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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chesterton: Wasn't this Published Today?

G.K. Chesterton had an incredible sense of sardonic humor and every time I read the Chesterton Society's bi-monthly magazine, Gilbert, I enjoy plenty of good, healthy laughs. The Jan/Feb issue carries a number of "letters from feminists" with Chesterton's responses that could have been in today's paper. One lady sent GK a letter on birth control that Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood could have posted for her "I have a say" project. Here's an edited version of the woman's letter:
Dear Mr. Chesterton, You claim that the social policy of birth control came from capitalists who do not wish to pay a family wage, but I notice that you talk only about working men and about children, but you do not talk about women. You have not, I believe, ever been left in sole charge of a family of eleven with the cooking, the cleaning, the washing and the mending to do....What will your "family wage," which seems to be your only suggestion apart from improving housing, do to help this problem?....Some of us would prefer the right to earn outside the home ourselves, and we'd like to have a nursery school for our children....  Mrs. Dora Russell
And Chesterton's response:
Dear Mrs. Russell, Your mind darting at once to the darkest secret in my past, you have discovered that I have never been a woman. It is well to have the mystery cleared up as soon as possible. You suggest that I have never known what it is to be a mother who has to cook and clean for a large family on a small wage. I am glad to be able to add that I have never known what it is to be a master who paid a small wage and then justified himself by telling the mother not to have a large family....I quite admit that there is a great deal more to be said. But what is called Birth Control has so rich an abundance of bad qualities, it offers so varied a choice of blunders and degradations, that nobody can deal with all its ugly features at once....It is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands....You prefer "the right to earn outside the home," or (in other words) the right to be a wage-slave and work under the orders of a total stranger because he happens to be a richer man. Your quarrel with motherhood is not, like mine, a quarrel with inhuman conditions, but simply a quarrel with human life.  Lansbury's Labour Weekly, Jan 22, 1927
It is interesting to note the date of Chesterton's response, January 22, the date of Roe v. Wade. Here is the prophet of the modern age making the connection between the insidious deception of birth control and its connection to the "quarrel with human life" forty-six years before the Supreme Court imposed the murder of children on every state in the union. Prophet indeed.

I'm all for the move to advance Chesterton's cause for sainthood. He was a convert to Catholicism who boiled down the reason to one. Catholicism is true. I urge you to pray for Chesterton and to ask his intercession that you might defend the faith with wit, wisdom, and humility. He certainly did!

1 comment:

  1. As a fan of Chesterton's writing an spirituality, I support the sainthood cause for him. I find so much depth and wisdom in his writings.