Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Manalive

I am still working on the afformentioned second post on the Re-Formation theme. In the meantime here is a fascinating and beautifully written exerpt from Chesterton's Manalive, which we had a wonderful discussion around in class today. At one point it reads almost like a premonition of postmodern paralysis. But this is overcome---by a change of perspective perhaps?---and results in two men deciding to break with paralysis and seek to live again.

Nothing can alter it, it’s the wheels of the universe,’ went on Inglewood, in a low voice; ‘some men are weak and some strong, and the only thing we can do is to know that we are weak. I have been in love lots of times, but I could not do anything for I remembered my own fickleness. I have formed opinions, but I haven’t the cheek to push them, because I’ve so often changed them. That’s the upshot, old fellow. We can’t trust ourselves, and we can’t help it.

Michael had risen to his feet, and stood poised in the perilous position at the end of the roof, like some dark statue hung above its gable. Behind him, huge clouds of an almost impossible purple turned slowly topsy-turvy in the silent anarchy of heaven. Their gyration made the dark figure seem yet dizzier.

"Let us . . ." he said, and was suddenly silent.

"Let us what?" asked Arthur Inglewood, rising equally quickly though somewhat more cautiously, for his freind seemed to find some difficulty of speech."

"Let us go and do some of these things we can't do," said Michael.

I don't believe Chesterton here, or in this book, is espousing a recklessness about life, but rather a wise and knowledgable insistence that one cannot cease to live out of fear of making errors. As he says elsewhere: "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."

But what if you care about the people around you? Then be wise. And love them. Yet call on them for grace to be free to live. Be ready to confess and be forgiven and repent of your errors. But live passionately, and wisely. The two go hand in hand. And an environment of confession and forgiveness (as only enabled by the promise of justice in Christ) goes in with them and makes them possible. Anything else is a stifled life. And this is why there is more life in Christian grace than in all the meaningless postmodern illusions of tolerance that prevail today.

1 comment:

Tony Tanti said...

I think you're bang on here. It is understood outside of religion as well that confession and forgiveness are what heal. Any good therapist will tell you that. But in the context of Christ it is just so much more...possible.

The word tolerance is mistaken for what people really mean, and that is kindness. It's always possible to be kind to someone but it's ok to not tolerate someone's actions. Which actions are worth a confrontation though? Where is the line and who gets to draw it?

Great post Jon.