Wednesday, August 22, 2012

About God...

From a letter by G K Chesterton to his wife, Frances, after a friend of hers attacked the poem The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam:

The most efficient way possible of making a mixed and dubious book do harm is to attack it indiscriminately.  You would fall very foul of the unscrupulous parent who says to a child that a cake should not be eaten because it is quite nasty, when it isn't.  But that is just what is done by the moralist who tries to bully the 'young pessimist' out of his appreciation of the rich humour, the stately pathos, the wrong-headed comradeship and laughing humility of the quatrains of Omar. The decadent knows the moralist is humbugging, just as the child does, and the result in the case of the book or cake is likely enough to be - that 'stolen waters are sweet and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.'  The only sensible thing for morality to do is to take the high hand, to be calm, sane, judicial, discriminating: to take the good and leave the evil: to extract even from the most poisonous plants just that amount which is medicinal.
Virtue should trust herself anywhere and in any company - and possibly among many of her own acolytes, among inquisitors and Pharisees, spies on the soul, conductors of private Days of Judgement and maniacs of the letter of the law, she may constantly find herself in much worse company than that of the poor old man who eight hundred years ago sat nodding over his wine.

The above is quoted in Maisie Ward's Return to Chesterton.  She adds some more about Chesterton and his 'philosophy'.  

But here, as later with Shaw, Wells and the rest, he was ready to attack the parts of the philosophy he disapproved and at the same time to search out the true and great elements.  In Omar he had discovered the greatest of all, the one essential foundation of any philosophy that should stand.
It has been said that the realisation of God as upholding and sustaining all being is not a matter of 'sanctity but of sanity' [quoted in Gilbert Keith Chesterton pg 43]...He told Frances he was writing constantly 'about God' - and he later described his state of mind in contradiction to the theosophists who thought that 'where there is nothing there is God' as being almost exactly the opposite.  'Where there is anything there is God.'

From Return to Chesterton, by Maisie Ward, pgs 233/4

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