woensdag 14 april 2010

The burglar might convert you...

Het (door de Osservatore Romano gesignaleerde) verschijnen van de eerste Italiaanse uitgave van G.K. Chestertons The Catholic Church and Conversion - fraai vertaald als La Chiesa cattolica. Dove tutte le verità si danno appuntamento -, kan, voor wie dankzij films en internet zo gelukkig is Engels te kunnen lezen, aanleiding zijn zelf met dit werk uit 1926 kennis te maken. Chesterton vertelt erin over zijn bekering tot de katholieke Kerk een jaar eerder; en over wat bekering eigenlijk precies is.
Een citaat uit het tweede hoofdstuk, over een actueel onderwerp:
I could never take seriously the fear of the priest, as of something unnatural and unholy; a dangerous man in the home. Why should man who wanted to be wicked encumber himself with special and elaborate promises to be good? There might sometimes be a reason for a priest being a profligate. But what was the reason for a profligate being a priest? There are many more lucrative walks of life in which a person with such shining talents for vice and villainy might have made a brighter use of his gifts. Why should a man encumber himself with vows that nobody could expect him to take and he did not himself expect to keep? Would any man make himself poor in order that he might become avaricious; or take a vow of chastity frightfully difficult to keep in order to get into a little more trouble when he did not keep it? All that early and sensational picture of the sins of Rome always seemed to me silly even when I was a boy or an unbeliever; and I cannot describe how I passed out of it because I was never in it. I remember asking some friends at Cambridge, people of the Puritan tradition, why in the world they were so afraid of Papists; why a priest in somebody's house was a peril or an Irish servant the beginning of a pestilence. I asked them why they could not simply disagree with Papists and say so, as they did with Theosophists or Anarchists. They seemed at once pleased and shocked with my daring, as if I had undertaken to convert a burglar or tame a mad dog. Perhaps their alarm was really wiser than my bravado. Anyhow, I had not then the most shadowy notion that the burglar would convert me. That, however, I am inclined to think, is the subconscious intuition in the whole business. It must either mean that they suspect that our religion has something about it so wrong that the hint of it is bad for anybody; or else that it has something so right that the presence of it would convert anybody. To do them justice, I think most of them darkly suspect the second and not the first.

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