Chesterton

Chesterton

I’m a big GK Chesterton fan. I especially love his book Orthodoxy, which is surely one of the most quotable books ever written. Here’s one of my favorite paragraphs from that book:

The swiftest things are the softest things. A bird is active, because a bird is soft. A stone is helpless, because a stone is hard. The stone must by its own nature go downwards, because hardness is weakness. The bird can of its nature go upwards, because fragility is force. In perfect force there is a kind of frivolity, an airiness that can maintain itself in the air. Modern investigators of miraculous history have solemnly admitted that a characteristic of the great saints is their power of “levitation.” They might go further; a characteristic of the great saints is their power of levity. Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly. This has been always the instinct of Christendom, and especially the instinct of Christian art… In the old Christian pictures the sky over every figure is like a blue or gold parachute. Every figure seems ready to fly up and float about in the heavens. The tattered cloak of the beggar will bear him up like the rayed plumes of the angels. But the kings in their heavy gold and the proud in their robes of purple will all of their nature sink downwards, for pride cannot rise to levity or levitation. Pride is the downward drag of all things into an easy solemnity. One “settles down” into a sort of selfish seriousness; but one has to rise to a gay self-forgetfulness. A man “falls” into a brown study; he reaches up at a blue sky. Seriousness is not a virtue. It would be a heresy, but a much more sensible heresy, to say that seriousness is a vice. It is really a natural trend or lapse into taking one’s self gravely, because it is the easiest thing to do. It is much easier to write a good Times leading article than a good joke in Punch. For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity.

17 Comments
  • Joe
    3:03 PM, 10 February 2011

    Jonathan, thanks for posting this. Along similar lines, you might find this an interesting read, too: http://biblicalhorizons.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/two-views-of-marriage/

  • Jess
    4:45 PM, 10 February 2011

    I like this. I like this a lot. Especially since this is so relevant to my life right now that it’s not even funny. Actually, it is funny. ๐Ÿ˜€ But yes, right now I’m trying to “lighten up” and dance, smile, and laugh more. So thank you for sharing Chesterton’s view on this today.
    By the way, Chesterton had been known to my sister and I as “Cheeserton” ever since we found his quote, “Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” Of course we responded to that by writing poems about cheese with our friends. Talk about laughing. I think we were all rendered helpless with laughter until I read mine (I was the only one who didn’t take the comedic route–what can I say, I like cheese too much to make fun of it myself). ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Dan Kulp
    12:54 AM, 11 February 2011

    I love GKC.

  • Janna
    12:59 AM, 11 February 2011

    Laughter is a leap. I can relate to that.

  • Canaan Bound
    3:32 AM, 11 February 2011

    Oh, GKC…Gotta love that guy.

  • sally apokedak
    5:50 PM, 11 February 2011

    Jonathan, what a great quote. Thanks so much for posting it.
    Joe, I loved the post you linked to. I couldn’t comment over there because I wasn’t able log in for some reason.

    Jess, you are certainly doing your share to make the rest of us lighter.

  • Jonathan Rogers
    5:59 PM, 11 February 2011

    Yes, Joe, thanks for that great link, and thanks Sally for reminding me to click it.

  • Dryad
    9:29 PM, 13 February 2011

    I want to see those cheese poems. I think I shall go over to my blog and write a couple myself.Soon.

  • Hannah
    8:03 PM, 14 February 2011

    Ok, ok, I’ll give up my cheese poem just for you Dryad. ๐Ÿ™‚ (I’m Jess’s sis. Here goes:
    Cheese
    I asked please
    But yet,
    I received no cheese
    Not a sliver
    Not a slice
    And my mouth watered like a river
    Over that cheese
    That I wanted so bad
    It made me very mad
    And also sad
    But through all my weeping
    And gnashing of teeth,
    Still, I got no cheese.
    No Swiss
    No Havarti
    Oh how I miss
    Having a cheese party

  • Jess
    8:04 PM, 14 February 2011

    Here is my non-funny one, Dryad. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Cheese makes me think of
    Summertime
    With soft clouds
    In the warm sky
    Cheese and bread
    Olives, sweet grapes
    And the summer-salty-sea-breeze

  • Dryad
    12:55 AM, 16 February 2011

    Mouthwatering.

    • Jonathan Rogers
      6:15 AM, 19 February 2011

      Dryad, your poem about brie is a lot better than brie.

  • Jess
    5:13 PM, 19 February 2011

    ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I agree that Dryad’s poem is marvelous, but I think you are implying that the divine cheese isn’t so divine. Blasphemy! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Dryad
    1:13 PM, 20 February 2011

    Thank you for articulating that, Jess.

  • Canaan Bound
    1:48 AM, 21 February 2011

    Jess, the only heresy here is JR’s comment regarding Brie. Dryad’s poem is good, to be sure…though no comparison to the wonderful cheese itself.

  • Canaan Bound
    1:51 AM, 21 February 2011

    My favorite sandwich is sliced turkey and green apples with brie on sourdough.

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