Tuesday, September 04, 2007

From a Brand New Chestertonian

Until yesterday, i knew nothing of G.K. Chesterton, except his name. Now, having heard a great talk by Dale Ahlquist, about the thoughts of G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense, i have a new appreciation of the concept, reality, potential, and advocacy of "common sense."

Indeed, does not common sense in ourselves and others make it possible for us to better experience relationships of simple love, goodness, wisdom, and truth? And, if not, is it possible we still lack the simple wisdom(faith?) that truth requires the spiritual qualities of love and goodness, as well as the mental qualities of knowledge and wisdom? And finally, in googling for some other thoughts and uses of "common sense," i found the following three views that seem consistent with my new found apprecitation of common sense, thanks to Mr. Dale Ahlquist:

1) The greatest error of teachings about the Scriptures is the doctrine of their being sealed books of mystery and wisdom which only the wise (snobby?) minds of the nation dare to interpret. The revelations of divine truth are not sealed except by human ignorance, bigotry, and narrow-minded intolerance. The light of the Scriptures is only dimmed by prejudice and darkened by superstition. A false fear of sacredness has prevented religion from being safeguarded by common sense. The fear of the authority of the sacred writings of the past effectively prevents the honest souls of today from accepting the new light of the gospel, the light which these very God-knowing men of another generation so intensely longed to see.

2) "Happy are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted." So-called common sense or the best of logic would never suggest that happiness could be derived from mourning. But Jesus did not refer to outward or ostentatious mourning. He alluded to an emotional attitude of tenderheartedness. It is a great error to teach boys and young men that it is unmanly to show tenderness or otherwise to give evidence of emotional feeling or physical suffering. Sympathy is a worthy attribute of the male as well as the female. It is not necessary to be calloused in order to be manly. This is the wrong way to create courageous men. The world's great men have not been afraid to mourn. Moses, the mourner, was a greater man than either Samson or Goliath. Moses was a superb leader, but he was also a man of meekness. Being sensitive and responsive to human need creates genuine and lasting happiness, while such kindly attitudes safeguard the soul from the destructive influences of anger, hate, and suspicion.

3) Jesus, was so reasonable, so approachable. He was so practical in all his ministry, while all his plans were characterized by such sanctified common sense. He was so free from all freakish, erratic, and eccentric tendencies. He was never capricious, whimsical, or hysterical. In all his teaching and in everything he did there was always an exquisite discrimination associated with an extraordinary sense of propriety.
From Richard S. in Michigan, who would love some feedback on his first commentary on GKC.


  1. I think he's off to a grand start. The reality of common sense is that it is sense that is common; that is, it can be found in all things, and it is dually a question of intellect and of feeling.

    That marriage of intellect and feeling has been lost in so very many ways, these days, and one of them, as Richard rightly points out, is the treatment of human emotion, particularly in males. When we consider the Hebrew who, in his rage, rends his very garment and falls to his knees with tears in his eyes, we are not looking at something girlish. The anguish of Achilles was such that even his roar of sadness killed a dozen men; this is not effeminate.

    But it has always been in question, I guess. The spontaneous overflow of emotion (as someone once put it) has always had its detractors, right back to Michal's censure of David's exuberance.

    Richard: keep up the good work. Keep reading. Keep writing! We'd like to hear from you.

    And keep using the word "exquisite." It's one of the three best words ever (after "monstrous" and "infamy").

  2. Richard,

    Are you saying that Christianity is a "religion of the book"? I am asking, not to be contentious, but to understand your post. The Bible is God's word, and is immeasurably precious. But some of us believe it is an incomplete guide to the truth, and that we need guidance in understanding it – tradition, the interpretation of the Bible by the early Church fathers and the early Church councils. I hope you’ll let us know where you stand on this issue. It might spark an energetic debate. Chestertonians will relish that!
    ~ Gramps

  3. Hello Nick,

    Thank you for your encouraging words, i do appreciate it. And yes,i do think we need to balance and control our thoughts and feelings so they help, rather than hurt us and others in our relationships.

