Not only is the Faith the mother of all worldly energies, but its foes are the fathers of all worldly confusion. The secularists have not wrecked divine things; but the secularists have wrecked secular things, if that is any comfort to them. The Titans did not scale heaven; but they laid waste the world.
The following interview was published in the July-August, 1998, issue of Gilbert!, a journal devoted to the ideas of G. K. Chesterton.
Gilbert! Its subtitle is “An Apocalypse.” It is a view of the end-times. Are we there now, at a time near the end of the world?
O’BRIEN. I don’t know. Every generation has to stay awake and watch, as Our Lord exhorted us to in the Gospels. Each is called to an attitude of vigilance. The scriptures warn us that the generation that is least vigilant is, in fact, the one that will be visited by the ultimate test. So my novel, unlike a number of other end-times novels which have appeared in the last couple of years, does not so much try to predict specific details of an apocalypse or to pinpoint certain characters and personalities on the world stage, as to ask the reader to go deeper and to ask himself, am I personally in a fit condition to meet the spiritual crisis into which I will be plunged if these are in fact the last days to which the prophets were pointing? True Christian prophesy is about preparing the heart and the mind to embrace the truth. Therefore, wanting neat fortune-telling packages about the near future is really in a sense undermining a true spirit of vigilance.
An article published in the August-November, 1990, issue of The Chesterton Review
The sheer weight of Chesterton’s intellectual genius has tended to obscure a basic fact about his nature: he was fundamentally an artist. There has always been, of course, an abundance of evidence that he was a lover of visual imagery, ranging from boyhood doodles through a lifetime of humorous cartoons depicting the foibles of his contemporaries, to the cardboard characters which he created in later years for his toy theatre. There is also the fact that, when his friends went on to Oxford and Cambridge, he chose to attend an art school at St. John’s Wood and later the Slade School of Art. The real evidence, however, lies in the vivid metaphors and ingenious parallels produced during his career as a writer. They were drawn from a seemingly inexhaustible store of observed detail. He was a man who looked, and looked deeply, one who gradually came to understand the mysterious epiphany of meaning continuously uttered in creation. If he is more widely known as a philosopher at large, it is because the bulk of his creative output lies on the side of the printed word.