“Not the same even when they are the same”

Those who talk about Pagan Christs have less sympathy with Paganism than with Christianity.  Those who call these cults ‘religions,’ and ‘compare’ them with the certitude and challenge of the Church have much less appreciation than we have of what made heathenism human, or of why classic literature is still something that hangs in the air like a song.  It is no very human tenderness for the hungry to prove that hunger is the same as food.  It is no very genial  understanding of youth to argue that hope destroys the need for happiness. And it is utterly unreal to argue that these images in the mind, admired entirely in the abstract, were even in the same world with a living man and a living polity that were worshipped because they were concrete.  We might as well say that a boy playing at robbers is the same as a man in his first day in the trenches; or that boy’s first fancies about ‘the not impossible she’ are the same as the sacrament of marriage.  They are fundamentally different exactly where they are superficially similar; we might almost say they are not the same even when they are the same. They are only different because one is real and the other is not. I do not mean merely that I myself believe that one is true and the other is not.  I mean that one was never meant to be true in the same sense as the other.

The Everlasting Man (1925).

Published in: on July 22, 2009 at 6:06 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Once again, your work in building up a repository of Chesterton quotes for every occasion is on the mark!

  2. Another excellent choice! Just because I couldn’t resist, I’ve got a couple of GKC quotes up at my “Reiterations” blog. Don’t worry, though! I’m not trying to compete!

  3. Thanks for the encouragement.

    The quotes you,ve posted, Richard, are favourites of mine.

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