698: Religious Practices.

The dying out of religious practices from the life of the people tends more than anything else to the impoverishment of their speech. For the last three hundred years spoken English has been filled with Biblical allusions, and if the Bible ceases to be read in the schools we must expect these to die out, as the proverbs of the saints died out after the Reformation.

(“The Whitewashing of English,” The Living Age, Vol. CCLII, 1907, p. 186).

698: Religious Practices.

676: The Clown.

Western man for centuries now has lost the key to his own meaning. He has been striving for a long time to break out of the ruins of a City half destroyed at his own hands. Political Liberalism of the old-fashioned Marxian variety grew out of a psychological desire to get away from where man actually found himself. Post-World War II existentialist despair, considered as a socio-historical reality, is a philosophical justification for this urge to break all existing cultural and historical limits. What must be done, at all costs, is to exorcise our common historical heritage, our faith, our corporate memories. A fresh beginning can be the only beginning. This is a presupposition that is operative everywhere, most concretely in the arts, most consciously in philosophy, and most dangerously in religion.

Such is the estrangement modern man has carved for himself. In social and economic life the masses are estranged from their spiritual and cultural past. Politically, techniques forged by Western man himself have alienated him from his ancient freedom. The home, the nation, the Church, the West, the past, roots, origins — these are always wrong, always wicked: only the wilderness of the future promises salvation. The poet has retreated to that uniquely modern place invented in the early nineteenth century — the state of mind called Bohemia. His destiny seems assured when he has pruned away everything reminiscent of the objective order, and when he finds himself alone with his broken soul. Philosophically, the age has had urged on it the clever monstrosity that since consciousness renders to me what is Other than Myself, then my personality is defined by a negation. Theologically, the Barbarian God of the peat bogs has come back with “neo-orthodoxy,” and man is told that he is so utterly other than God that he is in no sense the image of his Creator. The human fabric has been so cut to ribbons that man has been reduced to a nothing that can parade his utter absurdity only by putting on a mask. The clown has come into his own.

(Frederick D. Wilhelmsen, Hilaire Belloc: No Alienated Man. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1953, pp. 44–45).

676: The Clown.

668: Beautiful Compensation.

The cry of the weak has ascended innumerable times to heaven, since the day when David said: “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.” That was a cry for self-knowledge, for strength to overcome, since success must come out of failure, victory out of defeat. And the wise man seeks to know his own weakness rather than the weakness of his enemy. Yet this knowledge of our limitations is such a varying one that it can never have the same meaning to any two persons.

We might say to the youth there are no limitations, beneficent or otherwise. The future lies stretched before him, golden and alluring, with its promise of swift fruition in hope and desire. He is strong; he is confident; he is sure of himself. Obstacles, failure, are words not in his vocabulary. Now, though the arrogance of young, untried strength rejects this word, limitation, an understanding of its meaning marks an epoch in each life. When that time comes is known only to the individual soul, but to him life is never the same again. He knows himself as never before. A beautiful poise of character is reached; he is armed for the struggle of life with a fine contentment, a sweet cheerfulness; and the aspirations of his youth no longer fret his soul.

There seem to be three stages in the study of limitations, which may be characterized thus: the time when we first learn our own limitations and realize that victory must come after defeat, all strength through weakness. Then comes the time when we begin to see the usefulness of limitation, and we adjust ourselves to this new aspect. And at last comes the resignation of old age. Middle life usually brings with it the culmination of a man’s intellectual and physical powers. He is at his best then in the eyes of the world, though he may not have yet reached full fruition in spiritual growth.

Old age, with its physical decadence, has one most beautiful compensation: the spiritual nature is then at its best. The immortal part of the man is strongest, and, while the body weakens under the load of years, these qualities which belong to the spiritual part are constantly growing in richness and grace. Love, which is immortal, gathers deeper and deeper meanings, passing from the groping intuitions of a girl’s first passion, upwards through the devotion of the mother for her children, the immeasurable dependence, the one upon the other, of the truly mated man and woman, upwards again to the divine trust in and love for God. It is then that we finally see the beauty of all limitations, the beauty which they have wrought in our own lives, and the perfect symmetry of all nature in God’s works.

(Carina Campbell Eaglesfield, Books Triumphant: Essays on Literature. New York: F. Tennyson Neely Co., 1901, pp. 80–82).

668: Beautiful Compensation.

638: Desmedida Exigência de Felicidade.

A fragilidade do matrimônio decorre de uma desmedida exigência de felicidade, ou melhor, da aplicação dessa exigência a uma coisa que não suporta tal pressão. Há um insolência nossa nessa impaciente cobrança de ventura, e há sobretudo um equívoco, porque pretendemos tirar da casa, do matrimônio, do amor humano, um infinito rendimento, quando é finita e sempre muito exígua a nossa própria contribuição. Depositamos com mesquinharia e queremos juros generosos, infinitamente generosos. E no desejo desse absurdo balanço nós somos injustos com o próximo, e injustos com Deus. Realmente, por mais esquisito que isto pareça, se alguém imagina que a sua noiva, e mais tarde a esposa, lhe possa dar plena felicidade, não terá direito de queixar-se nos dias de decepções, porque foi ele, inicialmente, o primeiro culpado de injustiça.

(Gustavo Corção, “A Casa,” O Globo, 3 de Janeiro de 1976).

638: Desmedida Exigência de Felicidade.

633: A Dickens Character.

A solemn friend of my grandfather used to go for walks on Sunday carrying a prayer-book, without the least intention of going to church. And he calmly defended it by saying, with uplifted hand, “I do it, Chessie, as an example to others.” The man who did that was obviously a Dickens character. And I am disposed to think that, in being a Dickens character, he was in many ways rather preferable to many modern characters. Few modern men, however false, would dare to be so brazen. And I am not sure he was not really a more genuine fellow than the modern man who says vaguely that he has doubts or hates sermons, when he only wants to go and play golf. Hypocrisy itself was more sincere. Anyhow, it was more courageous.

(G.K. Chesterton, Autobiography. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1936, p. 20).

633: A Dickens Character.

630: Religion Alone.

Who knows whether there has been enough of warfare? But never will it cease, till the palm-branch be grasped, which a spiritual power can alone extend. So long will blood continue to flow over Europe, until nations shall become conscious of the fearful frenzy, that urges them round in a vicious circle, and until touched and softened by celestial music, they shall return in motley crowds to their ancient altars, perform works of peace, and, on the reeking battle-plain, amid tears of joy, solemnize the festival of peace, the great repast of love. Religion alone can resuscitate Europe, can give security to nations, invest Christendom with new glory, and reinstate her in her old pacific functions.

(Novalis; quoted in James Burton Robertson, “Life and Writings of Novalis,” The Dublin Review, Vol. III, 1837, pp. 298–299).

630: Religion Alone.

606: Action.

Men by their nature are impelled to action, and they require a moral guide for their feet. To wait, with our short lives, till reason has discovered the absolute moral law, would involve us in the dilemma of abstaining from action (which is an impossibility), or of acting without any rule of conduct. Reason bids us, then, seeing as we do “through a glass darkly,” to follow the immediate dictates of common sense, conscience, and revelation.

(William John Courthope, “Johnson and Carlyle,” The National Review, Vol. II, 1883–84, p. 321).

606: Action.