Somewhere Chesterton writes--I think it is Chesterton--that you cannot reason a man from a position that reason didn’t deliver him to.
If I had one sermon to preach, it would be a sermon against Pride. The more I see of existence...the more I am convinced of the reality of the old religious thesis, that all evil began with some attempt at superiority; some moment when, as we might say, the very skies were cracked across like a mirror, because there was a sneer in Heaven.
Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly. This has always been the instinct of Christendom, and especially the instinct of Christian art. Remember how Fra Angelico represented all his angels, not only as birds, but almost as butterflies. Remember how the most earnest medieval art was full of light and fluttering draperies, of quick and capering feet...In the old Christian pictures the sky over every figure is like a blue or gold parachute. Every figure seems ready to fly up and float about in the heavens. The tattered cloak of the beggar will bear him up like the rayed plumes of the angels. But the kings in their heavy gold and the proud in their robes of purple will all of their nature sink downwards, for pride cannot rise to levity or levitation. Pride is the downward drag of all things into an easy solemnity. One "settles down" into a sort of selfish seriousness; but one has to rise to a gay self-forgetfulness. A man "falls" into a brown study; he reaches up at a blue sky.
An artist will betray himself by some sort of sincerity.
All ceremony depends on symbol; and all symbols have been vulgarized and made stale by the commercial conditions of our time...Of all these faded and falsified symbols, the most melancholy example is the ancient symbol of the flame. In every civilized age and country, it has been a natural thing to talk of some great festival on which "the town was illuminated." There is no meaning nowadays in saying the town was illuminated...The whole town is illuminated already, but not for noble things. It is illuminated solely to insist on the immense importance of trivial and material things, blazoned from motives entirely mercenary...It has not destroyed the difference between light and darkness, but it has allowed the lesser light to put out the greater...Our streets are in a permanent dazzle, and our minds in a permanent darkness.
The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes.
Those countries in Europe which are still influenced by priests, are exactly the countries where there is still singing and dancing and coloured dresses and art in the open-air. Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground. Christianity is the only frame which has preserved the pleasure of Paganism. We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff's edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had ceased.
After one of the lectures in Philadelphia, a woman asked Chesterton what made women talk so much, to which he replied, briefly, 'God, Madam'.
The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.
Life exists for the love of music or beautiful things.