Pish, I said, when the talk turned to e-books. Tosh, I said again, burnishing my Luddite credentials to a high sheen and preparing to stand well back from this particular bandwagon as all my friends and relations leapt on board. And yet, no sooner has my dearling Spouse-of-Clam acquired a Kindle than I am merrily off buying 21 volumes of Chesterton essays for $1.99 and proceeding to filch said Kindle whenever she is not actually using it herself.
Thus I have found this afternoon the following excellent definition by someone much greater than I:
“The Sentimentalist, roughly speaking, is the man who wants to eat his cake and have it. He has no sense of honour about ideas. He will not see that one must pay for an idea as for anything else. He will not see that any worthy idea, like any honest woman, can only be won on its own terms, and with its logical chain of loyalty. One idea attracts him; another idea really inspires him; a third idea flatters him; a fourth pays him. He will have them all at once in one wild intellectual harem, no matter how much they quarrel and contradict each other.”
This is my quarrel with Jim Wallis’ credo, and with the Humanist manifestoes, and with the whole amorphous reef of modern civilisation of which they are representative polyps.
An ideology ought to be held together by a logical chain of loyalty; there should be axioms which, if you are loyal to them, will logically support the other ideas. It does not matter if they are crazy axioms. You or I might well recoil from them even as from a YouTube mashup of the 100 top internet memes of 2010. No matter how twisted and bizarre the structure looks like from the outside – no matter how weak the foundations – if it really is a structure, and it really is sitting on the foundations, then it is an image of truth worth wrestling with.