10.06.2009

#1. Orthodoxy

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"This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic.... It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one's own. It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob. To have fallen into any of those open traps of error and exaggeration which fashion after fashion and sect after sect set along the historic path of Christendom--that would indeed have been simple. It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect."

Author: G.K. Chesterton

Synopsis: Chesterton describes his adventure searching the world over for the truth and finding it in Christianity as contained in the Apostles' Creed, something he might have learned just as well "in the nearest parish church". Witty and sly, magical and brilliant, he points out the droll nature of error, the circular logic of running mad with only one idea, and portrays what the understanding of truth looks like from the inside.

* * *

I do not think any writer has a better grasp of the English language than G.K. Chesterton did. Though his long paragraphs may come off as daunting, and the prose at first going may feel rather thick, the sentences are one after another loaded with the punch of aphorism and the whimsy of poetry.

Chesterton is my hero, as writers go, and in many ways also as Christian thinkers go. The man had an incredibly alive way of looking at the world. He saw the contradictory judgments made upon the church and pointed out the light and life and beauty behind the apparently forbidding gray walls. He had an equal gift for pointing out the deadness inside many a seemingly rational philosophy.

Reading his work helps my imagination, as well as my reason, keep me Christian. And in that blessed paradoxical vision the fairy under the hollyhock, the image in the mirror, and the rough unruly fishermen of the Gospels all alike point to Christ on the cross, the intersection of all existence.

2 comments:

  1. Oh no...it's over...now what am I going to
    read at lunch.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think I can come up with something. :D

    ReplyDelete

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