New Episcopal Communities

Madmen are the greatest reasoners we know…

April 29, 2014

It was G. K. Chesterton who kept alive the spirit of Kierkegaard and naive Christianity in modern thought, as when he showed with such style that the characteristics the modern mind prides itself on are precisely those of madness. There is no one more logical than the lunatic, more concerned with the minutiae of cause and effect.

Madmen are the greatest reasoners we know, and that trait is one of the accompaniments of their undoing. All their vital processes are shrunken into the mind. What is the one thing they lack that sane people possess? The ability to be careless, to disregard appearances, to relax and laugh at the world. They can’t unbend, can’t gamble their whole existence, as did Pascal, on a fanciful wager. They can’t do what religion has always asked: to believe in a justification of their lives that seems absurd. The neurotic knows better: he is the absurd, but nothing else is absurd; it is ‘only too true.’ But faith asks that man expand himself trustingly into the non-logical, into the truly fantastic. 

This spiritual expansion is the one thing that modern man finds, most difficult, precisely because he is constricted into himself and has nothing to lean on, no collective drama that makes fantasy seem real because it is lived and shared.
(from, The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker)