A Set of Mental Pictures

I have attempted in a vague and personal way, in a set of mental pictures rather than in a series of deductions, to state the philosophy in which I have come to believe. I will not call it my philosophy; for I did not make it. God and humanity made it; and it made me.

The blessed words above are from the introduction to G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy: The Romance of Faith. I share it here because I completely identify with the idea of expressing one’s convictions through a “set of mental pictures rather than in a series of deductions.” For a brief while, I entertained the notion of introducing a new section to my blog called “The Toybox of Ideas,” but it didn’t take long for me to realize that this proposed section is basically what my whole blog is. I am not a systematic thinker, neither am I formally logical. When I read the works of others, I generally don’t do so to follow their arguments, carefully monitor their premises, watch how connections are made, and conclusions are established. Instead, I look for ideas with which I resonate, ideas that shed some light on my experience, or that I might appropriate and use within the basic Christian framework to which I am committed. The ancient Greeks would probably have called me a cock-sparrow: a dabbler of ideas, much like a sparrow flits about from place to place pecking at whatever food it can find. Perhaps in saying all this I am stretching Chesterton’s words beyond his intended meaning, but as I made plain yesterday, I like somehow being affiliated with this guy.

Oh, I also like the idea of subscribing to a philosophy that is making me. Those words remind me of Rich Mullin’s song “Creed” in which he says, “And I believe what I believe, It’s what makes me what I am. I did not make it, no it is making me. It is the very truth of God and not the invention of any man.” Now I realize that there are many who would contest the last part of this lyric, but it is not the intention of this post to engage in an historical apologetic in defense of Christianity. Besides, I am not sure I have the intellectual wherewithal to do so anyways. Yes, history matters. You can’t sincerely uphold the incarnation without having to address the historical dimension of faith, but when push comes to shove, I am more of a fideistic existential type who sits comfortably with people like Kierkegaard, who is another person that I would like to be affiliated with.

And I believe what I believe
Is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not
The invention of any man

3 Responses to “A Set of Mental Pictures”

  1. Roger Green  

    Are we anything if not what we believe?

    I was thinking about how lives of some people are merely “Collateral damage” when lost in war or disaster, mere numbers, as though they aren’t feeling, thinking beings of God.

  2. K.L.B.  

    Dude! That is so damn good! (Forget about how that seems to contradict, and just go with the flow, okay?) I TOTALLY agree with EVERYTHING you’ve expressed! I know what you mean, how you feel – and I feel and think that way too! Oh wow… what marvelous communication, what a most outstanding expression!

  3. Anthony Velez  

    Roger – I agree. Any moderately reflective person would have to acknowledge that a person’s identity, the way each person inhabits the world is profoundly influenced by their beliefs. But what I like in Chesterton and Mullin’s expression is the idea that our beliefs are not just integral to our identities, but are somehow constituting us. Perhaps in some degree we choose what we believe, or at least we choose what methods we are going to employ to determine credible beliefs, but once we choose, the choice is making us. Maybe I just like a good turn of phrase.

    Kevin – Wow!! I blush. Thanks for the kudos and the words of affirmation.