Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mirth and Seriousness

The pleasure of reading the Father Brown stories arises because they combine two inner qualities that make life worth living no matter what is “going down.” (Odd to think that things are always “going down” and never “going up” unless what’s going up are rockets.) Based on my authoritative The Complete Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton wrote 51 of these. Alas I’m now reading number 49, and therefore, for a while, I’ll be done with them. I’ve been at this now since last July when I discovered the volume in an old box in the attic; it had last been open during our previous move; that move “went down” in 1989.

Now the two qualities that makes me turn to Father Brown are seriousness combined with sense of humor. And these two qualities, when possessed and cultivated, make life worth living because seriousness requires a rational view of reality and a sense of humor lifts us above it into another region then the one where we’re obliged to live. That last is surely very true; yet it is almost blasphemous that in the endless tomes of humanity’s theologies I’ve never yet seen reference to God’s sense of humor—although it’s everywhere on display.

No matter what happened during the day, no matter the news—which tends to be deadly seriousness about things so trivial (like Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server) as to be comical—no matter how ill-wrought a seemingly promising new “series” on TV turns out; no matter the weather forecast, it has been a great pleasure and relief to make for bed with the last thing before sleep takes me away being one of the truly astonishing “mysteries” our friend in clerical garb, with his careworn umbrella, will solve somehow while never relinquishing even an ounce of his humility.

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