Tag Archives: G.K. Chesterton

“every human being has a soul fashioned in God’s image”

More concretely, you don’t get white supremacy if you believe that every human being has a soul fashioned in God’s image. Neither do you get far-left racial and ethnic identitarianism. Both are symptoms of a metaphysical deficit. It’s very easy to start dividing people up into tribal categories; after all, humans vary massively in just about every imaginable quality. It’s really something of a miracle that we ever came up with a notion of common humanity at all! We have the Judeo-Christian heritage to thank for this in the West. This is something secular people ought to consider before making glib criticisms of traditional religion.

France’s Master Of ‘Materialist Horror’

With no belief that “every human being has a soul fashioned in God’s image”, i.e., God, tyranny and statolatry result.

 



I Shall Not Want Audrey Assad Lyrics

 

“When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”

― G.K. Chesterton

Christianity and Islam


Franciscan University Presents: Catholics and Islam

Among present-day American leftists (who prefer calling themselves progressives), a curious characteristic is their sympathy for Islam. They deplore what they call Islamophobia, regarding it as a sin as bad as racism or sexism or homophobia or transphobia; and they are horrified that a man they consider to be an Islamophobe, Donald Trump, should be in the White House.

Why is this sympathy for Islamic “curious”? Because no religion could be more at odds with progressive ideas than Islam. For one thing, Islam believes in God, an all-powerful God who controls everything in the created world. Progressives, on the other hand, tend to be atheists or at least semi-atheists.

For another, Islam has always taught that women must be socially inferior to men; it is a strongly patriarchal religion, and progressives hate few things more than they hate patriarchy. Islam also puts a strong emphasis on chastity, condemning adultery and fornication and – especially – homosexuality. And it considers monstrous that progressive favorite, same-sex marriage.

Of course, many Muslims (Muslim men, that is, not Muslim women) have over the centuries violated these pro-chastity values, but the religion nonetheless affirms the values. By contrast, although they regard sexual prudence as a good thing (and sexual prudence often bears a resemblance to chastity), progressives laugh at the idea that chastity is a virtue.

Why, then, are progressives sympathetic to such an anti-progressive religion and its adherents? Ask this question of a progressive, and he or she will tell you, “Because we believe in freedom of religion and in diversity.”

. . .

Being pro-Islam is an indirect way of being anti-Christianity. When Christianity is sufficiently destroyed, the progressive alliance with Islam can be dissolved, just as the USA-Soviet alliance was dissolved after Nazism had been destroyed; and then progressivism can turn to the task of destroying Islam – if Islam does not destroy progressivism first, which is the more likely outcome.

But Islam is hostile not just to Christianity but to Judaism as well. This is another of its great merits in the eyes of progressivism. For progressivism is strongly anti-Israel. And being anti-Israel (or anti-Zionist) is the most modern and up-to-date form of Jew-hatred; it is today’s fashionable form of anti-Semitism.

What’s more, being anti-Israel is an indirect way of being anti-American. Much of the Israel-hatred that is so common among European and American leftists (including, weirdly, leftists who are themselves Jews) is motivated by a hatred for America. Israel and the United States having been so closely connected from 1948 to the present, he who hates Israel hates America.

This is not to say that American progressives hate America pure and simple. No, they hate America as it has been up until now. They wish to do away with the old and bad America, and replace it with a “new and improved” America, a progressivized America.

By being a pro-Islam progressive, then, you win a trifecta. You get to strike three blows at once: one against Christianity, another against Israel, and a third against the “old and bad” America. For a progressive, what could be better?

The Curious Progressive Love of Islam7

See also “The Great and Enduring Heresy of Mohammed,” by Hilaire Belloc

Also see
G.K. Chesterton’s quotes about Islam here.
– “Islam and Catholicism” by Tim Staples
– “The rise of the terror amnesia industry

Trump as Mr. Magoo

I’ve been writing about Chesterton’s fence for years. For those of you who don’t remember because they lost most of their memory after waking up in that dumpster handcuffed to a horse’s severed leg (or for some other reason), here’s the relevant passage:

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

I reference Chesterton’s fence all the time, usually in the context of progressives who are imbued with the fierce arrogance of now. They have special contempt for tradition, custom, etc.

And that is basically the context Chesterton had in mind. But I think there’s a lesson here for Trump as well. Trump’s glandular approach to every situation is a kind of lizard-brain version of progressivism. Tell Trump he can’t do or say something and he almost instinctively does it or says it. It’s like there’s a homunculus in there screaming, “You’re not the boss of me!” 24/7. His fans love this blunderbuss approach. And whenever you criticize it, the immediate response is some version of “It got him elected!”

And it’s true: Trump has been an improviser in the grand tradition of underachievers his whole life. His entire, spectacular, run to the White House was like a running spontaneous jazz performance. And he hasn’t stopped improvising. The problem is that the White House and Washington in general are a vast maze of what might be called Chesterton’s Invisi-Fences. Unlike the original Chesterton fence, these fences cannot be seen, but they exist all the same. Some of them, of course, should probably be gotten rid of — but, again, you have to know why they’re there before you try.

