My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

17 April 2005

Sundays with GK

What is restful enough for the Lord's Day? I like reading Chesterton; he makes me laugh and think at the same time, which may be the best way of doing both. Here are some great quotes from the end of Chesterton's Heretics:

In speaking of the modern denigration of convictions (often confused w/bigotry):

Bigotry may be roughly defined as the anger of men who have no opinions...Bigotry may be called the appalling frenzy of the indifferent...Bigotry in the main has always been the pervading omnipotence of those who do not care crushing out those who care in darkness and blood.

Comparing bigotry with fanaticism (vs. those who decry ideas because "ideas are dangerous"):

Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the man of ideas. He is acquainted with ideas and moves among them like a lion-tamer. Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas. The man of no ideas will find the first idea fly to his head like wine to the head of a teetotaller.

Ha. Would that all college students (and all of us, I suppose) commit to being men and women of ideas before the wine of stupid ideas infects their heads - this gets at the simpleton's tendency to follow anyone with a "vision":

Many, for example, avowedly followed Cecil Rhodes because he had a vision. They might as well have followed him because he had a nose...People say of such a figure, in almost feverish whispers, "He knows his own mind," which is exactly like saying in equally feverish whispers, "He blows his own nose."

Religious and philosophical beliefs are, indeed, as dangerous as fire, and nothing can take from them that beauty of danger. But there is only one way of really guarding ourselves against the excessive danger of them [ideas], and that is to be steeped in philosophy and soaked in religion.

Briefly, then, we dismiss the two opposite dangers of bigotry and fanaticism, bigotry which is too great vagueness and fanaticism which is a too great concentration. We say that the cure for the bigot is belief; we say that the cure for the idealist is ideas. To know the best theories of existence and to choose the best from them...appears to us the proper way to be neither bigot nor fanatic, but something more firm than a bigot and more terrible than a fanatic, a man with a definite opinion.

I want to be more terrible than a fanatic and more firm than a bigot. I want to be a lion-tamer among ideas, using only the whip of revelation and the chair of the mind of Christ.

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