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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Great Men and the People Who Influence Them

This conversation about Donald Trump and G.K. Chesterton fascinates me.  When someone left a comment to my post last week about Dale Ahlquist and the American Chesterton Society I thought it a curious thing and I was glad, Mary Ann, when you, a great follower of Chesterton and a long standing member of "the club" picked up on it with your own post. 
Two facts I believe to be important need to be inserted here.

1. All millionaires are not bad people simply because they have money.  However, millionaires without God can be very wicked and dangerous people because of the power their money gives them. 
Two volume set of the life of
John D. Rockefeller and
the American Petroleum industry
I believe John D. Rockefeller (not his later associates, nor his business partners, nor his own children, nor those at the University of Chicago which he helped found, nor many others) was a decent person who brought many many good things to the poor with his talent and treasure.  Kerosene, for instance, changed the world by putting light in homes around the globe allowing poor families to interact after dark when the work day was over.  Most people hear the name Rockefeller and they immediately think what muck rakers have made them think: Tyrant, greedy, selfish.  There is a two volume set of Rockefeller's life, which I have read, written in 1940 by Allan Nevins that could change many minds if people took the time to read it. 

Cornelius Vanderbilt, on the other hand, was a godless person, and all he cared about was money.  He passed this on to his children who fought over his estate for over a year after he died.
The book Fortune's Children, which first of all capsulizes the life of Cornelius, tells the story of what happened to his HUGE fortune after he died, when it fell into the hands of his kids.  THIS is the story Chesterton would have made hay with because it shows exactly how badly people without God can misuse money and each other and ignore the poor.  We should always remember that to whom much is given, much is expected.  It isn't that we are given much that makes us, rather what we do with what we are given that counts. 

2.  Chesterton had a friend, Hellaire Belloc, whom I believe had a tremendous influence on his ideas regarding economics.  I know those who know Chesterton far better than I do will jump in to correct that statement if I am way off base.  Putting their heads together they developed what they called the theory of Distributism.  This THEORY was loudly poo pooed by economists such as Ludwig von Mises and others who said there are two theories, socialism and capitalism and nothing else.
I believe Chesterton was out of his league when he went down this road under the influence of his good good friend, Hellaire. 

The same happened to Theodore Roosevelt, in my humble opinion.
I recently read the book, The Big Burn by Timothy Egan.  I discovered that Roosevelt too was influenced to believe in things he had never before considered because of his deep friendship with two people he became very close to.  The first was Gifford Pinchot, the son of a wealthy forester, and John Muir, the "naturalist."  Gifford introduced Teddy to Muir and the three of them devised the plan for the National Parks Service which has its pros and cons.  More cons than pros in my estimation.  It was Pinchot who had the progressive ideas that influenced Teddy.  Muir mesmerized Teddy with his mysticism and strange "knowledge of nature." 

I have thought in both cases---Chesterton and Belloc, and Roosevelt and Pinchot, that just maybe the devil was messing around in the scenario.  Another such case is that of Woodrow Wilson and Colonel Edward M. House.  It can be said that House "made" Wilson.
  House was a very wealthy Freemason from Texas who befriended Wilson in Princeton, NJ and built his rise to power, whispering in his ear throughout the remainder of his life. 
"Oh what a wicked web we weave when first we practice to deceive."
No doubt Bernard Shaw would LOVE to have gotten deeper into Chesterton's thoughts with his own wicked influence.  This reminds us that we should never love anything or anyone so much that we can't walk away from it, or them, when we see they are not helpful to our path to sainthood.

Donald Trump is a sinner not a saint.  He is not a godless person, however, and there is nothing that I've seen that convinces me he is a wicked person or one led or influenced by others toward a devilish course for this country and the world.


Chriss Rainey said...

I should say one other thing about Theodore Roosevelt. I recommend the book Mornings on Horseback by David McCullum, the story of Teddy's early life before he was president. The contrast of the two Teddy's, the stand up Republican and the gone nuts Progressive is astonishing and more than a little puzzling unless you know about his association with Pinchot and Muir, two very suspicious people both of whom dabbled in the occult.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Interesting information, Chriss. Have you ever been to the Biltmore in Ashville? It was built by George Vanderbilt, son of Cornelius' son William. George and his wife sound like they were wonderful people. They pretty much endowed the local Episcopal Church for years and donated the organ. During the influenza epidemic, they brought many of the healthy people up to their estate to try to protect them from getting sick. If you have a chance to go to the Biltmore be sure to rent the audio. It was fascinating and every employee we spoke to talked very highly of the family who are very involved in the running of the estate complex. We loved our visit and look forward to going back some time.

Chriss Rainey said...

I have been to Biltmore. Interestingly enough, this son who went to NC was not like his siblings in a lot of things.