ABOUT OUR SOCIETY
"It was only when the Simple Souls had displayed their simplicity with the usual parade of well-bred reluctance and fussy self-effacement, that anyone addressed the chair. And it was only after somebody had been addressing the chair for some time that Joan gradually awoke to the fact that the address was somewhat unusual." ~G. K. Chesterton, The Flying Inn, Ch. VII
Society of Simple Souls is a reading group that was formed in June of 2011 as a serious reading group for not-so-serious people, or a not-so-serious reading group for serious people, depending on how you look at it. The name of the group comes from a group of the same name, but very different character, in G. K. Chesterton’s novel The Flying Inn. The group in the novel take themselves very seriously in all the wrong ways. We try to be the opposite.
The format of the reading group is to select a good, if not great, work of fiction or non-fiction, prose, poetry, essay, epistle or sermon, and read it out loud, together, over as much time as necessary to keep a pace that allows for reflection without losing momentum. We select classic writings from any of these formats that embody the culture which we wish to create and cultivate in our own lives: joyful seriousness, delight, wonder, sadness that contains hope. In short, writings which cultivate our humanity. Christian classics, Chesterton and Inklings, poetry and sundry essays are read aloud over food and drink with occasional pauses for discussion, clarification, and reflection.
AN ABBREVIATED HISTORY OF OUR READING
The Apostolic Fathers, ed. by Jack N. Sparks
“The Twelve Men” (essay) by G.K.C.
“The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment,” (essay) by C. S. Lewis
“Tradition and the Individual Talent ” (essay) by T. S. Eliot
“A Shy Bird” (essay) by G.K.C.
“To Hilaire Belloc” (poem) by G.K.C.
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
“The Day is Done,” and “Christmas Bells,” (poems) by H. W. Longfellow
“The Fool’s Prayer” (poem) by Edward Sill
various poems by George Herbert
The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
various poems by A. E. Stallings and Albert Goldbarth
“The House of Christmas,” and “Three Wise Men,” (poems) by G.K.C.
“Man or Rabbit” (essay from God in the Dock) by C. S. Lewis
The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic, tr. by R. K. Narayan
“A Remaining Christmas” (essay) by Hilaire Belloc
“Lessons” (poem) by Czeslaw Milosz
“Purgatorio I, 13” (essay) by Jorge Luis Borges
“Death and the Compass” (short story) by Jorge Luis Borges
“The Tempest” (play) by William Shakespeare
The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis
The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald
“The Donkey” (poem) by G.K.C.
“In Country Sleep,” and “A Winter’s Tale,” (poems) by Dylan Thomas
Inferno, by Dante Alighieri (tr. Anthony Esolen)
Aeneid, by Vergil (various translations)