Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Is Burfeind Calling Chesterton a Gnostic? No, He Is Not!

Update : in note 4 Burfeind is giving a correct attribution. This means that he is NOT impinging in the honour of Chesterton. In this library I am not sure how to add a photo, but the footnote 4 is correct. I will add photo as soon as I can. It agrees with the factchecker's attribution. In other words, the remaining import of this post is no criticism of Burfeind in this respect, but just to exonerate Chesterton and to discuss what Gnostic means./HGL, added 1.VII.2017

Here is a little clip of text from one of his books:

Here is a little clip from left margin of same screenshot:

And here is a search on FB for the author:

I should add, I did another search too : Burfeind instead of peter m burfeind.

Gave some, but none of them Peter M.

If you consider, first of all, that despite his giving a note 4 which I could not access at the preview, he has not attributed the quote, and second, that it is a double eisegesis, first to consider Chesterton as mushy erotic due to the quote (if it had been genuine) and second to consider mushy eroticism and emotionalism as the essence of the Gnostic tradition, and so that the conclusion (not quite stated, but at least plausibly hinted at) that Chesterton was a Gnostic is based on two lies which do not even form a valid syllogism if they had been true, I can see that Burfeind might have a motive for abstaining from FB, where such a bloomer would be pointed out to him.

So, on my third search, I must congratulate him on his courage. He really has a FB profile. He can be reached by criticism.

Now, was Chesterton even guilty of saying that, if not who was, and was it even remotely Gnostic? Here is the google search terms:

A man knocking at the brothel door is looking for God

Here are a few finds:

Crux Sola : Chesterton did not say it (sorry)…

Graham Greene > Quotes > Quotable Quote
“Any man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.”

(Attributed with a tiny variation in letters, but an important one in generalising import, to Graham Greene)

TGC : FactChecker: C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton Quotes
April 14, 2013

Other Quotations by ACS
Quotations which might seem to be from Chesterton, but aren’t.

And his source is not studylight:

Quotations : Chesterton, p. 3 of 3

So, what is the real story?

TGC gives a good research:

But thankfully it does have a source. A great one.It comes from a small and positively delightful 1945 novel, The World, the Flesh and Father Smith written by a lesser-known, mid-twentieth century Scottish writer, Bruce Marshall. His style reminds one of Flannery O'Connor in her hilariously biting sarcasm, coloring for her reader serious spiritual truths in the lives of her larger-than-life idiotic characters.

Our quote appears in a conversation between the book's protagonist, the dutiful Father Smith, while walking home one day, encounters a beautiful, seductive young woman standing on her front stoop. Miss Dana Agdala is provocatively accented by her “frock blowing all around her lovely legs.” She introduces herself to Father Smith as the author of the scintillating and best-selling Naked and Unashamed, “but perhaps you haven't read me.”

... Among many questions, built upon her judgment of the silliness of his faith, she asked about his own sexuality and how he manages to, as she put it, “live without us?”

Easily and confidently, Fr. Smith answers that, in his view, “women's bodies are rarely perfect; they soon grow old and sag, and always the contemplation of them even at their best is a poor and boring substitute for walking with God in His House as a friend . . .”

Miss Agdala judges that Fr. Smith's answer proves what she had always maintained about Christians, “that religion is only a substitute for sex.”

Fr. Smith counters roundly, “I still prefer to believe that sex is a substitute for religion and that the young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God.”

Two observations : Father Smith is not Gnostic at all, he's saying the same as St Augustine in Confessions, and a character named Father Smith could easily be confused with the more known character, by Chesterton, Father Brown.

But I wonder how many have considered Chesterton as a Gnostic because Peter Burfeind failed his research.

And I will now give him a link so he can respond. Obviously, I am inviting him to respond so I can quote him, not "in private".

The link to this essay.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Holy Roman Martyrs
Macar, Rufin, Just and

PS, he might also want to go over what Gnosticism actually is in St Augustine's Confessions and other basica definition sources./HGL

PPS, Catholic Answers (which excluded me and a few more Geocentrics, presumably thinking we were lousy on doing research and evaluatiing evidence) seems to have fallen in the same trap:

Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Catholic Living > Spirituality
"Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.”

Obviously, a page on GKC's works online or a scanned book page with visible author and title on top, would be accepted as evidence I was wrong about the quote./HGL

Update completion, here is photo:

Added 3.VII.2017/HGL

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