Chesterton on Drinking

I’m searching Chesterton for a particular quote (“Morality is always dreadfully complicated to a man who has lost his principles”; if you know where it is found, please, please tell me) and I found this in Heretics under “Omar and the Sacred Vine” (Chesterton quoters should be required to give attribution!):

The sound rule in the matter would appear to be like many other sound rules–a paradox. Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when you are wretched without it, or you will be like the grey-faced gin-drinker in the slum; but drink when you would be happy without it, and you will be like the laughing peasant of Italy. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell.  But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world.

This is the Scriptural rule as well: “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.” (Psalm 104:14-15, ESV)

No one can be really hilarious but the serious man.  “Wine,” says the Scripture, “maketh glad the heart of man,” but only of the man who has a heart. The thing called high spirits is possible only to the spiritual. Ultimately a man cannot rejoice in anything except the nature of things.
Ultimately a man can enjoy nothing except religion. Once in the world’s history men did believe that the stars were dancing to the tune of their temples, and they danced as men have never danced since.  With this old pagan eudaemonism the sage of the Rubaiyat has quite as little to do as he has with any Christian variety.  He is no more a Bacchanal than he is a saint. Dionysus and his church was grounded on a serious joie-de-vivre like that of Walt Whitman. Dionysus made wine, not a medicine, but a sacrament.  Jesus Christ also made wine, not a medicine, but a sacrament.  But Omar makes it, not a sacrament, but a medicine. He feasts because life is not joyful; he revels because he is not glad.  “Drink,” he says, “for you know not whence you come nor why.  Drink, for you know not when you go nor where. Drink, because the stars are cruel and the world as idle as a humming-top. Drink, because there is nothing worth trusting, nothing worth fighting for.  Drink, because all things are lapsed in a base equality and an
evil peace.” So he stands offering us the cup in his hand.  And at the high altar of Christianity stands another figure, in whose hand also is the cup of the vine. “Drink” he says “for the whole world is as red as this wine, with the crimson of the love and wrath of God. Drink, for the  trumpets are blowing for battle and this is the stirrup-cup. Drink, for this my blood of the new testament that is shed for you.  Drink, for I know of whence you come and why. Drink, for I
know of when you go and where.”


Sad, Sad Little Girl

I don’t really know what’s going on in the mind of Aliza Shvarts, but it’s sick and twisted. Her statements are a degenerate example of post-modernism (I know, I know, the bogeyman; but let me explain). Post-modernism is a slippery concept, but as I see it, it is the general loss of any overarching narrative that is true for most people. In other words, human beings have finally shed the modernist, Enlightenment search for a narrative that explains everything with which to replace Christianity. For hundreds of years, Christianity, or at least the Bible, had provided the narrative taken for granted by most, if not all, people in the Western world. But that began to change (see Hans Frei’s The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative), and we are seeing the fruition of that change in the dumbed-down version of people like Shvarts.

So, she can write idiotic, nonsensical things like:

“Because the miscarriages coincide with the expected date of menstruation (the 28th day of my cycle), it remains ambiguous whether … there was ever a fertilized ovum or not. The reality of the pregnancy, both for myself and for the audience, is a matter of reading,” she wrote.


“No one can say with 100-percent certainty that anything in the piece did or did not happen,” Shvarts said. “The nature of the piece is that it did not consist of certainties.”

And all of this. (The comments are interesting, too.)

It does remain ambiguous whether there was a baby or not, unless she had a pregnancy test. But the “reality of the pregnancy” is clearly not a “matter of reading.” (How do you “read” a pregnancy, anyway?) No narrative, no sense of reality. Reality is a construct invented by the individual. This is the stupid person’s version of post-modernism. What is beneficial for Christianity about this loss of a common narrative is that Christians once again have to make their case. There is no appeal to the Bible for an end-all-arguments position. There is no end-all-arguments position. Thus, the high school frustration of telling unbelievers that the Bible says thus-and-so and hearing not an argument in response, but laughter.

We are, I think, back in a pagan world, but one where reality is splintered into a million, unconnected pieces. This is the ultimate root of the “that’s just your opinion” mode of “argument.” Which is just as juvenile, and just as frustrating, as the high school debate. Even Christians, who, above all, should have an overarching narrative (God’s story of salvation) are into it. When confronted with the witness of the Scriptures (the case for an interpretation presented) for a particular teaching, they don’t respond with counter-arguments, but with “that’s just your opinion.” As a pastor, that’s far more frustrating than being back in high school.

Aliza Shvarts has swallowed hook, line, and sinker dumbed-down post-modernism (is this the Yale status quo?); I wonder if Nietzsche would recognize his work in hers.

By the way, everything I’ve said presupposes if Shvarts actually did become pregnant and murder her own children, her actions are beyond reprehensible.  Further, I presuppose that nothing that Shvarts has done has any actual relationship to what normal people call “art.”

[LifeNews articles here, here, and here.]

UPDATE: Yale pretends to have integrity by threatening to pull the exhibit if Shvarts doesn’t admit that it’s “creative fiction.” What I can’t understand is what difference it makes. What standards are available to or used by Yale’s administration to decide that if Shvarts pretended to inseminate herself and then abort her children, that’s okay, but actually doing it is not. Yale has no common narrative with Shvarts, so why do its administrators think they can require cooperation on this point?


Why Is Jimmy Carter Playing Stupid?

Or should that be a rhetorical question?

Former President Carter said Monday that Hamas — the Islamic militant group that has called for the destruction of Israel — is prepared to accept the right of the Jewish state to “live as a neighbor next door in peace.”

But Carter warned that there would not be peace if Israel and the U.S. continue to shut out Hamas and its main backer, Syria.

Clearly, the problem is democracy.  If only the U.S. and Israel weren’t so…whatever they are.  Hello?  Jimmy?  You do realize Hamas is a terrorist organization?  They blow things up and murder people?  You know?

Apparently the AP agrees with Jimmy:

Israel considers Hamas to be a terrorist group and has shunned Carter because of his meetings with Hamas’ supreme chief, Khaled Mashaal, and other Hamas figures. Hamas has been behind dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks that have killed some 250 Israelis.

“Israel considers Hamas to be a terrorist group…”  I’m sorry, did I miss something?  Is there anyone who doesn’t consider Hamas to be terrorists?  Except former presidents and the AP?  I’m surprised it doesn’t say “Hamas is alleged to have been behind…”

And then there’s this:

“Let me read exactly what they accepted verbatim. This is their language: ‘If President Abbas succeeds in negotiating a final status agreement with Israel, Hamas will accept the decision made by the Palestinian people and their will in a referendum monitored by international observers … even if Hamas is opposed to the agreement,'” Carter said.

But Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri in Gaza said Hamas’ readiness to put a peace deal to a referendum “does not mean that Hamas is going to accept the result of the referendum.”

Someone’s lying.  “Don’t negotiate with terrorists” still seems a sound operating principle to me.