Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Because I Feel What Chesterton Described

One of the joys of this blog is hearing from fellow Catholics across the U.S. and even around the world. An example today was a Dominican brother, “D.D.,” whereabouts unknown, who sent me a pertinent quote from Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton.

Br. D.D., O.P, was evidently responding in part to the descriptive statement beneath my blog title, explaining why I started writing: Asked by a friend why I had converted to Catholicism, “I was at a loss. I couldn't say . . . ” I quote the good brother's e-mail in full, without permission, but with sincere thanks, because it hits the big nail squarely on the head. Why couldn't I say why I converted? Read on:

“Thank you for taking on the challenge to answer for your faith. I could not help but recall a quote from GK Chesterton about why we so often struggle to explain our faith. I thought I’d share:

“It is very hard for a man to defend anything of which he is entirely convinced. It is comparatively easy when he is only partially convinced. He is partially convinced because he has found this or that proof of the thing, and he can expound it. But a man is not really convinced of a philosophic theory when he finds that something proves it. He is only really convinced when he finds that everything proves it. And the more converging reasons he finds pointing to this conviction, the more bewildered he is if asked suddenly to sum them up. Thus, if one asked an ordinary intelligent man, on the spur of the moment, “Why do you prefer civilisation to savagery?” he would look wildly round at object after object, and would only be able to answer vaguely, “Why, there is that bookcase . . . and the coals in the coal-scuttle . . . and pianos . . . and policemen.” The whole case for civilisation is that the case for it is complex. It has done so many things. But that very multiplicity of proof which ought to make reply overwhelming makes reply impossible. There is, therefore, about all complete conviction a kind of huge helplessness. The belief is so big that it takes a long time to get it into action. And this hesitation chiefly arises, oddly enough, from an indifference about where one should begin. All roads lead to Rome; which is one reason why many people never get there. In the case of this defence of the Christian conviction I confess that I would as soon begin the argument with one thing as another; I would begin it with a turnip or a taximeter cab.—GKC, Orthodoxy, Ch. 6

“He is one of the great converts and writers of the 20th century and there is some work towards his cause for canonization.

“Many blessings as your journey continues!”

Thank you, Brother. Thank you, Mr. Chesterton.