Sunday, December 2, 2012

Floriani Books on Sale!

The first five titles on sale for Advent, provided you use this "Discount Code" when you order:

The titles included are these: The Wreck of the PHOSPLOION The Black Hole in the Basement The Creatures That Live in the Walls The Horrors in the Attic The Tree of Virtues

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bethlehem on Sale for Christmas

How Far Is It To Bethlehem is on sale now for Christmas. The Kindle edition is only $8.95.

If you wish to purchase the soft cover edition, please consider buying it from the American Chesterton Society, where your purchase will also help support the ideals of the society, in spreading the good news about Chesterton (and therefore, Christ).

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Virtual Chesterton Society Meeting 11/5/12

Please join us for our monthly online society meeting on Monday, November 5 at 7:00PM Central. Come dressed as you are ... pajamas and slippers are appropriate attire! In honor of the election, Dale will share thoughts on Chapter 10 of The Complete Thinker - Politics and Patriotism (click here for excerpt). We'll also get an update on the filming of Season 7 of The Apostle of Common Sense and highlights from the latest issue of Gilbert magazine.

For The Complete Thinker excerpt and registration link, visit Or simply register for the meeting at

Hope you can join us!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling is out.

It is receiving mixed reviews.

Since I've read it, and since I've gone out on a limb to explain and defend Harry Potter, I thought I'd share my thoughts on this book here.

If young people grew up gradually reading Harry Potter as the seven books came out, those young adults are now in college. Rowling's book, it could be said, is written for that level. If college is a time of complete freedom of speech--not worrying about offending anyone; discussions about bodily functions, and trying out every physical urge or inclination a person may have while suppressing his or her self-control, than this book works for that level. In other words, her language and the situations discussed are base. The book barely rises to the spiritual plane, although once a character longs for something bigger than herself. There is a funeral that takes place in a church. Beyond that, the characters are all operating at a very low level of existence. Everything they care about is base. Their minds are in the gutter. Not only is this book rated R, but it is probably rated X. If they made it into a movie, and depicted everything Rowling depicts, it would indeed be X rated.

But the question is, would college kids--or any of us-- get anything out of this book?

I've read some reviews that say the book has a good--and redeeming-- ending. That if you read all the way through, you care about the characters. I'm unconvinced this qualifies as making it a good book.

I also obtained the false impression from the description--and my knowledge that J.K. Rowling once belonged to the G.K. Chesterton Society in the UK--that this book might be a sort of modern day Napoleon of Notting Hill. Boy was I wrong. There is nothing Chestertonian about The Casual Vacancy.

My kindle edition is searchable. After a few dozen uses of the startlingly boring "f" word, I decided to count. Kindle says the word or variant occurs 214 times. I know there are places and homes and schools where this is the norm, but not my family, and not any place I frequent. After a few dozen times, the word fails to shock, and it just becomes a question of wondering why Rowling chose to use this word over and over and over. Did she think it would make this book more "real"? Or did she run out of other options? I'm not even sure the more common words like d*mn and h*ll are in this book. But f is there in spades.

Which brings the reader to the question: Why was this book written? What purpose can it serve?

The book is a tragedy, through and through. It is a sad, god-awful story, dead-tragic. There isn't enough at the end to say whether the characters have learned anything. You think, perhaps, some change has happened, but after lifetimes of horror and dirt, can people really change that much after one great tragedy--which some of them feel guilty about, but are they guilty enough to change? Rowling seems to think so. She wants to shock us into thinking so. But when 98.75% of the book is the tragedy, it's hard to feel convinced that the last 1.25% really redeems it all.

Here is a question regarding the book if you've read it: Would you ever want to read it again? My answer is a resounding no. I would never want to subject my mind and my imagination to this book ever again. I couldn't sleep for a week as it was, for thinking about the awful images that Rowling created and I read. A hundred times I wanted to put the book down and never finish it, but I'd read reviews that said the end justified the thing. I do not agree. The end does not justify the writing of such a tragic and awful book.

