The Fall of Man from “The Essential Chesterton: An Anthology on the Thought of G.K. Chesterton”
“The Fall is a view of life. It is not only the only enlightening, but the only encouraging view of life. It holds, as against the only real alternative philosophies, those of the Buddhist or the Pessimist or the Promethean, that we have misused a good world, and not merely been entrapped into a bad one. It refers evil back to the wrong use of the will, and thus declares that it can eventually be righted by the right use of the will. Every other creed except that one is some form of surrender to fate. A man who holds this view of life will find it giving light on a thousand things; on which mere evolutionary ethics have not a word to say. For instance, on the colossal contrast between the completeness of man’s machines and the continued corruption of his motives; on the fact that no social progress really seems to leave self behind; on the fact that the first and not the last men of any school or revolution are generally the best and purest, as William Penn was better than a Quaker millionaire or Washington better than an American oil magnate; on that proverb that says: “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance,” which is only what the theologians say of every other virtue, and is itself only a way of stating the truth of original sin; on those extremes of good and evil by which man exceeds all the animals by the measure of heaven and hell; on that sublime sense of loss that is in the very sound of all great poetry, and nowhere more than in the poetry of pagans and sceptics: “We look before and after, and pine for what is not”; which cries against all prigs and progressives out of the very depths and abysses of the broken heart of man, that happiness is not only a hope, but also in some strange manner a memory; and that we are all kings in exile.”
from The Thing
“[The] legends all say that the earth was kinder in its earliest time. There is no tradition of progress; but the whole human race has a tradition of the Fall. Amusingly enough, indeed, the very dissemination of this idea is used against its authenticity. Learned men literally say that this pre-historic calamity cannot be true because every race of mankind remembers it.”
“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” Psalm 36
God promises to be our shelter through the difficult seasons of life when storm after storm strike our shores.
“We cannot enjoy thoroughly even a pas-de-quatre at a subscription dance unless we believe that the stars are dancing to the same tune.” ~ G.K. Chesterton, Heretics
An acquaintance once compared Christopher Hitchens, one of the most famous foes of the Faith, to G.K. Chesterton, one of the greatest defenders of it. Hitchens claimed that he wasn’t so much of an atheist as he was an anti-theist, famously pronouncing that religion poisons everything. In contrast, Chesterton wrote that the more he considered Christianity, the more he “found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.” Still, in this person’s mind, the two were similar: both were wizards with words who enjoyed witty banter, complex prose, big ideas, and strong drink. Both were also journalists and sharp cultural critics.
“The Mystery” by G.K. Chesterton
IF sunset clouds could grow on trees
It would but match the may in flower;
And skies be underneath the seas
No topsyturvier than a shower.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.” ~Psalm 103
In his book, Reflections on the Psalms, Lewis writes that during his journey towards the Christian faith, and even for some time after he arrived, he “found a stumbling block in the demand so clamorously made by all religious people that we should ‘praise’ God; still more in the suggestion that God Himself demanded it.” He writes that the obligation we had to honor God – to attend church where His praises are sung and do our best to join in – seemed to border on ludicrous for a God who also tells us that He needs nothing. From a human perspective, this made God seem petty to Lewis. Why did He demand this perpetual compliment, approval, and honor?
“Remember always there is one thing that cannot be endured by anybody or anything. That one unendurable thing is to be overworked and also neglected.”
“The Angry Street”
by G. K. Chesterton
“I cannot remember whether this tale is true or not. If I read it through very carefully I have a suspicion that I should come to the conclusion that it is not. But, unfortunately, I cannot read it through very carefully because, you see, it is not written yet. The image and idea of it clung to me through a great part of my boyhood; I may have dreamt it before I could talk; or told it to myself before I could read; or read it before I could remember. On the whole, however, I am certain that I did not read it. For children have very clear memories about things like that; and of the books of which I was really fond I can still remember not only the shape and bulk and binding, but even the position of the printed words on many of the pages. On the whole, I incline to the opinion that it happened to me before I was born.
G.K. Chesterton from his autobiography:
“… I invented a rudimentary and makeshift mystical theory of my own. It was substantially this; that even mere existence, reduced to its most primary limits, was extraordinary enough to be exciting. Anything was magnificent as compared with nothing… At the backs of our brains, so to speak, there was a forgotten blaze or burst of astonishment at our own existence. The object of the artistic and spiritual life was to dig for this submerged sunrise of wonder; so that a man sitting in a chair might suddenly understand that he was actually alive, and be happy…