The legend of this blog is this: “I am starting a revolution; I am reforming the line.” Chesterton says that we are, as Christians, part of an eternal revolution. We are concerned about what the form of things were so that we may bring what is broken back to that form that it was. That is the essence of reform. Today’s quote comes from The Eternal Revolution and it speaks to the coming election of the leader of this country. We are not a monarchy so we cannot leave off simply praying for the king; we must choose him as well. We must decide according to our conscience what person has themselves, a good and working conscience. We must be able to trust them with the best interest of this country.
Conscience is a tricky thing; it can become seared. Napoleon once observed that he too looked to his conscience for everything and found it not troubled. It is why we all benefit when we examine our conscience often rather than relying only on its present actions. Going back to the Founding Fathers of this nation, we can ground ourselves in the mindset of what those men were concerned about happening in regard to leadership and undue influence in our country’s environment and why they were doing their utmost to try and prevent those problems.
There are no new problems. Only old problems being made by new people. (A nod to Muggeridge.) And so when it comes to this country’s leadership, we are bound to look at how a person has conducted themselves in life, for that is what they will do to others. And we must look not just at how they will treat us in good times, but in bad times as well. It reminds us why the Church has a duty to society in this case to remind all of St. Paul’s warning :
If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6: 8-10
Recall Jesus words about the rich which history has found unfailingly true. Chesterton echos his words here:
“Only the Christian Church can offer any rational objection to a complete confidence in the rich. For she has maintained from the beginning that the danger was not in man’s environment, but in man. Further, she has maintained that if we come to talk of a dangerous environment, the most dangerous environment of all is the commodious environment. I know that the most modern manufacture has been really occupied in trying to produce an abnormally large needle. I know that the most recent biologists have been chiefly anxious to discover a very small camel. But if we diminish the camel to his smallest, or open the eye of the needle to its largest — if, in short, we assume the words of Christ to have meant the very least that they could mean, His words must at the very least mean this — that rich men are not very likely to be morally trustworthy. Christianity even when watered down is hot enough to boil all modern society to rags. The mere minimum of the Church would be a deadly ultimatum to the world. For the whole modern world is absolutely based on the assumption, not that the rich are necessary (which is tenable), but that the rich are trustworthy, which (for a Christian) is not tenable. You will hear everlastingly, in all discussions about newspapers, companies, aristocracies, or party politics, this argument that the rich man cannot be bribed. The fact is, of course, that the rich man is bribed; he has been bribed already. That is why he is a rich man. The whole case for Christianity is that a man who is dependent upon the luxuries of this life is a corrupt man, spiritually corrupt, politically corrupt, financially corrupt. There is one thing that Christ and all the Christian saints have said with a sort of savage monotony. They have said simply that to be rich is to be in peculiar danger of moral wreck. It is not demonstrably un- Christian to kill the rich as violators of definable justice. It is not demonstrably un-Christian to crown the rich as convenient rulers of society. It is not certainly un-Christian to rebel against the rich or to submit to the rich. But it is quite certainly un-Christian to trust the rich, to regard the rich as more morally safe than the poor.”
-G. K. Chesterton, The Eternal Revolution, Orthodoxy, 1908