G. K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man is a beautiful, engaging, and insightful summary of human history understood from the perspective of Christ’s Church. In this work, Chesterton displays two very important elements of history that have been overlooked in modern society. First, mankind is so much more than modern society imagines—an artist made in the image of the original, Everlasting Artist. Second, Christ is so much more than the world is willing to see. He is the inevitable goal of human imagination and reason; the only place in which both can coexist—that is, find their true place. If we could grasp what this work is demanding of us, we could again resurrect the Gospel and the Church’s power over society. We could pull Post-Modern Man from the Dark Age (Cave) that avails him.

 

If only we could understand

The Everlasting Man.

…..If only we could see

…..What it means to be

…..‘The Creature Called Man.’

 

No, not that brutish fable,

Shallow-browed, dragging knuckles.

…..Waiting in the cave’s dim light

…..Is this Creature’s tell-tale sign

…..That he is the measuring rod,

…..The little-world and Image of

…..The Everlasting God.

 

An artist, through and through,

And as record proves, “civilized” too.[1]

…..At the dawn of history’s pages,

…..Filled with Golden Ages,

…..The Creature stands erect,

…..As nature resurrects,

…..With piety intact.

 

He worships the rise and fall

Of sun and crops with a zealous song.

…..Religious and traditional.

…..Not a mere animal.

…..Not a link to the past.

…..He is more than that.

…..May we see at last . . .

 

When rhythms dance—riddle and rhyme;

Those dreams in the Creature’s spiritual mind.

…..Creative light reflects in song,

…..The truth myth sang all along:

…..Behind the veiled, mysterious lands,

…..Beyond visible history stands

…..The Everlasting Hands.

 

With imagination he rightly sees

The most reasonable of imaginings:

…..Reason is a Being;

…..A Being with imagining.

…..There are signs in the starry-hosts.

…..There is a story in the cosmos—

…..This he surely knows.

 

And with reason, he is able

To imagine the most reasonable:

…..Imagination is the beginning

…..Of all thinking beings.

…..There is more than the shadow.

…..There is an everlasting glow

…..Beyond all he knows.

 

In his spirit, a hunger is seen

For that which is food for the hungry being:

…..More than myth-making

…..Or strength-seeking;

…..More than the sage’s wise words

…..Or the sacrificed herds—

…..A voice is heard.

 

On progress’s path, a dark split comes;

A new hunger rises to tempt their taste buds.

…..In “Tyre and Sidon,”

…..A “short cut” is come upon.[2]

…..Unlocking the door to Shame-King

…..With evil’s strengthening key,

…..Philosophy’s enemy.

 

Not a trifle on the Creature’s path,

This evil way that was conquered at last:

…..Though overcome by good,

…..Not overcome for good;

…..For as time moves ever-forward,

…..A new challenge is offered

…..That withers the sacred.

 

Thoughts and not-thoughts, leading to death,

For the Creature sees the gods were always dead.

…..Vehemence and indifference stand,

…..A heavy stone for faithless man.

…..A new war, though old, must be won,

…..As the end of Old World comes,

…..By the Everlasting Man.

 

If only we could understand

The Everlasting Man.

…..If only we could see

…..With our fleshly eyes

…..‘The Man Called Christ.’

 

Out of the cave, a child they bring—

The truer, the greater Philosopher-King.

…..The infant artist of the cosmos;

…..The tender shoot of starry hosts;

…..The Shepherd of every field,

…..Worshipped while groping for milk,

…..Attacked while swaddled in linen still.

 

Here the great parable riddles in rhyme,

That terrible mercy that echoes through time.

…..Answered in doctrine.

…..Clear in tradition.

…..Walking in dewy dawn—

…..The foreseen, Resurrected One—

…..Bringing Life back to live in a new garden.

 

Strange, this story told about the Man

Who brought back keys from the devil’s own hand.

…..Keys to unlock a holy door,

…..Inside, a rock giving foundation for

…..A movement to move civil men

…..Past their weak and heretical strand

…..Onto the firm truth that converts the pagan.

 

Mighty hands and arms outstretched,

Through children born of His faithfulness.

…..The Christ calls together at last

…..Spirit and reason to break the past

…..Chains of fools in the dark

…..With force of peace or holy war

…..To deliver from false stories, the world.

 

Alive at last and living in liberty,

Calling all peoples to finally be free.

…..In Christ and His Church

…..The romantic truth bursts

…..On reserved lines,

…..Creating new, mankind—

…..Giving all the chance of a new mind.

 

Unique to this Man, unique to His house,

Life from death everlastingly aroused.

…..Conquering death, grave, hell:

…..Overcoming the despair of self,

…..The Body does rise—

…..The Church and the Christ—

…..Rushing against rivers, turning back time.

 

The Everlasting Man and His Everlasting Bride

Continue to rise, to history’s surprise.

…..This turn, never to be conquered.

…..This Christ, more than a brother,

…..A God too—

…..The Everlasting Truth,

…..Never to die, Ever to move.

 

If only we could understand

The Everlasting Man.

…..If only we could see

…..What it means to be

…..The Post-Modern Man.

 

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Citation Information

Donald W. Catchings, Jr.. “Another Resurrection: If Only We Could Understand.” An Unexpected Journal 2, no. 2. (Advent 2019): 141-150.

Direct Link: https://anunexpectedjournal.com/another-resurrection-if-only-we-could-understand/


Endnotes

[1] G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008), 56.

[2] Ibid., 123.

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