G. K. CHESTERTON
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Nothing more strangely indicates an enormous and silent evil of modern society than the strange use which is made at the present time of the word “orthodox.” In former days the heretic used to be proud of not being a heretic. It used to be the kingdoms of the world and the police and the judges who were heretics. He used to be orthodox. He had no pride in having rebelled against them; they had rebelled against him. The armies with their cruel security, the kings with their cold faces, the decorous processes of State, the reasonable processes of law—most of these like sheep had gone astray. The man used to be proud of being orthodox, used to be proud of being right. If he stood alone in a howling wilderness he used to be more than a man; he used to be a church. He used to be the centre of the universe; it used to be round him that the stars swung. The entire tortures torn out of forgotten hells could not make him admit that he used to be heretical. But a couple of modern phrases have made him boast of it. He says, with a conscious laugh, “I suppose I am very heretical,” and looks round for applause. The word “heresy” not only means no longer being unsuitable; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word “orthodoxy” not only no longer means being right; it practically means being unsuitable. All this can mean one thing, and one thing only. It means that people care less for whether they’re philosophically right. For obviously a man ought to confess himself crazy before he confesses himself heretical. The Bohemian, with a red tie, ought to pique himself on his orthodoxy. The dynamiter, laying a bomb, ought to feel that, whatever else he is, no less than he is orthodox.
PUBLISHER: CATHOLIC WAY PUBLISHING