On the Importance of Fidelity

“The world is very lovely, and it’s very horrible–and it doesn’t care about your life or mine or anything else.” ~Rudyard Kipling, The Light That Failed

The quote above is actually a misquote, but it’s close enough. In chapter 7 of Kipling’s novel, star-crossed lovers are having a meandering conversation about the search for meaning and Dick is pleading with Maisie to run away with him to the four corners of the globe so that she can see what he sees which, truth be told, ain’t honestly that much. In the end, Maisie stays put, and Dick blows his brains out. So much for love, fidelity and promises kept….

This past month. I changed my phone number again, hopefully for the last time. I cut my contacts down from an already fractioned 196 people to just two dozen. The same people who have my phone number, more or less, are also the only people who have my correct email address. I have been sifting, because the world is so painfully lovely, and so very, very horrible.

In case you hadn’t been let in on the secret, the Catholic prelature in the United Kingdom closed the investigation for the Cause of G.K. Chesterton last year, a fact that was finally publicized a couple of weeks ago at the annual conference I used to attend religiously. I’ve been dying to say this for months, and now I finally can: I am relieved, grateful and overjoyed that Bishop Doyle and his brethren made the decision that they did, and I truly believe that G.K. and Frances both had a hand in that decision as well.

Here’s my take on the matter: I first met Dale Ahlquist in 1994 when I was in the process of leaving the LDS Church and returning – possibly – to the Catholic Church. At the time I was drifting in and out of Protestant communities, reading the Early Fathers, and devouring Dorothy Day. I began reading Chesterton before I met Dale at the Cathedral parish because of Dorothy, the same as I had begun reading St. John of the Cross, Peter Kropotkin, Fathers Vincent McNabb and John Hugo, and the neglected Harold Robbins (not that one) for the same reason. By the time I met Dale he was already putting together what would become the first incarnation of the American Chesterton Society and giving small talks in the parish basement chapel and social hall. Later, when I moved to St. Paul, I deliberately found an apartment literally 146 steps from the Sacred Heart chapel entrance of the Cathedral because I felt this inexplicable tug to be there, though I didn’t know why. Very quickly, Dale assumed me into his scheme for this literary society, and when we had the very first “national” conference at the Brady Education Center at the University of St. Thomas, I was enthralled.

A whopping fifty people showed up. It was grand, and I’m not even exaggerating that; some of my favourite people on earth, I met at that conference. People who, like me, loved poetry and good books and bad wine and to sit talking and laughing until the sun set and rose again. It was very truly the best conference ever, before or since.

Over the years, Dale put me to work and I never said no because I grew to love him, I definitely loved G.K., and I most assuredly loved the people at the conference who I grew to regard as family. The conference was better than Christmas and Easter and the opera and cake all rolled into one, and I tucked pennies away and looked forward to it all year long, year after year.

Eventually Ann Stull began inviting me down to Chicago, and I was surprised to learn that I was not the only rebel in the mix; she took me on a trip to see her archives at a university where her years of work as a civil rights activist were housed, and we made several trips together to Madonna House where messy Catholic Worker ideals collide with the Baroness’ more orderly demands for how voluntary poverty should be lived. We’d go berry picking and sit in delis and talk about books, GOD, the meaning of life, the way Distributism should look in the modern world and at home. On the occasions when Frank Petta came with us, conversations turned to art, little brown babies unwanted by secular society, the way to make pasta the right way, and how to convince a mother not to abort her child. No matter what the subject, our time together always turned back to Chesterton, or Chesterton and Distributism, or Chesterton and the Church. As time went on, I realised that I had indeed found my family. Years later, when a Frank died, and then Ann, I felt (and still do) like I had lost my parents.

Everything changes, nothing lasts, nothing stays the same. Whatever is lovely in the world of men eventually dies or spoils and becomes very, very horrible, indeed. So, I suppose I should not have been surprised when shortly after Ann died, my relationship with Dale began to change. The old guard of the ACS was dying out; people who knew and loved Chesterton were being replaced with fans of the EWTN persona that Dale broadcast on the idiot box…people who were less invested in Chesterton and living Distributism than they were in hobnobbing with pseudo-intellectual snobs and looking down their noses at common folk. It definitely caused a strain, and it felt like a grand, demoralizing betrayal of everything Chestertonian and I definitely wasn’t handling it well.

