07 June 2013

as terrible as an army with banners

I confess: I'm not a big fan of Chesterton. (GASP!) I know, I know. . .50 lashes and no dessert for a week.  

I find his style just a tad. . .what?. . .contrived? The rapid-fire parallelisms, the easy rotations of adjectives to make a cute point: "It's not that X is Y, but Y is X."

I dunno. Whatever IT is, it isn't found in the quotation below, a quotation from his famous book, Orthodoxy

Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards, to behold with astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain. The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer light, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, terrible as an army with banners. 

Here he's offering a critique of Stoicism, a philosophy that could seduce me so easily. . .being an Introvert and all.  He urges Modern Man to worship anything but his Inner Light b/c worshiping the Inner Light too quickly becomes Self worship. If you can't/won't worship the Lord your God, then worship cats or crocodiles. . .anything but one's Inner Light.

Oh. Why am I posting this quotation?  It will very likely appear in this Sunday's homily.

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  1. You are one of the most extroverted introverts that I know. And Chesterton knows whereof he speaks.

    1. I am very good at faking extroversion. . .for about an hour.

  2. Indeed, Chesterton may exaggerate his gyrations, but he was just imitating the master of gyrations: St. Augustine.

  3. Chesterton's writing is certainly contrived -- though as he once wrote to defend himself from charges of writing for effect, "What the devil else shall writers write for? Effectlessness?"

    One might say his cleverness at times obscured his wisdom, but that might be mistaken for a paradox, and one of Chesterton's least attractive legacies is a troop of devotees who conflate paradox and wisdom -- and, for that matter, conflate paradox and statements that contrast two vaguely similar notions.