Sunday, July 24, 2005

I'm a little late on this one - only about a year

Until a couple of months ago, I had never heard of Touchstone Magazine. Now that I had heard of it, I had never seen a copy until recently when a friend gave us a bunch of stuff and amongst it all, was the October 2004 issue of Touchstone. Inside there was quite a gem, "Choice, the Lovely Dragon" by Anthony Esolen. Here's an excerpt:

"Choice is the dragon of our day. It smuggles into its charcoal-smelling barrow not goblets and gilt pommels but human souls, one after another after another, entic­ing them there with "choices," all of them more or less trivial, while it sits upon the hoard and snores away in its inhuman sleep.


We like that dragon. We eat the fruit of the land in season, out of season. We surf the speckled Internet for spiky games and delights, or for the sheer satiation of ennui, only a click away. We shop for schools, we demand "electives." We shop for churches (alas that we should have to shop for churches), even shop for creeds. We will give the dragon our gold for the privilege of wider choice in how we may put our brain waves to sleep for a couple of hours a day, irritable and unaccountable as those brain waves are.


We find arranged marriages abominable. What, no choice? And after we marry, we retain a fail-safe, lest mar­ried life prove to be married life and not the predictable scripts of our own writing. We are the first people in the world who expect that our children will live far away from us and from each other. Why should anyone be subject to the geographical accident of having been raised in Bag-End, near a certain hill or beside a certain brook?


We even believe in the "freedom to choose," a lizardly slogan that darts past the silent object of the infinitive: as if we feared that the children of our own wombs would be reptiles themselves, now come to prey upon our precious choice. We like that dragon. We like our choice.


I used to believe, when I was young and dumber than Percival, that the "freedom to choose" was a legiti­mate freedom so long as the object of the infinitive was legitimate. If it is legitimate to live in New Jersey, then it is legitimate for me to choose to live in New Jersey. But now I pray rather that God will give me the faith to reject "choice" as the standard whereby I measure my freedom even in the licit disposition of worldly things.


I am not merely saying that there is a freedom higher and more blissful than the freedom to choose how one spends one's money or where one buys a house or whom one marries. I assert that even regarding questions of money or dwelling or spouse or any earthly thing, there is a freedom that slays the freedom to choose. Call it the wisdom of tossing the choice away. Call it the hope not in choosing but in being chosen."

I could quote more, no doubt, but there is much to contemplate even here.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...

Oremus pro invicem!

5 comments:

monster said...

In a similar way as we are driven to distraction by all of our "instant" technology (email, cell phones, news, etc), we live a dissatisfying life when we choose every good thing that freedom allows. Temperance is the key.

Thank you for taking the time to type up this article for a post.

JCurley said...

Monster-thanks for the comment. I have fallen into the 'instanteous news update' trap more than once in my life. The article has much more than I quoted - demontrating in the Old Testament numerous times the folly of chosing, and of course drawing more conclusions....

I will keep my eye on http://splashabout.blogspot.com/ to see what you have to say. You can't go too wrong when you stick by Chesterton....

Jim

monster said...

Thanks. My blog (Splash About!) is very new, but it is nice to know there are a couple readers. I added a link back to you. Join in the conversation if a post triggers a thought. FYI, I came across your blog while searching for blogs mentioning Chesterton.

William Luse said...

Since I write for them occasionally, I'll have to second your choice of magazines, and of articles to read. Tony Esolen is a great guy and a fine writer. You can make the entire article available to your readers by having them click on this link right here.

JCurley said...

Thank-you Mr. Luse. I should have thought of checking for a link myself.