One of my favorites, especially Eric Whitacre’s musical retelling below. I am rereading Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton for a class this summer and am continually reminded to be thankful for the little things like the wonder of existence and that a “tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree .. [and] the sun shines because it is bewitched.” Enjoy!
“The first fact about the celebration of a birthday is that it is a way of affirming defiantly, and even flamboyantly, that it is a good thing to be alive….But there is a second fact about Birthdays, and the birth-song of all creation, a fact which really follows on this; but which, as it seems to me, the other school of thought almost refuses to recognize. The point of that fact is simply that it is a fact. In being glad about my Birthday, I am being glad about something which I did not myself bring about.” –from G.K.’s Weekly, 21st March, 1935
Self-portrait for the 10th anniversary of G.K.’s Weekly (1935)
(from the American Chesterton Society)
Salisbury Cathedral, UK
“Great wits are oft to madness near allied.”
Chapter Two, “The Maniac” from Chesterton’s Orthodoxy: This chapter is focused on Chesterton’s realization that “what peril of morbidity there is for a man comes rather from his reason than his imagination.” He clarifies that this is not an attack on reason itself, but an attack on “reason used without root, reason in the void … without the proper first principles.” One of those “first things” is a respect for a certain amount of mystery and paradox. Chesterton resisted the materialist driven hyper-skepticism that is often bent on dismissing traditional authority. He was the quintessential anti-reductionist. In this book, he describes how this determination to preserve respect for these “first-things” led him to Christianity, i.e. it led him to orthodoxy.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton (Oh, how I want to straighten that lamp shade behind him!)
“Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.”
Essay By Byron Barlowe
“You think the gods have sent you there? All lies of priests and poets, child . . . The god within you is the god you should obey: reason, calmness, self-discipline.”
– The Fox, Greek tutor in Till We Have Faces
“Heaven forbid we should work [the garden of our human nature] in the spirit of . . . Stoics . . . We know very well that what we are hacking and pruning is big with a splendour and vitality which our rational will could never of itself have supplied. To liberate that splendour, to let it become fully what it is trying to be, to have tall trees instead of scrubby tangles, and sweet apples instead of crabs, is part of our purpose.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Northumberland (Mike Ridley)
“Spirit of God, descend upon my heart. Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move. Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art and make me love Thee as I ought to love.
I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies, no sudden rending of the veil of clay, no angel visitant, no opening skies; but take the dimness of my soul away.