    I also think we need to balance the knowledge & wisdom of our minds with the spiritual love & goodness in our souls in order to achieve higher truth in our relationships with others.

    Thanks again for your positive feed back, Nick.

    richard in michigan on a beautiful day that the Lord has made possible...

    P.S. Hope this first attempt at a reply makes it intact.

    Also, my new found faith in "common sense" rooted in "common experiences" has, i hope, helped me to be more brief so that others will be able to more easily understand my view and agree, or disagree. Indeed, if we experience love, patience, and kindness from others are we not strongly inclined to incorporate such spiritual attitudes and behavior into our own hearts, minds, and souls; into our own thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds?

  4. Hello Gramps,

    Thanks for your thought stimulating reply to my first post. Appreciate your feedback.

    First, in my view Christianity is a religion that should lead us to reflect the spiritual qualities of Jesus as much as possible in our lives and relationships with all other persons we encounter. And since i believe in the spirit of the law more than the letter of the law, i believe in the Perfection of God, our Heavenly Father more than any notion that the Bible is perfect as God is Pefect. It has been said that nothing which human hands have touched is perfect and surely the Bible has been touched and retouched by many men. That is why the common sense of common experience, even "common spiritual experiences" can be such a blessing. When we truly experience the spiritual goodness of God in others it is unmistakable, but when we read certain things in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, we cannot but help question whether what we are reading is of God or that somehow profane parts of Jewish History were injected by the Pharasic and/or political bias of some writers long ago? ?God telling one tribe to go kill all the men, women, and children of another tribe? Really???

    So then, much of psalms & proverbs and the New Testament are Godly, but it is well to note that even the Bible tells us we must read and understand with discernment and focus our thoughts on those things which are clearly right and of good report.

    Indeed, as you say, the Bible is an incomplete guide to the Truth.
    Only God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are Perfect guides to Truth. Note that Jesus' Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, which He sent to indwell each of us starting with the first Pentacost. And we are also indwelt by the Father Spirit and the Holy Spirit and they work together in each of us to help us grow and progress spiri tually in our relationships with Him and with all others around us.

    Sorry, Gramps, good job of drawing me out more than perhaps i should have ventured so soon, but i always welcome constructive and corrective feedback.

    All the best to you and your loved ones, today and forever... richard

  5. Richard, the posts on this blog seem generally to come from a Roman Catholic point of view. Yet I hope it is not an uncongenial atmosphere for the non-catholic.

    It is generally well known, I think, but worth repeating in this discussion, that Catholics believe the method Jesus chose to save souls was through instituting the seven sacraments that are the instruments through which His grace is bestowed. The channel through which these sacraments are administered is His church and its priesthood. The principle sacrament and chief channel through which grace flows, in Catholic belief, is the Eucharist (often referred to as “communion”). Catholics participate in the sacrament of the Eucharist at Mass, which all observant Catholics attend on Sunday, and many attend daily. At Mass, the priest prays over bread and wine, repeating the words Jesus uttered at the last supper, “This is my body,” “This is my blood,” and “Do this in memory of me.” The congregation then comes forward to receive and eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus. This is the way we Catholics “grow and progress spiritually,” as you put it, and is quite different from the approach you have described.

    The other Catholic sacraments are baptism (which anyone can administer), confirmation (which a bishop administers), matrimony (which the betrothed administer and a priest or deacon witnesses) holy orders or the ordaining of priests (bishop), and last rites for the dying (priest), penance or reconciliation, usually referred to as “confession” (priest).

