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« Was G. K. Chesterton anti-Semitic? | Main | WYD '08 least attended, best organized »

Thursday, July 17, 2008


MMajor Fan

This was totally excellent.

Ana Braga-Henebry

I have thsi book! It helps the reader plow through a lot of Chesterton's (scattered) thought without much effort! Great!


Sadly, cultural tradition has historically dictated that blacks exist only to serve whites. That's just one of the pitfalls of cultural traditionalism. How does one go about explaining that historical reaility?

Charles E Flynn

There is a detailed explanation of how the confusion over this alleged quotation arose at:



The answer to your question is right in the text.

"If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, or that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served."

Chesterton's point is not to oppose all reform, only to oppose the mentality of reform for the sake of reform. Some things, like slavery, are manifestly evil and were justified in the context of the British Empire and her colonies by the equally evil notion that black men were not fully human. This form of racism, ie. white vs. black, which you rightly identify, still lingers in the hearts of some. And it also must be remembered that slavery all through the centuries of recorded history, right up to the slavery that still exists today, has had the same root, such that one group of people, often based on tribe, has de-humanized another group in order to enslave them. One just has to look at the history of the Jewish people to witness this over and over right up to the Third Reich. This is the same mental construct that justifies abortion.

It is by understanding the roots of this evil that you can avoid it in the future. Clearly, in the west, it was not fully understood, as millions of babies are killed each year in the womb. The lesson of slavery has been lost to many, ie. the de-humanizing of another human being in order to use, abuse or kill them for your own purposes. It was once legal here on the basis of color, and now it is legal on the basis of age and stage of development.

Does that mean that every American cultural tradition is therefore evil? Must everything be tossed out because of slavery? "Change, change, change?" Or does it mean that every institution must be overthrown? Or that every practice of every institution must be updated? Absolutely not. And that is what Chesterton is saying. You must know the reasons for things before you can judge whether they should be changed.

St. Paul said it very succinctly in 1 Thessalonians 5:21;
"Test everything; retain what is good."


Sadly, cultural tradition has historically dictated that blacks exist only to serve whites.

What cultural tradition? If you read Cornell West or others who have written on modern forms of slavery, you will see that there were many "cultures" involved and some of those were non-white.


Brian: just for such reasons, we must examine our traditions in light of Tradition.


Thank you, everyone.

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