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June 20, 2007

Mike Perry on Chesterton

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

A while back I wrote a couple of postings about G.K. Chesterton. Visit them and enjoy, if less for my ramblings than for the tons of brainy and imaginative comments that accumulated on them. Who knew there were such a lot of smart Chesterton buffs out there?

And don't neglect to savor Philip Bess' musings on Chesterton. Philip is a very interesting architect and professor who has a deep and abiding passion for Chesterton's thought. Philip has recently been contributing some beautiful guest postings at Right Reason: here and here. Great -- and eye-opening -- passage:

"Modern space" is characteristically non-hierarchical, abstract, rational, universal and undifferentiated; i.e., shapeless, not purpose-specific, and not characterized by the specific formal and figural qualities found in traditional spaces such as public squares, streets, and rooms.

An interesting comment that unfortunately didn't find its way onto any of the Chesterton commentsthreads came from Mike Perry, the editor of a Chesterton volume called "Eugenics and Other Evils." Our blog's software was evidently misbehaving the day Mike tried to comment, and it refused to accept Mike's contribution. But Mike kindly emailed it to me instead, so I'm running his comment -- a response to a remark I'd made about "hyper-traditional Christianity" -- in its own posting. Here it is:

I'd be intrigued by how you define "hyper-traditional Christianity"?

In politics, if you go beyond a particular point of view, then you become a "hyper." A hyper-socialist, for instance, might want the State to own not just the means of production, such as factories, but everything from homes and cars to toothbrushes. But that's because we think of politics (not always accurately) as a line from right to left with different points labeled and directions implicit in the very meaning of terms. Moving toward capitalism isn't becoming more of a socialist, moving away is.

But traditional religious views and practices aren't points along a line. They're more like communities, so there's no particular way to become "hyper." They define their existence in all directions.

For example, traditional Catholics believe in the Trinity. You don't become a hyper-Catholic by believing in millions of God (like some forms of pantheism) or by believing in no God like atheists. Leave the Trinity and you leave traditional Catholicism no matter which direction you move.

That's why "hyper-traditional Christianity" seems to have no meaning. Someone can be very traditional, if they have many traditions they keep seriously or not very traditional, if they have a few beliefs they keep indifferently (like proabortion Catholic politicians). But neither the "very" or the "not very" is a 'hyper."

My thanks to Mike Perry. If anyone else has had trouble leaving comments on postings, please let me know at michaelblowhard at that gmail place.



posted by Michael at June 20, 2007


Smart responses to Smart Posts by Smart People.

I love this site.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on June 21, 2007 10:01 AM

Interesting point about hyper-traditional Christianity. The classic example to my mind is the pathetic Lefebvreite movement. By trying to be more Catholic than the Pope, literally, they end up adopting a species of Protestant thinking: their own minds and consciences interpret Tradition more reliably than duly elected popes or Church Councils. Bluntly, Lefebvreites are Protestants.

Posted by: Fredosphere on June 21, 2007 12:18 PM

And the Sedevacantists go even further than the Lefebvreites; in saying the Chair of St. Peter is vacant, whether or not they admit it, they are echoing Protestantism.

Among Calvinists, certain minority positions within the greater Calvinist community get tagged as hyper-Calvinist, although almost no-one thus accused tends to self-identify using this term.

Posted by: Will S. on June 21, 2007 4:52 PM

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