Tuesday, August 7, 2012

ChesterCon 2012: Break the Conventions, Keep the Commandments

Sarah admiring the view from our hotel window.
(This was mostly written in Reno, finished up here at home. The conference was amazing. I am so thankful that we were able to go and be a part of it. God is doing wonderful things through the American Chesterton Society. Thank you all for your prayers!)

It doesn't get much better than this.

I'm lying on a hotel bed in Reno currently, typing this up about fifteen minutes before we go down into the main part of the hotel (aka, the casino) to get through to our conference. Yes, I'm at the Chesterton conference. Yes, it's in Reno, NV. And yes, it actually is at a casino.

But such is irony. The weekend has been full of such great talks, fantastic people, and there's just an aura of happiness that emanantes from this place. It's truly beautiful. GK Chesterton had one all encompassing characteristic, and that was his happiness. His happiness came as a result of his wisdom and his innocence, which were deeply important in his life as well, but joy is the real blessing of Chesterton.

Enjoying an (overpriced) dinner at a buffet in the hotel!
Being here, you just feel happy. Not free of all burdens, not disillusioned, but you have everything in wonderful perspective. Just last night, after the world premiere of the first Chesterton movie Manalive, we went with a group of about seven other individuals to go have something to eat in the hotel/casino. (Yeah, it's legal for minors to be down there. It's Reno.) The group was really something; everyone on fire for God, fans of Chesterton, and trying to do something meaningful, truly meaningful. Mark Shea, of Catholic and Enjoying it, along with his wife Janet. Kevin O'Brien, of Theater of the Word, Inc. Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society. Jason Jones, producer of Bella and a man with a mission to end abortion. And then...there's us- my mom, brother, sister, and I were also in this unbelievable conversation. They'd invited us into their thoughts and theories, and it was truly a privilege to be mentored by these men's examples and words.

With Mrs. Nancy Brown at our booth. I'm in costume for the poem Lepanto.
They were talking about the recent sting videos that were put out by Lila Rose and Live Action. There's been a pretty large debate going on about these videos- I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty details here because it's pretty difficult stuff and doesn't really need to be publicized. However, the basic question was whether or not lying can be morally justifiable and whether or not in some cases, the end justifys the means.

It's a wine jug, in case you couldn't tell.
The sign reads, "Do Not Discard. Property of American Chesterton Society.
Don't you just love these people?!
Let me just say- things are so much more complicated in real life. Things are never as easy as they seem. I really was in awe of these men, who were so articulate and immovable in their different convictions yet willing to listen to each other- a rare virtue in today's society. At one point of the conversation, I just looked around and wanted to laugh. We're in a casino and these men are yelling, literally yelling, about God, truth, morality, and the pro-life cause. It was so encouraging and yet scary at the same time....scary because it's unbelivable that our society is at the point where these conversations have to even happen.

But never, throughout that whole conversation, did I feel down or depressed about the current situation. That's seeming to happen a lot now...as the world grows darker, our conversations turn toward those dark, sad things. It's hard to see light in so much darkness.
With Dale Ahlqist, President of ACS.
That was the difference between this conversation and others I've heard. It was sad to be talking about these things, yet the conversation was still joyful, even wading through the deep waters of discussing abortion and morality today. How beautifully that conversation echoed the words of Chesterton, "But the men signed with the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark!"

I was so blessed by this entire conference. It was truly incredible, and as Kevin O'Brien said in his toast to the American Chesterton Society- this is the Church. The world and media sometimes see the Church as this overbearing, patriarchal organization that just seeks to control its members. But as we know, that's not the Church. We are the Church- we are tuned out, but we will not be silent. As the dark around us grows darker, our light will shine brighter. We will show the world the overwhelming love of Christ, and the honor of bearing his name and image. And like Chesterton, we'll show them through our joy, through our laughter, but also through our wisdom.

We will go against the stream- because we're not dead yet.

"A dead thing goes with the stream. Only a living thing can go against it."
 -GK Chesterton

"I don't deny that we need priests to remind us that one day we will die. I only say that we also need another kind of priests called poets to remind us that we aren't dead yet."
-Manalive, GK Chesterton

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