Sunday, February 17, 2013

G.K. Chesterton - Random Notes

I think G.K. Chesterton got it wrong in his drama "The Surprise." It was played several times during advent on EWTN. I found it so terribly boring and I only got the real surprise when Mr. Alquist explained it at the end of one of the post-Christmas showings. If I heard and interpreted it correctly, the King and the Prince fighting over two "princesses" - represent mankind's perpetual state of warfare until the Incarnation and the coming of the Prince of Peace. Chesterton's drama is pure fantasy. All of the Old Testament, while it is true that it is a history of the Israelites' repeated fidelity, falling away, and return --- is predominantly a time of preparation for the coming of the Messiah or Savior. It is the sin of Adam and the sins of his descendants. King David's great psalm, the Miserere (Ps.50), could be seen as a kind of centerpiece, around which all the typologies and prophetic utterances revolve as a longing and fulfillment of God's promise in Genesis 3:15. 
But horizontally - linearly - historically and vertically, the Old Testament is one long sigh of a yearning need for the redemption promised and to come. It can also be seen as divided into two quite distinct eras or periods of which the age of the Church provides the third and fulfillment. There is from Adam to the flood, the First Age. From the flood to the Incarnation, the second age. The third and last age is that of the Church. Some Catholic prophecies divide history into Six Ages, typified by the Six Days of Creation, following St. Irenaeus. This making of the days of creation to be ages does not preclude their literal sense, and may even be stretched to interpret the two options of the 1907 biblical commission on the word "yom" in Genesis One, even though this is obviously not what the PBC intended. What they intended was a compromising concession to the modernist critics then growing in power and influence. The time of the Great Eastern Schism of 1053 is one period demarcation for the ages of the Church. The time of the Reformation/Renaissance is another. Then there is the Western, Avignon schism. Bishop Richard Williamson of the SSPX sees our times as typified by the Maccabees; a time just some two hundred years before the First Coming, the Incarnation, during which the faithful Israelites were reduced to a remnant. But the remnant of the Maccabees were noted for their militancy. This can hardly be said of those who today think of themselves as a remnant. Most notably, they fail to fight the major heresy of our time, namely - evolutionary modernism. This evolutionism has become a worldview and cannot be reconciled with the traditional teaching of the Church on the origin and history of mankind as revealed in Genesis 1-11. 
Yet this so-called Catholic remnant is completely silent on this issue of human origins as well as of cosmic origins and creation as specifically revealed in Genesis with its literal Six Day Creation Week. As with so many brilliant people - most of the world's geniuses in all fields - their brilliance is superficial, on the surfaces of reality. Usually such people have not or cannot find the time to probe more deeply into the subject at hand. This is definitely the case with G.K. Chesterton. In his classic, Everlasting Man, he gave himself the opportunity to investigate in some depth – the subject of human evolution, but he passed it up with the very superficial generalization that since caves contained very beautiful paintings, mankind must have at one time – lived in caves. It took time for him to evolve from the cave-dwelling – “primitive”state to a more advanced urban civilization ….pure fantasy!! 
The protestant creationists have given us the real historical context of the cave paintings. After the dispersion from Babel about 100 years after the flood, many small groups of people became isolated from the mainstream. (See this writer's From the Beginning, volume 2). When small groups are isolated geographically, and they inter-breed, certain characteristics become dominant. In Africa, certain tribes became noted for their unusual height, whereas others for the opposite. The Australian Aborigines developed certain features - while at the other geographical extreme, as in the Arctic regions of North America and Europe, the Laplanders are still noted for their very fair coloring, etc.
Only some few families took to living in caves and obviously only temporarily. However, people like the Pueblo Indians of the American Southwest, seem to have found such cave dwellings amenable enough. This is a subject to be studied in depth by anthropologists, so that hasty generalizations by brilliant writers like Chesterton, may be corrected. 
But let's not throw out the Chesterton baby with the bath water! It was he who, with remarkable intuitive insight, dubbed St. Thomas Aquinas, "Thomas of the Creator."

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