My initial break with Dale happened on the eve of the Chicago conference in 2014. I was accused of being everything under the sun but Satan’s sister. A year later, I found myself calling Dale for consolation in the most painful moment of my life only to be met by an enraged, demeaning barrage of name-calling and more false accusations. I was accused of saying things I had not said, writing things I had not written and doing things I had not done, and it broke my heart when Dale told me that I had never been anything but a charity case to him.

In the years since that night, I have made my world very small. Like Dick in Kipling’s story, I truly want to blow my brains out, but I am currently contractually obligated not to do so. I have gone to great lengths to protect my heart in the meantime, and I want to set the record straight once and for all, and then I am never speaking about this again.

Tonight, I had a visitor from out-of-State who says that they got my address from the Chesterton Society member roster. For two hours they sat at my kitchen table telling me once again about the vicious gossip that swirls around the conferences, and how I have to “make it right.” As I told this person, that’s all I’ve been doing for years.

Since that horrific, surreal night when Dale repeatedly told me that I was poison and I decided to leave this world, I have been contacted by too many people to count who want to dish the latest gossip, tell me what a horrible person I am believed to be, or tell me what horrible things were said and by whom about me. For a long while, I said nothing; I kept it all to myself just hoping it would stop, but when it didn’t I had an epiphany.

For the past three years, I have been responding to the emails, letters and phone messages I have received, but there’s one thing you should know: I never responded to the people who actually contacted me. Nope. Not at all. I wrote the letters. Yes, I did. But as I stated very clearly in them, I despise gossip, and I despise people who gossip. In actual point of fact, the only “undisclosed recipients” in any of the emails I sent out during this period (with the exception of the last one to my friend Becky and her lying pals “the ChesterChicks”) were Dale and myself. Did you catch that??? Dale was the only person who truly knew what I was thinking and saying because in addition to leaving social media and deleting and blocking almost all of my personal contacts, my real response to the people who contacted me? I wrote my reply, then copied and pasted it into an email to only Dale and myself before sending the original stories and messages to spam, blocking the return addresses and writing these people off forever. I never talked to anyone. I never gave advice to anyone. I never said shit about Dale to anyone but Dale. I do not have contact with anyone still hanging out at the conferences but Dale. Capisce??? This means that if you heard that I said X,Y or Z??? It was actually coming from Dale. No one else. And I can prove it.

The reason that I am overjoyed at the Cause for G.K. being closed is because I know that he is a saint, and I do not think that an organization that has been so completely corrupted by snobs, bad actors (literally and figuratively), misguided social climbers and thoroughly dishonest, wretched hypocrites should be rewarded for their shitty habitually backbiting behavior towards others by the elevation of such a great soul as Chesterton to the public ranks of sanctity. Saints are forged in the furnace of heroic battle for the perfection of souls, not made by puny republics of church politick that twist what was once a lovely fraternal literary society into a hideous clique for snobs and liars; saints are saints whether the Church recognises them or not. And those who follow in the footsteps of the self serving tailcoat riders??? Those people never become saints. Why? Because their only fidelity is to their own egotistical pleasures.

The next one of you who shows up to my house??? It will not be a pleasant experience. Do us all a favour, and leave me the hell alone. I have had more than enough of your brand of Catholic “faithfulness.” Even more so your “friendship.” Remember: according to scripture, gossip and calumny are murder.

~Dale’s Keith

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Emerald "buzzy" Petet
    Aug 31, 2019 @ 20:35:25

    Sis, unfortunately the whole gossip and backstabbing thing seems to be what is current in human nature. You know my history, the reasons I believe as I do stem from the hypocrisy of most of the so called Christians in this world. Twisting the Bible to fit their desires, preaching one thing and doing the opposite. One of these days we gotta get ya back to Idaho for a bit, I will fire up the grill and we can discuss the hypocrisy of the human race. Love you sis.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • MikiDaShrew
      Sep 02, 2019 @ 06:11:10

      I know, Bubba. It still pisses me off, and it’s dumbfounding to me that people act like this. You know just how much I despise cliques, betrayal and that ever-seething hypocrisy. The difference now than ever before? I’m no longer willing to keep people’s bad behavior to myself, especially not when it impacts my life to the point of distraction and detriment. I’ll always champion others, but it’s high time I start defending myself, as well, instead of walking away. They screw with me? I publicly shame them, just as I have always done for others.

      Make mine bloody. I’ll bring the root beer and the peach pie. Love you more. ❤️

      Like

      Reply

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