Chesterton and Balance

Taken from Orthodoxy:

“The modern latitudinarians speak, for instance, about authority in religion not only as if there were no reason for it, but as if there had never been any reason for it.  Apart from seeing its philosophical basis, they cannot even see its historical cause.  Religious authority has often, doubtless, been oppressive or unreasonable; just as every legal system (and especially our present one) has been callous and full of a cruel apathy.  It is rational to attack the police; nay, it is glorious.  But the modern critics of religious authority are like men who should attack the police without ever having heard of burglars.  For there is a great and possible peril to the human mind: a peril as practical as burglary.  Against it religious authority was reared, rightly or wrongly, as a barrier.  And against it something certainly must be reared as a barrier, if our race is to avoid ruin.

“That peril is that the human intellect is free to destroy itself.  Just as one generation could prevent the very existence of the next generation, by all entering a monastery or jumping into the sea, so one set of thinkers can in some degree prevent further thinking by teaching the next generation that there is no validity in any human thought.”

I love a good joke in the service of a good point.  Here are a few more jokes, these about Chesterton’s renowned girth (courtesy of Wikipedia):

Chesterton was a large man, standing 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) and weighing around 21 stone (130 kg; 290 lb). His girth gave rise to a famous anecdote. During World War I a lady in London asked why he wasn’t ‘out at the Front’; he replied, ‘If you go round to the side, you will see that I am.’ On another occasion he remarked to his friend George Bernard Shaw: “To look at you, anyone would think a famine had struck England”. Shaw retorted, “To look at you, anyone would think you have caused it”. P. G. Wodehouse once described a very loud crash as “a sound like Chesterton falling onto a sheet of tin.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *