A man's opinion on tramcars matters; his opinion on Botticelli matters; his opinion on all things does not matter. . . . Everything matters--except everything.Chesterton quickly segues logically into a topic which will consume much of "Heresy": the false contrast between "practicality" and "idealism", with a reference to his contemporary Wilde (my mention of him in the opening of this review not by coincidence):
In the fifteenth century men cross-examined and tormented a man because he preached some immoral attitude; in the nineteenth century we feted and flattered Oscar Wilde because he preached such an attitude, and then broke his heart in penal servitude because he carried it out. It may be a question which of the two methods was the more cruel; there can be no kind of question which was the more ludicrous. The age of the Inquisition has not at least the disgrace of having produced a society which made an idol of the very same man for preaching the very same things which it made him a convict for practicing.Know what you believe, says Chesterton, and live it like you mean it to the hilt; any other manner of living is heresy. Of course, your belief may be wildly wrong, and Chesterton will mercilessly mock you for it, as he does such famous names as Kipling, H. G. Wells, and George Bernard Shaw. It is important to be orthodox, but it is just as important to be right, says Chesterton, in words so often quotable that for the first time in a long time I was underscoring dozens of passages and tempted to quote most of them here in this review
"Liberty" . . . is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. . . . "Progress" . . . is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. . . . "Education" . . . is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. The modern man says "let us leave all these arbitrary standards and embrace liberty." This is, logically rendered, "Let us not decide what is good, but let it be considered good not to decide it." He says "Away with your old moral formulae; I am for progress." This, logically stated, means "Let us not settle what is good, but let us settle whether we are getting more of it." He says, "Neither in religion nor morality, my friend, lie the hopes of the race, but in education." This, clearly expressed, means, "We cannot decide what is good, but let us give it to our children."The next time someone throws "tolerance" in your face for speaking clearly and strongly about what you believe and why, throw Chesterton back in his face, and defy him with good humor and grace for the fool that he is. And if some one claims to tell you why you must vote for one candidate over another in this year's election, but this person has not read Chesterton, suggest that he is not qualified to vote intelligently until he has read and understood Chesterton. Most likely, given the general state of education and vote-mongers in this country today, he will neither have read Chesterton nor be able to understand him if he had.
Everything else in the modern world is of Christian origin. . . . Physical science is of Christian origin. The attack on Christianity is of Christian origin. There is one thing, and one thing only, in existence at the present day which can in any sense accurately be said to be of pagan origin, and that is Christianity.It does matter what you believe, and why, and Chesterton is unapologetically Christian to the core. Know what you believe, and why. And please, don't vote unless you do.
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