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Thursday, July 17, 2008


MMajor Fan

I think this is part of the strange mindset that many have who wish to not believe in God. Using that logic they figure that if they can identify a serious flaw in a believer of God, then they don't have to believe in God. This is really an anti-Catholic and somewhat anti-Christian in general thing. You see this with the abusing priest scandal most clearly. I can understand the victims, but their supporters latch onto each case of priest abuse as a reason to disbelieve and have an excuse to detach from some of the rigor of faith and believing in God. This really is part of that strange lack of common sense of modern society that is part of what is excerpted so well in your next post. Think back one hundred years ago or more, all the way back in faith history. If there had been sex abuse scandal of priests, ministers, rabbis, etc throughout human history, no one would have concluded the Church was therefore invalid or God could now be ignored. It is a modern phenomenon and flawed mindset that if only Christian leaders have a major flaw, their entire faith institution AND God himself are suspect. This is also applied to patriots and historic figure. I first noticed it at my Ivy League university, where in history the professor evaluated the "flaws" in FDR, using modern day criterion. He then dismissed all that FDR accomplished, and I do mean all, based on FDR's perceived political correctness shortcomings based on standards that were more than 25 years after his death. That literally was the first time I personally observed discarding an entire personage or belief based on "finding" a politically incorrect "flaw." This is now a rampant problem and young people need to work hard not to continue this strange mindset that their parents' generation has developed. It is as if after a food poisoning scandal one no longer believes in food at all.

Anyway, Dale wrote a wonderful letter refuting the accusation, but I thought I'd chime in with my observation of the agenda behind each of these individual accusations, whether true or false, which is to, following that strange and warped logic, discard all that the person believes or the institution as a whole. It's back to the thinking that belief in God is optional. It's a right but why people think that because his advocates are flawed (as all people are) that therefore he does not exist and his institutions are wrong is dangerously delusional. Like I said, I saw it applied in 1970's in an Ivy League setting to denounce all the works of a US President based on one single accusation about his political correctness. So it is not just a God and faith issue, though that is the area people ought to regain their sense about in a hurry and stop the racing to "find" an excuse for "rationalizing" disbelief. Using any excuse to disbelieve a personage or institution is actually the dangerously irrational mindset, not the rational approach, as this delusion whispers and implies.

dim bulb

Perhaps Chesterton disliked Jazz because the establishments where he lunched on cold pork sandwiches and port wine insisted on playing it:

"Of all modern phenomena, the most monstrous and ominous, the most manifestly rotting with disease, the most grimly prophetic of destruction, the most clearly and unmistakably inspired by evil spirits, the most instantly and awfully overshadowed by the wrath of heaven, the most near to madness and moral chaos, the most vivid with deviltry and despair, is the practice of having to listen to loud music while eating a meal in a restaurant."-Avowals and Denials


I'm afraid that we can't keep sweeping those charges under the rug if we expect to give a coherent witness to the Gospel of life and love. How do you explain his rants about Jewish bankers? How do you explain his remarks on "the Jewish Problem"? The letter would have been enhanced by addressing these facts. In fairness, I did read the page on Wikipedia--he actually did oppose Nazism.


"What I'd like Dale to explain about Chesterton is why the great G.K., who I admire so very much and have learned so much from, disliked jazz so intensely."

At the risk of antagonizing you Carl, my reflex response was that I should think it would be obvious. But, of course, I'm not a jazz fan either, although I have otherwise perfectly sensible friends who are. The closest I can get is the blues and some Dixieland, particularly ragtime. But then, I also love Zydeco. The main difference is, I think, is that I like the rythm and baseline pretty much tacked down, even if it is an off-centre beat like Reggae.

Ed Peters

Carl: GKC's dislike of jazz was part of his wider dislike of music. See my musings on same in Hillsdale Review 5(1983)40-42.

dimbulb: GKC looked with disdain on the phrase "port wine". cit. omm. shame on you.

dim bulb

One doesn't have to sweep it under the rug or explain it. Chesterton's intentions are clear enough to anyone who reads him without a jaundiced eye. He supported whole-heartedly what he terms the "genuine" zionist movement but abhorred the fact that wealthy Jewish Individuals had taken control of the movement for their own financial gains. As he writes in THE NEW JERUSALEM:

