Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Birthday ...

to me......

34 Years old...Ive been married to one woman, been in 2 wars, had 2 kids, worked in 3 prisons, went to 4 years of college, had 5 cars, and Im stuck for all the numbers after that......

I notice as a look over Chesterton that we often fail to notice how his works do have a very wide timespan, from the dawn of the 20th Century to the eve of World War II. He saw many changes in Britain, in Europe, and the greater world, yet throughout his whole corpus he shows consistent qualities. Change and progress have gone from being simple slogans to now revealing themselves necromantic magic words with the power of changing the path of nations. It is interesting to note that as times change, Chesterton really does not. He develops as an Author and as a human being. His friendships with Belloc and others deepen. Although he does not truly "change", Chesterton stands above his peers as an advocate for liberty, freedom, and democracy throughout the tumultuous times that his career spanned. While those around him jumped from fad to fad, party to party, and movement to movement in search of finding how best to bring progress to mankind, GKC strayed very little from the pillars of orthodoxy and tradition and he outshines all of his now dated contemporaries.

2 comments:

dominic said...

Happy Birthday!

We're almost exactly the same age, give or take a few weeks.

I've often thought this about Chesterton too (I guess it in part is related to and explains his very protracted conversion to Catholicism; and the sense that in many regards his grasp of the faith was mature years before he entered the sacramental life.)

I also think: he died in 1936. What would have happened to his thought if he had lived say 20 years longer (perhaps if, concomitantly, he had been born 20 years later). How would the extremely tumultuous events (far more so even than those of 1914-18) have affected or shaped his worldview? I think he would have been ((continued to be) a trusty warrior against modernist heresies (as perhaps someone like Malcolm Muggeridge later became in his final years), but I wonder how the revelation of mechanised genocide and the atom bomb: tghe things that, above all, led to such, mostly disastrous, upheavals in the immediate post-war decades would have influenced his thought , and what new directions he might have taken in consequence?

Agreed though that his "progressive" contempories (and I guess allude to the likes of Russell or Bernard-Shaw)are indeed those that have aged badly, whereas GK has aged like a fine wine, or the greatest of beers

Anonymous said...

Happy belated birthday!

I don't want to say I'm a whole lot older than you, but when I was born, Eisenhower was still president (just barely).

Chesterton's thought, because it was so prescient, grows more relevant over time, not less.

He wasn't really prescient, of course, just very clear headed. He also possessed, I think, a kind of innocence that allowed him to see things according to their true nature, with fresh eyes, which more fully revealed to him the beauty of good things, and the horror of evil things.

He was a man, and flawed as we all are, but like I've said before, I think he was a saint. There was heroic virtue in the joyful battle he made against the fashionable blasphemies of his day. Then, as now, it was much easier to go along with the Zeitgeist.