“Round the family do indeed gather the sanctities that separate men from ants and bees. Decency is the curtain of that tent; liberty is the wall of that city; property is but the family farm; honour is but the family flag.” — G.K. Chesterton
This quote is from the first part of The Everlasting Man, in a section where the author is comparing mere theories of evolution with what we know from direct evidence and experience of the history of mankind.
The topic of the family comes up in a discussion of clothing, because to Chesterton, “It would almost always appear that [clothes] are felt to have some connection with decorum.” That concept takes us back further to ancient beliefs in what he calls original sin, and the foundational relationships of the family.
And about clothes, this also: “…clothes are very literally vestments and man wears them because he is a priest.”
So…as we always find in Chesterton, so many things are connected. Sometimes it’s hard to follow the logical progression of his thoughts, expressed as they often are in sometimes wild metaphors, but there are always gems that are more quickly accessible, and for the rest, it relaxes me to put my mind to the stretching exercise.
This is my second reading of The Everlasting Man, this time on my new Kindle. I have the print book on my shelf near my bed, but the Kindle really makes reading in bed easy, because I don’t have to hold a heavy book — even medium-sized books feel heavier with the years — while lying on my side.
I’m used to doing a lot of underlining and making notes in almost every book I read, including fiction, and I’m continuing that practice. The equivalent of underlining is easier with this e-reader than holding a pen while lying down. If I don’t lay my pen near my pillow and risk losing it under the covers and/or getting ink stains on the sheets, I hold it along with the book in a vaguely vertical fashion, and the ink invariably drains away from the tip leaving it dry just when I need it. With the Kindle I just run my finger along the lines I want to highlight and it all comes out very neat compared to the wavy and messy lines that can be found in all my print books.
This e-reader has its own adjustable light source, which is very comfortable on the eyes and handy at night. It tucks into my purse so that I can have whatever book I’m in the mood for, whether I’m sitting in a waiting room or on an airplane. I’m surprised that I’ve taken so easily to it. There are still a hundred books I plan to read that aren’t available on Kindle, so I don’t have to do without Real Books altogether, but I think my total reading time has already increased, which makes me feel rich.
Chesterton reminds me of my wealth in this life and world, but he always keeps me in mind of the much more satisfying heavenly realities. This first part of The Everlasting Man is on “The Creature Called Man.” The second part is “The Man Called Christ.” I know I like the second part best, because it tells about how Christ as The Son of Man and The Son of God was the “yea and amen to all the promises of God” and the crux of history. But I’ll get to that later….
Christ is risen!
(Linking up to Weekends With Chesterton)