"The group standing nearest to the official is that of the Zionists;
who are supposed to have a place at least in our official policy.
Among these also I am happy to have friends; and I may venture to call
the official head of the Zionists an old friend in a matter quite remote
from Zionism. Dr. Eder, the President of the Zionist Commission,
is a man for whom I conceived a respect long ago when he protested,
as a professional physician, against the subjection of the poor
to medical interference to the destruction of all moral independence.
He criticised with great effect the proposal of legislators to kidnap
anybody else's child whom they chose to suspect of a feeblemindedness
they were themselves too feeble-minded to define. It was defended,
very characteristically, by a combination of precedent and progress;
and we were told that it only extended the principle of the lunacy laws.
That is to say, it only extended the principle of the lunacy laws
to people whom no sane man would call lunatics. It is as if they
were to alter the terms of a quarantine law from "lepers"
to "light-haired persons"; and then say blandly that the principle
was the same. The humour and human sympathy of a Jewish doctor was
very welcome to us when we were accused of being Anti-Semites, and we
afterwards asked Dr. Eder for his own views on the Jewish problem.
We found he was then a very strong Zionist; and this was long before
he had the faintest chance of figuring as a leader of Zionism.
And this accident is important; for it stamps the sincerity of the small
group of original Zionists, who were in favour of this nationalist
ideal when all the international Jewish millionaires were against it.
To my mind the most serious point now against it is that the millionaires
are for it. But it is enough to note here the reality of the ideal
in men like Dr. Eder and Dr. Weizmann, and doubtless many others.
The only defect that need be noted, as a mere detail of portraiture,
is a certain excessive vigilance and jealousy and pertinacity in
the wrong place, which sometimes makes the genuine Zionists unpopular
with the English, who themselves suffer unpopularity for supporting them.
For though I am called an Anti-Semite, there were really periods of
official impatience when I was almost the only Pro-Semite in the company.
I went about pointing out what was really to be said for Zionism,
to people who were represented by the Arabs as the mere slaves
of the Zionists."

Chesterton saw the canard that Jews were by race greedy as an abuse of the fact that they were nomads without a homeland. Like most nomads, they engaged in trade rather than in production, for the latter implies stability the which the Jewish longing for a homeland didn't give them. This was a added reason why he felt they needed a homeland:

"A very honest Moslem Arab
said to me, with a singular blend of simplicity and humour, "A Jew
does not work; but he grows rich. You never see a Jew working;
and yet they grow rich. What I want to know is, why do we not
all do the same? Why do we not also do this and become rich?"
This is, I need hardly say, an over-simplification. Jews often
work hard at some things, especially intellectual things.
But the same experience which tells us that we have known many industrious
Jewish scholars, Jewish lawyers, Jewish doctors, Jewish pianists,
chess-players and so on, is an experience which cuts both ways.
The same experience, if carefully consulted, will probably tell us
that we have not known personally many patient Jewish ploughmen,
many laborious Jewish blacksmiths, many active Jewish hedgers
and ditchers, or even many energetic Jewish hunters and fishermen.
In short, the popular impression is tolerably true to life,
as popular impressions very often are; though it is not fashionable
to say so in these days of democracy and self-determination. Jews
do not generally work on the land, or in any of the handicrafts
that are akin to the land; but the Zionists reply that this is
because it can never really be their own land. That is Zionism,
and that has really a practical place in the past and future of Zion."

Concerning the canard that Jews are less patriotic than other people in England (or elsewhere) Chesterton responds by noting that England is not their God-given land:

"But the Jews did die with Jerusalem. That is the first and
last great truth in Zionism. Jerusalem was destroyed and Jews
were destroyed with it, men who cared no longer to live because
the city of their faith had fallen. It may be questioned whether
all the Zionists have all the sublime insanity of the Zealots.
But at least it is not nonsense to suggest that the Zionists
might feel like this about Zion. It is nonsense to suggest
that they would ever feel like this about Dublin or Moscow.
And so far at least the truth both in Semitism and Anti-Semitism
is included in Zionism."

Concerning the charge of being unpatriotic he plays with the two most famous Judas' in the Bible: Judas Iscariot and Judas Maccabeus:

"Those two possible uses of the name of Judas would give us yet another
compact embodiment of the case for Zionism. Numberless international
Jews have gained the bad name of Judas, and some have certainly
earned it. If you have gained or earned the good name of Judas,
it can quite fairly and intelligently be affirmed that this was not
the fault of the Jews, but of the peculiar position of the Jews.
A man can betray like Judas Iscariot in another man's house;
but a man cannot fight like Judas Maccabeus for another man's temple.
There is no more truly rousing revolutionary story amid all the stories
of mankind, there is no more perfect type of the element of chivalry
in rebellion, than that magnificent tale of the Maccabee who stabbed
from underneath the elephant of Antiochus and died under the fall
of that huge and living castle. But it would be unreasonable to ask
Mr. Montagu to stick a knife into the elephant on which Lord Curzon,
let us say, was riding in all the pomp of Asiatic imperialism.
For Mr. Montagu would not be liberating his own land; and therefore
he naturally prefers to interest himself either in operations in silver
or in somewhat slower and less efficient methods of liberation.
In short, whatever we may think of the financial or social services
such as were rendered to England in the affair of Marconi, or to France
in the affair of Panama, it must be admitted that these exhibit
a humbler and more humdrum type of civic duty, and do not remind
us of the more reckless virtues of the Maccabees or the Zealots.
A man may be a good citizen of anywhere, but he cannot be a national
hero of nowhere; and for this particular type of patriotic passion
it is necessary to have a _patria_. The Zionists therefore are
maintaining a perfectly reasonable proposition, both about the charge
of usury and the charge of treason, if they claim that both could
be cured by the return to a national soil as promised in Zionism."

