Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Bowing down in blind credulity...."

Trevin Wax read G.K. Chesterton's autobiography recently and enjoyed it. I did too when I read it some decades ago and Trevin Wax's experience encourages me to read it again:
Like Chesterton’s essays, his autobiography is all over the place. The narrative of Chesterton’s life is not what drives the book, but the ideas and insights he discovered during his sojourn on earth. Chesterton makes a sideways case for the truth of Christianity by appealing to the explanatory power of Christianity as seen in everyday experience.

Even the beginning of the book demonstrates the nature of truth and our trust in human testimony, which then sets the stage for believing in the church’s testimony to Christ:
“Bowing down in blind credulity, as is my custom, before mere authority and the tradition of the elders, superstitiously swallowing a story I could not test at the time by experiment or private judgment, I am firmly of opinion that I was born on the 29th of May, 1874, on Campden Hill, Kensington.”
The one-liners in this book come like butterflies, to the point you’re likely to swat them away in your attempt to keep on track with Chesterton’s overall point, or you’re content to finally sit down and watch the beauty of their fluttering. Some examples:
  • Nobody can correct anybody’s bias, if all mind is all bias.
  • With all possible apologies to the freethinkers, I still propose to hold myself free to think.
  • The principal objection to a quarrel is that it interrupts an argument.
  • There are some who complain of a man for doing nothing; there are some, still more mysterious and amazing, who complain of having nothing to do.
The Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton was published in the year of his death, 1936, and is not yet in the public domain as are many of his books. Trevin Wax links to an inexpensive paperback edition at Amazon. The cover above is from the book in my library, printed in 1936, but not a first edition and rather worn.