Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday America

Dale's lecture about Chesterton's book (Volume 21)What I Saw in America.

"Because Chesterton is a universal writer whose truths transcend national boundaries, we often assume that what he writes about England is also true of the United States. And often it is. However, the two countries are not the same. Chesterton uses every opportunity to point out the differences between the two, the characteristics that make each country unique. ("All good Americans wish to fight the representatives they have chosen. All good Englishmen wish to forget the representatives they have chosen.") It is a fundamental doctrine of Chesterton that each country is unique and that its distinctive qualities, customs, and traditions should be preserved. Thus, visiting each unique place would broaden our minds, no?

No. Chesterton begins this book with one of his typical paradoxes: "I have never managed to lose my old conviction that travel narrows the mind." Now why is that?

Because a man in his own home is inside all other men. It is a universal experience. He thinks the great thoughts. But a man traveling is amused or appalled by a thousand distractions and trivial things, even if they are very interesting. It is the traveler who thinks the small thoughts, and there is a danger that these secondary things could replace the primary things." Dale Ahlquist on Chesterton

Happy 4th. I hope you have a wonderful day at home, with family, thinking great thoughts.

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