Chesterton on Drinking

“Once in the world’s history men did believe that the stars were dancing to the tune of their temples, and they danced as men have never danced since. With this old pagan eudaemonism the sage of the Rubiyat has quite as little to do as he has with any Christian variety. he is not more a Bacchanal than he is a saint. Dionysus and his church was grounded on a serious joie de vivre like that of Walt Whitman. Dionysus made wine, not a medicine, but a sacrament. Jesus Christ also made wine, not a medicine, but a sacrament. But Omar makes it, not a sacrament, but a medicine. He feasts because life is not joyful; he revels because he is not glad. ‘Drink,’ he says, ‘for you know not whence you come nor why. Drink, for you know not when you go nor where. Drink, because the stars are cruel and the world as idle as a humming-top. Drink, because there is nothing worth trusting, nothing worth fighting for. Drink, because all things are lapsed in a base equality and an evil peace.’ So he stands offering us the cup in his hand. And at the high altar of Christianity stands another figure, in whose hand also is the cup of the vine. ‘Drink,’ he says, ‘for the whole world is as red as this wine, with the crimson of the love and wrath of God. Drink, for the trumpets are blowing for battle and this is the stirrup-cup. Drink, for this is my blood of the new testament that is shed for you. Drink, for I know of whence you come and why. Drink, for I know of when you go and where.'”

Comments

  1. Notrelatedtoted says

    More, please.

    Has there been any Christian or Catholic writer before or since Chesterton with as unique and pithy a voice? I think not.

    Greene, Percy, Waugh and O’Connor show us what is wrong with Man and why we should be mournful. Chesterton shows us what is right with Man and why we should celebrate.

    Note to self: need to read more Chesterton.

  2. Drink, for I know of whence you come and why. Drink, for I know of when you go and where.

    I will. Maybe then I’ll be able to hear you telling me all this.

    Unless I don’t need to.

  3. Cubeland Mystic says

    I think Chesterton was quoting St. Paul. Being Roman Catholic, I don’t know much about the bible, but can feel the pauline influence. Good text.

    Also, it has been co-opted by the medical establishment to replace the Hippocratic oath to justify their gratuitous use of mood enhancing drugs.

    It’s cognac season, any recommendations from the Lickonites out there?

  4. Jeff Miller says

    Chesterton also said:

    “Thank God for beer and burgundy by not drinking too much of them.”

  5. Cubeland Mystic says

    He was hungover when he said that Jeff.

  6. AnotherCoward says

    Which, of course, adds that much more credence to the quote.

    And I’m with NRTT.

    I’ve not read a lot of Chesterton, but the stuff I have read … well, it leaves me invigorated. Much the same with Lewis and Tolkien.

    It’s not that these men knew how to draw out what is wrong with this world … they knew how to draw out what was right …

    Sometimes I think we romanticize so much on the wrong of the world (even for seemingly right reasons) because that is what we know, can identify, and can relate to.

    But these guys never romanticized the wrong. They certainly knew how to draw out and paint the depths of suffering, vice, and evil in the world … but what was romanticized and formed the contrast of their prose was the good, the ideal … a glimpse of a hobbit-esque world of self indulgent selflessness in between the larger resistance to gluttonous selfishness.

  7. Cubeland Mystic says

    Love this line
    “a glimpse of a hobbit-esque world of self indulgent selflessness in between the larger resistance to gluttonous selfishness.”

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