Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thoughts on Orthodoxy: Progress

I am currently one-hundred-and-two pages into G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy, a book that has long been on my reading list and remained unread. Thanks to Allison, I am finally getting the chance to read it. Frankly, I love his writing. It reminds me of the logic of C.S. Lewis's writing with a twist of the fantastical side of George MacDonald. Yesterday as I was taking my half-hour break between teaching, I sat down to read, and stumbled upon this quote:
"Now here comes in the whole collapse and huge blunder of our age. We have mixed up two different things, two opposite things. Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to suit the vision. Progress does mean (just now) that we are always changing the vision. It should mean that we are slow but sure in bringing justice and mercy among men: it does mean that we are very swift in doubting the desirability of justice and mercy: a wild page from any Prussian sophist makes men doubt it. Progress should mean that we are always walking towards the New Jerusalem. It does mean that the New Jerusalem is always walking away from us. We are not altering the real to suit the ideal. We are altering the ideal: it is easier."  [G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy]

     Chesterton proceeds to use some silly examples to illustrate his point, such as a man who desires his world to be blue: if he paints a blade of grass everyday, he shall slowly get somewhere, but he shall never get anywhere if his color is always changing.
     And I began to think seriously about his suggestion, that we view progress as always changing the goal. Have we as a Church been so busy searching for the new meaning of the New Jerusalem that we have done nothing to work towards old meaning of New Jerusalem? As a generation, have we neglected to work towards the older visions of new creation as we search for a new meaning of re-creation?
     I must ask myself if I have a goal, a vision that I am pursuing: otherwise the road I travel down will be all wrong. I must find first my aim, and then plug away at it, so to speak. For even if my advancement is gradual, my gait seems slow, at least my object remains the same, and I shall get somewhere, instead of getting nowhere in half-a-dozen places.

"As long as the vision of heaven is always changing, the vision of earth willl be exactly the same. No ideal will remain long enough to be realized, or even partly realized." May we be a generation who contradicts Chesterton's statement that "the modern young man will never change his enviroment; for he will always change his mind."

Question: What is your vision? Have you ever changed your vision at the expense of any progress?

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