The sad thing is, I've defended Rowling as a Christian. I've believed her a sincere Christian. She quoted scripture in Harry Potter. She's dropped hints and I believed her. But the person who wrote The Casual Vacancy had to first imagine these scenes, and then descriptively write them down. And that kind of mind, thinking those kinds of thoughts, and using that kind of language, is really not the mind I thought of as J.K. Rowling.

Is this book the opposite of Harry Potter?

Harry Potter contained a cast of characters-- mostly good, but some evil. There was a battle, and in the end, good won.

The Casual Vacancy shows a cast of characters who are all bad. The one seemingly good character was killed off in the first scene, and later on, you discover his wife thought he was bad, too. Who or what is the good character in The Casual Vacancy? The good social worker, Kay, is conducting an affair and can't communicate with her daughter. And then when she's needed, she claims she's no longer on this particular case and can't act. So she's eliminated as a good character. Perhaps the rowing team as a group is the "good" in the book. But they sing a hellish song as their "theme song" and although Rowling says they don't understand the words, it's still a bad song. Struggle as I might, I can find no "good" characters in this book. The battle of good and evil is played out, every character against the world and each other, and evil wins. The anti-hero dies.

Although the work is what I might call an ensemble story, the main character, Krystal Weedon, is the tragic anti-hero. Except that she's foul-mouthed and easy. She's a product of her circumstances, trying to make her life a little better, but she can't. Her circumstances are what make up most of the story, explaining why she is the way she is, the choices she makes, and her ultimate choice of suicide is unjustifiable. But where is the redemption in suicide? Are we just supposed to learn our lesson, so that no other Krystals have to die? Will the stuck up Padfordians in town pull together out of their collective mud pit and now care about the poor Fieldians, whom they've despised throughout the story? It feels, at the end, like they might just as easily say like Scrooge: Thank goodness they've died, so they "decrease the surplus population."

Is J.K. Rowling, on the other hand, attempting to answer back all of the conservative Christian criticism of Harry Potter? For example, was she thinking that if anyone thought Harry Potter was bad for kids, she would show us a book that's truly bad?

Sadly, many children who have waited anxiously after reading Harry Potter are probably filling their minds with this filth if their parents aren't watchful. The Casual Vacancy is not by any means a book for children. I can't even recommend it to teens or adults. I find no redeeming merit in this story, which could have been told in another way, a way that wouldn't offend.

Was J.K. Rowling looking for popular acclaim? Did she want to be accepted as an adult fiction writer so badly she stooped to low levels to ensure her book would be valued by the New York Times? That, by the way, backfired, as the Times didn't like her book. One of the few occasions I've agreed with a Times review.

Unlike some reviewers, I cannot admire Rowling's "bravery" in writing this book. I did yearn, too, for just one character, just one! to stand up and do something right.

Obviously, The Casual Vacancy wasn't written for me. I had to actually look up some of the swear words and descriptors of private parts and other bad words to see what they meant. Thanks, JKR, for broadening my vulgar slang language vocabulary.

I live in a small town, too. But people in my town still save their swearing for bars and brawls. Sure there are affairs, neglect, and child abuse. But the majority of our citizens are living and working hard, trying to keep the faith, keep family times, get their kids educated, and celebrate the good times. We help our neighbors, and our neighbors help us. I think small towns are a lot more like where I live, than Pagford.

One wonders if J.K. Rowling even knows what real small town life is like. My faith in her is shaken. The Casual Vacancy will, I hope, go down as Rowling's forgotten book, if only she can write something better next time.

Or perhaps her seven-fold magnum opus has already been written, and there ends the imaginative gift. It would have been better for the world if the literary output had ended there, than Vacancy be birthed. And if Rowling needed to write this book for her own self preservation or whatever reason, how much better it would have been for her editor to bravely and gently say, "Let's put this aside, and you try again, all right?"

The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling. Not recommended. Offensive.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Speaker Dale Ahlquist

Dale Ahlquist is an amazing speaker. He is completely knowledgeable about numerous topics, but the thing he does best is G.K. Chesterton, whom he calls, "The Apostle of Common Sense."

