G.K. Chesterton’s ‘Everlasting Man’ — perfect Easter reading

Easter is here — that wonderful day when Christians rejoice and atheists shake their head and ask, “Why the heck are we still talking about that guy Jesus after 2,000 years?!” That is a fair question, which is why today seems like an ideal opportunity to revisit G.K. Chesterton’s “The Everlasting Man.”

“If Christ was simply a human character, he really was a highly complex and contradictory human character. For he combined exactly the two things that lie at the two extremes of human variation. He was exactly what the man with a delusion never is; he was wise; he was a good judge. What he said was always unexpected; but it was always unexpectedly magnanimous and often unexpectedly moderate.

Take a thing like the point of the parable of the tares and the wheat. It has the quality that united sanity and subtlety. It has not the simplicity of a madman. It has not even the simplicity of a fanatic. It might be uttered by a philosopher a hundred years old, at the end of a century of Utopias. Nothing could be less like this quality of seeing beyond and all round obvious things, than the condition of an egomaniac with the one sensitive spot in his brain. I really do not see how these two characters could be convincingly combined, except in the astonishing way in which the creed combines them.” — G.K. Chesterton.

Every year countless YouTube videos pop up by wannabe Joe Rogans, who blast the so-called “fairy tale” known as Christianity. They go apoplectic over said “fairy tale” and its longevity. Generation after generation after generation picks up the Bible, studies it, and then billions of people conclude that Christ was exactly who he claimed to be.

The reason for this, as Chesterton points out, is that Christ spoke with authority while simultaneously being “exactly what the man with a delusion never is; he was wise; he was a good judge.”

The Jesus of the New Testament seems to me to have in great many ways the note of something superhuman; that is of something human and more than human. But there is another quality running through all his teachings which seems to me neglected in most modern talk about them as teachings; and that is the persistent suggestion that he has not really come to teach.

If there is one incident in the record which affects me personally as grandly and gloriously human, it is the incident of giving wine for the wedding-feast. That is really human in the sense in which a whole crowd of prigs, having the appearance of human beings, can hardly be described as human.

It rises superior to all superior persons. It is as human as Herrick and as democratic as Dickens. But even in that story there is something else that has the note of things not fully explained; and in a way there very relevant. I mean the first hesitation, not on any ground touching the nature of the miracle, but on that of the propriety of working any miracles at all, at least at that stage; ‘my time is not yet come.’

What did that mean? At least it certainly meant a general plan or purpose in the mind, with which certain things did or did not fit in. And if we leave out that solitary strategic plan, we not only leave out the point of the story, but the story.

The imitation Joe Rogans often preface their derision of Christianity with lines like, “I went to Catholic school” — as if they weren’t like every other high-school kid who slept through classes, wrote notes to girlfriends, and generally just goofed around with buddies for four years. The same people who cannot understand basic economics in their 40s would have us believe they fully understood Christianity by age 16, but I digress.

The more one studies the Bible, the more obvious it becomes that Christ was unlike any man who walked the earth up until that time — and that He maintains that distinction to this very day. All the “flying spaghetti monster” jokes in the world cannot diminish the genius and goodness dispensed by Christ in ways, as Chesterton says, “more than human.”

Christ was born. His primary purpose in life was to die a horrible death — and then rise again. He did.

Chesterton states:

“I willingly and warmly agree that it is, in itself, a suggestion at which we might expect even the brain of the believer to reel, when he realized his own belief. But the brain of the believer does not reel; it is the brains of the unbelievers that reel. …

I care not if the skeptic says it is a tall story; I cannot see how so toppling a tower could stand so long without foundation. Still less can I see how it could become, as it has become, the home of man. 

Had it merely appeared and disappeared, it might possibly have been remembered or explained as the last leap of the rage of illusion, the ultimate myth of the ultimate mood, in which the mind struck the sky and broke. But the mind did not break. It is the one mind that remains unbroken in the break-up of the world.

If it were an error, it seems as if the error could hardly have lasted a day. If it were a mere ecstasy, it would seem that such an ecstasy could not endure for an hour. It has endured for nearly two thousand years; and the world within it has been more lucid, more level-headed, more reasonable in its hopes, more healthy in its instincts, more humorous and cheerful in the face of fate and death, than all the world outside.

Happy Easter, everyone. I am grateful for all of you who regularly give me precious time out of your day and I pray for your regularly.

Best,

Doug

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California goes full ‘Demolition Man,’ seeks ‘yes means yes’ sexual consent laws for college students

Stallone Demolition Man

Lawmakers in California must love 1993’s Sylvester Stallone flick “Demolition Man,” because they’re now looking into ways to pass “yes means yes” sexual consent laws. For those who are a bit younger, the film includes a scene where Stallone’s John Spartan is awkwardly asked by Sandra Bullock’s Lenina Huxley if he would like to have sex. The two then use a virtual reality headset to refrain from touching during the process. Just give California ten years and the virtual reality technology will be ready for prime time…

The Associated Press reported:

SAN DIEGO (AP) — College students have heard a similar refrain for years in campaigns to stop sexual assault: No means no.

Lawmakers are considering what would be the first-in-the-nation measure requiring all colleges that receive public funds to set a standard for when “yes means yes.” …

Legislation passed by California’s state Senate in May and coming before the Assembly this month would require all schools that receive public funds for student financial assistance to set a so-called “affirmative consent standard” that could be used in investigating and adjudicating sexual assault allegations. That would be defined as “an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision” by each party to engage in sexual activity.

Silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent. The legislation says it’s also not consent if the person is drunk, drugged, unconscious or asleep. …

After some interpreted that as asking people to stop after each kiss to get a verbal agreement before going to the next level, the bill was amended to say consent must be “ongoing” and “can be revoked at any time.”

John F. Banzhaf III, a George Washington University’s Law School professor, rightly says in the piece that the bill, if passed, would “very, very radically change the definition of rape.”

Indeed. We now live in a world where not only do officials believe they should be able to tax you per teaspoon of sugar you consume, but that they should be able to manage your sex life — down to the point where you must get “affirmative, unambiguous” consent while the process is “ongoing.”

At this point it would be easier if California just mandated that everyone have digital “sexual contracts” on hand that could be signed via cell phone apps and revoked by voice command.

The sad thing is, cultural air raid sirens are going off all around us, and the response by politicians is to create more laws.

Take the case of University of California at Berkeley student Meghan Warner, from the AP piece, for instance. She supports the legislation:

She said she was sexually assaulted during her freshman year by two men at a fraternity but didn’t report it because she believed “that unless it was a stranger at night with a weapon who attacked you when you were walking home, that it wasn’t rape. It’s just a crappy thing that happened.” She now runs campus workshops to teach students what constitutes consent.

“Most students don’t know what consent is,” she said. “I’ve asked at the workshops how many people think if a girl is blacked out drunk that it’s OK to have sex with her. The amount of people who raised their hands was just startling.”

If what Ms. Warner says is true, and a “startling” amount of kids on the Progressive UC Berkeley campus think it’s okay to have sex with a woman who blacks out during a party, then that is a problem that can not be adequately addressed by writing “yes means yes” laws; that is a cultural implosion, which requires the kind of spiritual training that is mocked and ridiculed on college campuses.

As G.K. Chesterton wrote in “Orthodoxy”:

“Not only is faith the mother of all worldly energies, but its foes are the fathers of worldly confusion. The secularists have not wrecked divine things; but the secularists have wrecked secular things, if that is any comfort to them. The Titans did not scale heaven; but they laid waste the world.”

Perhaps one day California will come to its senses. If not, they will have only themselves to blame for the creation of a cultural wasteland littered with laws that fail them.