Chesterton Quotes (7): On Facts and Joy

Finished G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy today.  Loved it.  Well worth the time.  Would like to read The Everlasting Man sometime, too – C.S. Lewis called it the best popular apologetic for Christianity he knew – but will probably wait for a while.  The final chapter of Orthodoxy, “Authority and the Adventurer,” outlines Chesterton’s case for Christian doctrines and dogmas, which he claims have not been overturned by modern science and thought.  Here’s a great sample:

My own case for Christianity is rational; but it is not simple. It is an accumulation of varied facts, like the attitude of the ordinary agnostic. But the ordinary agnostic has got his facts all wrong.  He is a non-believer for a multitude of reasons; but they are untrue reasons. He doubts because the Middle Ages were barbaric, but they weren’t; because Darwinism is demonstrated, but it isn’t; because miracles do not happen, but they do; because monks were lazy, but they were very industrious; because nuns are unhappy, but they are particularly cheerful; because Christian art was sad and pale, but it was picked out in peculiarly bright colours and gay with gold; because modern science is moving away from the supernatural, but it isn’t, it is moving towards the supernatural with the rapidity of a railway train.

And here is one more quote from the very end of the book, perhaps my favorite quote from the book, on the centrality of joy in a Christian worldview:

Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labour by which all things live…. The vault above us is not deaf because the universe is an idiot; the silence is not the heartless silence of an endless and aimless world. Rather the silence around us is a small and pitiful stillness like the prompt stillness in a sick-room. We are perhaps permitted tragedy as a sort of merciful comedy: because the frantic energy of divine things would knock us down like a drunken farce. We can take our own tears more lightly than we could take the tremendous levities of the angels. So we sit perhaps in a starry chamber of silence, while the laughter of the heavens is too loud for us to hear.

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