Friday, August 05, 2005

Chesterton (I)

Um escritor fora de moda. Absolutamente fascinante, como fascinantes são os católicos de países onde não é bem visto ser católico (presumo que isto se aplique a todo o lado e a todas as crenças, e é por isso que os católicos portugueses começam a ter interesse).

Gilbert Keith Chesterton nasceu em 1874, morreu pouco antes do início da Guerra em 1936. Do que escreveu, talvez o mais conhecido por cá sejam as aventuras "policiais" do Padre Brown. Uma espécie de resposta ao frio racionalismo de Sherlock Holmes e à sua pretensão de ver "factos, apenas factos". O Padre Brown não andava de lupa à procura de impressões digitais, não andava pela noite de Londres com uma capa negra como o Batman. Negra era apenas a batina de padre gorducho, negras eram, sabia ele, as almas das gentes. E o Padre Brown sabia que não há ninguém mais crédulo que um céptico.

E agora, um excerto de "Ortodoxy" (há uma tradução portuguesa dos anos 50...):

The sages, it is often said, can see no answer to the riddle of religion. But the trouble with our sages is not that they cannot see the answer; it is that they cannot even see the riddle. They are like children so stupid as to notice nothing paradoxical in the playful assertion that a door is not a door. The modern latitudinarians speak, for instance, about authority in religion not only as if there were no reason in it, but as if there had never been any reason for it. Apart from seeing its philosophical basis, they cannot even see its historical cause. Religious authority has often, doubtless, been oppressive or unreasonable; just as every legal system (and especially our present one) has been callous and full of a cruel apathy. It is rational to attack the police; nay, it is glorious. But the modern critics of religious authority are like men who should attack the police without ever having heard of burglars. For there is a great and possible peril to the human mind: a peril as practical as burglary. Against it religious authority was reared, rightly or wrongly, as a barrier. And against it something certainly must be reared as a barrier, if our race is to avoid ruin.

That peril is that the human intellect is free to destroy itself. Just as one generation could prevent the very existence of the next generation, by all entering a monastery or jumping into the sea, so one set of thinkers can in some degree prevent further thinking by teaching the next generation that there is no validity in any human thought. It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all. If you are merely a sceptic, you must sooner or later ask yourself the question, "Why should anything go right; even observation and deduction? Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic? They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape?" The young sceptic says, "I have a right to think for myself." But the old sceptic, the complete sceptic, says, "I have no right to think for myself. I have no right to think at all."

There is a thought that stops thought. That is the only thought that ought to be stopped. (...) It only appears at the end of decadent ages like our own (...) For we can hear scepticism crashing through the old ring of authorities, and at the same moment we can see reason swaying upon her throne. In so far as religion is gone, reason is going. For they are both of the same primary and authoritative kind. They are both methods of proof which cannot themselves be proved. And in the act of destroying the idea of Divine authority we have largely destroyed the idea of that human authority by which we do a long-division sum. With a long and sustained tug we have attempted to pull the mitre off pontifical man; and his head has come off with it.