The Thought of a Thinker

The letters he has left behind him, have waked but poor ideas in poor minds; for words, if they seem to mean anything, must always seem to mean something within the scope of the mind hearing them. Words cannot convey the thought of a thinker to a no-thinker; of a largely aspiring and self-discontented soul, to a creature satisfied with his poverty, and counting his meagre faculty the human standard. Neither will they readily reveal the mind of one old in thought, to one who has but lately begun to think.

-George MacDonald

ADVENIAT REGNUM TUUM

Not that the widespread wings of wrong brood o’er a moaning earth,

Not from the clinging curse of gold, the random lot of birth;

Not from the misery of the weak, the madness of the strong,

Goes upward from our lips the cry, “How long, oh Lord, how long?”

Not only from the huts of toil, the dens of sin and shame,

From lordly halls and peaceful homes the cry goes up the same;

Deep in the heart of every man, where’er his life be spent,

There is a noble weariness, a holy discontent.

Where’er to mortal eyes has come, in silence dark and lone,

Some glimmer of the far-off light the world has never known,

Some ghostly echoes from a dream of earth’s triumphal song,

Then as the vision fades we cry, “How long, oh Lord, how long?”

Long ages, from the dawn of time, men’s toiling march has wound

Towards the world they ever sought, the world they never found;

Still far before their toiling path the glimmering promise lay,

Still hovered round the struggling race, a dream by night and day.

Mid darkening care and clinging sin they sought their unknown home,

Yet ne’er the perfect glory came—Lord, will it ever come?

The weeding of earth’s garden broad from all its growths of wrong,

When all man’s soul shall be a prayer, and all his life a song.

Aye, though through many a starless night we guard the flaming oil,

Though we have watched a weary watch, and toiled a weary toil,

Though in the midnight wilderness, we wander still forlorn,

Yet bear we in our hearts the proof that God shall send the dawn.

Deep in the tablets of our hearts he writes that yearning still,

The longing that His hand hath wrought shall not his hand fulfil?

Though death shall close upon us all before that hour we see,

The goal of ages yet is there—the good time yet to be:

Therefore, tonight, from varied lips, in every house and home,

Goes up to God the common prayer, “Father, Thy Kingdom come.”

G.K. Chesterton – 17 years old

On Seeing Meaning, With Chesterton

Thomas More was a better rationalist, which was why there was nothing in his religion that was merely local, or in that sense merely loyal. More’s mind was like a diamond also in a power like that of cutting glass; of cutting through things that seemed equally transparent, but were at once less solid and less many-sided. For the true consistent heresies generally look very clear indeed; like Calvinism then or Communism now. They sometimes even look very true; they sometimes even are very true, in the limited sense of a truth that is less than the Truth. They are at once more thin and more brittle than the diamond. For a heresy is not often a mere lie; as Thomas More himself said, “Never was there a heretic that spoke all false.” A heresy is a truth that hides all the other truths. A mind like More’s was full of light like a house made of windows; but the windows looked out on all sides and in all directions. We might say that, as the jewel has many facets, so the man had many faces; only none of them were masks.

GK Chesterton, ST. THOMAS MORE

Room to be Home

For Sunday, from a report of George MacDonald’s sermon in Edinburgh, reprinted in ‘Wingfold’ Spring 2006:

“What human nature needs is the humanity of its fellows. It has not room. You may have all the world your own; you may clear man about you till you dwell alone in the earth, and your soul will have no room. The room, the peace, the sense of well-being, the comfort that a man needs, is when another unseen world, the world of another human soul, has opened up for him to walk abroad in and be at peace, and be at home there.”

Read it Conscientiously

… A difficult work to judge. Read it conscientiously from cover to cover, and you will conclude that it is the heaviest of tasks; but then from such a reading something will cling to your memory – odd lines, odd scenes, a peculiar flavour – till you are driven back to it, to find that its faults are just as grievous as you first supposed but that its merits are greater.

 –– C. S. Lewis on Stephen Hawes, Pastime of Pleasure

The Father of Hope

From a report of George MacDonald’s sermon, reprinted in ‘Wingfold’ Winter 2015:

“If we were wise we would never mourn over our troubles. If we had a clearer insight into things we would go down upon our knees and thank God for our troubles. The Lord spoke here to everybody who had something that made him uncomfortable, who had anything in heart or mind, that just wanted Him. Every discontent in the human heart was just a cry after God.”

“We should not say hope was delusive, for we might have chosen the wrong hope. God was the father of hope in our hearts, and he had never had so much hope as now in his heart; it grew and grew till it was infinite.”

Help You, Help Me

“In thinking lovingly about others, we think healthily about ourselves.”

– from Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood by George MacDonald

Yes- having to focus on the good of and for other people can take away some of the insanity that blinds us regarding our own situation. But if we are biased and really intent on gaining some good or ground for a personal cause, that can blind us to the good we ought to grant and teach to others. Take slavery for example.