Saturday, July 26, 2003

I have been thoroughly enjoying G.K. Chesterton's "Orthodoxy," a peculiar book in which Chesterton explains how his atheistic thought-experiments about the nature of the universe eventually led him to accept the orthodoxies of Christianity. I could not summarize his dense, evocative prose without doing violence to it, but I was particularly taken with a passage I read today. It comes from Chesterton's chapter addressing the inherent paradoxes of Christianity, which he regards as a strength and not a weakness -- that is, Christianity should be praised for the fact that it encompasses both extremes of passivity and action. He then turns to the passage about "the lion laying down with the lamb":

"But remember that this text is too lightly interpreted. It is constantly assured, especially in our Tolstoyan tendencies, that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamb-like. But that is brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb. The real problem is -- Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? That is the problem the Church attempted; that is the miracle she achieved."

Again, I can't summarize his intricate arguments, but it's a thoroughly challenging and rewarding read.

 4:27 PM

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