Mr. Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society, had the last speaking slot.
He looked a bit tired; I’m not surprised, given that he’d been manning the table over at the ACS, selling books and chatting about Chesterton, for two and a half days by this point. Heck, I didn’t have to talk to hundreds of people a day, and I was about done by this point in the conference.
So, Ahlquist opened with a string of Chesterton quotes. Certainly not a bad thing…
An open mind is a mark of foolishness, as is an open mouth. The purpose of an open mind, as of an open mouth, is to close it again on something solid.
Thinking does sometimes lead to the truth… all men are dogmatic.
There are those who are dogmatic and know it… and those who are dogmatic and don’t know it.
We are struggling in a fallen language like men struggle in a fallen tent.
Ahlquist then defined a couple of popular words today:
- “Whatever” means “I’m not going to think about it.”
- “You know” means “I don’t know, and I’m hoping you do, ’cause I’m not sure what I mean…”
We have no words because we have no thoughts because we don’t know how to think. And, as Chesterton said, “If you think wrong, you go wrong.”
So, how does one think?
1. All proofs begin with something that can’t be proved but can only be perceived or accepted (an axiom).
2. No argument can be held unless people agree on first principles. (example: if I view adoption as a healing of a family who can’t have children and a child who needs a home, but someone else views adoption purely as powerful rich people forcing poor moms to sell their children, who will be psychologically destroyed by the process… well, we really can’t have a discussion about how adoption law should or should not be changed, can we? We don’t even agree if adoption should be legal or a felony.)
3. An act can only be judged by defining its object. Progress, success, and efficiency sound great… but in what direction?
The whole of modern civilization does not know what it is trying to find, and, so, does not find it.
Every modern philosophy wants to blame our problems on something else. Class oppression, parental inadequacies, gender bias, racism… “It’s not your fault, it’s because those people over there were insufficiently nice to you!” This takes away both responsibility and free will. The only logical conclusion, Ahlquist said, is madness and destruction.
Or that scene from Farenheit 451, where the main character’s wife is so engrossed in her TV shows that she ignores anything that might almost pass as real life, and dies in the massive war she was utterly oblivious to.
But never mind, what we really care about is what Lindsay Lohan did at her latest court appearance, and nobody actually requires students to read old books, especially by white men like Bradbury. And certainly not Chesterton.
Which, again, brings us to why we homeschool.