Cultural Recusancy in Quotations from Men Whose Names Start with Initials


…the spirit of wickedness in high places is now so powerful and many-headed in its incarnations that there seems nothing more to do than personally to refuse to worship any of the hydras’ heads. – J. R. R. Tolkien, from a 1969 letter to Amy Ronald

The world is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time; so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and to save the world from suicide. – T.S. Eliot, “Thoughts After Lambeth”

The only safety is to have a standard of plain, central Christianity (“mere Christianity” as Baxter called it) which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective. Such a standard can be acquired only from the old books. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. – C. S. Lewis, from his introduction to St. Athanasius’s On the Incarnation

The comedy of man survives the tragedy of man. – G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News, 1906

My attitude toward progress has passed from antagonism to boredom. I have long ceased to argue with people who prefer Thursday to Wednesday because it is Thursday. – GKC, Orthodoxy, 1908

Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around.ibid.

Men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back. – GKC, What’s Wrong With the World, 1910

Comforts that were rare among our forefathers are now multiplied in factories and handed out wholesale; and indeed, nobody nowadays, so long as he is content to go without air, space, quiet, decency and good manners, need be without anything whatever that he wants; or at least a reasonably cheap imitation of it. – GKC, Commonwealth, 1933

…In the brown bark
Of the trees I saw the many faces
Of life, forms hungry for birth,
Mouthing at me. I held my way
To the light, inspecting my shadow
Boldly; and in the late morning
You, rising towards me out of the depths
Of myself. I took your hand,
Remembering you, and together,
Confederates of the natural day,
We went forth to meet the Machine.

– R. S. Thomas, “Once”

One comment:

  1. The CS Lewis quote is one of my favorites. I found it in God in the Dock, however.

    I had never thought of the idea that

    “A new book is still on its trial and the amateur is not in a positition to judge it. It has to be tested against the great body fo Christian thought down the ages, and all its hidden implications (often unsuspected by the author himself) have to be brought to light. Often it cannot be fully understood with out the knowledge of a good many other modern books. If you join at eleven o’clock a conversation which began at eight, you will often not see the real bearing of what is said. …
    In the same way, sentences in a modern book which look quite ordinary may be directed “at” some other book; in this way you may be led to accept what you would have indignantly rejected if you knew its real significance.”

    Sometimes CS Lewis explains things very plainly for me – and other times he is so far above my head I have to reread a dozen times – and then only hope to grasp his meaning.

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