G.K. Chesterton has gotten some attention on this blog already (what with Cheese and Fairy Tales as older posts); however, I feel the need to let you, my beloved reader, know that I have recently finished perhaps one of the most amusing, deep, and poignant books I have ever read.
That book, my friends, is Manalive. Recommended by my elder brother, who you may remember wrote a true Chestertonian essay called The Romance of Coffee, this short story captured my mind and ravished my attention. If a book can keep me awake past the midnight hour, dear reader, you ought to know it is indeed a good book; and this book is one such book.
The back cover of the Dover Publications copy my brother loaned me reads thus:
First published in 1912… Manalive celebrates on of G.K. Chesterton’s earliest themes: the joy of being alive. That principle is embodied in one Innocent Smith, who is taken up by a fierce wind one day and dropped on the lawn of a boardinghouse inhabited by a group of disillusioned young people. His arrival has a rejuvenating effect on this dull group.
In the course of the book, Smith courts and remarries his wife repeatedly, lives in various houses, which all turn out to be his own, and attempts murder, but only succeeds in firing life into his victims.
Perhaps the most lighthearted of all Chesterton’s “serious” books, Manalive is full of high-spirited nonsense expressing important ideas: life is worth living, one can break with convention and still maintain moral and ethical standards, and much of the behavior civilized man has been led to believe is wrong, isn’t wrong at all.
So often in life, we begin to see the incredible and amazing things around us as merely “normal”; we miss the beautiful sights and sounds that are all around us. So often we forget the beauty of this earth; and so with the beauty and radiance of Christ Himself. As one man in the book expresses, “Any habit is a bad habit.” Meaning this, that if anything we do becomes merely routine or normal or regular, we ought to check ourselves. We need to realize that the world around and the things that we do are perhaps the furthest thing from normal there is.
Professor Clyde Kilby, a professor of John Piper’s, said it this way in his list of “10 Ways to Stay Alive in the Beauty of God’s World” – I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.” (for more of this, check out this link: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/10-steps-to-stay-alive-to-the-beauty-of-gods-world )
This book is one that God has used in my life to remind me of the beauty and simple glory of the gift of life. Life is beautiful. And if this life is so wondrous, how much more that spiritual, abundant life which He gives us right here and now? How much more the eternal life we will one day have with Christ in heaven? In Him is life; and if you feel yourself dead today, if you feel yourself estranged from God, then find life today, now, in Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; without Him, we all remain dead. But thanks be to God, that through Jesus Christ, He has made a way for us to have life, abundant life, and eternal life.
Blessings on your weekend!