Monday, September 25, 2006

Quotemeisters Request

I have a group of teens coming over this afternoon for a philosophical discussion. The topic: What is Love?

Is there a succinct and appropriate Chestertonian quote that applies?

I have a vague memory of something GKC said about faith isn't faith unless....hope isn't hope isn't charity unless....


  1. Here's that one you wanted, and another which might help. The second is quite long, but I quote it not only because it is so important but also because, as GKC notes, "the modern world seems to miss the whole point of it".

    --Dr. Thursday

    As the word "unreasonable" is open to misunderstanding, the matter may be more accurately put by saying that each one of these Christian or mystical virtues involves a paradox in its own nature, and that this is not true of any of the typically pagan or rationalist virtues. Justice consists in finding out a certain thing due to a certain man and giving it to him. Temperance consists in finding out the proper limit of a particular indulgence and adhering to that. But charity means pardoning what is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. And faith means believing the incredible, or it is no virtue at all.

    [GKC, Heretics CW1:124-5]

    There had arisen in that hour of history [ca. 325 A.D. the Arian heresy], defiant above the democratic tumult of the Councils of the Church, Athanasius against the world. We may pause upon the point at issue; because it is relevant to the whole of this religious history, and the modern world seems to miss the whole point of it. We might put it this way. If there is one question which the enlightened and liberal have the habit of deriding and holding up as a dreadful example of barren dogma and senseless sectarian strife, it is this Athanasian question of the Co-Eternity of the Divine Son. On the other hand, if there is one thing that the same liberals always offer us as a piece of pure and simple Christianity, untroubled by doctrinal disputes, it is the single sentence, "God is Love." [1 Jn 4:8] Yet the two statements are almost identical; at least one is very nearly nonsense without the other. The barren dogma is only the logical way of stating the beautiful sentiment. For if there be a being without beginning, existing before all things, was He loving when there was nothing to be loved? If through that unthinkable eternity He is lonely, what is the meaning of saying He is love? The only justification of such a mystery is the mystical conception that in His own nature there was something analogous to self-expression; something of what begets and beholds what it has begotten. Without some such idea, it is really illogical to complicate the ultimate essence of deity with an idea like love. If the moderns really want a simple religion of love, they must look for it in the Athanasian Creed. The truth is that the trumpet of true Christianity, the challenge of the charities and simplicities of Bethlehem or Christmas Day, never rang out more arrestingly and unmistakably than in the defiance of Athanasius to the cold compromise of the Arians. It was emphatically he who really was fighting for a God of Love against a God of colourless and remote cosmic control; the God of the stoics and the agnostics. It was emphatically he who was fighting for the Holy Child against the grey deity of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He was fighting for that very balance of beautiful nterdependence and intimacy, in the very Trinity of the Divine Nature, that draws our hearts to the Trinity of the Holy Family.His dogma, if the phrase be not misunderstood, turns even God into a Holy Family.
    [GKC, The Everlasting Man CW2:359-360; cf. "The Endless Empire" in The New Jerusalem]

  2. "Love is not blind--love is bound, and the more it is bound, the less it is blind."

    Somewhere in "The Flag of the World," Orthodoxy. I don't have time to look up the exact reference...and I'm a few hours late! Mea culpa!


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