First of all, GKC = Gilbert Keith Chesterton, MkSh = Mark Shea, KH (in this essay) = Kent Hovind. Oh, KJV = King James Version, whereas DR = Douai-Reims. Also a Bible "version" but the one I use as my English Bible. And CSL = Clive Staples Lewis, of course. To the subject. I recall some examples of Chesterton and I will adress them.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton thought certain Bible Worshippers Superstitious and Idolatrous and said of them, whether they had in fact the hat off, certainly "had a tile loose". His example: certain men systematically refuse to use "you" when speaking to one man, saying instead "thou" as Shakespear or KJV Bible. Or DR, for that matter. Their reason? "Using the plural pronoun when adressing just one man is a lie" ...
KH is aware that grammar has changed and the distinction "thou, thee, thy" vs "ye, you, your" was archaic already when KJV (or DR) was being printed. Nowadays "you" not only means both "ye" and "you" but also "thou" and "thee" as well. Replacing "ye"/"you" with "you"/"youm" after "who"/"whom" has so far not occurred to the English speakers, but replacing "thou"/"ye" or "thee"/"you" with "you"/"you all" or "you"/"y'all" or "you"/"youse" has occurred to them. And I suspect that not just "you guys" is a modern "ye" but also "you man" a modern "thou". KH is certainly not open to GKC's ridicule on this one, he uses "you" correctly as in contemporary English and reserves "thou"/"ye" for reading from KJV (or Shakespear).
Next item on GKC's list. Taking off the hat to someone is an act of idolatry and therefore forbidden by "thou shalt not have any other gods before me ... and shalt not worship them" ... now, being polite is usually not an act of idolatry, the "worship" given to a man by bowing down or taking off the hat being merely dulia or hyp-O-dulia (not to be confused with hyp-ER-dulia given to the Blessed Virgin: hyper means over and hypo under). One can add on this question that bowing down to a man is NOT enumerated in express words in the law as constituting latria (and possibly even dulia was not permissible in the Old Testament), BUT Mordechai in the Book of Esther tells Haman he cannot bow down to him, since it would offend the law. I do not know if this was a tradition among Jews or if Parsism or a possibly pre-Zoroastrian Paganism was interpretating such - usually polite - bowing down as an act of Divine Worship. I do know that KH is not wearing a hat, and most people are not wearing a hat nowadays. The occasion for that test has fallen away.
But KH takes that Protestant Superstition (the age old common culture of Christendom being Pagan and including definite acts of idolatry prohibited to Real Christians) more seriously than many. When showing a certain photo, he begins with:
|"This is not my wife"
Then he pauses.
"It is just a picture of her."
If he truly believes it to be idolatrous to refer honours or affections comparable to those given the real person to an object depicting them also, well, he is at least honest and courageous about it. I suppose quite a few Jews would be in a similar predicament and not all of them as honest and courageous as he. Of course some of them avoid photography all together.
He thus abuses himself about parts of Scripture, but less so than those who would say Scripture does not apply. However, he accepted a title "Doctor" which is pretty nearly synonymous to "Rabbi" ... not a thing I would grudge a man being in prison for "intellectual fraud", when the supposed fraud is very much not these things that Chesterton would have objected too. Or for "tax fraud," when the tax exemption in one charge was only "fraudulent" due to a supposed intellectual fraud.
[Long neglected rectification, here I link to Eric Hovind stating the facts:
Kent Hovind STILL In Prison - Son Speaks Out In Personal One-on-One with PPSIMMONS
Now, would Chesterton have called his Creationism a fad?
Or would Chesterton perhaps have called Evolution a fad?
Because, sometimes faddists get their fads from other occasions than the Bible. Like dug out bones or dug forth cave man art. I could add, ultimately, since on one occasion he said it did not much matter if it was just a doctrine about origins of animal species but left man alone.
He would at least have agreed that from the Creation of the Human Soul onward the account in Genesis is historical. If he had looked into the question he might have found that this could not be unless the six days were at least close to literal truth rather than long ages ... as Kent Hovind found it out.
