When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered by the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone.
G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
Food for thought.
Also, an update on how I am doing. As far as my prognosis goes, things are great. I have been downgraded from an original stage 3, to a stage 0. Basically, I no longer have cancer (thank you, God, for my doctors and my health!).
The combination of medicines primarily responsible for this extraordinary progress are, however, experimental, and so I am undergoing more “tested” treatments as well. I am through, hopefully, with surgery. I am currently undergoing Chemotherapy. I hope that, some day, this part of treatment will not be considered necessary.
It’s Not Fun, but I will make it through. The most annoying part has been the recurring fevers, most likely caused by one of the medications. I’ve lost most of my hair and buzzed the rest. I must say, baldness feels really good. I am enjoying Fall weather, even if the trees are a little tardy with their colors this year.
My nephew has finally gotten to go home! I have not seen him in person for a while, but his parents supply the family and some close friends with pictures and videos daily. The last one I saw was a photograph of my brother reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar with his tiny son lying against his chest.
I just about died from cuteness overload. I’ve done that several times now. It will take some time for me to wrap my mind around the fact that my brother is a father, and that I am an aunt.
That is all for now!
October 24th, 2013 at 11:52 am
So glad to hear you’re doing well. I like baldness, too! Low maintenance.
Also, good Chesterton quote. I love Orthodoxy.
All the best!
October 24th, 2013 at 12:42 pm
Low maintenance, and an excellent temperature regulator for someone who is hot-natured like me. :)
Prior to reading Orthodoxy a couple of years back, I had never really encountered Chesterton. I’m glad I have. He has something intriguing to say about nearly everything, from the glories of the heavens to the wonders of cheese.
As always, thank you for reading! I hope you are well.
October 24th, 2013 at 1:52 pm
Such good news – I’m so glad you are doing well! Great sentiment about the virtues being let loose. May they do terrible damage, in that awestruck lifechangingly amazing way. And may any madness be temporary, because they need not be isolated forever!
October 24th, 2013 at 4:21 pm
Thank you! This has been a crazy year of wonderful and unpleasant things, one right after the other.
When I first read this section from Orthodoxy, I was amazed because I had never seen anyone express the idea in such a way. Virtues can, indeed, do horrific things when they, themselves, are set up as idols and become a person’s fixation. I differ from Chesterton only in that I don’t think the Reformation was the cause. He had a tendency to romanticize the past, and I think that blinded him to “virtues wandering wildly” throughout history. We all have a tendency to “like” one or two more than the rest. ;)
October 26th, 2013 at 12:02 pm
Having a shaved pate is great fun. Chemo less so…as ever, if there’s anything I can do to help mitigate the yik, do let me know.
As for Chesterton and the past…in the past, everyone in the Western world was Catholic. Clearly, things have got worse with all these Protestants running around, bein’ Protestants. [snicker] …sometimes writers are people more than they’re makers of texts.
October 27th, 2013 at 9:29 am
Thank you. There’s not much anyone can do, but on the whole I am ok. I’m loving Autumn, as usual, even though the very wet year has been hard on some of the trees. I’m trying to decide what to do with the wee skull beads.
I would say all writers are people more than they are makers of texts. Chesterton just doesn’t bother to hide the fact at all. Whatever your opinion of Chesterton, though, (and I can imagine you clashing with him on all kinds of topics… might be rather epic…) I would think you would agree with his assessment that virtues run wild and un-balanced are dangerous things.
October 27th, 2013 at 1:41 pm
[wistful sigh for trees] Hallowe’en/loa-inspired mask? Bracelet/s? Decorations on a truly epic woolly hat? Things that go ‘clack’ at the end of beaded hoodie-tassels?
You seemed to think there was something deeper to his golden-agery than religious affilation, was all. Unbalanced by each other, maybe, though I think a virtue’s colour fades to that of a mere act if left to go feral too long. I don’t think one could call it a virtue with any veracity then, just an echo, and subject to corruption (upon which it is again no longer a virtue). [amused at own pedantry] I agree with the sentiment, if not the semantics, I think.
October 27th, 2013 at 2:17 pm
I like the wooly hat idea a lot… hmm.
Seemed, in this case, is. The man had major blind spots and prejudices, but however much I disagree with him in some regards, I often find him insightful. Where he isn’t blind, he has a very sharp eye.
