The Ethics of Elfland
3 days ago
Nothing is important except the fate of the soul; and literature is only redeemed from an utter triviality, surpassing that of naughts and crosses, by the fact that it describes not the world around us, or the things on the retina of the eye, or the enormous irrelevancy of encyclopaedias, but some condition to which the human spirit can come.from G.K. Chesterton's introduction to Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop
Existence itself was always a shocking wonder to him. It made him grateful for creation, where nothing is trivial because everything holds clues to divine revelation.
His religious witness offered a rare mix — intellectual dazzle and humility. We could use both just now.
Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly... Seriousness is not a virtue. It would be a heresy, but a much more sensible heresy, to say that seriousness is a vice. It is really a natural trend or lapse into taking one's self gravely, because it is the easiest thing to do... It is much easier to write a good Times leading article than a good joke in Punch. For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity.-- G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy
In 2004, [Bobby] Fischer was arrested and detained in Japan for allegedly attempting to travel on a revoked passport. The U.S. government insisted that his passport had been revoked. San Diego attorney Richard Vattuone, a Catholic, flew to Japan to act as counsel for Fischer. After his release, Fischer emigrated to Iceland.-- from an article by Robert Kumpel
Vattuone is intrigued by Fischer's final act. "When I met him in Japan, I gave Bobby a book about G.K. Chesterton, The Apostle of Common Sense. The book covered many matters of culture and religion. I know Bobby had read at least some of the book. Chesterton was a convert and the book contained an article about his conversion. We had also discussed religion."
Christianity said that any man could be a saint if he chose; democracy, that every man could be a citizen if he chose. The note of the last few decades in art and ethics has been that a man is stamped with an irrevocable psychology and is cramped for perpetuity in the prison of his skull. It was a world that expects everything and everybody. It was a world that encouraged anybody to be anything. And in England and literature its living expression was Dickens.- G.K. Chesterton in Charles Dickens
As a conservative, I'm a big believer in the importance of tradition, which writer G.K. Chesterton dubbed "democracy for the dead." But tradition can only be as strong as it is in the people who pass it on. And so when I read that 23% of Britons think Winston Churchill is no more real than Spider-Man, it makes me shudder at the voluntary amnesia of society, the wholesale abdication of parental responsibility that represents.
Whatever else the worst doctrine of depravity may have been, it was a product of spiritual conviction; it had nothing to do with remote physical origins. Men thought mankind wicked because they felt wicked themselves. If a man feels wicked, I cannot see why he should suddenly feel good because somebody tells him that his ancestors once had tails. Man's primary purity and innocence may have dropped off with his tail, for all anybody knows. The only thing we all know about that primary purity and innocence is that we have not got it.-- G.K. Chesterton in All Things Considered