Friday, September 21, 2012

Halo of hatred

Last night I wanted to read something that I haven't picked up in a long time, and so I sorted through the section of "classics" in my library and found a book by G. K. Chesterton called The Everlasting Man, which, if I recall correctly, C. S. Lewis said was one of the most profoundly influential pieces of Christian literature he had ever read. As I finished reading one chapter before bed, the words posted below stood out to me as being so powerful, that I couldn't resist posting them. Hopefully this will spark some more interest in the works of Chesterton. In The Everlasting Man, he writes:
...Atheism is abnormality. It is not merely the denial of a dogma. It is the reversal of a subconscious assumption in the soul; the sense that there is a meaning and a direction in the world it sees. Lucretius, the first evolutionist who endeavored to substitute Evolution for God, had already dangled before men's eyes his dance of glittering atoms, by which he conceived cosmos as created by chaos. But it was not his strong poetry or his sad philosophy, as I fancy, that made it possible for men to entertain such a vision. It was something in the sense of impotence and despair with which men shook their fists vainly at the stars, as they saw all the best work of humanity sinking slowly and helplessly into a swamp. They could easily believe that even creation itself was not a creation but a perpetual fall, when they saw that the weightiest and worthiest of all human creations was falling by its own weight. They could fancy that all the stars were falling stars; and that the very pillars of their own solemn porticos were bowed under a sort of gradual Deluge. To men in that mood there was a reason for atheism that is in some sense reasonable. Mythology might fade and philosophy might stiffen; but if behind these things there was a reality, surely that reality might have sustained things as they sank. There was no God; if there had been a God, surely this was the very moment when He would have moved and saved the world... 
It was the end of the world, and the worst of it was that it need never end... 
Nobody yet knows very clearly why that level world has thus lost its balance about the people in its midst; but they stand unnaturally still while the arena and the world seem to revolve round them. And there shone on them in that dark hour a light that has never been darkened; a white fire clinging to that group like an unearthly phosphorescence, blazing its track through the twilights of history and confounding every effort to confound it with the mists of mythology and theory; that shaft of life or lightning by which the world itself has struck and isolated and crowned it; by which its own enemies have made it more illustrious and its own critics have made it more inexplicable; the halo of hatred around the Church of God.1

1. G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man [Ignatius Press: San Francisco, CA; 2008; original edition published in 1925] pp. 162-165

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