. . .

Liberals are still convinced Trump is some kind of autocrat-in-waiting. And he may well be in his heart. But the would-be autocrats who actually become real-life autocrats only achieve success because they are popular and know how to manipulate the system from within — and because they did their homework. That’s not Trump. Yes, he’s violating democratic and political norms, but he’s not doing it according to some master plan like an Erdogan or a Putin, he’s doing it more like a weird hybrid of Mr. Magoo and Chauncey Gardiner.

Anything Goes in Our New Bro Age

Happy Marriages

From GK Chesterton: “I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable. For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.” (in What’s Wrong With the World)

. . .

From St. John Chrysostom: “If a man and a woman marry in order to be companions on the journey to heaven, then their union will bring them great joy.”

And this last tidbit from marriage counselor Gregory Popcak: “At various points, even the happiest husbands and wives become frustrated with each other and can feel like their spouse is undeserving of their commitment. But where less happy couples use this as a justification for withdrawing their love and entertaining thoughts of divorce, happy couples remind themselves that their commitment is to their marriage, itself, even more than to their feelings for their spouse.”

4 Reasons to stay put even when your marriage is on the rocks

Merry Christmas!


The 24th Annual Christmas Concert for Charity

That child lying in the manger in our Christmas crèches, then, the Word who will one day speak to us in our own human words, is a singular occasion for love and joy, as are all human children, and touches our hearts with a truth and tenderness that doesn’t grow stale from one Christmas to the next.

The Word was partly hidden, for the moment, however, probably because it would otherwise engulf us with such enormous light and sound in our current state that it would have rendered us even more deaf, more blind to the really real than we usually are.


Angels We have Heard on High

It’s right that we get the warm fuzzies and are comforted at this time of year because we get it almost nowhere else, at any other time. And given what we do to one another and ourselves the rest of the time, we need comforting. Still, that comfort is a pale reflection of what awaits those blessed to someday see its source. There will be many things not so comforting in the meantime, not least the great challenges of the Word, which is why the angels are constantly telling everyone – Mary, Joseph, the shepherds – “Be not afraid!”

Words and the Word


The Holly and the Ivy

[In a live radio broadcast from England to America on Christmas Day, 1931, G.K.] Chesterton pointed out that there is no substitute for Christmas. No new religion has made a new festival anything like it. No new philosophy has been popular enough to make a popular holiday. The pleasure-seekers with their nightclub life are not happy people. Chesterton says it is unfair to call them Pagans. It is unfair to the Pagans.

“The Pagan gods and poets of the past were never so cheap or tenth-rate as the fast sets and smart people of the present. Venus was never so vulgar as what they now call Sex Appeal. Cupid was never so coarse and common as a modern realistic novel. The old Pagans were imaginative and creative; they made things and built things. Somehow that habit went out of the world… The modern Pagans are merely atheists; who worship nothing and therefore create nothing. They could not, for instance, even make a substitute for Thanksgiving Day. For half of them are pessimists who say they have nothing to be thankful for; and the other half are atheists who have nobody to thank.”

. . .

Even though “centuries of misunderstanding” grew between the birth of Christ and the modern world, Charles Dickens captured the “that mysterious revelation that brought joy upon the earth,” and he handed on this tradition “in an uncongenial time, by an instinct that was almost inspiration. He knew enough about it to enjoy it; and to enjoy himself; and now, in the name of all such things, let us all go and do the same.”

G.K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens, and the Joy of Christmas


The King’s Singers – Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2016

God, Not Politics

It is to God, therefore, that we must first look for certitude and joy. Not some political arrangement, however useful in shoring up a social order where, as Dorothy Day used to say, it becomes easier for men to be good. So, by all means, be grateful to the maintenance of that order, ambitiously begun by a convert emperor back in the fourth century and, yes, labor mightily for its restoration. But give God your allegiance and love.

Meanwhile, the romance about which Chesterton writes, never mind the institutions that crystallized round it, precisely began in a place as unprepossessing as anywhere on the planet. Just ask the three wise men whose peregrinations the poet Eliot describes in his Journey of the Magi: “A cold coming we had of it, / Just the worst time of the year / For a journey, and such a long journey. . . ” And when at last they reach the place – “arriving at evening,” we are told, “not a moment too soon” – amid the cattle and the sheep crowded about a tiny stable at the end of the world, a child is born. “It was (you might say) satisfactory.”

Forget the appearance of the place, the noise and the cold and the dirt surrounding the scene, the seeming unimportance of the characters in the tableau, and fix your mind on the event itself. Does it not provide the perfect conjunction, the absolutely ideal connection between those two things Chesterton insists must be present for a life of “practical romance” to take place?

For real romance to work, he tells us, there has got to be this precise and happy. . .

