Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Thrilling Romance of Orthodoxy: 2

"If we wish to pull down the prosperous oppressor we cannot do it with the new doctrine of human perfectibility; we can do it with the old doctrine of Original Sin. If we want to uproot inherent cruelties or lift up lost populations we cannot do it with the scientific theory that matter precedes mind; we can do it with the supernatural theory that mind precedes matter. If we wish specially to awaken people to social vigilance and tireless pursuit of practise, we cannot help it much by insisting on the Immanent God and the Inner Light: for these are the best reasons for contentment; we can help it much by insisting on the transcendent God and the flying and escaping gleam; for that means divine discontent. If we wish particularly to assert the idea of a generous balance against that of a dreadful autocracy we shall instinctively be Trinitarian rather than Unitarian. If we desire European civilization to be a raid and a rescue, we shall insist rather that souls are in real peril than that their peril is ultimately unreal. And if we wish to exalt the outcast and the crucified, we shall rather wish to think that a veritable God was crucified, rather than a mere sage or hero. Above all, if we wish to protect the poor we shall be in favour of fixed rules and clear dogmas. The rules of a club are occasionally in favour of the poor member. The drift of a club is always in favour of the rich one."

3 comments:

Jendi said...

I've always loved this book. Thanks for posting.

I'm 100% with GKC up to this part: "if we wish to protect the poor we shall be in favour of fixed rules and clear dogmas. The rules of a club are occasionally in favour of the poor member. The drift of a club is always in favour of the rich one."

I would just add the caveat that since rules and dogmas always require interpretation, they can be hijacked by that "drift" toward the perspective of the powerful and privileged, unless there's also some flexibility mechanism built in that allows the rules to be questioned and transformed occasionally by voices from below -- the way that Jesus challenged the Pharisees.

Bryan Owen said...

A good caveat, Jendi. Lent blessings to you!

Jendi said...

And also with you!