"From the beginning of creation, God created them male and female." (Mk 10:6)
Yes, KH has a clear point. Since GKC died in 1936 he could not have heard the new Christmas Proclamation from 1994 where the 5199 years are replaced with "unknown ages" ... and he never complained about the Church telling him a fixed and recent age for the world. The kind of mystique of vastness, whether of time or of space, that appealed so much to Teilhard de Chardin, never appealed to him. If a vast cosmos is worthier than a small one, obviously a big man like himself was worthier than a thin man as he had been in his youth as a painter ... which he fortunately knew was nonsense. He also knew academia was in the habit of producing lots of nonsense. Back in his day or a bit later Haldane was seriously suggesting a life force worship - which academicians would not suggest today. He called that Paganism or even Devil Worship (CSL considered it at least very close to such). He would perhaps have been rather surprised at the suggestion - which Mark Shea and David Palm seem to be making - that once that particular fad vanishes and academia seem to concentrate on facts, it suddenly becomes immune to fads.
Because, even when men outwardly concentrate on visible facts, or what seem such to them (by assuming certain calculations, such as age from C14 content or distance in space from angle of parallax per annum) they do so with hearts that remain spiritual. And which may even be imbued with a collective positive spirituality - however little it may be voiced in academic publications, or however merely negative it may be when reacting to a Christian comment.
And if such a spirituality is wrong, so will the conclusions be, at least some of those collectively accepted by that body of men.
He accepted in fact Catholicism because it was traditionalist, testing each modern fad by a test of its traditions, not as if this was enough to guarantee its truth, but because this was one necessary part of its remaining true if starting so. He did not consider a religion able to start as a Pagan or Heretical lie and end up as truth without any kind of conversion in between. And similarily, a religion which remains true up to a point in time may - as Catholic Churchmen under Henry VIII - turn their back on truth, for opportunity.
Now, when it comes to Ritual, I cannot see how Chesterton would have agreed to "let's become closer to Protestants" ideals. Actually, a perhaps rather simple view of veracity and saying the right thing, comparable to people refusing to give up "thou" when adressing a single person was behind reinforcing the Latin a bit before 800 into the old pronunciation, as kept alive in England where it was a learned tongue, when Latin and Vernacular started to be two different things on the Continent. And in England the celebration in Latin rather than Ænglisc or Pryddoneg (English or Welsh, supposing I got the second word right) was a bit like the concern of missionaries choosing KJV English rather than indigenous tongues as yet unexplored and unchartered, without either grammar or spelling or word book as yet fixed. You can sing a Christmas carol in which "hunters come with beaver pelts" rather than shepherds with sheepskins, but you cannot chant the Christmas Gospel that way. And tomorrow, in the Gospel if not in the carol, the three magi must be magi and come with precisely gold, frankincense and myrrh, however absent these may be - excepting gold - from a language like the English of St Augustine's day. So it must be read in a language which has all the right words with all the right meanings. And, as Chesterton pointed out, a living occidental language is as much in a flux as an Amerindian language or a pre-civilised, pre-Christian English - "the choice is not between a dead language and a live language, but between a dead language and a dying language" - as in a language continually killed by speakers misusing it.
But when it comes to the world view in general, rather than ritual, he would not have accepted Teilhard de Chardin for a moment. Let us give the word to Jonathan Sarfati, even Doctor, unless he objects to not literally and literalistically obeying the injunction not to call a man rabbi. In his view of the Fall, there is exactly one detail where he is wrong and where Chesterton and Tolkien and I agree he is wrong. It is about free will being real, but he thinks it is not real, after the Fall. Apart from that he is right. Suffering is one consequence of the fall and not a prequel to it. Let us also give the word to King Alfred, as imagined by Chesterton. Same story somewhat more poetically and without that error:
CMI : Why would a loving God allow death and suffering?
by Dr Jonathan Sarfati
Published: 2 January 2014
|And slowly his hands and thoughtfully
Fell from the lifted lyre,
And the owls moaned from the mighty trees
Till Alfred caught it to his knees
And smote it as in ire.
He heaved the head of the harp on high
And swept the framework barred,
And his stroke had all the rattle and spark
Of horses flying hard.
"When God put man in a garden
He girt him with a sword,
And sent him forth a free knight
That might betray his lord;
"He brake Him and betrayed Him,
And fast and far he fell,
Till you and I may stretch our necks
And burn our beards in hell.
