A blog dedicated to providing quotes by and posts relating to one of the most influential (and quotable!) authors of the twentieth century, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936). If you do not know much about GKC, I suggest visiting the webpage of the American Chesterton Society as well as this wonderful Chesterton Facebook Page by a fellow Chestertonian

I also have created a list detailing examples of the influence of Chesterton if you are interested, that I work on from time to time.

(Moreover, for a list of short GKC quotes, I have created one here, citing the sources)

"...Stevenson had found that the secret of life lies in laughter and humility."

-Heretics (1905)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Whenever there is pomp there is some peril of pomposity. But it is only fair to remember that most rebels against it have not ultimately avoided pomposity, even when they avoided pomp."

[A good point, I believe.]

...I think it is true that the Catholic faith might have scored in some ways if it had remained absolutely austere and unworldly; as poor as the birth in the Stable; as naked as the victim on the Cross. But I think a thousand times more certainly that unless it could have kept at the last extreme of severity, it was right to rush to the last extremes of splendour. It was charged with something too great for mankind; it had to express something that can never be expressed, but which can only be faintly indicated by something startlingly plain or startlingly beautiful. It can be weakly suggested by the thirst and desolation of the desert, which seems to extort the cry of prophecy like a cry of pain. It can be feebly hinted at by ten thousand trumpets blaring before a golden throne; robes of angry crimson or peacock fans unfolding the hundredfold eyes of the night. But a religion that merely dresses for church as it dresses for dinner, a religion that merely prays into a top-hat and calls a suit of funeral black its Sunday best- that does not express what is expressed either by a hermit or a hierarchy; that does not express anything, except that its followers would have been equally contented with anything else. Whatever it is, the Church of Christ must not merely be what some of my Anglican friends used humorously to call Mod. High. It might be very high, like the spire of Cologne Cathedral or the tower of Salisbury; or else it must be very low, like the Catacombs or the Cave of Bethlehem. St. Francis is the Mirror of Christ and is ragged and barefoot with bleeding hands and feet. And the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and when he goes splended in white and silver and gold, with the ostrich plumes and the peacock fans borne before him, he is only making the approximate attempt that every sort of picture makes, to symbolize a sort of vision. But a bland and propserous person in a dog collar, a little supercilious since being made an Archdeacon or a Rual Dean, he (though his counterpart exists in all religions) does not in any sort of way suggest that religion is at all remarkable. He ought either to be poorer in the practice of his religion or else richer in his expression of it. I do not mean, of course, that as an individual that he is under any direct moral obligation to do otherwise than as he does in his circumstances and with his lights. But I am talking not about normal morals, but about the inadequate expression of an abnormal magnificence. For that purpose he should either be in a hovel such as covered the humility of Christ or else in a palace painted like the heavens that show forth the glory of God. I do not think, therefore, that the Papacy was wrong when, having once decided to meet human nature on the subject of ceremonial, it made very gorgeous ceremonial. I can see no good at all having made it a mean or doubtful or third-rate or threadbare ceremonial. But I can quite imagine the first of the Popes wondering whether it would not be more sublime to do without ceremonial altogether. And the only answer to that is the deepest answer of all which comes to us in the words of the Mass like a movement of distant music, and to me always somehow suggests the innocent sway and rhythm of some dim antediluvian dance: "His delight is with the sons of men."....

...The point is here that Rome had to decide whether it would express the simplicity of Christ in simplicity or the glory of God in glory. Granted the latter, though I do not care for all the manifestations of it, I think it was right to make the glorification very glorious. In a hundred human and ordinary things the Church is very human and ordinary; her common sense completely accepts the medium or centre of gravity of Aristotle; the true doctrine of the golden mean. But in this special matter of expressing a spiritual prodigy, she was right not to go by the golden mean but rather by the golden extravagance. The ground is not so much the via media as the place where extremes meet. In this matter it is really all or nothing, and the only outrage is mediocrity. When it comes to the reaction to a revolution, to the result or effect of a miracle, to the attempt to utter something ultimately unutterable, the expressions of it must be in extremes; and even in opposite extremes. So in such a moment a man would either be struck silent or cry aloud: so under such a visitation men would either spring to their feet or fall on their faces. It is exactly the intermediate shade of refined hesitation that would really be vulgar; more vulgar than anything that is merely loud. To see a man rise from the dead and say "Dear me!" is worse than to say "Good God!" or to say nothing. Anyhow, anybody with any sort of instinct of art or letters in him will see in such things the case for extremes or even extravagances. A startling truth might be symbolized by pointing to a stone by the roadside or by building a tower of brass that seemed to break the clouds in the sky; but not by building a post of brass making it a little shorter to save the expense. Epics could be written about a loose pebble or a large pyramid; but not about a small pyramid in a small front garden in Clapham. When we first see the monuments of Papal Rome, we may perhaps think the pyramid is rather too large; we may think that the brazen tower is rather too brazen. There is truth in the impression; for mortal motives are mixed, and there were impurities in the devotion as well as the decoration. But the evil was not in feeling that the tower could not be too high or the tomb too enduring; and the evil, I may add, was not in this case avoided by cautiously avoiding the good. Indeed those in other places who did avoid the good did not avoid the evil. The contemporaries of the Italian classicists, though in another way from the Arab Iconoclasts, illustrated the problem I mean; that there are a great many other ways in which complexity can return. Simplicity is not so simple as it looks.

Whenever there is pomp there is some peril of pomposity. But it is only fair to remember that most rebels against it have not ultimately avoided pomposity, even when they avoided pomp....We rightly rebel against something that is meant to be glorious, and is often only vainglorious. But, as I say, it is only just to remember what has in history been the real alternative. If it were anything so simple as a choice between simplicity, and luxury, the world, to say nothing of the Church, would never have made these brillant blunders on quite so large a scale....Those who walk haughtily out of the Church of Rome, or even out of the churches of Rome (which is an uncommonly different thing) must walk somewhere and build something; they will probably build more churches, or possibly more chapels. But they also will take on in time an inevitable routine and respectability. They also will have their ritual, though it is a duller ritual; they also will have their conservatism, though they will have less interesting things to conserve...

-The Resurrection of Rome (1930)

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