Thursday, December 4, 2014

From My Commonplace: Persons Created in the Image of God

One of the ladies in my Odyssey reading group suggested reading Chesterton's The Everlasting Man together as well.  As if I needed another book discussion to join…

This is my first Chesterton. I have always thought he was one of those authors that I *should* read, but he's always kind of intimidated me so I haven't. I'm finding I'm really glad that she suggested it, however, since I'm really enjoying him so far, and I don't think I would have picked it up otherwise. I find that I am appreciating his humor as well as his deeper insights. To me, he is making some very profound truths sound completely reasonable.

A few quotes that I put into my commonplace book  from Chapter 1 (oh, Chesterton is indeed quotable!)...
"And it will be valuable to our sense of reality to consider quite simply what that real evidence is, and not to go beyond it."
In this first chapter, Chesterton is refuting the common caricature of prehistoric cavemen that have been drawn up on little more evidence than a few paintings found in caves. I think maybe this is the crux of his point about the cave men might be? The truth is that the little bits of evidence we do have about ancient times/prehistory DON'T give us the complete story of what life was like in those times. There is much we don't know and can't know, and we would do well to be humble about that and realize that much of what does get passed off as early history is conjecture. He then goes on from there to make his next point: what we CAN know from the ancient cave drawings -
"It is the simple truth that man does differ from the brutes in kind and not in degree, and the proof of it is here; that it sounds like a truism to say that the most primitive man drew a picture of a monkey and that it sounds like a joke to say that the most intelligent monkey drew a picture of a man."
"Art is the signature of man."
"This creature was truly different from other creatures; because he was a creator as well as a creature."
"Man is the microcosm; man is the measure of all things, man is the image of God."
"The simplest truth about man is that he is a very strange being; almost in the sense of being a stranger on the earth."
"There may be a broken trail of stone and bone faintly suggesting the development of the human body. There is nothing even faintly suggesting such a development of the human mind."
~GK Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

The cave painting tells us that man is unique - he is not just some smart and highly developed animal. And man is unique because he is made in the image of God. Because of that, he has capacities that other creatures don't have - art, as Chesterton says here...theology/thought of God as one of my fellow book discussion ladies pointed out, I think I've heard Andrew Kern mention language in this category too. This is all making me think about how Charlotte Mason says children are born persons - persons reflecting the image of God in in our art, in our worship, in our words.  When you think of it that way, it makes all the difference in how we view them, interact with them, and teach them.  We aren't training them to do tricks, we are helping them to better see and reflect the glory of God to the world around them. (I fleshed this topic out in a little more detail here.)


  1. "To me, he is making some very profound truths sound completely reasonable." << I have always felt that way about Chesterton as well. In fact, I have to really slow down when I read his work because I find myself just going along, nodding emphatically at whatever he says because he just makes it sound so good! LOL I do actually agree with what he says, but I just have to slow down to make sure of it. ;)

    1. Yes, that's a good way to put it. He's definitely a slow-read, go back and read-that-bit-again kind of writer. :) But I'm enjoying him immensely.

  2. Too many thoughts. My brain is full. I love this connection between creator and creature. Wonderful.