Clear Thinking in the Melee

We have gotten to that stage in the battle where the forces have fully joined, and there is no longer -- properly speaking -- a front. We do not have a distinguishable line anymore. It is more like a melee, with different colored uniforms everywhere. And this is why every topic has been swept up into the conflict. Where can you go where the ruling elites will agree to leave you alone? Can you change a light bulb? Can you fry up some bacon? Can you decline joining in the mandatory celebrations of a same sex mirage? Can you keep your doctor? Are you allowed use plastic bags? Chesterton said somewhere that our task is to fly the flag of the world -- and we should know that this is something that is certain to bring us into conflict with the world. We affirm a fundamental creational loyalty to the world, and constantly thwart the world's desire to become disloyal to itself. This is why it is good to be earthy, and bad to be worldly. Worldliness is just a clever way of deserting the … [Read more...]

A Great Aphorism

One of the reasons why Chesterton is such an encouragement to us is that he understands the role of imagination. This is not the same thing as understanding imagination itself -- for no man understands that -- but Chesterton does understand the important role that imagination must play. He understands it, and he practices what he understands. So when Napoleon said that imagination rules the world -- a great aphorism if ever there was one -- he was simply giving us some material to work with. In what senses might this be true? In what senses might we get all tangled up in what we falsely think of as imagination? … [Read more...]

Lunatic Wars, Lunatic Lusts

Chesterton says that loving and fighting go together. "To love a thing without wishing to fight for it is not love at all; it is lust." "He knows that loving the world is the same thing as fighting the world" (Appreciation and Criticism of the Works of Charles Dickens). Chesterton rejects the silliness of today's philosophers who want to separate loving and fighting, putting them into separate camps. This is well represented by the glib placard of the sixties, urging us to make love, not war. This false juxtaposition is trying to hide the fact that it is always both. Either you make love indiscriminately, and make war on the resultant offspring, or you make love to one woman for life and fight to protect her and the children you have fathered. If you determine that it is too militant to fight in the latter way, then the love you have chosen in the former way is simply lust. And we can see that this is how it is unfolding in the West. Lunatic wars and lunatic lusts go together. … [Read more...]

The Crucifixion of Coercion

"Pessimism is not in being tired of evil but in being tired of good. Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy. It is when for some reason or other the good things in a society no longer work that the society begins to decline; when its food does not feed, when its cures do not cure, when its blessings refuse to bless" (Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, p. 153). Girard calls this social condition a time of sacrificial crisis. Nothing coheres, nothing tastes. One of the reasons societies in this state (as we very much are) start to disintegrate is that while drumbeat demands for deeper and greater sacrifice come more rapidly, and are insistently louder, the law of diminishing returns has kicked in. And generally the resultant hue and cry that is set up calling for shared sacrifice, or increased sacrifice, or deeper sacrifice, is a cry that is lifted up by someone clever enough to want to get in front of the mob. When crowds are calling for sacrifice, … [Read more...]

Chesterton Himself

Chesterton once said, speaking of those who accommodate themselves to the trend of the times, that "at its worst it consists of many millions of frightened creatures all accommodating themselves to a trend that is not there." It is not that hard to spook a herd. The trend is that things are trending. The buffalo set up a self-authenticating feedback loop, and the plan of action seems obvious to them all, and remains such, right over the cliff. But there are contrarians who don't think matters through any more than the stampeders do -- and it doesn't much matter what the fad in question is. It might be iPhones, or N.T. Wright fan clubs, or the election of a welterweight like Obama, or a Taylor Swift concert. There are contrarians who are accidentially right when the herd is accidentally wrong, or accidentally wrong when the herd is accidentally right. That's no good either. We need thoughtful contrarians -- when the house of immovability is built on the foundation of pigheadedness, … [Read more...]