Parliament of Fools

Welcome! We fools are a mish-mash of lovers of the English language. Pull up a computer chair, and imagine with us that you're sitting by the fire in a local cafe. Sip your cyber-cappucino and discuss with us your thoughts on our latest reading assignment. Hopefully we'll experience all the joy of reading together, without the cost of Starbucks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Father Brown, Science, and Literature

Let the discussion commence.

I find Father Brown's comments on science as applied to human beings to be compelling. I haven't read much on criminology, but I have read quite a bit on education, and the same dichotomy exists there: between those who view education from a distance--the students as objects to be manipulated into producing certain outcomes--and those who start from the inside, from looking at themselves as learners and the students as fellow human beings. The former attitude has rightly been called "the language of hell."

Ideally, literature can counterbalance this danger in the sciences. Literature allows us to see other people from the inside, to realize that their failings and passions are also ours. To realize that we, too, are murderers.

Feel free to jump ahead and discuss any of the stories you want to. I'll try to post something on each one as we go along.


  • At 10:07 AM, Blogger Devona said…

    I enjoy how Chesterton's theology creeps through his fiction. It makes for an interesting read, and a good wroking understanding of a Roman Christian.

    As to the concept of seeing inside yourself to find the mentality of a murderer, that idea is very unsettling. No one wants to identify with the bad guy, but we belong in the same category regardless.

    This has been very convicting for me for the last year or so. I keep reminding myself that I have broken some of the law, and therefore I am guilty of breaking the whole of it. Not a comfortable thought. It makes those people a lot more like me than I'd like them to be.

    I think that it is especially poiniant (sp?) that Father Brown says, "it was I who killed those people," and would have been content to leave it at that if he hadn't been further pressed. It was like saying, "I AM that man," not "I am LIKE that man," which is all that most of us are willing to admit.

    That understanding of our depravity puts us all on the exact same playing field. We can not judge others, especially those outside of the church, because we are the same as they are, in reality. We murder, we steal, we are predjudiced, etc.

  • At 3:52 PM, Blogger Tim's Ghost said…

    I'm sitting in the Hillsdale College library right now, waiting for the next Tolkien lecture. My daughter's run off somewhere.

    After trying to find the Chesteron book here, I have to give up my search. It isn't signed out, but it also isn't on the shelf. I've been checking for the past week or so. Frustrating.

    I may have to sit this reading out, for I my lovely wife, who manages our books, has informed me to throttle back in my book buying. We need to pinch some pennies right now.


  • At 4:35 AM, Blogger Queen of Carrots said…


    That's very sad. Someone has clearly succumb too much to the allure of Chesterton. Hopefully they repent when they read his lectures to Flambeau. Maybe it will turn up before we're done.

  • At 6:38 PM, Blogger kristen said…

    Good choice!

    I find Father Brown's comments compelling because of the great humility behind them. Like Devona said, we are willing to go so far as to say that we are like people who commit heinous crimes, but rarely are we willing to say that we ARE, in fact, those people. We are not willing to identify with them that deeply.

    I think of the words of Christ and how he spoke of adultery and murder and it is a good beginning for me to say, "yes, I am a murderer."

    I also think of the words of I John 3, "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." God isn't saying, "I love you so much, you are like my children." He says "you ARE my children."

    The degree to which we identify with something, how intimately we embrace it, how deeply we embrace it, matters. I think we are far too often willing and happy to be half-way there.

  • At 4:02 AM, Blogger Queen of Carrots said…

    Your mentioning Christ's words went me off on another tangent: Christ became sin for us; words repeated so casually they lose their meaning. That means He became a murderer, a rapist, an adulterer, a thief. Take the image of the humble little priest saying, "I am a murderer," and then imagine the Holy One saying that. For us.

  • At 6:53 AM, Blogger Devona said…

    What a wonderful exercise! We should always read together, it helps give us platform to preach the Gospel to one another.

    I'm feeling particularly uplifted this morning. :)


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