It is odd how some idea comes across your life in a series of accidental events. I'm not superstitious. I'm somewhat of a Calvinist, but I'm not a fatalist either so I don't believe "everything happens for a reason." But that's besides the point.
Someone here, just a few weeks ago, mentioned G. K. Chesterton and wondered if I had read any of his works. Oddly, I was only acquainted with his name.
Since then, there have been several references made to him within my sphere of associations. I asked my son, "Are you familiar with Chesterton." To which he replied with simple look of "Duh!"
I feel ashamed that I am a man in my fifties and I've been so artistically deprived for so long. I realize now that my deep evangelical years (meaning that there are plenty of evangelicals who were not as deprived as me and therefore were not so "deep" into it) were my personal "Dark Ages."
So, I'm seeing a patient this morning. She has her own interesting (but sad) story. She was adopted into a very conservative missionary family home. They moved to Africa when she was quite young per their professional trade (missionaries). She was sent away to missionary boarding school when she was seven. I think the wonderful missionary dorm parents took good care of her until she was about ten . . . then the husband came in at night to read her Bible stories . . . and to rape her. This went on for years. She was threatened to keep quiet. I think she told me that the dear couple retired as missionary heroes and the man never faced any kind of justice because the acts were swept under the carpet by the organization. You know, the nice facade must be maintained. This patient, amazingly, is still involved with Christian things, but she is not an idealist.
So this brings me to my point. On the cover of her note book this morning she had this quote by G.K. Chesterton (which everyone knows . . . save myself): "Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity." I was dumbfounded. So much so, that I've done some reading about Chesterton and will put some more of his quotes at the end of this.
Have you ever walked around all day with toilet paper on your shoe, hanging from your pants or a bugger hanging from you nose? Then you discover it and you feel embarrassed like every on in the whole world knew but yourself. That's the way I feel. The whole freaken world knew how wonderful fiction was but me! Okay, the other characters in my Dark Ages epoch didn't know either. What I mean is that during my Nav years, we were so dualistic in our thinking, that none of us read fiction but for the C. S. Lewis. I knew Navs who didn't even think that Lewis could have been a Christian because he wrote about witches . . . and he smoked. I'm not saying this literary depravity (correct word) was typical of the Navs, but it certain was of my group. Why read something for selfish entertainment--that is not factual--while the whole world is going to hell? How sad.
But, like I've said before, my children introduced me to fiction about 17 months ago and my life has been deeply enriched since.
So this leads me to Richard Yates, a much less well known literary artist. He wrote the book, Revolutionary Road. Tomorrow I am trying an experiment and I am nervous about it. I'm showing the movie in our home theater and having a discussion about it (like we use to in the LAbri house). I picked this movie because of its great commentary about American life in the 50s, about the pursuit of personal peace (keeping everything on the surface calm) while your private world is going to hell.
Even though I've invited the entire island, so far the only RSVPs have been from a few of our evangelical friends. Some of them are the ones who walked out in the middle of the high school play when homosexuality was mentioned. This movie is rated R and has some sexuality in it . . . as does real life. So far the feeling that I've gotten is that no one seems to know why I'm doing this. But it is the same reason we read fiction. So that brings me back to G.K. and some more of his quotes. I must also mention that he was a prototype post-evangelical, having eventually given up on the (Victorian era) Anglican Church and became a Catholic before he died.
"Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."
"Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car."
"The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost."
"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."
"The word "good" has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man."