Hello! What's Wrong With the World?

You found me! With a little help from my pals at First Things, who helped you get ported over! It’s sort of like Star Trek; you’re on your where to where you thought you were going and then suddenly, you’re transported elsewhere!


Well, now that you’re here, let’s have a little fun, ala Chesterton!

I think Chesterton had fun every time he picked up a pen, no matter how weighty the subject, but sometimes his wordplay is so imbued with a combination of wisdom and wit that it approaches the sublime!

The man who is content to say “We do not want theologians splitting hairs,” will doubtless be content to go on and say, “We do not want surgeons splitting filaments more delicate than hairs.” It is the fact that many a man would be dead today, if his doctors had not debated the fine shades about doctoring. It is also the fact that European civilization would be dead today, if its doctors of divinity had not debated fine shades about doctrine.
- The Resurrection of Rome Via this post.

In this case, we’ll have some serious-fun by trying something we’ve done before around here: detailing What’s Wrong With the World, in 100 words or less!

Chesterton famously wrote a book called What’s Wrong With the World; while in the throes of writing it, he once scandalized a guest by arriving late to tea with the apology: “I’m very sorry; I was upstairs in my room, doing ‘what’s wrong’.”

Misunderstandings happen.

Another time, when a British paper queried a variety of writers, Chesterton answered the question “What’s Wrong With the World” quite succinctly and accurately:

Dear Sirs;
I am.
G.K. Chesterton

Because the evidence is in abundance, I will take his answer for my own. But you have at it. Rant away! For 100 words.

I – and this site – am emphatically not responsible for the opinions of others expressed below!

The Year of Living Anxiously

What’s RIGHT with the world?

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://dailywoof.wordpress.com Kensington

    The problem with the world is that it isn’t as fun, interesting or fulfilling as the world we inevitably yearn for from television and movies. Our families are rarely as loving, kind and supportive as they should be, and the more deeply we need, the less we can be given without harm to our very constitution. It’s really quite maddening. The conservatives are too conservative; the liberals are too liberal, and the moderates are unreliable. If I didn’t know any better, I’d almost suspect God was having a laugh.

  • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

    Answer One: What Chesterton said.

    Beyond that:

    Answer Two: “What’s wrong with the world” is what the Pope says is “wrong with the world”. I try to take my cues from him on this specific question, though my qualifications aren’t exactly consistent with the job considering what he says the problem is. He said recently that the “future of the world is at stake” because of an “eclipse of reason”. He said this in his state of the union to Cardinals.


  • Frances

    Dear Madame,
    Me too.

  • Anne

    What’s wrong with the world is the divine moments experienced are fleeting beyond our grasp, and our desire to prolong or intensify them tends to make us more graspy than is becoming. Next, ubiquitous-pure-existence gifts are overlooked for more glamorous fantasies that distract and debase. Instead of bending with the wind like a graceful tree, we clutch and demand and refuse to be satisfied. To echo Chesterton somewhat, and Elder Zossima more explicitly, all are responsible for all, and none of us bear one another as we know we ought. Hell, we can barely bear ourselves most days.

  • http://j3b3.wordpress.com jb

    1. Theologically . . . original sin

    2. Ontologically . . . me, as Chesterton correctly understood

    3. Every other excuse any of us use as substitutes.

    What’s RIGHT with the world?

    It happened as promised – Isaiah 9:1-7

  • Fr Longenecker

    People have the wrong expectations, so they end up being disappointed. They expect happiness without cost, love without sacrifice, food without work and that someone else will do the dishes, the laundry and pick up their socks. If we regarded this life as a vale of tears we would soon be content.

  • mike cliffson

    parafrasing chesterton AND original sin:
    Madam, I’m adam

  • http://towertales.tumblr.com/ londonistar

    Am new to the place – what a wonderful blog!

  • http://www.theledliegroup.com Maurice

    1) Massive though not invincible ignorance of the fundamentals born of the belief that only I matter and my behavior, whatever it is, is sufficient to myself and all others lucky enough to encounter me.

    2) Derived from that: ingratitude, more passive than active. Whatever good and whatever gift comes my way is, given my ego, my birthright.

    3) The next iteration being sloth. Ignorant of forms and functions and self-contained and imbued as I am, there is no need to stir myself or others, unless they cross me.

    The consequences of these conditions include paltry liturgy, apostate politicians, hierarchical fear of confrontation divided synods, rebellion in the academies, clueless pewmen , children adrift.

  • http://anotherespressoplease.blogspot.com coffeemom

    Dear Madame,
    What she said.
    Me too.

  • Elaine

    I think some have substituted other gods in their lives and this results in disjointed, confusing reasoning. There is no anchor in some people’s lives so they don’t know how to settle down and think logically. They believe so deeply in some things that even the truth evades them when it is obvious that the facts are proving them wrong.
    I believe that many many people do believe in God and are struggling with the folks that are the above mentioned. If you take them on with debate you run a risk of being super scorned or if you remain silent they run amok. I think we all have to figure out how to best deal with this and pray to God that somehow a peaceful way of standing up for what we believe will prevail even if we disagree with each other.
    What I am sad about is the shooter and killer of the people in Tucson had so many red flags that he appears to have been left alone in his sick world. Human dignity must prevail in our hearts and maybe this will guide us into doing the right thing.

