A Little Video on the Life and Times of Hilaire Belloc

Cigarette card of Hilaire Belloc. Circa 1920s.

In 1953, sixty four years ago on this day – the 16th of July – the great Hilaire Belloc entered eternity. He was eighty-three. And in my latest video (below), I continue talking of Belloc, going much more extensively into his life and times. The video also addresses the Anglosphere and the Protestant tradition that shaped it everywhere (with the notable exception of Catholic Ireland, of course).

Now, although this latest video can certainly be watched independently of the previous one (here), it may help to resume what I wrote last time:

Belloc, the grimmer half of the Chesterbelloc … was less sanguine than G. K. Chesterton – but arguably more prophetic. And I begin the process of paying the tribute to this visionary for the enormous debt I owe him. “Begin the process”, I say, for one video is hardly sufficient to the task! …

For as I have indicated many times elsewhere at this site, Belloc’s inspiration has become one of the greatest of joys and inspirations I have found in my life.

Indeed, I sometimes quip that my best friends are “dead people”. And, along with Valentin Tomberg, Belloc remains the prime example of what I mean here. For although he died before I was born, the man has become one of my most cherished companions and mentors.

Yes, friends, my life these last years has entailed poring through book after book after book by Belloc as well as on Belloc, with all the numerous biographies, memoirs and scholarly studies he generated.

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Great Belloc Books to Begin With

This reading is both a personal joy – and, I honestly feel, one of the central tasks for the remainder of my life. For I am nearly fifty-four now … and who knows how long I have? And in my prayer life, it is necessary to ask: “Lord, what would you most have me do?”

And as I pray like this, month after month, year after year, answers do seem to slowly emerge. My life, my work involves certain things more than others: Catholic Ireland, Catholic France, Europe and the Faith, but also BELLOC. Yes, there is the great Valentin Tomberg of course, but ever increasingly, there is Belloc and Chesterton and their legacy of Distributism as an alternative to Capitalism and Socialism.

And there is Belloc’s legacy of defending Christendom, defending Europe …

Thus I struggle to find time for careful, prayerful reading of Belloc’s prodigious oeuvre (over 150 books!). I fail to find the time, I need, really – but when I do manage, what gems, what treasures of insights I find there, often quite, quite hidden away. Belloc, I believe, was a man of profound, hermetic depths and there is far, far more there in his great books than may immediately meet the eye.

In time, I hope to say much more of this. In time, I hope to write a whole book or books dedicated to his astonishing legacy. But important things must mature within the depths of time. For now, I am happy to have produced a small video about his life and times, as well as the culturally Protestant Anglo-American cultural imperialism that so gravely concerned him.

I am particularly, particularly happy with this video, especially the second half, where I really try to enter Belloc’s world more deeply. Of all the videos I have done so far, I feel that it is in this second half, most particularly, where I am being most authentically myself.

The video will not be popular with everyone, however. But as someone once said – I cannot recall who – “What is popularity? Why it is the very crumbs of greatness.” Or somesuch words. What can I say? “To thine own self be true.”

Here is my video. Here is MYSELF.

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