Friday, September 2, 2011

Why Chesterton?

"The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg. If the human being conceives and brings forth a human child instead of bringing forth a fish, or a bat, or a griffin, the reason may not be that we are fixed in an animal fate without life or purpose. It may be that our little tragedy has touched the gods, that they admire it from their starry galleries, and that at the end of every human drama, man is called again and again before the curtain."

                                                                                                                                 G. K. Chesterton

You may have noticed that I quote from Chesterton quite a bit.  He was a newspaper man, an essayist and author who wrote over 80 books and 4000 essays and articles at the beginning of the 20th century.

At a time when the materialist and Marxist philosophies were very much in vogue, Chesterton very publicly converted to Catholicism.  He enjoyed debates with the popular materialists of the day, including H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw.  Regarding materialist philosophy and the idea that evolution stands on its own as the creative force of life, with no other influence, he said, "It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything."

Every time I read his works, I am reminded that our fight is not new.  The materialist worldview that entirely discounts the power of the human spirit - that reduces questions of ethics, morals and love to brain chemistry - has been chipping away at mankind's decency, honor and future for 150 years.  Given the vast sums of money and governmental backing available to the practitioners of this philosophy, it is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit that churches and religious groups still  operate at all.  And, perhaps as Chesterton says, "Great truths can only be forgotten and can never be falsified."

Finally, reading Chesterton, I am reminded that we are not alone.  All religious men and women face attacks.  We are, ourselves, dismissed as "old-fashioned," and there is no shortage of efforts to make each of our groups look odd or disingenuous - making it difficult to work together, and making us feel lonely in our pursuit of higher truth.  However, we are all inheritors of a long tradition of intelligent and caring people who have continued to promote the true nature of the human spirit for the last 150 years. From the past, Chesterton urges us onward from a sometimes difficult present and into a brighter future -

"You have not wasted your time; you have helped to save the world.  We are not buffoons, but very desperate men at war with a vast conspiracy."

Popular Posts