Speaking the Truth

G.K. Chesterton, Heretics:
“No man ought to write at all, or even to speak at all, unless he thinks that he is in truth and the other man in error.”

Gilbert Meilaender, First Things #14:
“Nothing is more serious or worthy of debate than theology. And just for that reason a little proleptic laughter is always in order.”

Bob Dylan, “All Along the Watchtower”:
“So let us not talk falsely now/The hour is getting late.”

Bill Mallonee, “Proving Ground”:
“If you get a patch of ground/well it’s there you draw your plan;
If you get a soap box/it’s there you take your stand.”

Hermann Sasse, The Lonely Way:
“Not every question can be settled by means of a friendly discussion. It is necessary to remember that in an age that has a superstitious belief in dialogue as the infallible means of settling everything. There are questions raised by the devil to destroy the church of Christ. To achieve this, he may use as his mouthpiece not only ambitious professors of theology, his favorite tools, but also simple, pious souls.”

Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners:
“The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may well be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock–to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.”

Dorothy Sayers, “The Other Six Deadly Sins”:
The sixth deadly sin is named by the Church acedia or sloth. In the world it calls itself tolerance; but in hell it is called despair. It is the accomplice of the other sins and their worst punishment. It is the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for. We have known it far too well for many years. The only thing perhaps that we have not known about it is that it is a mortal sin. …
First, it is one of the favorite tricks of this sin to dissemble itself under cover of a whiffling activity of body. We think that if we are busily rushing about and doing things, we cannot be suffering from sloth. And besides, violent activity seems to offer an escape from the horrors of sloth. So the other sins hasten to provide a cloak for sloth. Gluttony offers a whirl of dancing, dining, sports, and dashing very fast from place to place to gape at beauty spots, which, when we get to them, we defile with vulgarity and waste. Covetousness rakes us out of bed at an early hour in order that we may put pep and hustle into our business. Envy sets us to gossip and scandal, to writing cantankerous letters to the papers, and to the unearthing of secrets and scavenging of dustbins. Wrath provides (very ingeniously) the argument that the only fitting activity in a world so full of evildoers and demons is to curse loudly and incessantly: “Whatever brute and blackguard made the world”; while lust provides that round of dreary promiscuity that passes for bodily vigor. But these are all disguises for the empty heart and the empty brain and the empty soul of acedia.
Let us take particular notice of the empty brain. Here sloth is in a conspiracy with envy to prevent people from thinking. Sloth persuades us that stupidity is not our sin, but our misfortune; while envy, at the same time, persuades us that intelligence is despicable–a dusty, high-brow, and commercially useless thing.

People today are especially concerned with being “open-minded” in the sense of not making decisions about what is right and wrong. Everyone is allowed to hold opinions; no one is allowed to believe his opinions are universally true. T.S. Eliot wrote, in The Idea of the Christian Society: “You have only to examine the mass of newspaper leading articles, the mass of political exhortation, to appreciate the fact that good prose cannot be written by a people without convictions.”

G.K. Chesterton wrote, “But if there be such a thing as mental growth, it must mean the growth into more and more definite convictions, into more and more dogmas. The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions; if it cannot come to conclusions it is rusty. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.” (Heretics). We propose in this blog to come to conclusions. We are concerned with True Things, not because they are useful, but because they are true.

If such things matter to you, my name is Timothy Winterstein, and I am a pastor in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.


7 thoughts on “Speaking the Truth

  1. Pingback: Acedia «

  2. I am actually just wondering where the quote from Bill Mallonnee came from about “binding myself to the truth…” is that from a song he wrote?

  3. Just stumbled upon your talking donkey. A very fine websight, wonderful.

    I haven’t read Chesterton in years, and you remind me how well put he put himself. Sayers too. Did you know one of her works was a translation of Dante….?

    best regards in Christ Jesus,


  4. Yikes! Here is a link to a blog post of a quote from Oswald Chamber’s book entitled, “The Studies in the Sermon on the Mount.”

    I can’t help but think of the verse, “Speak the truth in love.”

  5. You’re not criticizing Chesterton with your quote from Chambers, are you? And if I disagree, am I criticizing? Actually, Chambers’ definition of “judging” might just be the cause of all our problems today, i.e., that sin cannot be called sin.

    Disagreeing (which requires that you think you’re right and the other wrong) is not the same as criticizing someone’s character, or as judging someone’s salvation, which is what Jesus is talking about.


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