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January 23, 2005

Old Words and New Ideas in Religion, Law, and Academia; Chesterton

Pastor Timothy Bayly has an excellent Chesterton quote at the end of this post on gender-neutered Bible translations:

It is remarked, "We need a restatement of religion"; and though it has been said thirty-thousand times, it is quite true.

It is also true that those who say it often mean the very opposite of what they say. As I have remarked elsewhere, they very often intend not to restate anything, but to state something else, introducing as many of the old words as possible.

(G. K. Chesterton, The Thing, p. 190, "Some of Our Errors".)

That idea also applies to law. The objective in creating a "living Constitution" is to kill the old Constitution and then resurrect as many old words as possible to dress up a new one.

Interestingly enough, the opposite is true in many academic and artistic fields. In theology and law, tradition is honored, even by those who dislike what is traditional. In academia and some spheres of art, tradition is dishonored, even by those who like what is traditional. As a result, there we tend to get old ideas dressed up in as few of the old words as possible.

Posted by erasmuse at January 23, 2005 01:55 PM

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