I think I see where you are coming from, but I don’t think a virtue necessarily ceases to be itself when it becomes damaging. The difference probably IS in the semantics. :P
October 27th, 2013 at 4:14 pm
Ideal time to improve one’s knitting, neh?
…correct? Ha! Don’t we all. Hm… [tangerine] have you read any Huxley at all?
To harm is hardly virtuous; to my mind the metaphorical personification of the pure state (i.e. as a thing that might run amok) precludes the term referring to the impure…for instance, once horse meets ass, the result is mule, not more horse, despite a long ancestry of horsefulness. Is what I mean. Yarr…
October 28th, 2013 at 8:42 am
Aye, but first I must finish my Epic Scarf. It is long and winding and made from, I think, Scottish yarn. The shopkeeper identified Addie as an American because she bought blue yarn. Come to think of it. I might could adorn the scarf with the beads. That would make it even more epic.
True. You probably consider him more blind than I do. In his nonfiction, at least, he avoids taking himself too seriously which makes it easier for me to shrug off some of his assumptions and get at his keen perceptions.
Like most people I know, I’ve read Brave New World. I think I have also read some of Huxley’s short-stories, but I would have to go back and figure out which.
Aye, but say a person believes in being patient. They are so patient that instead of saying “enough is enough” and trying to combat an injustice, they simply remain patient and wait it out. That is still “patience,” which is a good thing in many situations, but it is being used in a moment when patience is the opposite of helpful. Perhaps patience under such conditions ceases to be virtuous, but it does not cease to be itself. So I think when Chesterton says they run amok, he is not saying they remain virtuous, but that they remain themselves.
October 28th, 2013 at 5:23 pm
Scarf! You could make it match… Americans often buy blue yarn? If you would like some seaweed-eating North Ronaldsay sheep wool (yarn), I can get that for you…
[shrug] Insights are good things to dig up. I admit, I have a higher tolerance for Catholic bigotry than other religious bias, probably because it’s not actively threatening unless the Pope decides to turn on someone.
I’m not keen on those of his short stories I’ve read, but there was a man of illumination for you. Alas, I’ve forgotten the specific relevance of that, save that it had to do with light.
See, I wouldn’t call that patience once it had become apathy, either. [clutches head] …if they do not remain virtuous, how can they remain Virtues?
October 29th, 2013 at 10:38 am
I could make what match? According to the lady in the shop, only Americans buy blue, which sounds very odd, to me. Does the wool smell like seaweed at all? Because that would be interesting. Are you ever in need of a good scarf?
I rather like the current Pope.
He certainly had keen insights into societal dangers. I will get around to The Doors of Perception anon, especially if Addie will stop lending me books. I have four of hers right now, though one of them I needn’t give back.
But I am not talking about apathy. Apathy, and patience wrongly applied, are two different things. The one is not caring, and the other is caring but believing that it is better to endure a certain wrong than combat it.
Sorry… not trying to cause brain-knots. It’s in the words more than the meaning? “Virtues” refers to a group of other words: Temperance, Patience, Chastity, Charity etc. Calling them “Virtues,” even if one is speaking of a point at which they cease to be virtuous, is the verbal shortcut to naming them. That shortcut avoids being unnecessarily specific and thus losing the momentum of the statement.
Chesterton tends to be more concerned with a meaningful image than concrete specificity. The point would be more developed if it were more specific, but it would have less impact and staying power in the mind. If the point gets across with fewer words, so much the better, or at least I think so. There is something to be said for simplicity, at least in some things.
October 29th, 2013 at 3:29 pm
A hat and the scarf…huh. No, but according to friends who knit the texture’s subtly unique. Ever? Well, I have been in the past, which is why I have scarves, and if I live another five years or so I might run out of scarves again…
He is pretty awesome, as Popes go. Blasting the blingin’ bishop of Limburg!
Amen. [snerk] You’ll just have to read faster than she can pile them…what’re you reading at present?
Mm, apathy wasn’t the word I meant, but I still can’t think of it. I think it begins with A, but in any case it’s still not patience to act so, in my opinion, but something else.
Aye, but those words are personifi- [slaps forehead] I think I get stuck here because I work on visuals…to me, Virtues are bounded entities, as though they really did have the skins Renaissance and Victorian artists loved to put on them. They’re almost objects…so yeah.
