The following excerpts are from Chesterton's book Heretics (pp. 69 & 128). They tie into the thoughts found in this other post. There is a tendency in conventional Christianity to dismiss visions of darkness and evil as antithetical to true Christian thought and character. What Chesterton here points out is that remembering the vision of the dark (1) is a matter of humility in that it (2) makes us fall on our knees before all that is good (esp. the God who is Good). This has rich implications philosophically, theologically, and (even more so) artistically. If evil isn't truly evil, then what's the point of heroes? If sin isn't exceedingly sinful, then what's the point of the Cross? It becomes much ado about nothing.
-Jon Vowell (c) 2011
-Jon Vowell (c) 2011
The truth is, that all genuine appreciation rests on a certain mystery of humility and almost of darkness. The man who said, "Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed," put the eulogy quite inadequately and even falsely. The truth is, "Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall be gloriously surprised." The man who expects nothing sees redder roses than common men can see, and greener grass, and a more startling sun. Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall possess the cities and the mountains; blessed is the meek, for he shall inherit the earth.
Until we realize that things might not be, we cannot realize that things are. Until we see the background of darkness we cannot admire the light as a single and created thing. As soon as we have seen that darkness, all light is lightening, sudden, blinding, and divine. Until we can picture nonentity, we underrate the victory of God and can realize none of the trophies of His ancient war. It is one of the million wild jests of truth that we know nothing until we know nothing.
The curse that came before all history [, i.e., the Fall] has laid on us all a tendency to be weary of wonders. If we saw the sun for the first time it would be the most fearful and beautiful of meteors. Now that we see it for the hundredth time we call it, in the hideous and blasphemous phrase of Wordsworth, "the light of common day." We are inclined to increase our claims. We are inclined to demand six suns, to demand a blue sun, to demand a green sun. Humility is perpetually putting us back in the primal darkness. There all light is lightening, startling and instantaneous. Until we understand that original dark, in which we have neither sight nor expectation, we can give no hearty and childlike praise to the splendid sensationalism of things.