  • The Egyptian

    elitists of every stripe, and the minions that enable them,
    Politicians that now your business better than you
    Bishops who know the faith better than the Holy Father
    and yes “I am”

  • Steve Colby

    Confessing the sins of Others or, as we pray daily in the Temple, “I thank God that I am not like those other people who think they’re different from everyone else.”

  • Anniebird

    I thought I’d add my own list until I read Maurice’s comment…well said, sir!

  • http://begojohnson.wordpress.com Maria

    Dear Madam,

    What’s wrong with the world is that we don’t eat enough chocolate. Or eat the wrong kind of chocolate — you know, that gross pasty thing oversold at Easter that passes for chocolate.

    When the real thing is available right under our noses, why settle for a cheap, and ultimately unsatisfying substitute?

    A Purist

  • Mandy P.

    Selfishness, and all the ways we twist and turn in trying to justify it.

  • Mutnodjmet

    Dear Anchoress: I don’t know all that is wrong with the world — but I do know one thing that is sooooo right! Congrats on the new home and your sharp-looking, uncluttered blog. I wish you tons of success in your new home.

    You are my blogging icon. I have loved seeing how your work and your fan community have evolved over the past couple of years. Thanks so much for giving me a fresh perspective on the news and an insight into Faith.

    I may have to read a book by Chesterton this year. :)

  • http://gmsplace.com GM Roper

    Dear and Beloved Anchoress:
    Cest Moi!
    but also, I think it is the loss of the wonder and innocence that little children have when they experience their first snowfall, or the joy in jumping in a pile of leaves, perhaps in a meal when one has been hungry for a long time, and when little ones learn about God Almighty.

    Thank you for this post!

    Word Count: 72 including this last bit.

    [Congrats on your "five year" test pass! Hard to believe how fast time goes, isn't it? -admin]

  • http://gmsplace.com GM Roper

    OT: Your link has been changed to your new URL at GM’s Place. Thanks for the heads up!

    [Thank you! -admin]

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  • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ Christian

    The Pill.

  • http://www.withouthavingseen.com Ryan Haber

    What’s wrong with the world?

    Well, the Church is the light of the world and its hope of heaven whether the world knows it or not. With us Western Christians, as our Lord predicted, love has grown so cold and our faith so dim.

    Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in us the fire of Thy love. Send forth Thy Spirit and we shall be created. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

  • http://unshakeablehope.blogspot.com Emily B

    It seems that an idea of freedom that involves a radically autonomous individualism is the root of what’s wrong with the world. Original Sin was a matter of grasping what one could out of God’s hands, rather than receiving it as a gift (which requires relation). Today, the idea of freedom as the ability to choose whatever I want, to define my own happiness, continues and has perpetuated unbelievable manifestations of what’s wrong in the world. Until we see life as a gift to be received and then given, we will continue to be horrified by new dimensions of “wrongness.”

  • Margaret Yo

    Knowing too much about the damage the impact of a bullet to the back of the head at close range as it passes through the brain of a bright, young woman, a servant of the people does, knowing that the parents of nine year old Christina Taylor Green are now suffering a magnitude of grief beyond words, and that there is a young man whose mind is so terribly sick that it thought the answer to what is wrong with the world is that killing is a thing to do, and that each and every one of us could be in place of Giffords, Green or Loughner, but for the Grace of God… I am.

  • Simplemind

    The world is broken by design. The knowledge that is broken is shared by all -the babe at the doctors first slap even. We try to avoid, evade, deny, shift blame in an effort to lessen the blow of reality. When we try to “fix” the world rather than ourselves it just gets worse. Many believe that the world can be fixed, with the right laws, enough funding etc. etc. This is not true. Person to person you can help and receive help, an oftentimes gain salvation. No one gets to heaven on a governement program.

    In the words of my wise parish priest. . .
    “its easier to put on a pair of slippers than it is to carpet the world”.

  • Bill

    Too much hate and “hate talk.”

  • firstHat

    Dear Madam,

    Am I?


  • Jack Smith

    Christians, like me, don’t love enough.

    That’s half of it.

    Maria is on to the other half – choosing inferior chocolate.

  • Caroline W

    As a parent of a boy the same age as the AZ shooter, I’ve been reflecting on the number of “lost boys” that I know. A few who can’t finish college; a few addicts and alcoholics; homeless; in jail; like I said, lost. Of course, I know some great guys…but when I compare the cohort of say, my daughter’s high achieving peers — I have to conclude there is something profoundly wrong with the way our boys are developing. I have a few theories that I can’t wedge into 100 words…I think there’s something — many things– about this technological era of false autonomy that is especially deadly for boys. Pray for our precious boys. They’re losing their sense of purpose.

