Johnny's Corner
People Places Politics Principles Parenting Projects Paraphernalia Poetry

G. K. Chesterton

Johnny Jones, 15 July 1995

A good quote is like a glass of iced tea on a hot day; it satisfies and refreshes. That's why, when I saw so many good quotes by G. K. Chesterton, I was thirsty for more.

I knew Chesterton was intelligent. But in The Everlasting Man, his brilliance showed in his simple analogies that keep me thinking, "Why didn't I think of that before?" Chesterton is unafraid to look for truth beneath what is commonly assumed. He is not afraid to address false premises.

For example, he is not impressed with evolution. He said, "There is something slow and soothing and gradual about the word and even about the idea....It is an illogicality...for slowness has really nothing to do with the question. An event is not any more intrinsically intelligible or unintelligible because of the pace at which it moves. For a man who does not believe in a miracle, a slow miracle would be just as incredible as a swift one. The Greek witch may have turned sailors to swine with a stroke of the wand. But if they see a naval gentlemen of our acquaintance looking a little more like a pig every day, till he ended with four trotters and a curly tail, would not be any more soothing. It might be rather more creepy and uncanny."

Chesterton then addresses early man with a reference to what we assume to be true and what we know. About early man he says, "We are always told without any explanation or authority that primitive man waved a club and knocked the woman down before he carried her off....I should like to look into the evidence...but unfortunately I have never been able to find it."

Chesterton then states that what is more interesting to him is what there is evidence for: What man did in the cave. One of those activities was drawing. "When all is said, the main fact that the record of attests, along with all other records, is that the reindeer man could draw and the reindeer could not...This creature (man) was truly different from all other creatures; because he was a creator as well as a creature."

Chesterton talks about how different man is from other animals: "The truth abut man is that he is a very strange being...He cannot sleep in his own skin; he cannot trust his own instincts. He is at once a creator moving miraculous hands and fingers and a kind of cripple. He is wrapped in artificial bandages called clothes; he is propped on artificial crutches called furniture...Alone among the animals, he is shaken with the beautiful madness called laughter...(and) the mystery of shame. It is not seeing straight to see him as an animal." He talks about how natural it seems for men to build unique houses, but how odd it would seem to find cattle out building their own cattlesheds.

Why didn't I think of that?

Chesterton also addressed the evil side of man when he said, "Sooner or later a man deliberately sets himself to do the most disgusting thing he can think of....Men do not do it because they do not think it horrible, but, on the contrary, because they do think it horrible."

Bryan signs his e-mail with a quote from this brilliant thinker: "The Christian faith has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried." How like iced tea!