[I read constantly and widely. I will use these “book quotes” posts to give the congregation at Trinity Covenant Church a taste of what I’ve read so they can benefit from many of the quotable quotes that I come across — Pastor DGH]
“Oh, we have learnt to peer and pore
On tortured puzzles from our youth,
We know all labyrinthine lore,
We are the three wise men of yore,
And we know all things but the truth.”
“The Wise Men,” p. 15
“There is no more dangerous or disgusting habit than that of celebrating Christmas before it comes, as I am doing in this article. It is the very essence of a festival that it breaks upon one brilliantly and abruptly, that at one moment the great day is not and the next moment the great day is.” – “Christmas That is Coming,” p. 18
“It is in the old Christmas carols, the carols which date from the Middle Ages, that we find not only what makes Christmas poetic and soothing and stately, but first and foremost what makes Christmas exciting. The exciting quality of Christmas rests on an ancient and admitted paradox. It rests upon the great paradox that the power and centre of the whole universe may be found in some seemingly small matter, that the stars in their courses may move like a moving wheel round the neglected outhouse of an inn.” – “The Christmas Ballads,” pp. 18-19
“Christmas and hygiene are commonly in some antagonism, and I for one, am heartily on the side of Christmas.” – “Christmas Pudding,” p. 21
[Here Chesterton is criticizing his friends that are into old or “vintage” things. He marvels that these same people don’t love Christmas and assumes that it is both ancient and “still alive.”]
“[M]ost of my aesthetic friends lie awake at night dreaming of the reinstitution of some beautiful pagan festival, and yet none of them (for I have tempted them all) can eat four helpings of Christmas pudding. Christmas, with its sausages and its stars, is the very historic thing that they are talking about, but they resent it merely because it is still alive.” “Sausages and stars,” p. 27
There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.
For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.
A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost – how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.
This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.
To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.
“The House of Christmas,” pp. 34-35
“The contentment is a thing as active as agriculture. It is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it. It is arduous and it is rare.” – “The Contented Man,” p. 76
“A man might have gone ‘through’ a plum pudding as a bullet might go through a plum pudding; it depended on he size of the pudding—and the man. But the awful and sacred question is ‘Has the pudding been through him?’ Has he tasted, appreciated, and absorbed the solid pudding, with its three dimensions and its three thousand tastes and smells? Can he offer himself to the eyes of men as one who has cynically conquered and contained a pudding?” – “The Contented Man,” p. 76
“Now Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.” – “The Spirit of Christmas,” p. 87
There has fallen on earth for a token
A god too great for the sky.
He has burst out of all things and broken
The bounds of eternity:
Into time and the terminal land
He has strayed like a thief or a lover,
For the wine of the world brims over,
Its splendour is split on the sand.
Who is proud when the heavens are humble,
Who mounts if the mountains fall,
If the fixed stars topple and tumble
And a deluge of love drowns all-
Who rears up his head for a crown,
Who holds up his will for a warrant,
Who strives with the starry torrent,
When all that is good goes down?
For in dread of such falling and failing
The fallen angels fell
Inverted in insolence, scaling
The hanging mountain of hell:
But unmeasured of plummet and rod
Too deep for their sight to scan,
Outrushing the fall of man
Is the height of the fall of God.
Glory to God in the Lowest
The spout of the stars in spate-
Where thunderbolt thinks to be slowest
And the lightning fears to be late:
As men dive for sunken gem
Pursuing, we hunt and hound it,
The fallen star has found it
In the cavern of Bethlehem.
Gloria in Profundis, p. 93