    I think the obvious reason for so much Catholicism in Chestertonian circles is that Chesterton became a Catholic and wrote much in defense of Catholicism in his later life.
    ~ Gramps

  6. Good to hear back from you, Gramps. And, though baptized by my Catholic parents shortly before my expected death from an illness at a young age almost 70 years ago, i have never been a practicing member of the Catholic Faith---or more accurately its beliefs, or points of view. And, post-haste, that is not to suggest that i have any more problems with the Catholic Church, than with any other organized Denominations or Sects. Inded, as a student of all religions, i have noted their "intellectual" (theological) dogmas that are sometimes in variance with common sense understandings of the Nature, really Super Nature, of Our One and Only God of Perfect Love, Goodness, Wisdom, and Truth.

    Indeed, and somewhat ironically, my recent experiences with Chestertonian thoughts have given me a new found faith and belief in "common sense, and, i am now more convinced than ever that the "Religion" and "Perfect Spiritual Will" of our Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, is Absolutely Transcendent and Dominant over all organized religions and churches on this earth and all the worlds in our One God's Univese of universes. Surely we are all well admonished just by the title of one chap's book, named, "Your God Is Too Small," a testamony to the Greatness, even Perfection, of our Infinite, Eternal, and Universal Heavenly Father.

    As to our Salvation(s), there are many theological views, in various demoninational and sectarian beliefs, but they are all limited by imperfect, human intellectual thoughts & understandings and rather than speculate it seems better to have spiritual faith that God and Jesus know Perfectly Well who should be saved, and how to do it. And, note that Chesterton himself noted that: "Theology is only thought applied to religion." - The New Jerusalem

    And again, those thoughts are our imperfect, human attempts to understand our God...

    Some day it will be common "common sense" that we should do what God tells us to do; and it is clear from Jesus' reply about the Greatest Commandment, that we are to Love God, Love our neighbors, and even Love our enemies; and that further we are to bear the nine fruits of the spirit, beginning with Love, in our relationships with God, and all others. And, we are told that this fulfills all of the Law and all of the Prophets.

    And finally, no, Gramps, i have not yet sensed any "uncongenial atmosphere" here because i am not Catholic. Indeed, when there are religious problems and tensions between persons, groups, religions, or churches, it is rooted in "intellectual" pride and the ego of theological dogma. And, that prevents us from relating to each other according to the teachings of Jesus, who has clearly told us to bear the Fruit(s) of the Spirit of God within each of us so that we are: Spiritually Loving, Good, Faithful, Patient, Humble, Peaceful, Kind, self-controled, and joyful.

    And, in closing, note that Chesterton has also noted that we are told to Love our enemies as well as our neighbors because they are sometimes one and the same, and it should not be that way, and need not be that way, if we lead
    with our love of others, rather than our prideful presumptions to tell others what or how to believe "intellectually" or theologically. And, as always, i welcome sincere, constructive criticisms, comments, or questions, but let's remain brothers and sisters in the Spirit of Jesus, and children of our One Most Heavenly Father. God bless you Gramps...

    Note: There is great hope for any church that dares to love our Living God, encourages the bearing of the Fruit(s) of the Spirit, beginning with Love, and dares to remove all theological pressures on its members, for each of us is a unique child of God and each one of us standing alone before our Heavenly Father and Jesus, is primary before our standing within any church... richard, imho, in the Father's Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, and the Holy Spirit...

  7. Richard,

    Thanks for the gentlemanly reply. I am delighted to learn that I am not the only geezer in this group, and that there's another in his 70s.

    Our differences can be boiled down, perhaps, to this from Chesterton's "The Defendant."

    "There is always in the healthy mind an obscure prompting that
    religion teaches us rather to dig than to climb; that if we could once understand the common clay of earth we should understand

    Your religion is very spiritual. Mine is extremely material. Water, bread, wine, oil, are the stuff of our sacrements.
    ~ Gramps

  8. Back with you, Gramps,

    In your first reply to me you said:

    "I hope you’ll let us know where you stand on this issue. It might spark an energetic debate. Chestertonians will relish that!
    ~ Gramps 9/05/2007 3:39 PM"

    Well, Gramps, in your most recent post you speak of your religion as "extremely material" and my religion as being very spiritual.

