Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Excerpts from "Orthodoxy"

      I recently finished G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy and enjoyed it so much that I almost started it over again. I didn't though, instead I started re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia again. But I find themes that interlace, interestingly enough, and connect between the two authors. Chesterton makes me think of Lewis, whether it is something in Narnia or one of his other books or essays that it; and as I read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader I am reminded of Chesterton.
       (On a side note, there is an anouncer on Moody radio who keeps calling him "J.K. Chesterton" There's a play, I guess, about a conversation between him and George Bernard Shaw, but the announcer thinks his first initial is J. His first name was Gilbert! That doesn't start with a "J"!)
       Tangents aside, I give you some quotes from Chesterton's Orthodoxy.

"We have all read in scientific books, and indeed, in all romances, the story of the man who has forgotten his name. This man walks about the streets and can see and appreciate everything; only he cannot remember who he is. Well, every man is the man in the story. every man has forgotten who he is. One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God; but thou shalt not know thyself. We are all under the same mental calamity; we have all forgotten our names. We have all forgotten who we really are. All that we call common sense and rationality and practicality and positivism only means that for certain dead levels of our life we forget that we have forgotten. All that we call spirit and art and ectasy only means that for one awful instant we remember that we forget."
"The modern philosopher had told me again and again that I was in the right place, and I had still felt depressed even in acquiescence. But I had heard that I was in the wrong place, and my soul sang for joy, like a bird in spring. The knowledge found out and illuminated forgotten chambers in the dark house of infancy. I knew now why grass had always seemed to me as queer as the green beard of a giant, and why I could feel homesick at home."
"The outer ring of Christianity is a rigid guard of ethical abnegations and professional priests; but inside that inhuman guard you will find the old human life dancing like children, and drinking wine like men; for Christianity is only the frame for pagan freedom. But in the modern philosophy the case is the opposite; it is the outer ring that is obviously artistic and emancipated; its despair is within.
     "And its despair is this, that it does not really believe that there is any meaning in the universe; therefore it cannot hope to find any romance; its romances will have no plots."
"Man is more like himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holidy; joy is the uproarious labour by which all things live."    (153)

May your week be lived by that uproarious labour of joy!


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