All That Glitters is Gold

All is gold that glitters, for the glitter is the gold,” sings Innocent Smith convincingly in G.K. Chesterton’s rollicking book Manalive.

Golden Honey GlittersWhile I wouldn’t recommend Mr. Smith as a financial advisor, his words provide the countering truth to the old adage, “All that glitters is not gold.”

The latter statement is obvious and declares an obvious truth: flattering externals can hide the truth. Just like fortune hunters had to be wary of fool’s gold, we must remember that appearances can hide reality.

But Innocent Smith’s merry tune tumbles into another great truth.

Perhaps there isn’t always enough of that glittering gold (or, uh, gleaming plastic?) to enjoy, but we do have the stars sparkling more brilliantly than diamonds and tiny wildflowers that are as delicate as rubies.

As Chesterton hilariously points out, we need to take a fresh look at the world around us. In the midst of our fast paced lives we must stop.

Look at creation through childlike eyes. Breathe in the beauty of trees in autumn or the refreshing taste of water. Realize that the commonplace is amazingly sublime as long as we look at it the right way.

“’What would be the good of gold,’ he was saying, ‘if it did not glitter? Why should we care for a black sovereign anymore than a black sun at noon? A black button would do just as well. Don’t you see that everything in this yard looks like a jewel? And will you kindly tell me what the deuce is the good of a jewel except that it looks like a jewel? Leave off buying and selling, and start looking! …”

We women wield incredible influence in the mood of our home and family. If we view Creation as a wonder to be delighted in, if we bask in contentment, it will certainly rub off.

part of Finer Things Friday

photo credit

Woman: creative despot

“I should favour anything that would increase the present enormous authority of women and their creative action in their own homes. The average woman, as I have said, is a despot; the average man is a serf.”

G.K. Chesterton begins his brilliant and thought-provoking article “Woman” by demolishing the argument of  an acquaintance who urged him to embrace communal-kitchens. Why?

Not to tie woman to the kitchen, but because it is in the kitchen and in the home that the creative power of dominion shines most brightly in the average home today.

Why would a woman want a career Chesterton asks? Why change the freedom of home-making for the drudgery of working for a boss?

The idea of homemaking being the freeing “career” is refreshing and radical and TRUE.  Within our homes we can decorate and teach, organize and cook with a creative freedom that doctors and lawyers can’t hope to match.

Cook wildly!” he urges. Embrace the creative dominion of making a home for your husband and children.

With the endless amount of ideas about home-making that we come across through blogs or books or chats over tea, his reminder is so timely. We are called to joyfully take dominion over our own homes. Ideas are just ideas: some of the multitudinous ways of making our homes more delightful and pleasing.

“I am for any scheme,” continues Chesterton, “that will make the average woman more of a despot. So far from wishing her to get her cooked meals from outside, I should like her to cook more wildly and at her own will than she does. So far from getting always the same meals from the same place, let her invent, if she likes, a new dish every day of her life. Let woman be more of a maker, not less. ”

In the end, each of us gets to decide the “wild and wonderful” way that we will run our home.

photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian

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February Book It

February reading listphoto credit

Tutoring is a fun way to earn a bit of extra income from the home while investing in the lives of students. I currently teach literature and writing and love it.

Not only is the switch from Suess to Shakespeare refreshing for me, my toddler Rosalind loves getting to serve “the guys” cookies and jabbers about them constantly. They are dedicated students and keeping abreast of all the reading and writing required provides a stimulating challenge.

But, taking Fish Mama’s challenge, one of my goals for this year is to delve into the written treasures that fall beyond the pale of literature.

From February’s bookshelf:

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan:

The book is as intriguing as the title. Why on earth does food need to be defended? Pollan answers that so much of our Western diet is highly processed food substitutes. Not food.

We need to return to the simpler real cooking of our grandmothers or great-grandmothers. To a time before our food was transformed into a genetically modified highly processed industrial affair.

The illustration that resonated with me was margarine. It’s an industrial substitute for butter. They can change the components depending on the latest fads and make it low cholestral or trans fat free. Consumer whims determine the ingredients.

The overall mantra is: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

The second point is one that I’ve been trying to incorporate. When you go to fancy restaurants, the servings are small and you’re supposed to eat your food slowly. Savor it. That’s what we should do on a daily basis. Savor the blessing of food, not gorge on it.

All Things Considered by G.K. Chesterton:

If you’ve never read Chesterton, add him to your book list. He was one of the greatest minds of the 20th century and created masterpieces of detective fiction and epic poetry, biographies and persuasive treatises. Even when you disagree with him, his wit forces you to think and his jubilance spills from the page.

With essays ranging from “Woman” to “British Street Names”, this collection showcases Chesterton’s ability to take trivial subjects and spin them in a way that leaves you laughing and amazed. Laughing at the wild bigness of Creation and our futile attempts to make it small and amazed at the universal truths gleaned from trifling matters.

He takes political secrecy to task in one essay and claims that there are three legitimate reasons for secrecy: first, you keep something secret to make the revelation more exciting (like hide and seek). Second, secrets are acceptable in areas that everyone knows about but that are sacred and private (like love). The last area really isn’t for secrets, it’s for those things that we do without giving the action a second thought (like why you decided to turn left on your walk, not right). Then he applied political secrets (and bribery) to each of these categories. What if all political secrets were secrets simply to make it more exciting when revealed to the public? or if the inner workings were done without a second thought?

Sadly, political secrets form a different category: secrets that shouldn’t be secrets.

On March’s bookshelf: Notes from a Tilt-a-Whirl and Second Mile People

[Full Disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

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