    Indeed, i spoke, perhaps too much, regarding my spiritual views and now find your religious experience is rooted in the material world, which seems there can be no debate, at least between you and me! However, i will venture a guess that you may well agree that God, our Heavenly Father, is the Creator and Sustainer of all material realms, all spiritual realms, and all realms in between, particularly "intellectual" realms.

    Indeed, the material realms are factually what they are and can best be understood by science because they can be observed to uniformly follow the physical laws of God. Debates among humans occur in the "intellectual" realms of religion & theology and can only be resolved in any permanent way via the good fruit(s) of our spiritual experiences rooted in our Heavenly Father's Spiritual Realms. Indeed, all debates are rooted in the imperfection of our human minds and thoughts, and all solutions to debates are found in our spiritual thoughts and experiences of the spiritual wisdom, goodness, and truth of God as revealed in His Father Spirit, Jesus' Spirit of Truth, and the Holy Spirit which indwell us all and increasingly lead us to learn, know, and do God's will in our hearts, minds, and souls; in our thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds. And, if that does not ring true to anyone, we can have no debate here either, and all those who have, or will read this, will either agree, disagree, or be indifferent about this view. Thanks again for you feedback, Gramps...

    As always, God bless you and yours, today and forever... richard

  9. Sorry Gramps,

    Not being all that cyber smart, i let that "Anonymous" slip in. richard :-(

  10. Richard,

    Thanks you for your blessing. Please know that I include you in my prayers. These are often accompanied by or immersed in the physical: fingering of beads on a chain. Yes, we have rosaries, holy water, pictorial holy cards (much like baseball cards for the sports-minded kid), statuary, stained glass, lighted candles and votive lights, knees on kneelers, the smell of burning incense, the sounds of bells and chimes, and our voices raised in song or communal prayer. What'd I leave out, gang?

    You see, I have no quarrel with anything you wrote in your most recent post, except for what it leaves out. We humans are composed of spirit and body and we cannot be human without both body and soul. The angels, being entirely spiritual creatures live a life of pure spirituality. But we are not angels, we are animals; and it is my opinion, shared by Catholics and others, that religion for human beings needs a strong material dimension or it does not fit our human nature as well as it could or should.
    ~ Gramps

  11. Hello again, Gramps,

    I surely respect your Catholic viewpoints, particularly about us being both bodies and souls.

    Indeed, as our One and Only God is three fold in the Unified Spirits of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are three fold children of God with bodies, minds, and souls(indwelt by the Spirit(s) of God.

    Consider the possibility that the below views reveal some Godly facts, meanings, and truth:

    As children of God we best grow and progress by balancing our bodies, minds, and souls. Ideally we should seek to harmonize the functioning of our entire personality, not merely one phase of it.

    The growth of the parts does not equal the true maturation of the whole; the parts really grow in proportion to the expansion of the entire self--the whole self--material, intellectual, and spiritual.

    Indeed, when the development of the intellectual nature proceeds faster than that of the spiritual, such a situation renders communication with the Spirit of God difficult. Likewise, overspiritual development tends to produce a fanatical and perverted interpretation of the spirit leadings of the Divine Spirit(s) within us. Lack of spiritual capacity makes it very difficult to transmit to such a material intellect the spiritual truths resident in the higher consciousness of the soul.

    Surely, it is to the mind of perfect poise, housed in a body of clean habits, stabilized neural energies, and balanced chemical function--when the physical, mental, and spiritual powers are in triune harmony of development--that a maximum of light and truth can be imparted with a minimum of temporal danger or risk to the real welfare of such a being.

    By such a balanced growth does man grow and progress in heart, mind, and soul---and increasingly learns, knows, and does the will of God in his thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds.

    As always, God bless you and yours, Gramps...

    And, i always welcome sincere, constructive, comments, criticisms, or questions from anyone...


Join our FaceBook fan page today!