Saturday, November 18, 2006

A "Top Ten" Quote....

Sorry to be late again. I hope I didn't mislead anyone into thinking that I had made a top ten list of Chesterton quotes, I only have been thinking of one that would definitely be on that list.

From the essay, "Why I am a Catholic," in Twelve Modern Apostles and Their Creeds (1926) Chesterton says regarding the Church:

"It is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age."

I do not like getting political on a blog like this, but one of the lessons that I think I have learned from politics in the last couple years, and not merely US politics, but from my observations in Eastern Europe as well, is that all of the -isms and all of the many political parties and movements all drag us to some extent into the slavery that Chesterton speaks of here. In order to be an Enlightenment Progressive, one has to hold certain views about human nature and human life. In order to be a Communist, there is another collection of dogmas which one must subscribe to. Each of these -isms and movements are very incomplete, even dated in many ways. These philosophies also force one to either rewrite history, revise data, or simply refuse to acknowledge the existence of facts outside of the worldview of the day.

Ironically, even though contemporary thinking sees religion as being the killer of ideas and freethought, the opposite does seem to be the observable case. Particularly in the area of studying history and the influence of ideas through history, I find that the Christian has much more ease and comfort than the unbeliever, or rather the believer in an unnamed -ism. The Christian's moral sense is fully capable of condemning the sinful prelates of the past, as well as the failures and fallings of great men, and the painful junctures in history where different decisions could have altered things for the better.

On the other hand, take a modernist progressive - secular, liberal, atheist. Where the Christian is able to condemn the bad, the modernist is unable to acknowledge the good. The brilliance of Bernard, Albert, and Thomas must be unmentioned and expunged, although science and technology could never have existed without their contribution. Our era of multiculturalism can only condemn the merchant barons of the colonial era, but cannot acknowledge the contributions of a Bartolomeo de las Casas, or a Matteo Ricci.

The longer I read Chesterton and CS Lewis, the more I realize how deep the disease of the dogma of Progress really is. Our advances in technology and computer science have blinded us to how impoverished our thinking and culture has become in so many other areas.

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