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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chesterton on Human Creativity

I recently attend a lecture on Chesterton by Dale Alquist, President of the American Chesterton Society. I've been hoping to attend one of his lectures for several years. The best lectures on Chesterton are always replete with quotes and Mr. Alquist did not disappoint in that respect. He also maintained a light-hearted informality which seemed in keeping with the classic Chestertonian spirit, abbreviating his own remarks in order to leave ample time for questions and conversation.

A few of his insights which bear repeating(these are not direct quotes but my own summary and reflection):
  • Man has unique intellectual powers which distinguish him from other animals. While everything in creation reflects the Creator to a certain degree, the peculiarly human powers are higher because they reflect God more apparently. The imagination is one example. It possesses a kind of limitlessness in creative scope which reflects something of the infinite divine nature.
  • The purpose of the imagination is to help us see the truth in all of its wonder and charm. Art is both the fruit of the imagination and a means of training it. The primary purpose of art is to inspire wonder through beauty, thereby preparing the intellect to receive truth.
  • In general, art should depict the world as it should be. Because of our fallen human nature, we understand and depict the fallen world more easily. However, art instructing through negative examples is not as edifying as art which makes the beauty of truth and goodness visible.
I will leave the final word to Chesterton himself:
“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”


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