Sunday, March 23, 2014

Weekends with Chesterton: Accumulation of Authority

"No; there are only two things that really progress; and they both accept accumulations of authority. They may be progressing uphill and down; they may be growing steadily better or steadily worse; but they have steadily increased in certain definable matters; they have steadily advanced in a certain definable direction; they are the only two things, it seems, that ever can progress. The first is strictly physical science. The second is the Catholic Church." - The Ball and the Cross, G.K. Chesterton

This is a quote I've seen several times before, and it was exciting to run across it in the course of reading.  It was also nice to realize that by seeing this quote out context, I wasn't misunderstanding it.  As I consider Sarah's article about reading Chesterton over on CIRCE, I have moments of doubt about these Weekends with Chesterton.  Am I contributing to the misunderstanding of Chesterton by excerpting quotes and sharing them here?  I'm not considering Chesterton out of context, as I come by these quotes honestly, that is through encountering them in the course of my reading.  In the article Sarah is talking about the short quips that float around (sometimes garbled), which is why I try to except longer quotes and more complete thoughts.  I think that mitigates the risk of misunderstanding, but sometimes I wonder!

For more, please go visit Mary at Better than Eden, who is hosting this week.


  1. I felt the same way about the quotes too a little. I pulled a quote out of context but kept the same meaning essentially. I had been thinking about a different topic and when I read this particular passage in Orthodoxy, it helped me think about my topic in a better light. Chesterton can be good for that I think.

    I definitely appreciate your quote here though!

  2. I've thought the same thing, too. But then I think that maybe the truth that he shares can have multiple layers and interpretations, even if he didn't necessarily have that intention in mind when he wrote it. Much like there are different layers to Scripture (though obviously not as authoritative as Scripture). I think that's why discussion is so helpful as we seek to understand what he meant but also to see if it can be applied (or misapplied) in other ways as well.

    1. Mary, that's a great way of thinking about it. Thank you!