For Chesterton the "Jewish Problem" was the idea (he NOWHERE subscribes to) that Jews were by race a greedy lot. This "problem" he refers to as the "common opinion" of the rest of the world. He is in agreement that it could be laid to rest if the Jews had a homeland of their own, as the last line of the above quote suggests. The fact that a group of wealthy Jews were trying to take control of the zionist movement for their own financial gain was perceived as a great danger by him for it would be seen as confirming the common opinion men held:

"Unfortunately they are not always reasonable about their own
reasonable proposition. Some of them have a most unlucky habit
of ignoring, and therefore implicitly denying, the very evil
that they are wisely trying to cure. I have already remarked
this irritating innocence in the first of the two questions;
the criticism that sees everything in Shylock except the point of him,
or the point of his knife. How in the politics of Palestine at this
moment this first question is in every sense the primary question.
Palestine has hardly as yet a patriotism to be betrayed; but it
certainly has a peasantry to be oppressed, and especially to be
oppressed as so many peasantries have been with usury and forestalling.
The Syrians and Arabs and all the agricultural and pastoral populations
of Palestine are, rightly or wrongly, alarmed and angered at the advent
of the Jews to power; for the perfectly practical and simple
reason of the reputation which the Jews have all over the world.
It is really ridiculous in people so intelligent as the Jews,
and especially so intelligent as the Zionists, to ignore so enormous
and elementary a fact as that reputation and its natural results.
It may or may not in this case be unjust; but in any case it
is not unnatural. It may be the result of persecution, but it
is one that has definitely resulted. It may be the consequence
of a misunderstanding; but it is a misunderstanding that must itself
be understood. Rightly or wrongly, certain people in Palestine
fear the coming of the Jews as they fear the coming of the locusts;
they regard them as parasites that feed on a community by a
thousand methods of financial intrigue and economic exploitation.
I could understand the Jews indignantly denying this, or eagerly
disproving it, or best of all, explaining what is true in it while
exposing what is untrue. What is strange, I might almost say weird,
about the attitude of some quite intelligent and sincere Zionists,
is that they talk, write and apparently think as if there were no
such thing in the world.

I will give one curious example from one of the best and most
brilliant of the Zionists. Dr. Weizmann is a man of large mind
and human sympathies; and it is difficult to believe that any one
with so fine a sense of humanity can be entirely empty of anything
like a sense of humour. Yet, in the middle of a very temperate
and magnanimous address on "Zionist Policy," he can actually
say a thing like this, "The Arabs need us with our knowledge,
and our experience and our money. If they do not have us they
will fall into the hands of others, they will fall among sharks."
One is tempted for the moment to doubt whether any one else
in the world could have said that, except the Jew with his strange
mixture of brilliancy and blindness, of subtlety and simplicity.
It is much as if President Wilson were to say, "Unless America deals
with Mexico, it will be dealt with by some modern commercial power,
that has trust-magnates and hustling millionaires." But would
President Wilson say it? It is as if the German Chancellor had said,
"We must rush to the rescue of the poor Belgians, or they may be put
under some system with a rigid militarism and a bullying bureaucracy."
But would even a German Chancellor put it exactly like that?
Would anybody put it in the exact order of words and structure of
sentence in which Dr. Weizmann has put it? Would even the Turks say,
"The Armenians need us with our order and our discipline and our arms.
If they do not have us they will fall into the hands of others, they will
perhaps be in danger of massacres." I suspect that a Turk would see
the joke, even if it were as grim a joke as the massacres themselves.
If the Zionists wish to quiet the fears of the Arabs, surely the
first thing to do is to discover what the Arabs are afraid of.
And very little investigation will reveal the simple truth that they
are very much afraid of sharks; and that in their book of symbolic
or heraldic zoology it is the Jew who is adorned with the dorsal fin
and the crescent of cruel teeth. This may be a fairy-tale about
a fabulous animal; but it is one which all sorts of races believe,
and certainly one which these races believe."

dim bulb

Mr Peters,

GKC looked with disdain on the phrase "port wine"

Nonetheless, he did enjoy a glass of port wine with his cold pork sandwiches. I think he would also enjoy my youthful independence regarding his likes and dislikes of the mundane. Of course, in using the term mundane, I am referring to his personal taste in phrases, not his food and drink.


How do you explain his rants about Jewish bankers?

Uh, dude, that was a work of fiction! Please stop playing the "enlightened" seraphim or whatever moniker you are using these days. Folks around these parts don't need race cards repeatedly thrown at them as if they are guilty of some covert racism!


Thank you, Dim Bulb. As for you, Rick, I am trying to cut that act out, even though I still swear I was just trying to ask questions from the very beginning.


Excuse me. What I meant to convey in that last post is that I apologized for unintentionally conveying a self-righteous image.

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