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Sacramento Chesterton Society Meeting after the 6:00 pm Mass at St. Stephen’s in classroom 2.

April 9 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

We will continue our reading of Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man:
Chapter VI – The Demons and the Philosophers
Chapter VII – The War of the Gods and Demons
For those of you interested in a brief overview of the book, here is a LINK to Dale Ahlquist’s lecture on The Everlasting Man from the Chesterton Society website.

Also of interest, Word on Fire books has recently released an edition of The Everlasting Man with an Introduction, Notes and Commentary by Dale Ahlquist. Here is a link to the book on the Word on Fire website.

As you can see, we’re reading two chapters again this month. I took an informal pole of those in attendance at the last meeting and everyone seemed fine with it. So, two chapters it is!

In addition to the above link to Dale Ahlquist’s lecture on our book, I’ll also offer you all a little summary of my own. Dale’s summary is of the book as a whole; I will confine myself to part one of the book (On the Creature Called Man). The first two chapters deal with prehistoric man, some of the silly things scientists and anthropologists say about him, and what types of things we can really discern about him from the evidence. The third chapter discusses the dawn of history and that, as Dale says in his lecture, “When we study history, the curtain rises on a play already in progress.” Also, those early civilizations when they step onto the stage of history are already deeply religious. Beginning in chapter four he starts to discuss the religion/culture of ancient, pagan, pre-Christian civilizations. He starts by taking exception to the methods of the comparative religion scholars, and proposes a better framework of his own to analyze religions:

In this sketch of religious history, with all decent deference to men much more learned than myself, I propose to cut across and disregard this modern method of classification, which I feel sure has falsified the facts of history. I shall here submit an alternative classification of religion or religions, which I believe would be found to cover all the facts and, what is quite as important here, all the fancies. Instead of dividing religion geographically, and as it were vertically, into Christian, Moslem, Brahmin, Buddhist, and so on, I would divide it psychologically and in some sense horizontally; into the strata of spiritual elements and influences that could sometimes exist in the same country, or even in the same man. Putting the Church apart for the moment, I should be disposed to divide the natural religion of the mass of mankind under such headings as these: God; the Gods; the Demons; the Philosophers. I believe some such classification will help us to sort out the spiritual experiences of men much more successfully than the conventional business of comparing religions; and that many famous figures will naturally fall into their place in this way who are only forced into their place in the other. As I shall make use of these titles or terms more than once in narrative and allusion, it will be well to define at this stage for what I mean them to stand. (emphasis added – SCR)

These four headings take up his analysis of pagan religions before the advent of Christ, for the next three chapters, the remainder of chapter four, chapter five and chapter six. He is “putting the Church apart for the moment,” in order to take it up in part two of the book – “On the Man Called Christ.”

In Chapter Seven he discusses the crisis and clash of competing and incompatible pagan religions (Rome and Carthage – the Punic Wars) And in Chapter Eight he draws some conclusions and brings his summary of history up to just before the Advent of Christ. In Part Two we will look at the uniqueness of Christ and how He relates to other religions in terms of the four headings as we’ve seen in part One.


April 9
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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