Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chesterton Is Wise About What is Wrong With the World

I am treating myself to a dose of G.K. Chesterton, who I always find insightful and funny. Today I am finishing What's Wrong With the World, which begins with a fine slam on sociology:
A book of modern social inquiry has a shape that is somewhat sharply defined. It begins as a rule with an analysis, with statistics, tables of population, decrease of crime among Congregationalists, growth of hysteria among policemen, and similar ascertained facts; it ends with a chapter that is generally called "The Remedy." It is almost wholly due to this careful, solid, and scientific method that "The Remedy" is never found. For this scheme of medical question and answer is a blunder; the first great blunder of sociology. It is always called stating the disease before we find the cure. But it is the whole definition and dignity of man that in social matters we must actually find the cure before we find the disease.
The "definition and dignity of man" is really what the book is about, offering a stout defense of human beings against social schemes of left and right to make (poor) people adjust to some new order of the world.

Chesterton is a very healthy minded thinker, especially after his conversion to Christianity. He ends his introductory chapter with this wonderfully gruntled declaration:

I have called this book "What Is Wrong with the World?" and the upshot of the title can be easily and clearly stated. What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right.

1 comment:

ceemac said...

Now that you are back from I'll post a thought I have been saving.

Do you think it is in the DNA of Calvinists to be disgruntled?

After all we have a commitment to always be working to reform church and culture.

So we are inclined to look at a situation and focus on what needs to be fixed and not what is working.