Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday's Quote: Some Thoughts from Chesteron about God's "Eternal Appetite of Infancy"


On a recommendation of a friend, I recently read Tending the Heart of Virtue:  How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination by Vigen Guroian, and I found it fascinating.  I came across this quote in the introduction, and I wanted to share it with you.  The author brought together his college students to study fairy tales alongside his child's fourth grade class, and here is one of his observations:
Repetition signified one other thing to the fourth graders, the importance of which also dawned on my college students.  [C. K] Chesterton observes that when we grow up we tend to think that repetition is a sign of deadness, "like a piece of clockwork.  People feel that if the universe were personal it would vary, if the sun were alive it would dance."  To the contrary, "variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue."  Whereas repetition, far from signifying monotony and deadness, may signify flight, desire, and vitality....  "A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life.  Because children have unbounding vitality, because they are spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged.  They always say, 'Do it again'" because there is such delight in that thing or activity.  "It may be,"Chesterton concludes, "that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.  It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy, for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.  The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore."  (p. 13, my emphasis)
Isn't this an interesting idea that Chesterton presents, that God has the "eternal appetite of infancy" and loves repetition while we have grown old via sinning and crave variety?  I've never wondered why all daisies look alike, but it makes sense to me that they look the same because God loves the pattern and keeps using it.  And my children's love of playing the same games, reading the same books, watching the same movies does seem to come from their innocence where my desire for new books, new movies seems to come from what?  A lack of innocence?

What do you think?  Do you agree with Chesterton's thoughts?  Or do you think he's way off base?

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