Sunday, February 23, 2014

Weekends with Chesterton: Blogging, and Opinions on the Universe

Weekends with Chesterton: cultivating the intellectual life
Weekends with Chesterton

It is foolish, generally speaking, for a philosopher to set fire to another philosopher in Smithfield Market because they do not agree in their theory of the universe. That was done very frequently in the last decadence of the Middle Ages, and it failed altogether in its object. But there is one thing that is infinitely more absurd and unpractical than burning a man for his philosophy. This is the habit of saying that his philosophy does not matter, and this is done universally in the twentieth century, in the decadence of the great revolutionary period. ... We are more and more to discuss details in art, politics, literature. A man's opinion on tramcars matters; his opinion on Botticelli matters; his opinion on all things does not matter. He may turn over and explore a million objects, but he must not find that strange object, the universe; for if he does he will have a religion, and be lost. Everything matters—except everything.  GKC, Heretics
Nowadays this has gotten worse!  We may still care for someone's opinion on subsidizing Amtrak or on the latest movie, especially if it is expressed with humor, vigor, or "authenticity" but we get uncomfortable when things start getting deep.    I like to muse on this blog but I notice that I stay away from things that are difficult.   I was going to say "controversial" but lots of bloggers do enjoy being controversial, even though I don't much.

My own territory of choice is on the boundaries.   I like the misty terrain between what I could call "earth" and "heaven".   For example, right now I have been reading a lot about evolution.   There is empirical evidence and the theories based upon that evidence, and then there are the truths of the faith.  They are distinctly different from each other but one of my primary beliefs is that faith and reason are eminently reconciliable, and no threat to each other.   John Paul says they are like two wings.  This being said, there are lots of "difficulties" on the margins, details that remain to be worked out.   Newman said that a thousand difficulties do not add up to one doubt.   I agree.  For me, difficulties are like puzzles.   If you can resolve them properly, you end up seeing something you didn't see before.   And it is always some way in which God truly works marvellously. 

The "earth" "heaven" dichotomy takes place in daily life too.  I read the Gospels, say, and make a commitment to live out what I read.   Then I look at my life today.   How then do I live this?    There is a boundary issue.   Those practical daily boundary issues are much harder for me to deal with than the theoretical ones.  For one thing, it is going to matter in a direct way that has implications for life from that point.   For another thing, I am fallen -- while the truths of the faith and the truths of empirical investigation are always reconciliable, and the only problems are the present limitations of human knowledge and my own mental limitations, reconciling my life with the Life in the Gospels is the task of a God, not a person.

But there you go.  I am not God, but I abide in Him and Him in me.     I get to have God work in me and my life marvellously.   I have seen it happen, though often enough I get in the way. 

I suppose after all I just did talk about "everything!"    And I guess, though I was going to talk about how margin-dwelling is hard to discuss without inadvertently voicing some sort of error,  most of my margin-journeys do end up right back in the center like that.   Something like what Chesterton says about the man who travels around the world and ends up at his own front door.   When I think of it like that, blogging has been a help to me.  Things I can't necessarily say in "real life", without making people back off slowly with their eyes warily fixed on me, can be said on here.    Maybe you do back off, but with blogging, there is that option, with no hard feelings. 

This is a rambling post!  I am just finding my blogging-feet again after a couple of weeks off!  Praying that Sarah's babies, and everyone else who is sick including my family, get better quickly! 

Off now to look at Sarah's link-up for more Chesterton quotes and reflections


  1. Thanks for the prayers! They do seem a titch better today. Lesser fevers and maybe just a bit less congested. I'm hoping we're over the worst of it! And praying that your family has a speedy recovery, as well!

    I think Chesterton would be a blogger if he was alive now, don't you? :)

    1. I do think he would be a blogger! It seems like a perfect format for him.

  2. I love this quote Willa, and I agree on Chesterton and blogging, right up his alley! Feel better and good to see you here again :)


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