July 18, 2010

Weigel on Chesterton... "The sense of sacramentality"

This is by George Weigel, in Letters to a Young Catholic. A book I recommend. It's from a chapter of Chesterton quotes, with his thoughts on them...
On Small and Large Infinities

The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason . . . his mind moves in a perfect but narrow circle. A small circle is quite as infinite as a large circle; but, though it is quite as infinite, it is not so large . . . There is such a thing as a narrow universality; there is such a thing as a small and cramped eternity . . . the strongest and most unmistakable mark of madness is this combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contraction.
[GK Chesterton]
What's wrong with the way many skeptical moderns "see" the world? They see the world as a narrow infinity because they've lost the sense of sacramentality. As GKC put it, the modern materialist skeptic—the modern gnostic—"understands everything and everything does not seem worth understanding." Catholicism offers a different kind of infinity: a larger infinity, in which reason is enriched by imagination and imagination is disciplined by reason. As I already suggested, in the Catholic sacramental imagination, we "think" with our brains, our senses, and our emotions. Thinking with only or brains gives us a headache; it also gives us an aching soul. The deepest longings within us—for communion with others, wisdom, joy, accomplishment, love—annot be satisfied by reducing the world to syllogisms. Human beings were made for a wider infinity, for a more ample eternity.

(The Chesterton quote is from Orthodoxy. It's available on the Web here.)


Posted by John Weidner at July 18, 2010 2:22 PM
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