Friday, September 23, 2011

Rediscovering the Known Country


I've been reading G.K. Chesterton's book ORTHODOXY, and he cracks me up. Philip Yancy's foreword is priceless, but he doesn't steal the show from Chesterton.

I love how in chapter one he says he set out searching for truth and was like a man who lands upon an island, thinks that it's some exotic place, and finds out that it is in fact Mother England. Says Chesterton: "If this book is a joke it is a joke bagainst me. I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before. If there is an element of farce in what follows, the farce is at my own expense; for this book explains how I fanciesd I was the first to set foot in Brighton and then found I was the last. It recounts my elephantine adventures in pursuit of the obvious . . ."

That's how I often feel about my own life as a Christian and a writer. The Lord brings me through some lesson--and I usually think it's definitely uppergraduate stuff--and then I find that I'm setting foot in the Land of Knowledge with youngsters who learned my new lesson a long time ago. Or never needed to learn it in the first place. :-)

I can't wait to become a little better acquainted with Mr. Chesterton. They say he won over his debate opponents not by blasting at them, but by laughing at himself. I think you can see a little of his humor in this passage:

"It may be that somebody will be entertained by the account of his happy fiasco. It might amuse a friend or an enemy to read how I gradually learnt from the truth of some stray legend or from the falsehood of some dominant philosophy, things that I might have learnt from my catechism--if I had ever learnt it. There may or may not be some entertainment in reading how I found at last in an anarchist club or a Babylonian temple what I might have found in the nearest parish church."

And that's one of the joys of writing the kinds of books I write. I tell a story in which characters have their eyes opened--and some of my readers will be already acquainted with the new vision, but others won't be. One group will be nostalgic, perhaps, the other fascinated. And those who don't or can't see the truth--well, they could be bored or offended, I suppose. Each to his own reaction. My job is not to react, it is to write.

Off to attempt it for another day.

4 comments:

Ruthie said...

At 10:30 am on most Fridays, EWTN, the Catholic TV network, (Chesterton was a Catholic) shows a program called "G.K. Chesterton: Apostle of Common Sense." If you get EWTN and are interested, you may get some interesting insights into both him and his writing.

Peggy M Keller said...

I read Chesterton's ORTHODOXY (& HERETICS also) earlier this year. The man makes you think!

Peggy M Keller said...

I read ORTHODOXY (& HERETICS also) earlier this year. Chesterton definitely makes you think.

sandysnavely said...

It reminds me of The Fisherman, where the writer describes Peter's encounter with Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration. He says he thought his times of chatting with the Savior were rich and deep until he heard Jesus chatting with Moses and Elijah...suddenly he realized that Jesus was patiently listening to him like a teacher with a kindergartener. I get that.