Friday, June 11, 2010

Great take on G.K. Chesterton and Catholic converts from The New Yorker (esp. the part about the post office):

"Jewish converts to Christianity are relieved to get out from under all those strange Levitical laws on animal hooves. The newly adapted faith, they imagine, is a shining, perfectly balanced system, an intricately worked clock where the cosmos turns to tell the time, and the cuckoo comes out singing every Sunday. An outsider sees the church as a dreamy compound of incense and impossibility, and over-glamorizing its pretensions, underrates its adaptability. A Frenchman or an Italian, even a devout one, can see the Catholic Church as a normally bureaucratic human institution, the way patriotic Americans see the post office, recognizing the frailty and even the occasional psychosis of its employees without doubting its necessity or its ability to deliver the message. Chesterton writing about the church is like someone who has just made his first trip to the post office. Look, it delivers letters for the tiny price of a stamp! You write an address on the label, and they will send it anywhere, literally anywhere you like, across a continent and an ocean, in any weather! The fact that the post office attracts time servers, or has produced an occasional gun massacre, is only proof of the mystical enthusiasm that the post office alone provides! Glorifying the postman beyond what the postman can bear is what you do only if you are new to mail."

- from the column, “Critic at Large,” titled, “The Back of the World,” subtitled, “The Troubling genius of G.K. Chesterton,” by Adam Gopnik, in The New Yorker, July 7 & 14, 2008, p58, par 1.”

1 comment:

Rob Peach said...

Let the Church say, "Amen!"