IN CONSTANT DANGER OF FORGETTING

Because Chesterton will help you remember everything that we are in constant danger of forgetting.

Today we are going to start what we hope becomes a new category for Reforming the Line: Featured Chesterton Writer.

Our Featured Chesterton Writer today is The Irish Papist. The following was taken from a talk given in 2015:

And so, my appeal to anyone who hasn’t done so already, or even anybody who has, is “read Chesterton”. Read Orthodoxy. Read the Everlasting Man. Read St. Francis of Assissi. Read the biography of Charles Dickens, even if you haven’t the slightest interest in Charles Dickens. Read his book on St. Thomas Aquinas, even if don’t care for philosophy, or think you don’t care for philosophy. Read the Autobiography—actually, that might be the best place to start. Read What’s Wrong with the World. Read all of them, and then read more Chesterton, because Chesterton will help you remember everything that we are in constant danger of forgetting. And the more people read Chesterton, the more chance there is that our modern world will remember everything that it is has all but forgotten, and will come out of the cloud of cynicism and apathy and irony and alienation that has engulfed it so long. So read Chesterton, and remember that you are alive.

If there was any time that we needed to remember that we are alive, not dead and going along with the flow, it is now:

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

The Everlasting Man (1925)

Yes, those who have not been brought to life are dead. (Ephesians 2) They don’t know who or what they are following. But the Christian, has, thanks be to God, the Christ, who is “the way, the truth and the life”, who is “the same today, yesterday and forever” to follow and keep sane.

“In short, the whole world being divided about whether the stream was going slower or faster, became conscious of something vague but vast that was going against the stream. Both in fact and figure there is something deeply disturbing about this, and that for an essential reason. A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it. A dead dog can be lifted on the leaping water with all the swiftness of a leaping hound; but only a live dog can swim backwards. A paper boat can ride the rising deluge with all the airy arrogance of a fairy ship, but if the fairy ship sails up stream it is really rowed by the fairies. And among the things that merely went with the tide of apparent progress and enlargement there was many a demagogue or sophist whose wild gestures were in truth as lifeless as the movement of a dead dog’s limbs wavering in the eddying water; and many a philosophy uncommonly like a paper boat, of the sort that it is not difficult to knock into a cocked hat. But even the truly living and even life-giving things that went with that stream did not thereby prove that they were living or life-giving. It was this other force that was unquestionably and unaccountably alive; the mysterious and unmeasured energy that was thrusting back the river. That was felt to be like the movement of some great monster; and it was none the less clearly a living monster because most people thought it a prehistoric monster. It was none the less an unnatural, an incongruous, and to some a comic upheaval; as if the Great Sea Serpent had suddenly risen out of the Round Pond–unless we consider the Sea Serpent as more likely to live in the Serpentine. This flippant element in the fantasy must not be missed, for it was one of the clearest testimonies to the unexpected nature of the reversal. That age did really feel that a preposterous quality in prehistoric animals belonged also to historic rituals; that mitres and tiaras were like the horns or crests of antediluvian creatures; and that appealing to a Primitive Church was like dressing up as a Primitive Man.The world is still puzzled by that movement; but most of all because it still moves. I have said something elsewhere of the rather random sort of reproaches that are still directed against it and its much greater consequences; it is enough to say here that the more such critics reproach it the less they explain it.”

Enjoy reading this talk The Wonder of Chesterton by our Featured Chesterton writer.

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