Thursday, November 20, 2008

CHESTERTON: 5 ATTITUDES TOWARD LIFE
The prolific, rotund English journalist posited some assertions worth contemplating

FROM ORTHODOXY. I listened to the audiobook of Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton on my iPod as I rode my bike through India last year. I purchased the audio and hardbound versions of the book based on a chapter about Chesterton in Philip Yancy's book Soul Survivor. While it is must reading, Orthodoxy isn't easy reading or listening. His English sentence structures are sprawling and he seems to go all the way around Robin Hood’s barn to make a point.

5 PRE-CHRISTIAN OBSERVATIONS. About a third of the way through the book, however, Chesterton stops to summarize the impressions that preceded his “discovery” of Christianity. We Wesleyans attribute such leadings and leanings to Prevenient Grace (the grace of God that precedes, prepares, and makes saving grace possible). Chesterton's five observations are significant across generations:

SEEDS OF DOCTRINE. “These are my ultimate attitudes towards life; the soils for the seeds of doctrine. These in some dark way I thought before I could write, and felt before I could think…

1. BEYOND NATURAL EXPLANATION. "I felt in my bones; first, that this world does not explain itself. It may be a miracle with a supernatural explanation; it may be a conjuring trick, with a natural explanation. But the explanation of the conjuring trick, if it is to satisfy me, will have to be better than the natural explanations I have heard. The thing is magic, true or false.”

2. PERSONAL MEANING IN THE WORLD. “Second, I came to feel as if magic must have a meaning, and meaning must have some one to mean it. There was something personal in the world, as in a work of art; whatever it meant it meant violently.”

3. BEAUTY. “Third, I thought this purpose beautiful in its old design, in spite of its defects, such as dragons.”

4. GRATITUDE, RESTRAINT, OBEDIENCE. “Fourth, that the proper form of thanks to it is in some form of humility and restraint: we should thank God for beer and Burgundy by not drinking too much of them. We owed, also, an obedience to whatever made us.”

5. GOOD A REMNANT OF SOME PRIMORDIAL RUIN. “And last, and strangest, there had come into my mind a vague and vast impression that in some way all good was a remnant to be stored and held sacred out of some primordial ruin. Man had saved his good as Crusoe had saved his goods: he had saved them from a wreck.”

IN SPITE OF THE ZEITGEIST. “All this I felt and the age gave me no encouragement to feel it. And all this time I had not even thought of Christian theology.”


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