But I find myself disagreeing with some of this. Particularly this:
It was the party after the conference (the party is the "end" and the conference is the "means"). I sat with perhaps fifteen other men in Lou Horvath's screened-in patio as the rain fell hard on a chilly October night, the darkness surrounding us, cigar smoke filling the room, whiskey, good wine and good beer flowing, the ChesterBelloc Drinking and Debating Club in full swing. [...]It should be said that I do agree with the main point of the post, which is that if we're going to impact the world as Christian artists, we have to write things that human beings would want to read, or draw things that human beings would want to view, or film things...but you get the idea.
These sorts of insights only come by way of cigar smoke, bourbon, a chilly night, the pouring rain, and true Christian fellowship.
This is because there's something dangerous in men of like mind smoking and drinking together, united in a love of Christ.There's nothing dangerous about Kumbaya, about "the sign of peace", about sitting in a circle and sharing. The one is living and has gonads; the other is the emasculated product of the same society that's trying its best to re-bury G. K. Chesterton. [Links in original: E.M.]
In fact, I overwhelmingly agree with this. My in-progress children's fiction book is intermediate children's science fiction, and it is not--not--a work of "Christian fiction" or of "Catholic fiction." Yet my characters are moral, and operate in a moral system that comes from my own beliefs.
I once made the mistake of sending the manuscript to a small Catholic fiction publisher. She wrote back very kindly, encouraging me to submit the work to a secular publisher, but telling me that my being a Catholic and a writer did not make my book Catholic fiction. Only having my characters attend Mass, pray the rosary, have deep theological discussions, venerate the saints etc. could make my book "Catholic fiction." The fact that some of my characters, the human ones, have only the most tenuous of connections to the people of Earth and that the rest aren't human at all does not, apparently, mitigate this burning need for Catholic fiction to contain plenty of overt Catholic stuff with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Whether actual human beings will read a book in which characters break out into theological discussions the way musicals break out into song is another question.
So what's my problem with Kevin's blog post?
I dislike the glorification of smoking as some kind of male-bonding, chest-thumping, manly-man activity.
I lost my grandfather to tobacco use. This manly, outdoors type, this man who had panned for gold in Alaska in the 30's, this man who built his own house, this man who without any higher education worked as an inventor for Brach's Candy Company and designed and built a machine to make boxes to keep chocolate-covered cherries from getting damaged in shipping (among many other similar inventions) essentially choked to death from emphysema in his mid-seventies--and he came from a family in which dying at 90 was dying "young."
Some Catholic men appear to be trying to rediscover both pipe-smoking and cigar-smoking as if both were some kind of deeply Catholic, essentially masculine, spiritually good activity. They will claim that pipe-smoking and cigar-smoking are not cigarette-smoking and thus will not lead to emphysema; they will claim that both may be enjoyed in moderation as truly harmless male bonding activities. They scoff at the statistics showing high rates of increase of things like oral cancer and pancreatic cancer among cigar and pipe smokers, and will deny that the addictive properties of nicotine will cause them to crave the "occasional" cigar or pipe with greater and greater frequency. They will point to the way our world discourages male fellowship and suggest that if not for some manly tobacco use, men would never get the chance for some exclusive male company.
I'm actually sympathetic to that last complaint; women have chances for fellowship with other women exclusively, but men have suffered from the decline of opportunities for male fellowship and friendship to such a degree that many men complain of being lonely in this regard, even if they are happily married and gainfully employed. Men do need the chance to sit together, to talk, to laugh, and to do so without having to be worried that they will unwittingly offend someone (and that someone would usually be female).
But they shouldn't have to smoke to get that fellowship. That's just confusing accidents with substance, or something.