My Thoughts

Those who know me also know I have a bona fide, long-standing love and respect for the works of G.K. Chesterton. As George Bernard Shaw would note, Chesterton was a “colossal genius.” Chesterton and Shaw were famous friends (Chesterton referred to Shaw as his “friendly enemy”) and both thoroughly enjoyed their arguments and discussions. Although rarely in agreement, they both maintained good-will towards and respect for each other. However, in his writing, Chesterton expressed himself very plainly on where they differed and why. In Heretics he wrote:

After belabouring a great many people for a great many years for being unprogressive, Mr. Shaw has discovered, with characteristic sense, that it is very doubtful whether any existing human being with two legs can be progressive at all. Having come to doubt whether humanity can be combined with progress, most people, easily pleased, would have elected to abandon progress and remain with humanity. Mr. Shaw, not being easily pleased, decides to throw over humanity with all its limitations and go in for progress for its own sake. If man, as we know him, is incapable of the philosophy of progress, Mr. Shaw asks, not for a new kind of philosophy, but for a new kind of man. It is rather as if a nurse had tried a rather bitter food for some years on a baby, and on discovering that it was not suitable, should not throw away the food and ask for a new food, but throw the baby out of window, and ask for a new baby.

Shaw represented the new school of thought, humanism, which was rising at the time. Chesterton’s views, on the other hand, became increasingly more focused towards the church. In Orthodoxy he wrote:

The worship of will is the negation of will. … If Mr. Bernard Shaw comes up to me and says, ‘Will something,’ that is tantamount to saying, ‘I do not mind what you will,’ and that is tantamount to saying, “I have no will in the matter.” You cannot admire will in general, because the essence of will is that it is particular.

Some might call them “strange bedfellows,” indeed. Nowadays, many if not most would find it difficult if not impossible to imagine such an odd friendship between two people who see the world so differently. And yet, such congeniality used to be the norm, what was expected of us, we believed it was in our true human nature.

I am reminded of a beautiful story, a true story, not one based on conjecture or imagination, but one that actually occurred. What is most amazing is this story exemplifies our true nature in the context of politics and the relationship between Republican president Ronald Reagan and Democrat Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. Polar opposites politically, yet they did not allow political differences to define their relationship. Once Reagan confronted O’Neill about some nasty things said in the newspaper, and O’Neil replied, “That’s just politics, after 6 o’clock we’re buddies–we’re friends.” And that is exactly what they were–frequently going out after work and simply having a beer together, and after Ronald Reagan was shot, the first person to come and visit him was Tip O’Neill. When some of their meetings would get a little heated, Reagan would visibly set his watch to 6 o’clock as a frolicsome reminder of their true identity in friendship.

We may not agree but we can all be friends. After all, its “after 6 o’clock” somewhere.

Just my thoughts for a Tuesday, for what it is worth.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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