It is a good image! I just would word it differently to make it more like a True…
October 29th, 2013 at 4:06 pm
Ah. Well, that would remove some of the epicness of the scarf. It will be long enough to cover head and neck and still flop about by the time I an finished. I guess what I am asking is: would another scarf be more trouble than it’s worth, or a welcome thing?
You know I’ve never been a fast reader, nor am I likely to become one. I’m not sure I would even enjoy reading if I did it quickly. I’m reading The Wild East still, The Great Divorce over my tea in the morning, and getting ready to start “My Name is Asher Lev”.
Hm… I have no idea what it might be.
Ah, wow. That does put us rather at cross purposes. To me, they are just descriptive words used to describe concepts.
I think it gets its point across effectively, but I understand the desire to clarify.
Oh! Before I forget. Brandi is out of surgery and doing well. She wanted me to let you know. I think one of her good friends is taking care of her as she recovers.
October 30th, 2013 at 4:53 pm
That is truly an epic scarf. That is like a Prose Edda of Scarfdom. Ah. In that case, I have neither mental nor hanger space to welcome more scarves at present, but thank you, and doubly so for enquiring.
The alternative would be finding ways to slow Addie down, though… A great divorce sounds like depressing reading. Oh…why/have I heard of him?
I will remember briefly at a time I have no means to write it down and then forget again, I am sure.
Words describe things, too…
Thank you. I am glad they fixed her smoothly after her crushing defeat by herbal step, and that the Jess can provide a safe space for her to have no legs in, but have been sending good thoughts anyway.
October 31st, 2013 at 8:12 am
Stoopid squeazy comment boxes. Reply below.
October 29th, 2013 at 12:14 pm
This is truly wonderful news.
October 29th, 2013 at 12:17 pm
I think so. I just wish my nephew lived a little closer. :)
October 31st, 2013 at 8:40 am
When I saw the size yarn ball created by my winding the skein (it was almost as big as my head), there was only one thing to be done. *nods* You are welcome. Better ask than send something that only adds to clutter.
I have told her that I am at capacity. Then she gave me a book I didn’t have to give back, but at least that means I don’t have to read that one right away.
It is not cheerful, but it is an interesting exercise in imagination and it has George MacDonald as a character. Dunno? It is one of the more famous novels by Rabbi Chaim Potok, and is about a Hasidic Jewish boy in New York City and the conflicts between his artistic talents and interest and his family/community. I had heard of it, and when I saw it on Addie’s shelf I picked it up, curious. The first page grabbed me, and I asked to borrow it. This was the start of the borrowed-book pileup.
Alas… always carry a little book to write in?
They do, but words are flexible things, and often (perhaps most of the time, depending on one’s definition of abstract) describe abstract things.
*nods* She seems to be doing well. Last I heard the ankle was throbbing a bit, but she felt fine otherwise.
November 4th, 2013 at 12:24 pm
The Orthodoxy quote reminds me of the bent vs. broken distinction Lewis makes in Out of the Silent Planet. Those who do evil believing it is good (e.g. Hitler) are far more dangerous than those who do evil knowing it is only for their own advancement (e.g. a thief).
Thrilled to hear you are cancer-free! That’s a relief, and I’ll keep on praying you stay cancer-free and that you can get off chemo soon. As my dad kept saying after my mom’s first brain surgery, “Bald is beautiful.” Then we’d watch the Star Trek movie with V-ger.
Now’s the time to get a scalp tattoo, if you ever wanted one!
November 4th, 2013 at 12:37 pm
I started re-reading Out of the Silent Planet on one of my forays to the ER. I’ve forgotten so much about it! Good intentions can do great harm, and that’s important for us to remember.
I’m pretty happy about it, though the chemo doesn’t make me feel cancer-free. Still, this too shall pass, and in the mean time, I am enjoying being bald. My one wish is that the hair that hasn’t fallen out will do so, because being patchy is worse than being bald. :P Your dad sounds like a great guy!
There’s a thought. I have never gotten a tattoo for fear of getting tired of it, but a scalp tattoo wouldn’t be a problem in that regard. Of course, it would also be rather pointless when I grow my hair back…
June 3rd, 2014 at 12:18 pm
Congrats on becoming an aunt! I’ve got eight nieces and nephews and I brag about them on http://myauntlovesme.com
June 11th, 2014 at 6:54 pm
That’s a lot of kiddos! You are very lucky. I only have the one, at present, but I hope to be very involved in his life. :)