Sunday, November 26, 2006

Chesterton, PETA and resolutions

As this is the final week of the year in the Church, and Advent marks the start of the new year next weekend, it's a time of resolutions. Among mine is to finally read the multi-volume set of the collected works of Chesterton I've acquired, having spent this past year on Tolkien; while perhaps slipping in some Milton as well. And so I began early this morning on Christ the King Sunday and when I read the following I had to chuckle. After reading yesterday in the paper about how PETA is once again challenging nativity displays across the country and even right here in town, GKC's article in the Illustrated London News from Dec. 4, 1908, brought a smile to my world-weary lips. He writes:
Meanwhile, it remains true that I shall eat a great deal of turkey this Christmas; and it is not in the least true (as the vegetarians say) that I shall do it because I do not realise what I am doing, or because I do what I know is wrong, or that I do it with shame or doubt or a fundamental unrest of conscience. In one sense I know quite well what I am doing; in another sense I know quite well that I know not what I do. Scrooge and the Cratchits and I are, as I have said, all in one boat; the turkey and I are, to say the most of it, ships that pass in the night, and greet each other in passing. I wish him well; but it is really practically impossible to discover whether I treat him well. I can avoid, and I do avoid with horror, all special and artificial tormenting of him, sticking pins in him for fun or sticking knives in him for scientific investigation. But whether by feeding him slowly and killing him quickly for the needs of my brethren, I have improved in his own solemn eyes his own strange and separate destiny, whether I have made him in the sight of God a slave or a martyr, or one whom the gods love and who die young--that is far more removed from my possibilities of knowledge than the most abstruse intricacies of mysticism or theology. A turkey is more occult and awful than the angels and archangels. In so far as God has partly revealed to us an angelic world, he has partly told us what an angel means. But God has never told us what a turkey means. And if you go and stare at a live turkey for an hour or two, you will find by the end of it that the enigma has rather increased than dimished.


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