Saturday, July 19, 2014

G. K. Chesterton on Divine Frivolity

Chapter XVI of Heretics – “On Mr. McCabe and a Divine Frivolity”

“If there is one thing more than another which any one will admit who has the smallest knowledge of the world, it is that men are always speaking gravely and earnestly and with the utmost possible care about the things that are not important, but always talking frivolously about the things that are.”

“Numbers of clergymen have from time to time reproached me for making jokes about religion; and they have almost always invoked the authority of that very sensible commandment which says, ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.’ Of course, I pointed out that I was not in any conceivable sense taking the name in vain. To take a thing and make a joke out of it is not to take it in vain. It is, on the contrary, to take it and use it for an uncommonly good object. To use a thing in vain means to use it without use. But a joke may be exceedingly useful; it may contain the whole earthly sense, not to mention the whole heavenly sense, of a situation. … The thing which is fundamentally and really frivolous is not a careless joke. The thing which is fundamentally and really frivolous is a careless solemnity.”

“…paradox simply means a certain defiant joy which belongs to belief. … if Mr. McCabe asks me why I import frivolity into a discussion of the nature of man, I answer, because frivolity is a part of the nature of man. If he asks me why I introduce what he calls paradoxes into a philosophical problem, I answer, because all philosophical problems tend to become paradoxical.”

And this from Orthodoxy

G.K. Chesterton
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

Related reading: The Africa Chesterton Never KnewChesterton on the Value of Detective Stories; Chesterton on Premature Celebrations of ChristmasChesterton on the Kingdom of HeavenWho is Sunday? Who is Thursday?


Anonymous said...

Ms. Linsley, that quote from GCK is great. Thanks for highlighting. I hope you are doing well. Your blog is a wonderful resource. Please keep up the good work. Best, Brent

Alice Linsley said...

How nice to hear from you! You were in my thoughts just this morning. I trust that the Lord is blessing you in your journey.