Tuesday, November 18, 2008

wisdom from GK Chesterton

g.k. chesterton on environmentalism and gaia:

"The essence of all pantheism, evolutionism, and modern cosmic religion is really this proposition: that Nature is our mother. Unfortunately, if you regard Nature as a mother, you discover that she is a step-mother. The main point of Christianity [is] this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire but not to imitate. This gives to the typically Christian pleasure in this earth a strange touch of lightness that is almost frivolity. . . . Nature was a solemn mother to Wordsworth and Emerson. But nature is not solemn to Francis of Assisi or to George Herbert. To St. Francis, Nature is a sister, and even a younger sister, to be laughed at as well as loved."

g.k. chesterton on evolution:

"'Man is the ape upside down,' Chesterton declares. As the super-primate who is also the sub-angel, man does not look down at the ground like the other animals. We are anthropoi, the upward-looking creatures who seek transcendent beauty and truth and goodness. Not only radically dependent we are also uniquely free:

Who ever found an ant-hill decorated with celebrated ants? Who has seen a bee-hive carved with the images of gorgeous queens of old? No; the chasm between man and other creatures may have an explanation, but it is a chasm. We talk of wild animals; but man is the only wild animal. It is man that has broken out. All other animals are tame animals, following the rugged respectability of the tribe or type; man alone is ever undomestic, either a profligate or a monk."

g.k. chesterton on false humility:

"If hyper-rationalism is one symptom of our cultural madness, hyper-emotionalism is the other. The former is filled with false pride, the latter with false humility. It's a false humility because, unlike lunatic rationalists who believe they know everything, mad emotionalists deny that they know anything."

g.k. chesterton on edicts of elfland:

as Chesterton calls the moral world of fairy tales, administers two indispensable tests for sanity. The first concerns the imagination as a cure for hyper-rationalism: whether we are willing to see the world as it is, and therefore not as consisting of two separate realms- the visible and the invisible, the literal and the figurative, the necessary and the free, not even the natural and the supernatural. The cosmos invites us, instead, to discern these spheres as mysteriously, even miraculously, overlapping and intersecting. We must understand that it is magic. It is not a "law" because we do not know its general formula.

The second of the tests administered by the Edicts of Elfland is the "Doctrine of Conditional Joy," Chesterton's proposed cure for our insane emotivism. This doctrine deals with the drastic 'if' on which everything hangs, the singular decision that determines everything else. Again, the world's lasting myths and fairy tales get it right: "A box is opened, and all evils fly out. A word is forgotten and cities perish. A lamp is lit and love flies away. A flower is plucked and human lives are lost. An apple is eaten, and the hope of God is gone."

on the christian life:

"Not only martyrs but all Christians live within these drastic opposites: meekness and daring, love and wrath. Christians are happy pessimists, says Chesterton, and they do what is unthinkable to the pagan: They love the unlovable and pardon the unpardonable.

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