Hypothetical Inklings 2.0 – G.K. Chesterton

Posted: 06/24/2011 in Introductions, Things I’ll Probably Plagiarize, Worth Checking Out
Tags: , ,

There is a group of friends that I grab dinner with every Monday/Tuesday night. It is a standing appointment that I love. They are some of the dearest people in my life and I love when we talk about what God is doing in our lives.

We are not the first to have standing appointments with friends. Years ago, every Thursday evening in at Magdalen College in Oxford, England, and Tuesdays for lunch at the Eagle and Child public house, J.R.R. Tolkien joined C. S. Lewis and a revolving cast would meet.

Over tea—or ale—and pipes, these Oxford thinkers and writers read aloud from their works, traded anecdotes and jibes, and engaged in what Lewis called “the cut and parry of prolonged, fierce, masculine argument.” It is where many a manuscript was tested and tried and where the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia met their first critics/fans.

While I would love to sit down with any of the people in that group, to create a hypothetical Inklings list, of which I, oh so presumptuously, would love to be a part, I feel that the group must be “hand-selected.” (Okay, in my mind this didn’t sound quite so ego-centric. It was mainly a list of authors I would love to have the weekly excuse to get together with, grab something to drink, and talk.

The first person on this hypothetical list:

G.K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton

ENGLAND (May 29, 1874 – June 14, 1936)

As I started writing this I began to wonder how I was going to explain why I like G.K. Chesterton so much. On the fly I would say that I was initially attracted  and amazed by the vitality and presence of worship of who God is that permeates Chesterton’s writing. In addition to this, he was known as the “prince of paradox,” pointing out truths that at first glance seemed strange or counter-intuitive, but I love how they encourage me to look at the world around me with a freshness and a sharpness that is often missing.  What I probably love the most is within this deep thought and weighty logic  and clever perspective, it is always seasoned with mirth and delight and wonder.

For example:

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him,
but because he loves what is behind him.” 

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies;
probably because generally they are the same people.”

“The word “good” has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.” 

“I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.” 

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” 

I think I would need a note pad sitting and talking to “Mr. Chesterton,” or “My-good-man-Gilbert” as I would eventually call him,  and a great deal of it I would have an overwhelming temptation to plagiarize. What introduced me to this writer was listening to an audio book with a my good friend Adam on a car trip one day. We were listening to “Orthodoxy” by G.K. Chesterton. When he announced that was what we were listening to, I at once assumed it was going to be dry and all but inaccessible… I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Excerpt from Orthodoxy – The Ethics of Elfland

All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork.

People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance.

This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstasy of his life would have the stillness of death.

The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction.

Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.

The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.

It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE.

  1. Mom says:

    Sweet! Do it again! I never tire of your entries, Michael. They are always an encouragement.

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