Love is Life

“But love is life. To die of love is then

The only pass to higher life than this.

All love is death to loving, living men;

All deaths are leaps across clefts to the abyss.

Our life is the broken current, Lord, of thine,

Flashing from morn to morn with conscious shine—

Then first by willing death self-made, then life divine.”

Excerpt From

A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of an Old Soul

George MacDonald

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Re: Good Argument, with Chesterton

“All good argument consists in beginning with the indisputable thing and then disputing everything else in the light of it.”

Instead of

“Because the tramp is dishonest, he must somehow be secretly fat.”


This is the essential idea, that all good argument consists in beginning with the indisputable thing and then disputing everything else in the light of it. It is of great working value in many modern discussions, if its general principle is understood. First of all, of course, one must leave out the element of the supernatural or the element of the insane. The element of the supernatural in practical affairs has always been regarded (even by those who most strongly believed in it) as exceptional. If a miracle is not exceptional, it is not even miraculous. Nobody was ever taught by any sane creed to count upon or expect anything but the natural. To put the point briefly, we are commanded to put our faith in miracles, but not to put our trust in them. The other alternative of mania or some mental breakdown must also be allowed for. If we have been seriously assured that there are no snakes in Iceland and in spite of that we see snakes in Iceland, it is always reasonable to ask ourselves if our past life has pointed towards “D.T.” (Delirium Tremens) But supposing that those two abnormalities, the mystery that is above humanity and the madness that is below it, are fairly and honestly out of the question, then the right line of argument certainly is that seeing is believing and that the things we have experienced are true in quite another and more pungent sense than the things into which we can merely be argued. If I am sitting opposite my aunt in Croydon, a telegram may come from her in Highgate, a newspaper may announce that she is taking part in a Highgate Pageant, an expert may prove that it was impossible for her to have reached Croydon in the time, a statistician may say that he has counted all the aunts in Highgate, and there is not one missing; but all these facts are facts of a secondary degree of evidence. They have the expert, but I have the aunt. Unless my aunt is a devil, or I am a lunatic, I have possession of the primary fact in the discussion.

I have already said that this very plain principle of thought is useful in connection with many current problems. Take, for example, the problem of the Unemployed. It is very common to meet a prosperous gentleman who will point to a seedy and half-starved loafer in the street, and say: “This unemployment business is all bosh: I offered that man work the other day, and he wouldn’t take it.” Now, this may possibly be true; but it is always used in order to disprove the idea that the man is miserable. But to disprove that is simply to disprove the one thing that is proved. You have only to look at the man to say that, for some reason, by somebody’s fault, or nobody’s fault, he has not eaten enough to be a man, or even to be an animal. That he refused work is a curious circumstance, to be reconciled, if possible, with the palpable fact that he wants money. He may have refused it because he is half-witted, or because fatigue has killed all power of choice, or because wrong has moved him to an irrational anger, or because he is a saint, or because he is a maniac, or because he is terrorised by a secret society, or because he has a peculiar religion which forbids him to work on Wednesday. But whatever the explanation is, it is not that he is jolly and full of meat and drink; because you can see that he isn’t. His impotence may have this cause or that cause, or the other; but his impotence is no defence of the existing system of wealth and poverty. To use the modern cant, it does not destroy the problem of the unemployed; it only adds to the problem of the unemployable. But our main point here is this: that people ought to begin by the thing that they can see. It may take you twenty years to find whether a man is honest. But it does not take you two seconds to find out that he is thin. The ordinary rich man’s argument is that because the tramp is dishonest, he must somehow be secretly fat. That is the great fallacy. Believe me (I speak as an expert), it is impossible to be fat in secret.


