sympathize with your, perhaps our, collective exclamation: “how do you expect me to follow THAT!” And, well, I don’t know how we will go about following that. For the meanwhile, though I keep reading the Inklings. Of deep inspiration to me is Tolkien’s rather esoteric understanding of what it means to be a myth-maker, “secondary creation.” I do believe something profound can come out of that. Especially as a writer, myself. For the record, much contemporary myth-making has developed in science fiction, which goes about creating worlds with the same enthusiasm as Tolkien had for Middle-Earth.

    At any rate, great blog. I do think we *can* follow that. It just takes a while to, as you say, make the “phenomenal move.” Here’s to that!

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