Dale began speaking about Chesterton long ago, and for about twenty years now he has sung Chesterton's praises. His knowledge of Chesterton's writings and the spirit in which his books were written, come through when Dale speaks.

Not only is Ahlquist a great speaker on the subject of Chesterton, but, as someone recently told me, if Ahlquist wasn't the President of The American Chesterton Society, he could easily be a stand-up comedian. His timing and love of fun make him the perfect speaker for any event. He will have the audience laughing and crying. He is able to tell stories well, make great points, and in addition, finish with a call to action. He doesn't just entertain, he seeks to convert hearts, as Chesterton always did as well.

Ahlquist delights his audience with his depth and breadth of Chestertonian knowledge. He makes Chesterton come alive, and after listening to him, you will want to read Chesterton's books, too. In fact, you will be certain that your remaining time on earth could not be spent in a better way than to read first of course, Scripture, and then, Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

Ahlquist is perfect on a college campus, where students are fed a diet of left-winged and right-winged craziness. Chesterton is the perfect antidote to today's atheism, indifference, tolerance and moral relativity. His talk, "God is Dead" is perfect for any campus today.

Any venue is perfect for Chesterton, who wrote on all subjects and cared about everything. And so, by the same virtue, any venue is perfect for Mr. Dale Ahlquist. Invite him to speak to your group today!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How Far Is It To Bethlehem

The book is now officially up on amazon. See it here. And if you go there, would you please "like" it? Thanks!

A Kindle edition should be ready within a few days.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Frances Chesterton--New Book!

My newest book, How Far Is It To Bethlehem: The Plays and Poetry of Frances Chesterton, is in review. It should be ready in time for the American Chesterton Society Conference.

Here is a first peek at the cover.

Friday, June 1, 2012


I am now so familiar with Quayment, I wish I could visit there. I'd browse the book stores, eat out on the deck overlooking the water, and go to mass in one of their beautiful churches. The only problem is that it is a fictional world so real, you can only visit in your imagination. But visit you must! I recommend Quayment Short Stories for your reading pleasure.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Saga

A good friend and Chestertonian has been working on a new fictional series which is excellent. I recommend it for ages 14 and up, and particularly for boys, although all will enjoy it.

Click on the link to read more about it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

St Francis Study Guide back in Print

After taking a small hiatus as an out-of-print book, my Study Guide to G.K. Chesterton's St. Francis of Assisi is now back in print.

Check it out here, and order your copy today!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sale on eBooks ends Tuesday

I am offering 2 of my e-books for a discount because of the Homeschool Connections webinar.

To view the recorded webinar click here: Finding Levity in Your Homeschool: A Chestertonian Principle.

The e-books are only $4.99 each. That discount is good for one week and ends Tuesday, January 24, 2012. Click here:
A Study Guide for G. K. Chesterton's Francis of Assisi
The Blue Cross Study Edition

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Giveaway ends Tonight at Midnight!

Dear Friends,

I would like to thank you for registering this evening's webinar. It was a pleasure to spend the hour with many of you learning about G. K. Chesterton and finding levity in our homeschools.

If you were on the wait list or were unable to attend the event please do not worry as the webinar was recorded and it is freely available to you 24/7. As an added bonus, Hillside Education offered a free giveaway but don't wait as it ends Thursday (1/19). Another great bonus is that Nancy is offering 2 of her e-books for a discount over the next week.

To view the recorded webinar click here: Finding Levity in Your Homeschool: A Chestertonian Principle.

Nancy is offering two of her e-books for only $4.99 each. That discount is good for one week and ends Tuesday, January 24, 2012. Click here:
A Study Guide for G. K. Chesterton's Francis of Assisi
The Blue Cross Study Edition

Hillside Education is offering a FREE giveaway. This is only good until Thursday, January 19, 2012 at midnight Pacific (Don't Wait!). One copy of each of these Nancy Brown books will be given away:
Father Brown Reader
Father Brown Reader II
Blue Cross Study Guide
To enter the giveaway, simply send an email to Put "Free Hillside Books" in the subject bar.

