It’s Brunch O’Clock Somewhere – And G.K. Doesn’t Mind


Andrew Sullivan posted a snippet of this essay by G.K. Chesterton on the merits of sleeping in. Money quote:

“The tone now commonly taken toward the practice of lying in bed is hypocritical and unhealthy. Of all the marks of modernity that seem to mean a kind of decadence, there is none more menacing and dangerous than the exultation of very small and secondary matters of conduct at the expense of very great and primary ones, at the expense of eternal ties and tragic human morality. If there is one thing worse than the modern weakening of major morals, it is the modern strengthening of minor morals.”

I should like to post this here as a way to remind myself that this is pretty much all that needs to be said the next time someone decides to produce another MacArthurian rant about this or that habit or cultural development being a danger in the church. Of course there is much fair discussion that can be had on what comprises “major” and “minor” morals. But there are enough topics where our attitude can safely be something like, “give me break, no one cares” – and we can safely place things like craft beer, fancy coffee, skinny jeans, cycling, cigar smoking, glasses of all sorts, buying loft conversions in the “minor morals” category. Just like Christians in earlier decades gave up on critiquing rock music, rap, baggy jeans, baseball caps, grunge-inspired plaid, men with hair longer than a drill sergeant and so on, I think we can do the same thing with our momentary trends.

The protest will go something like this: “Don’t you see, all these things are connected? People who engage in these minor distractions and enthusiasms are on a sort of downward spiral into vanity/drunkenness/idolatry/sin!” If people develop a major moral deficiency of one type or another, we may of course have to deal with such a thing as it arises. The error here of those who develop a moral panic about this or that minor habit is that they don’t realize that a narrow road has to be narrow on both sides. One might be concerned over someone styling their “hipster hair” (in MacArthur’s lexicon) but one can also clearly pick up on MacArthur’s pride about the fact that he wears a suit to worship God. Pride. Avoid one side of the road and you might very well fall off the other side, and attacking things that we might regard as bad habits is a sure way to ensure that we veer to close to the other side, that of pride.