Friday, April 23, 2010

Awe about a world I have not made…

Breda Ludik wrote:
I am enjoying the autobibliography of GK Chesterton at present – “enjoying” being the operative word. In his introduction Randall Paine writes, “Chesterton never really got over the fact that God created the world, and he somehow pities the rest of us because we have. His writing is therapy for us in our handicap.”
This (and Chesterton’s musings on his own childhood) got met wondering: Why do we so effortlessly lose the amazement of a child at this incredable world we are born into. Maybe the answer is to be found in our inability to decenter – to see the world without ourselves as the center around which everything revolves. Chesterton says it beautifully in The Common Man: “All my mental doors open outwards into a world that I have not made…

“Human beings are happy as long as they retain the receptive power and the power of reaction in surprise and gratitude to something outside… The moment the self within is consciously felt as something superior to any of the gifts that can be brought to it, or any of the adventures that it may enjoy, there has appeared a sort of self-devouring fastidiousness and a disenchantment in advance, which fulfills all the Tartarean emblems of thirst and of despair.”
Chesterton’s autobiography is a wonderful demonstration of this. He never takes himself seriously. But he is serious about knowing what is going on. He is serious about life, about friendships, about truth, above all about God. And so he has a serious, but joyous openness to all the wonders of life on this earth that is lacking in people that take themselves much more seriously: “Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

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