Thank you Nancy! And thank you Hillside!

Please feel free to forward this email along to anyone else who might be interested in learning more about Chesterton and homeschooling.

We are able to provide these webinars FREE to you and others thanks to the generosity of our sponsors. This webinar was sponsored by Hillside Education (publisher of Nancy's Father Brown Readers and THE Catholic homeschool magazine mater et magistra) and Homeschool Connections.

Maureen Wittmann

Monday, January 16, 2012

Homeschool Connections Sale!

In order to celebrate the Homeschool Connections class on adding Chestertonian Levity to your homeschool, I'm offering my two eBooks for 15% discount. Instead of $5.99 each they will be $4.99 for the next week only.

Find the St. Francis study guide here.

Find the Blue Cross study guide here.

And OSV just happens to have my Harry Potter book on sale right now here.

Hillside Education has the hard copy of St. Francis on sale here, and the hard copy of Blue Cross is on sale at Hillside as well, here.

My other books are The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton, for ages 8-12, and The Father Brown Reader 2: More Stories from Chesterton, for ages 9-12.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What About Hunger Games?

I've done Harry Potter and Twilight (here and mentioned here), what, people are now asking, do I think of Hunger Games?

I've actually just finished reading the series with my daughter (16). We couldn't put the books down, they are very compelling, almost like Nancy Drew used to be where you just HAVE to keep reading to find out what happens. The best thing was we were reading them together, and talked about it along the way. What happens in the books is terrible, frightening, horrible. It is a commentary on reality tv, the immorality of our society, the awefulness of war, and more.

One of the reasons it’s important for me to write about war is I really think that the concept of war, the specifics of war, the nature of war, the ethical ambiguities of war are introduced too late to children. I think they can hear them, understand them, know about them, at a much younger age without being scared to death by the stories. It’s not comfortable for us to talk about, so we generally don’t talk about these issues with our kids. But I feel that if the whole concept of war were introduced to kids at an earlier age, we would have better dialogues going on about it, and we would have a fuller Suzanne Collins
Read this interview with the author.
Well, the thing is, whatever I write...I want the protagonist to be the age of the viewing audience.
She says she's written books for the audience the age of her protagonist--who is 16. They really are Young Adult books (which I think is mature 14 and up, 16 is better). There is a bit of sensuality in it and by the end, a consummation (written very disgusiedly, but still, I knew what was happening). The realities of the hunger games is dreadful, awful--it's torture and cruelty. There is no religion, so there isn't a religious morality, and in fact, one could discuss with teens, just what is the moral code in this book?

Theseus and the Minotaur is the classical setup for where The Hunger Games begins, you know, with the tale of Minos in Crete….
My best advise is to read the books with your teens and discuss it with them as you all read it. (They are a fast read, parents.) I have always had the rule that if there is going to be a movie and if we're going to see it, then we're going to read the books first.

And also, if there's a questionable book, we're going to read it together. Good can come from we parents discussing even "bad" books with our children. Our children do have to be prepared to enter the world, and reading what is popular will ALWAYS be a temptation, and it isn't a bad idea to get their moral compasses set now, get their skept-o-meters ready, by reading the book together, and parents saying things along the way like, "That character acted inhumanely or immorally or cruelly when she..." or "This character was truly noble when he did..." etc. Our kids need this kind of guidance from us while we still have them with us.

So read the books together. I think that as soon as you begin Hunger Games, you will see why people can't put them down. Oh! But the ending was a HUGE disappointment to both my daughter and I. After reading desperately through 3 books, awaiting an outcome, it just sort of went flat. So yes, the books were compelling reading, but the content plus the ending didn't make the books rise into the level of CLASSIC book (like all of the good books you can think of, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, etc.) I don't think Hunger Games will stand the test of time. 

Conclusion: Read Hunger Games together. Wait until kids are old enough. I know, two hard things. But someone has to do the hard things.