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ahlquist-2016Acclaimed G.K. Chesterton expert and lecturer Dale Ahlquist delivered a public lecture titled “The Democracy of the Dead” to the Christendom College community on February 22. Ahlquist called on the student body to join the battle against today’s materialistic culture, fighting for family, tradition, and Catholic values.

“We have to return to common sense, and we have to give our ancestors a vote, the ones who built Christendom. That’s the tradition that we must honor — the tradition of the Catholic faith. We have to defend the family — the basic unit of civilization. We have to defend these things, but we have to understand that we are not fighting a defensive war,” said Ahlquist. “We are the Church militant! We are the ones doing the attacking, and of course Satan will put up a fight, but the gates of hell will not prevail against us.”

Ahlquist, who serves as the president of the American Chesterton Society, began his lecture by explaining what the phrase “democracy of the dead” truly means. Renowned Catholic author and theologian G.K. Chesterton coined the phrase in his book, Orthodoxy, where he stated that democracy and tradition should go together in unison — they should not be separated, as many in the modern world try to do with the two terms.

“Tradition is simply an extension of democracy. Tradition means giving a vote to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors — it’s the democracy of the dead,” said Ahlquist.

While democracy and tradition go together for Chesterton, Ahlquist made the point that the separation of the two has been one of the main sources of political, cultural, and religious problems in the modern world. According to Ahlquist, these trends can be combatted if one looks at the writings of Chesterton on democracy and tradition and recognizes them as good ideas.

“We’ve given the government the most power it has had in all of human history when we give our children to the government to be educated, in a philosophy that does not represent what the parents believe, and simply cannot represent what the majority of people believe, and cannot even represent common sense,” explained Ahlquist.

Ahlquist went further, saying that certain things must be combined again if a moral society is to be reclaimed, such as subjects in education. For Chesterton, everything in education must be connected, so that history ties into literature, philosophy is tied into mathematics, science is tied into arts, and theology ties into every subject, holding everything together like glue — an educational ideal that Christendom College has held to since its own founding.

ahlquist-2016-2While Chesterton sought to combine these and other things, Ahlquist was quick to point out that Chesterton also separated things that should be separate, such as God and man and man and woman.

“These differences are differences that people are unwilling to admit and certainly unwilling to talk about, but they should be talked about, especially when it comes to our desires for the world and how to fix fundamental things like marriage, and family, and life, and death,” said Ahlquist.

Ahlquist concluded his talk by calling on the student body to return to common sense, and to give ancestors a vote again — the ones who built Christendom, and the great traditions of the Catholic faith. These were the ideals that G.K. Chesterton held dear, and are the ideals that Ahlquist believes all Catholics should hold as well in the continuing battle against modern society.

“We are already part of a great army, but if you’re looking for a particular battalion to join, well I would invite you to join the one that I belong to. It’s led by a fat man smoking a cigar. He fights with joy, and the people who oppose us, who persecute us, who make stupid laws and decadent entertainment, and run immoral trades, we’re not trying to crush them; we’re trying to convert them to come and join our side. Because, ultimately that’s what they really want to do. Because there’s no glory in surrendering to hell. But there’s great glory in fighting against it,” said Ahlquist.

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