"But though I lie on the floor of the world,
With the seven sins for rods,
I would rather fall with Adam
Than rise with all your gods.
"What have the strong gods given?
Where have the glad gods led?
When Guthrum sits on a hero's throne
And asks if he is dead?
"Sirs, I am but a nameless man,
A rhymester without home,
Yet since I come of the Wessex clay
And carry the cross of Rome,
"I will even answer the mighty earl
That asked of Wessex men
Why they be meek and monkish folk,
And bow to the White Lord's broken yoke;
What sign have we save blood and smoke?
Here is my answer then.
"That on you is fallen the shadow,
And not upon the Name;
That though we scatter and though we fly,
And you hang over us like the sky,
You are more tired of victory,
Than we are tired of shame.
"That though you hunt the Christian man
Like a hare on the hill-side,
The hare has still more heart to run
Than you have heart to ride.
"That though all lances split on you,
All swords be heaved in vain,
We have more lust again to lose
Than you to win again.
"Your lord sits high in the saddle,
A broken-hearted king,
But our king Alfred, lost from fame,
Fallen among foes or bonds of shame,
In I know not what mean trade or name,
Has still some song to sing;
"Our monks go robed in rain and snow,
But the heart of flame therein,
But you go clothed in feasts and flames,
When all is ice within;
"Nor shall all iron dooms make dumb
Men wondering ceaselessly,
If it be not better to fast for joy
Than feast for misery.
"Nor monkish order only
Slides down, as field to fen,
All things achieved and chosen pass,
As the White Horse fades in the grass,
No work of Christian men.
"Ere the sad gods that made your gods
Saw their sad sunrise pass,
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale,
That you have left to darken and fail,
Was cut out of the grass.
"Therefore your end is on you,
Is on you and your kings,
Not for a fire in Ely fen,
Not that your gods are nine or ten,
But because it is only Christian men
Guard even heathen things.
"For our God hath blessed creation,
Calling it good. I know
What spirit with whom you blindly band
Hath blessed destruction with his hand;
Yet by God's death the stars shall stand
And the small apples grow."
A Neanderthal man who was buried by his near and dear after being kept alive for years without having any teeth to chew with was clearly human, since his close ones were so. And since he lost teeth and died, he was clearly suffering consequences of the fall. I e, he was descended from Adam. And not dead 50.000 years ago or 43.000 years before Adam ate the forbidden fruit.
Now, Chesterton made a point. If a scroll belongs to a certain procession from the start, along with priests and statues and candles, you do not take the scroll in order to smash all the rest. KH would have answered that the Bible scroll was not from the start part of the Catholic Church, but that it persecuted it from 400 to 1400, and herein he would be wrong, even if subjectively answering Chesterton's point. But there is a parallel point to make.
If a procession has always been going to the East and suddenly starts going to the West, if it has always been using statues and someone starts scrapping them, if it has always had a cross and six candles on an altar facing East and someone starts fiddling both with candle numbers and altar direction, I think it is possible to use the scroll to correct that nonsense. And if the people of the particular procession have had the habit of taking the scroll as reliable history, it is arguably a corrective to people thinking they continue the procession while not believing it to be reliable history.
And if priests calling themselves Catholic call Creationism a Paganism - believe me, some do - they remind me of the Pagans who would not perpetuate the Pagan image of the White Horse. It is only Christian men who will keep even Pagan things, as King Alfred (or perhaps rather Chesterton through him) sung.
But the point remains also that to Chesterton the Garden of Eden was essential:
|"When God put man in a garden
He girt him with a sword,
And sent him forth a free knight
That might betray his lord;
As is also apparent from his view on the Morning of Easter Sunday:
|On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realised the new wonder; but even they hardly realised that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.|
Chesterton quotes from The Ballad of the White Horse & Everlasting Man
And Neanderthal preceding Adam as "not yet the image and likeness of God" is quite as incompatible with free will as Sarfati's nod to Calvin. It is also quite as incompatible with the garden as the start ... with a God who loves gardens and doll houses.
Or even more so.
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
Twelfth Day of Christmas