Saturday, July 28, 2007

Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory

John Peterson graciously responded to my response to his piece in an earlier post on whether Chesterton should be used to gain answers to specific questions, which I will bring out onto the main page:
This is well said. I am tempted to leave the field of valor in disgrace. Still, I too have the index referred to and I have used it often, although I confess it has been some years since I felt the urge to learn GK's position on a given topic from that source. All I need do is ask Peter Floriani and - Presto! - he supplies all the references in AMBER, which is a more comprehensive resource.

I do not want to judge Chesterton the way he judged other authors becuase I have always thought Chesterton unique. And the thought that has always blown me away is his command of informal logic, blowing away HIS opponents' claims and arguments with dazzling fireworks of logic. I don't go to him to learn that Dickens was a fine author, or that Christianity is the Way, or that Rerum Novarum was an earthquake encyclical, because these ideas are well known anyway. But I do steal his ways of criticizing literature, his ways of defending the faith, and his ways of interpreting meaning in history. Maybe the answer is that I am well along in my seventies, and I have forgotten that much of what I know I learned from Chesterton, having breathed the man in and out since high school.

My problem comes down to this: traveling in Chestertonian circles, I have too often encountered the argument that Chesterton believed so-and-so, and thus the matter is closed to discussion. That's really all I am objecting to. But it is a very big and widespread abuse.
~ Gramps
He has been in possession all these years of a better reference source for Chesterton than I have had! What can I do but raise the white flag?

No comments: