Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I Guess that Explains it

A 12-year-old boy just randomly came up to me and gave a brief and somewhat depressing philosophical discourse which was basically the theme of The Homeward Bounders.  I got kind of excited - like, that's an odd thing for a 12-year-old boy to think of.

Then a couple of minutes later he came back and told me a kind of depressing parable, so I said, "You sound kind of depressed today."

His response?  "Yes, I'm a Christian."


Lonin said...

I wonder what denomination.

Grace Mulligan said...

Well, definitely not Catholic. In this country sometimes people don't even seem quite sure that Catholics are Christians (I find this odd, but it is what it is).

Not sure exactly what kind of Protestantism, though. There are some very strange flavors of it in this country.

Lonin said...

Maybe I should expand on the reasons for my query here. You see, I've been reading (rereading, actually) Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton's work of Christian apologetics, and I've just come again across the part that made what the boy said to you strike me as odd:

"For our Titanic purposes of faith and revolution, what we need is not the cold acceptance of the world as a compromise, but some way in which we can heartily hate and heartily love it. We do not want joy and anger to neutralize each other and produce a surly contentment; we want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent. We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre's castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return at evening."

So, I guess, the combination of this sentiment of Chesterton's with what you've recorded here makes me think I don't really know as much about the Christian ethos as I thought I did (I forget what denomination Chesterton was when he wrote Orthodoxy, but I think he was either Catholic or Anglican)?

Grace Mulligan said...

So, hey. I have been informed of your engagement but haven't been able to engage with you (ha ha) on it, so congratulations. I read your review of Orthodoxy on Goodreads where you suggested that it was in some way instrumental in your engagement, and I am very, very curious about this, so please feel free to elaborate on it if you get the chance.

That having been said, not having read Orthodoxy myself, perhaps I'm not quite getting what it is you're alluding to. I'm not clear on what the connection you're making between the kid's comment and the passage you quoted is, so I'm not sure I have much to say in response to it.

FWIW, I interpreted the kid's comment as a somewhat negative response to Christianity rather than a true endorsement of Christian beliefs - as in, that he intended his pessimism in the face of the Christian worldview to be critical rather than orthodox. That having been said, even that is just a guess. I don't really know what he was thinking.

Lonin said...

Aha -- your FWIW makes it clear to me how I misinterpreted your original story. I guess I'd thought that the kid was implying that he was depressed as a characteristic mood implied by his Christianity, not in critical reaction to it. And, I mean -- maybe Chesterton isn't to be trusted at all, either, about the characteristic moods of Christianity (what he claims for it in Orthodoxy is certainly different from anything I'd ever heard before -- but, you've read my Goodreads review, so I guess you probably won't be surprised at all to hear of my disconnect at yet another of Chesterton's Christian associations), but if I were to give him the benefit of the doubt as a Christian philosopher, I'd say that he'd very much object to going around telling depressing stories as a representation of Christianity. He'd probably, actually, be more likely to say that Christianity was supposed to *save* us from, if not depression, at least resignation to depression. Here's the best quote from Orthodoxy I can find right now on this subject, just to give you a flavor of this:

"On the other hand our idealist pessimists were represented by the old remnant of the Stoics. Marcus Aurelius and his friends had really given up the idea of any god in the universe and looked only to the god within. They had no hope of any virtue in nature, and hardly any hope of any virtue in society. They had not enough interest in the outer world really to wreck or revolutionise it. They did not love the city enough to set fire to it. Thus the ancient world was exactly in our own desolate dilemma."

I mean... I guess this is going kind of far afield from your original post at this point, so I'm sorry if I'm just blabbering by now. But I'll also email you about Orthodoxy and my engagement soon! Probably a bit too personal to put in the comments to this blog.