James V. Schall, writing in a 1996 issue of the Midwest Chesterton News:
Chapter Seventeen of The Thing (1926, CW, Vol. III, pp. 236-39) is entitled "The Feasts and the Ascetic." It deals with the fact that there is nothing at all contradictory in having a place for both feasts and asceticism in our lives and a philosophic faith that can explain why. Those who dance can also be those who fast; and indeed it would be unnatural were it otherwise. Chesterton's way of putting it is, as always, apt: "a man who overeats himself on Christmas Eve ... has no appetite on Christmas Day." Indeed, as I read all the advertisements about dieting and slimming, it sometimes appears that the modern non-Christian world has replaced the fastings that used to be proposed to be seasonal, say Advent or Lent, with fasting that is permanent, and increasingly, if I read the signs of the times, obligatory and to be enforced by civil law. What used to be a personal excess is quickly becoming a civil crime. I am thinking of smoking, but hamburgers will be next. And what used to be crimes and horrors -- I think of abortions and mercy-killings -- are now proposed as civil rights.
Introduction to "A Christmas Carol"
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