Sunday, April 8, 2012

From Chesterton's "Orthodoxy"

This being Easter Sunday,  I thought to post the following paragraph from G.K. Chesterton's  "Orthoxdy." It is not about Easter or Christ, per se, but speaks of the value of the Christian Church in Chesterton’s mind.  Not surprisingly, I find his thoughts intriguing.  And, as usual, it is a great piece of writing.

"I have another far more solid and central ground for submitting to (Christianity) as a faith, instead of merely picking up hints from it as a scheme. And that is this: that the Christian Church in its practical relation to my soul is a living teacher, not a dead one. It not only certainly taught me yesterday, but will almost certainly teach me tomorrow. Once I saw suddenly the meaning of the shape of the cross; some day I may see suddenly the meaning of the shape of the mitre. One fine morning I saw why windows were pointed; some fine morning I may see why priests were shaven. Plato has told you a truth; but Plato is dead. Shakespeare has startled you with an image; but Shakespeare will not startle you with any more. But imagine what it would be to live with such men still living, to know that Plato might break out with an original lecture tomorrow, or that at any moment Shakespeare might shatter everything with a single song. The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato and Shakespeare tomorrow at breakfast. He is always expecting to see some truth that he has never seen before. There is one only parallel to this position; and that is the parallel of the life in which we all began. When your father told you, walking about the garden, that bees stung or that roses smelt sweet, you did not talk of taking the best out of his philosophy. When the bees stung you, you did not call it an entertaining coincidence. When the rose smelt sweet you did not say `My father is a rude, barbaric symbol, enshrining (perhaps unconsciously) the deep delicate truth that flowers smell.' No: you believed your father, because you had found him to be a living fountain of facts, a thing that really knew more than you; a thing that would tell you the truth tomorrow as well as today."

Unlike Chesterton, I have not found that to be true for myself.  Of course, he was much better read, and he was a much, much more accurate thinker.

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, London, 1908.


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