    . . . combination of something that is strange with something that is secure. We need so to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome. We need to be happy in this wonderland without once being merely comfortable.

And where else but in Bethlehem does that happen?

The Coming of Christmas

Statolatry is the idolization of the state and politics

Meanwhile, some of us are trying to wean ourselves off of the politics addiction and trying to remember Who it is exactly that Christian clerics are called to serve.

On the delusion of clergy access to the royal throne

Speech and Tyranny

Conservative columnist Rod Dreher mentioned in a recent lecture that he knows a high-level executive who believes “it’s just a matter of time” before he will be forced to sign a petition signaling his agreement with the current “politically correct” agenda or lose his job. He is prepared to lose his job.

So, too, in less dramatic fashion, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before someone demands that I agree to employ the new “non-discriminatory” gender-neutral pronouns, ze, xe, zir, and all the rest (discriminatory against no one except those who don’t agree to use them).

When I see students falling all over themselves to make sure they’ve included all the “correct” pronouns in their writing – “he and/or she” did x and y to “him and/or her” – I often write in the margin: “It is perfectly acceptable to do this if you wish, but in my class, it is not required.” Never once has a student continued to use the politically correct verbiage, whether male or female, when informed it was not required. Indeed, I have had any number of students come up to me and express their utter relief: “Oh, thank God we don’t have to go through all that.”

. . .

I often tell my students that when their peers are assaulting them about their Christian principles, they can always pull out society’s trump card and ask their protagonist: “Are you saying that I can’t live the way I choose according to my personal identity? Are you trying to deny me my personal autonomy?” It’s a cheap trick, but it tends to work. What can one’s attacker say? “Yes, I want to deny you your autonomy”?

In a similar spirit, here’s the phrase I’ve come up with to respond to those who insist on shaming us into a particular form of ideological language conformity. When someone demands we use ze, xe, zir or some similarly baffling verbiage, and that we demand it of our students, I suggest saying: “I’m sorry, but my personal conscience does not permit me to empower that ideology or obey this particular expression of your authoritarian will-to-power.”

Whether it has the desired effect or not, it at least has the great benefit of expressing something true.

I’m Sorry, I Can’t Speak That Way


The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization | Duke Pesta and Stefan Molyneux

Two authors have produced, respectively, a video and a book called, “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.” Both authors agree that the secularists who hate the Church and the assimilated religious who are ignorant of the Church enjoy (for now) the freedoms and social order bequeathed by Catholic Christendom, while for decades they have been destroying the very foundations they stand upon.

As religious communities shrink (a dynamic referred to euphemistically as “the grace of diminishment”), parishes close, and numbers at Mass and confession plummet, there seems to be a rush to hasten the institutional demise of the Church. Meanwhile, the civilizational building blocks blessed and guarded by Christian doctrine and practice, including family, education, work, virtue, and community, are under relentless assault by people who don’t care, as well as by people who should know better.

. . .

The bold claim of Christendom is that Christian culture and practice lived in this life form saints who become citizens of Heaven in the next life. God has not given us another way, and man, despite his bitter best efforts, has not and cannot devise another way.

The greatest threat to Christians today

“When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”
G.K. Chesterton

Men of action!

These men were men of action; they were hustlers; they were full of vim and pep and snap and zip. In other words, they were deaf and blind and partly mad, and rather like American millionaires. And because they were men of action, and men of the moment, all that they did has vanished from the earth like a vapour; and nothing remains out of all that period but the little pictures and the little gardens made by the pottering little monks.

The New Dark Ages, by G.K. Chesterton

Pagans

The Pagans of the the great Greek and Roman civilization believed in suicide. The Pagans of the great Chinese civilization have sometimes practiced infanticide. Many ancient Pagans apparently believed in abortion; and these modern Pagans may very sincerely believe in birth prevention. But I cannot see what there is to dance about.

“A Malthusian Ball,” by G.K. Chesterton, 1933

See also, “Champagne Malthusians

The “present whirlpool of universal nonsense”

As it happens, there is something in the sex passion that can be enjoyed even in imagination. Therefore the mere imagery can move the imagination; even incidental or accidental details can do it; and constantly exciting that emotion, by that imagination, may have a bad effect on conduct, and certainly a bad effect on character.

But this is not the least true of any other sin, merely because it is sinful. It is not true of murder, burglary or picking pockets. It is stark nonsense to say that seeing pistols fired off will fill me with a passion for murder. It would be just as sensible as saying that seeing pens and inks will fill me with a furious desire to commit forgery.
. . .
It is supremely characteristic of the present whirlpool of universal nonsense that the very moment when men seem to have forgotten the real psychological dangers of sexual exaggeration, they begin to worry about the utterly unreal idea that somebody can be turned into a cutthroat by the sight of a carving knife.

Boys have always played at robbers, and admired outlaws like Robin Hood; but the difference is this: In those days there was a positive morality, that could both tolerate and check such natural fancies.

G.K. Chesterton, in the New York American, 1932