Father Brown mysteries on BBC

G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown mysteries, about a mild-mannered priest who solves crimes because he understands man’s sinful nature, is being televised on BBC.  It’s been so popular that it has been renewed for a second season.  Unfortunately, the series isn’t being shown here, not even on BBC America, and it isn’t available on Netflix.  Someday, we can hope, since BBC typically does a terrific job with material like that.  (Have you seen the BBC adaption of the Kurt Wallander mysteries by Henning Mankell, starring Kenneth Branagh?)  If anyone has seen the Father Brown stories, let us know how they are.  I know we have readers from across the pond.  (Details about the series after the jump.) [Read more...]

Journalism as a picture of exceptions

Mollie Hemingway, in the context of a post on how the media completely ignored a huge evangelical youth gathering, quotes the great G. K. Chesterton on the nature of journalism:

“It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. [Read more...]

Madness

More details come out about the Tucson shooter Jared Loughner’s insanity.  I was struck with this paragraph in a description of his delusions (none of which were apparently related to politics, despite what is still being said):

Slowly but steadily, his intelligence warped into a distorted, disconnected series of obsessions. He developed an illogical fascination with logic. Math, grammar, logic – the systems civilization has developed to make sense of the world became the means through which he expressed the confusion and pain in his increasingly lost mind.

via Friends, teachers tell of Loughner’s descent into world of fantasy.

This reminds me of G. K. Chesterton’s comment in Orthodoxy that a madman is not someone who has lost his reason, but someone who has lost everything but his reason.  Chesterton pointed out that madmen often carry a kind of logic to its extreme–circular reasoning, seeing evidence of conspiracies everywhere, closely analyzing ordinary occurrences and finding sinister meanings–but they lack normal human feelings and perspectives.

Chesterton on gratitude

G. K. Chesterton writes about ordinary life in a way that always makes me grateful for it. He also writes about gratitude. Here is some of what he said on the subject:

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. –Gilbert K. Chesterton

There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person. –G. K. Chesterton

The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them. –Gilbert K. Chesterton

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. –G. K. Chesterton

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. –G. K. Chesterton

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs? ~G.K. Chesterton

Chesterton’s fence

Kevin Staley-Joyce at the First Things blog quotes a great passage from the great G. K. Chesterton (from The Thing):

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected
across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to itand says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.”

To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put
there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable.

How could you apply this principle? You can see how Mr. Staley-Joyce applied it by clicking the link, but what are some other applications of Chesterton’s fence?


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