Appreciation of Primary Things

Now a child is the very sign and sacrament of personal freedom. He is a fresh free will added to the wills of the world; he is something that his parents have freely chosen to produce and which they freely agree to protect. They can feel that any amusement he gives (which is often considerable) really comes from him and from them, and from nobody else. He has been born without the intervention of any master or lord. He is a creation and a contribution; he is their own creative contribution to creation. He is also a much more beautiful, wonderful, amusing and astonishing thing than any of the stale stories or jingling jazz tunes turned out by the machines. When men no longer feel that he is so, they have lost the appreciation of primary things, and therefore all sense of proportion about the world. People who prefer the mechanical pleasures, to such a miracle, are jaded and enslaved. They are preferring the very dregs of life to the first fountains of life. They are preferring the last, crooked, indirect, borrowed, repeated and exhausted things of our dying Capitalist civilisation, to the reality which is the only rejuvenation of all civilisation. It is they who are hugging the chains of their old slavery; it is the child who is ready for the new world.

– GK Chesterton, The Well and the Shallows (1935)

Take a God, Reap the Universe

To be right with God is to be right with the universe; one with the power, the love, the will of the mighty Father, the cherisher of joy, the lord of laughter, whose are all glories, all hopes, who loves everything, and hates nothing but selfishness, which he will not have in his kingdom.

Christ then is the Lord of life; his life is the light of men; the light mirrored in them changes them into the image of him, the Truth; and thus the truth, who is the Son, makes them free.

Excerpt From

Unspoken Sermons: Series I., II., and III.

George MacDonald

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The Laying of Treasures

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.–MATT. vi. 19, 20, 21.”

“Many a man, many a woman, fair and flourishing to see, is going about with a rusty moth-eaten heart within that form of strength or beauty.

“But this is only a figure.”

True. But is the reality intended, less or more than the figure? Does not the rust and the moth mean more than disease? And does not the heart mean more than the heart? Does it not mean a deeper heart, the heart of your own self, not of your body? of the self that suffers, not pain, but misery? of the self whose end is not comfort, or enjoyment, but blessedness, yea, ecstasy? a heart which is the inmost chamber wherein springs the divine fountain of your being? a heart which God regards, though you may never have known its existence, not even when its writhings under the gnawing of the moth and the slow fire of the rust have communicated a dull pain to that outer heart which sends the blood to its appointed course through your body? If God sees that heart corroded with the rust of cares, riddled into caverns and films by the worms of ambition and greed, then your heart is as God sees it, for God sees things as they are. And one day you will be compelled to see, nay, to feel your heart as God sees it; and to know that the cankered thing which you have within you, a prey to the vilest of diseases, is indeed the centre of your being, your very heart.

Nor does the lesson apply to those only who worship Mammon, who give their lives, their best energies to the accumulation of wealth: it applies to those equally who in any way worship the transitory; who seek the praise of men more than the praise of God; who would make a show in the world by wealth, by taste, by intellect, by power, by art, by genius of any kind, and so would gather golden opinions to be treasured in a storehouse of earth.

“Nor to such only, but surely to those as well whose pleasures are of a more evidently transitory nature still, such as the pleasures of the senses in every direction–whether lawfully or unlawfully indulged, if the joy of being is centred in them–do these words bear terrible warning. For the hurt lies not in this–that these pleasures are false like the deceptions of magic, for such they are not: pleasures they are; nor yet in this–that they pass away, and leave a fierce disappointment behind: that is only so much the better; but the hurt lies in this–that the immortal, the infinite, created in the image of the everlasting God, is housed with the fading and the corrupting, and clings to them as its good–clings to them till it is infected and interpenetrated with their proper diseases, which assume in it a form more terrible in proportion to the superiority of its kind, that which is mere decay in the one becoming moral vileness in the other, that which fits the one for the dunghill casting the other into the outer darkness; creeps, that it may share with them, into a burrow in the earth, where its budded wings wither and damp and drop away from its shoulders, instead of haunting the open plains and the high-uplifted table-lands, spreading abroad its young pinions to the sun and the air, and strengthening them in further and further flights, till at last they should become strong to bear the God-born into the presence of its Father in Heaven. Therein lies the hurt.”

Excerpt From: MacDonald, George. “Unspoken Sermons: Series I., II., and III.” MobileReference, 2010-06-01 09:24:33.168000-04:00. iBooks.

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