as a placeholder until we get to discussing this finale to Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, we here begin with the finale. His mention of mirth reminds me of the description of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings:
Thus Aragorn became at last the most hardy of living Men, skilled in their crafts and lore, and was yet more than they; for he was elvenwise, and there was a light in his eyes that when they were kindled few could endure. His face was sad and stern because of the doom that was laid on him, and yet hope dwelt ever in the depths of his heart, from which mirth would arise at times like a spring from the rock. Return of the King, Appendix A.5,
ok, back, or down, to business:
“I do not think there are two institutions in the universe which contradict each other so flatly as Buddhism and Christianity. Even when I thought, with most other well-informed, though unscholarly, people, that Buddhism and Christianity were alike, there was one thing about them that always perplexed me; I mean the startling difference in their type of religious art… a Christian saint in a gothic cathedral and a Buddhist saint in a CHinese temple. The opposition exists at every point; but perhaps the shortest statement of it is that the Buddhist saint always has his eyes shut while the Christian saint always has them very wide open…
A man may be said loosely to love himself, but he can hardly fall in love with himself, or, if he does, it must be a monotonous relationship. If the world is full of real selves, they can be really unselfish selves. But upon Mrs. Besant’s principle [?] the whole cosmos is only one enormously selfish person.
It is just here that Buddhism is on the side of modern pantheism and immanence. And it is just here that Christianity is on the side of humanity and liberty and love. Love desires personality; therefore love desires division. Itis the instinct of Christianity to be glad that God has broken the universe into little pieces, because they are living pieces. It is her instinct to say ‘little children love one another’ rather than to tell one large person to love himself.”
In ‘Songs before Sunrise,’ written under the inspiration of Garibaldi and the revolt of Italy he proclaimed the newer religion and the purer God which should wither up all the priests of the world:
What doest thou now / Looking Godward to cry / I am I, thou art thou / I am low, thou art high, / I am thou that thou seekest to find him, find thou but thyself , thou art I”
of which the immediate and evident destruction is that tyrants are as much the sons of God as Garibaldis; and that the King Bomba of the Naples having, with utmost success, ‘found himself’ is identical with the ultimate good in all things. The truth is that the Western energy that dethrones tyrants has been directly due to the western theology that says ‘I am I, thou art thou.’ The same spiritual separation which looked up and saw a good king in the universe looked up and saw a bad king in Naples. The worshippers of Bomba’s god dethroned Bomba …
By insisting specially on the immanence of God, we get introspection, self-isolation, quietism, social indifference – Tibet. By insisting specially on the transcendence of God we get wonder, curiosity, moral and political adventure, righteous indignation – Christendom. Insisting that ‘god is inside man, man is always inside himself. By insisting that God transcends man, man has transcended himself.
“And as I close this chaotic volume I open again the strange small book from which all Christianity came; and I am again haunted by a kind of confirmation. The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet He restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.”
<RZIM MOMENT #3>