The famous author G. K. Chesterton earned my admiration after reading the Everlasting Man. His sharp wit and borderline whimsical style serve a unique style of apologetics that I have found both charming and thought provoking. The more I reflect on his writing I find that perhaps our world needs more of the joyful Catholic apologist.
But this is not an article so much about Chesterton. Smarter men than I have written better things about him than I ever could. What I find more appealing is not the arguments of Chesterton but the writing of the man.
I’ve always been more of an Aquinas writer. Certainly not in intellect but in style. As logical as possible to the point of being stuffy. Not that there is anything wrong with stuffy. But only certain kinds of people enjoy stuffy.
There has been a great breakdown in trust between people these days. Conversations and discussions are not held by people who mutually respect one another but a duel to the death mentally because the physical version might land them in jail. When men regard one another as poisonous it is very difficult to get anyone to listen.
Chesterton seemed to find that balance. That stance between the warrior and the jokester. He earned both the respect and the admiration of his intellectual opponents. Who today can one say such a thing among the Catholic faithful?
Catholics in the Western world, especially in America, seem to have this bunker mentality. It is understandable to some degree. We see the breakdown of morality in society. Not specific morals but even the very concept of morality seems to be on the rocks. The notion that truth can exist outside of one’s head, let alone time itself, is not a popular idea however true. And one can forget about even the slightest suggestion that said truth can and should guide us in some fashion.
As a result a lot of Catholic writing comes off a bit too academic for moderns in my opinion. I know this because my own writing suffers this defect. And since I shamelessly borrow ideas better than mine I can hardly be blamed for this. (The careful reader will realize hopefully this is a joke, however poor in taste).
It should not have to be pointed out that I am not excluding academic views of the Faith. I’ve done such writing for years. But often I feel like we don’t have the synthesis needed to bring the Truth of the Faith in a way that can touch the lives of others. The Catholic blogsphere seems to function in very either/or modes.
I think we need a bit more of the whimsical and the airy. Writing that respects but doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is all the more important with serious matters that we discuss in this space.
Pope Francis warns of the “self-referential” Church. I think I’ve come to understand what that warning means at least to me. If my mind is not on writing so that others will hear but simply to reinforce my own convictions, I am simply talking to myself in public. Kind of like this article.
We need to get out of the trenches. I think we have spent far too much time in a siege mentality. Constantly defending or attacking, never living. Not all are like this but too many are.
Apologies to patient readers who find this article. I have been out of the regular firestorm that is the blogsphere for quite some time. A a result I have been mulling these thoughts and attempting to write about writing. But if my reflection might be useful to those who blog or are thinking about blogging it will have served its purpose. Most likely I will be back to being a grump next time.
Enjoy the rest of your day. We shall talk again.