  • anthony dawe

    1 The lack of ecclesiastical courts with which to hand over heretics to state/Crown courts to be executed for sedition. [which is how it quite rightly worked, look it up]

    2 No self respecting person would actually WANT to be a politician. [thus as Edmund Burke said: 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing' sounds all so familiar to me... and DO make that statement gender inclusive]

    3 The misapprehension that we colonials ‘rebelled’ against the British Crown. We did no such thing as we were, as Mr Burke points up in his excellent speeches of the time, exercising our rights as freeborn subjects to expect reciprocity for mercantilism. [and were finally fed up after 50 years aprox of defending ourselves against the French invasions whilst being promised regular Armies that didn't materialize]

    … so in this New Year of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ let’s all stop carping at each other and work together to bring the light of His gospel and Church to the world we prove to ‘dispise’ by our own indifference and callous behaviour.


  • firstHat

    on second thought and in reply to Caroline W:

    “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings to be fruitful.” CS Lewis

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  • Krakow

    The bridging of the big bang to the ever expanding universe by humans is too much for the mind to grasp within the constructs of three dimensions. In the continuum of time, the universe and humans are mere offshoots yet the mind treats our existence as integral and the whole thing as linear. No one devised a teaching tool that can immerse the human conscious in the bath of it all. It may be the only way to let go especially since city lights have blinded us from gazing into the night sky. It is interesting that among the learned there persists no agreement on what triggered the big bang. The world is as it always has been. There is nothing wrong. Find a way to fit in.

  • Kate

    We forget to say thank you.

  • http://www.cowboypapist.wordpress.com Cowboy Papist

    Pride and Love -

    Too much of the first and too little of the second -

  • http://oxyparadoxy.blogspot.com/2011/01/im-sick.html The Ranter

    A world where twins in the womb are being aborted because the parents wanted a girl – or – where one twin is aborted because the parents didn’t want twins.

  • Liz

    What’s wrong with the world (in 102 words)?

    We mistakenly expect the world to be perfect!

    After being booted out of Eden our job is to make the best of our exile until God determines we are fit to be readmitted.

    That would involve finding and loving all that is true and beautiful in our current surroundings, and ferreting out, no matter how well hidden, and loving the beauty and truth in each of our brothers and sisters.

    And finally, proclaiming our findings so loudly that we crack the eardrums of the angels and saints, and Jesus remembers us when we come into His Kingdom.

  • http://www.nunspeak.wordpress.com Sr_Lisa

    The world has forgotten its origin. There’s something very humbling to reflect that I come from another. To think about my beginnings reminds me of my own fragility, and how grateful I am, first to God, who “knew me before I came to be” (Ps 139); and to my parents who interrupted their lives to make room for me to begin mine. When we find wrong in the world, there is a lack of continuity with these beginnings, thus leaving ourselves open to fragment our future.

  • Carol

    97 words:

    The secular world is missing two intimately connected things: property rights and the rule of law. Nicholas Kristof wrote a column about a program in Haiti that is helping the people there start businesses, teaching them to be capitalists, to their great benefit. In response I said this is a good start, but until Haiti has functioning courts, it won’t work in the long run. Once this family’s business is profitable, a thug with connections to a judge will steal it from them. The thug will steal the property and a corrupt judge will enforce the theft.

  • Mr. Lynch

    Way back in The First Garden, two people forgot who they were and from whence they came.

    And we, their descendants, still have a hard time remembering.

  • Fr John Mack

    What’s wrong with the world begins and ends in the lack of gratitude for what is right in the world, giftedness that is lavished upon us by Divine Grace

  • http://motherofthechurch.blogspot.com Patrick

    The problem with the world is that it never pauses. We do not stop to give thanks to God or to contemplate His perfection. We keep going and going, because time is money (yet another problem), never pausing to discover God. Instead of trying to find God inside of ourselves, we fool ourselves into seeing ourselves as God, which deludes us into thinking that the problem is not what Chesterton declared it to be, that I am (or we are).

  • shana

    God told us that children were a blessing and debt a curse.

    We’ve been living that backwards.

  • Quanah

    I am.

    Anything beyond that will dangerously raise my blood pressure.

  • Stephen J.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics. But that’s just a scientific observation of the wrongness, not an explanation for it. Why are there imperfections of existence which give rise to unnecessary suffering?

    Seizing knowledge of good and evil for ourselves, in defiance of God’s request (would He have granted it to us in time had we waited?), we were cast out of Edenic innocence into awareness of mortality and morality, where our choices had to have permanent prices and consequences to mean anything.

    Only in a universe of suffering do our sacrifices to save others from that suffering redeem us.

    (99 words)

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  • Doc

    A Deficit of Decency, the Unholy Alliance, Useful Idiots, Devaluing America, (to steal a few book titles), Communism and all its fruit…oh, and light beer.

  • jason taylor

    What’s wrong with this world is that I don’t get to be a space hero and go on epic voyages to found a new civilization, nor do I get to fight evil space pirates. Nor am I married to a beautiful and intelligent woman who can fight space pirates with me. Nor am I rich and famous. Nor do people sing songs about my achievements. In this world I am single, of moderate wealth, and a librarian and likely to stay that way.