Wednesday, November 3, 2010

From "Some Fallacies and Santa Claus"

Some complain that parents will not tell their children whether Santa Claus exists or not. The parents do not tell them for the excellent reason that the parents do not know. Those who have thought their way deepest into the mysteries of man's life in nature have generally tended to the idea that there were principles, and very probably personal principles, behind the energies in places, seasons, occupations, and periods of life.

Some Fallacies and Santa Claus, The Nation, December 7 1912. Reprinted in the Chesterton Review, 1981

I felt like whooping with delight when I read that last line. So Chesterton believed, or at least, he was inclined to believe, that (to quote Tennyson) "a spirit haunts the year's last hours"; that a spirit hovers over the breakfast table; that there is a genius loci in the market square. I believed this without thinking when I was a child, and even today, the idea haunts me. Without being irreverent, I yearn for the days when I would have immediately concurred with Thales of Miletus that "everything is full of gods".

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