My Thoughts

Before my eyes there is a handsome window; outside that window stands a tree. It is a nice enough tree as most trees are generally well-behaved in the manner much becoming their kith and kin. It reminds me of Alfred Joyce Kilmer’s rhyme, “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.” How true but now so long forgotten, except perhaps by foolish gods who would reject such verse as nonsense. Only God can make a tree; only God made you and me.

Such beauty ought never be hidden behind cheap linen; a window should be gowned to its purpose. God made trees and men, no two the same, though, whether tree or man, much the same; every tree a tree, every man a man; none less or more a creation than another. It is the same for all which God has made. Why is it some refuse to admire the wonder and the miracle? Why is it some play Truth the fool, refusing to admit they are of divine creation, not divine? Why is it some hate beauty for its beauty, hate good for its goodness, hate God because they are not?

Why is it some pretend god, pretending goodness with evil in their hearts, pretending creative power by destroying all that God and man have made? Perhaps it is the same pretension as Lucifer pretending to be what he was clearly not; in the end he was beaten, driven out of heaven by angels to plague man’s heart with hatred, to darken man’s soul through sin, to empty man of all thought of the One who created both man and angel.

The mantra of the day is science, gods forbid the humanities. Science and its specificities must prove success, through thoroughly randomized peer-reviewed studies; generalized theories, philosophies, and theologies must be contemned for lack of probative precision. What progressives and anarchists hum with maddening regularity is “so obviously ultimately hopeless, of using science to promote morality.”

Blasphemy is an artistic effect, because blasphemy depends upon a philosophical conviction. Blasphemy depends upon belief, and is fading with it. If any one doubts this, let him sit down seriously and try to think blasphemous thoughts about Thor. I think his family will find him at the end of the day in a state of some exhaustion.

Neither in the world of politics nor that of literature, then, has the rejection of general theories proved a success. It may be that there have been many moonstruck and misleading ideals that have from time to time perplexed mankind. But assuredly there has been no ideal in practice so moonstruck and misleading as the ideal of practicality. Nothing has lost so many opportunities as the opportunism of Lord Rosebery. He is, indeed, a standing symbol of this epoch—the man who is theoretically a practical man, and practically more unpractical than any theorist. Nothing in this universe is so unwise as that kind of worship of worldly wisdom. A man who is perpetually thinking of whether this race or that race is strong, of whether this cause or that cause is promising, is the man who will never believe in anything long enough to make it succeed. The opportunist politician is like a man who should abandon billiards because he was beaten at billiards, and abandon golf because he was beaten at golf. There is nothing which is so weak for working purposes as this enormous importance attached to immediate victory. There is nothing that fails like success. ~G.K. Chesterton, Introductory Remarks, Heretics (1905)

We have grown accustomed to the good life without bothering to understand what is meant by a good life. We have become slaves to instant gratification without any notion of gratitude. We demand but know not what we need or want or if we need or want anything worth having. We have surrendered our morality and our ideals to the vagaries of human desire; this inevitably has left us with a problem.

All I venture to point out, with an increased firmness, is that this omission, good or bad, does leave us face to face with the problem of a human consciousness filled with very definite images of evil, and with no definite image of good. To us light must be henceforth the dark thing—the thing of which we cannot speak. … The human race, according to religion, fell once, and in falling gained the knowledge of good and of evil. Now we have fallen a second time, and only the knowledge of evil remains to us.”

All previous ages have sweated and been crucified in an attempt to realize what is really the right life, what was really the good man. A definite part of the modern world has come beyond question to the conclusion that there is no answer to these questions, that the most that we can do is to set up a few notice-boards at places of obvious danger, to warn men, for instance, against drinking themselves to death, or ignoring the mere existence of their neighbors.

Every one of the popular modern phrases and ideals is a dodge in order to shirk the problem of what is good. We are fond of talking about “liberty”; that, as we talk of it, is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about “progress”; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about “education”; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. The modern man says, “Let us leave all these arbitrary standards and embrace liberty.” This is, logically rendered, “Let us not decide what is good, but let it be considered good not to decide it.” He says, “Away with your old moral formulae; I am for progress.” This, logically stated, means, “Let us not settle what is good; but let us settle whether we are getting more of it.” He says, “Neither in religion nor morality, my friend, lie the hopes of the race, but in education.” This, clearly expressed, means, “We cannot decide what is good, but let us give it to our children.” ~G.K. Chesterton, On the Negative Spirit, Heretics (1905), 12-13.

Anyone who would inquire as to what Chesterton would write of current matters need only read Chesterton; he has already written on such matters. Wake up America!

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

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: 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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