The Rights of Men

THE thing behind Bolshevism and many other modern things is a new doubt. It is not merely a doubt about God; it is rather specially a doubt about Man. The old morality, the Christian religion, the Catholic Church, differed from all this new mentality because it really believed in the rights of men. That is, it believed that ordinary men were clothed with powers and privileges and a kind of authority. Thus the ordinary man had a right to deal with dead matter, up to a given point; that is the right of property. Thus the ordinary man had a right to rule the other animals within reason; that is the objection to vegetarianism and many other things. The ordinary man had a right to judge about his own health, and what risks he would take with the ordinary things of his environment; that is the objection to Prohibition and many other things. The ordinary man had a right to judge of his children’s health, and generally to bring up children to the best of his ability; that is the objection to many interpretations of modern State education. Now in these primary things in which the old religion trusted a man, the new philosophy utterly distrusts a man. It insists that he must be a very rare sort of man to have any rights in these matters; and when he is the rare sort, he has the right to rule others even more than himself.

~G.K. Chesterton: ‘The Outline of Sanity.’

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The Other Side

THE WIND is up above the world before a twig on the tree has moved. So there must always be a battle in the sky before there is a battle on the earth. Since it is lawful to pray for the coming of the kingdom, it is lawful also to pray for the coming of the revolution that shall restore the kingdom. It is lawful to hope to hear the wind of Heaven in the trees. It is lawful to pray ‘Thine anger come on earth as it is in Heaven’.

~G.K. Chesterton: “The Wind and the Trees”

Where He Is

“Observe this in our Lord’s dealings with men; He always takes a man where he is. He does not begin telling him things that he is incapable of understanding. There lay in the heart of Jesus a whole eternity of living truth which was incomprehensible and is incomprehensible to opinions generally. Some of us, when we try to teach men, very foolishly try to impress upon them things they are incapable of seeing and understanding. We have to take them where they are. Jesus began to question the young man; not that He didn’t know, but He must bring about a conscious unity of thought between the young man and Himself.”

(Report of George MacDonald’s sermon on Jesus and the rich young man, given in America; Newark, NJ.)

Self-government for Men

The things we vote on are very seldom the things we see and smell and eat and drink and do. These are more and more controlled by vast and vague central forces, at once autocratic and anonymous. This is the real modern problem, which has nothing to do with utopias; and until it is solved there will be a real satire in self-government for men who are invited to govern everything except themselves.

– GK Chesterton

More, Not Less

“Ah, reader! It may be your cloud has not passed, and you scorn to hear it called one, priding yourself that your trouble is eternal. But just because you are eternal, your trouble cannot be. You may cling to it, and brood over it, but you cannot keep it from either blossoming into a bliss, or crumbling to dust. Be such while it lasts, that, when it passes, it shall leave you loving more, not less.”

— George MacDonald, Castle Warlock