Monday, October 23, 2006

More on the Wise Men (The God in the Cave, Part V)

The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton, from the chapter "The God in the Cave"

Here it is the important point that the Magi, who stand for mysticism and philosophy, are truly conceived as seeking something new and even as finding something unexpected. That tense sense of crisis which still tingles in the Christmas story and even in every Christmas celebration, accentuates the idea of a search and a discovery. The discovery is in this case, truly a scientific discovery. For the other mystical figures in the miracle play; for the angel and the mother, the shepherds and the soldiers of Herod, there may be aspects both simpler and more supernatural, more elemental or more emotional. But the Wise Men must be seeking wisdom; and for them there must be a light also in the intellect. And this is the light; that the Catholic creed is catholic and that nothing else is catholic. The philosophy of the Church is universal. The philosophy of the philosophers was not universal. Had Plato and Pythagoras and Aristotle stood for an instant in the light that came out of that little cave, they would have known that their own light was not universal. It is far from certain, indeed, that they did not know it already. Philosophy also like mythology, had very much the air of a search. It is the realisation of this truth that gives its traditional majesty and mystery to the figures of the Three Kings; the disocvery that religion is broader than philosophy and that this is the broadest of religions, contained within this narrow space.

We might well be content to say that mythology had come with the shepherds and philosophy with the philosophers; and that it only remained for them to combine in the recognisation of religion.

To me this is SUCH amazing stuff. That there was something sought and I love the part about "finding something unexpected." His statements about the broadness of religion and the church is also fascinating and true, I think. It reminds me a bit of the "10 Rules for Handling Disagreement like a Christian" by Bishop Vigneron of Oakland.

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