Some friends and I are reading G.K. Chesterton’s book Orthodoxy. We have enjoyed reading various, brief character sketches of the man. He was a giant of a man, with a powerful pen, and odd little voice.
Not long ago my 9 year old son informed that when he grows up he wants to be a movie and food critic. This comes from his love of the movie Ratatouille. The food critic in the movie, Ego, was powerfully portrayed by Peter O’Toole. (Can one say “powerfully portrayed” when referring to a Disney cartoon?) My son’s comment reminded me that it is too easy to be a critic in our day and age. Television, the news media, and round the clock news commentary has made us all spectators and critics. As critics we too easily degrade into cynicism and pessimism.
Chesterton counters the inevitability of cynical pessimism with the oldest of Christian virtues: love.
The evil of the pessimist is, then, not that he chastises gods and men, but that he does not love what he chastises — he has not this primary and supernatural loyalty to things.
Teason left this quote by G.K. Chesterton in our church’s blog. I agree with him that these words give shape to a missional outlook for our community. You can see all of his comment here: Teason’s Wheatland Comment.
No one doubts that an ordinary man can get on with this world: but we demand not strength enough to get on with it, but strength enough to get it on. Can he hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing? Can he look up at its colossal good without once feeling acquiescence? Can he look up at its colossal evil without once feeling despair? Can he, in short, be at once not only a pessimist and an optimist, but a fanatical pessimist and a fanatical optimist? Is he enough of a pagan to die for the world, and enough of a Christian to die to it? In this combination, I maintain, it is the rational optimist who fails, the irrational optimist who succeeds. He is ready to smash the whole universe for the sake of itself.