Two kinds of ascetics

There are two kinds of ascetics in the world… The first ascetic surrenders things because he could enjoy them; he is the Catholic monk. The second ascetic surrenders things because he could not enjoy them; he is the Puritan. The first is in the tradition of the Pagan sacrifices; he sacrifices the best beast to his gods. The second slaughters only black beetles upon the altar. Briefly, the first offers to give up his goods, the second offers to give up his bads, to heaven. That is why Protestant asceticism (as in the case of total abstinence) is a thing so much more militant and regimentary; it is not left as the wild vow of one man, it is turned into ordinary ethics… The Protestant ascetic… is too good to drink wine. But any stupid monk who was a man of any humility would know that the question was: whether he was good enough to drink it.

Independent Review, January 1906.

(Hat-tip: Society of G.K. Chesterton)

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Published in: on March 13, 2019 at 10:18 am  Leave a Comment