Majoring on Minors

Jesus-children laughing

We must certainly be in a novel;
What I like about this novelist
is that he takes such trouble
about his minor characters.

–G. K. Chesterton

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Childish or childlike?

A childish book, like a childish person, is limited, unspontaneous, closed in . . . But the childlike book, like the childlike person, breaks out of all boundaries. And joy is the key. Several years ago we took our children to Monticello, and I remember the feeling we all had of the fun Jefferson must have had with his experiments, his preposterous perpetual clock, for instance: what sheer, childlike delight it must have given him. Perhaps Lewis Carroll was really happy only when he was with children, especially when he was writing for them. Joy sparks the pages of Alice [in Wonderland], and how much more profound it is than most of his ponderous works for grownups . . . But in the battering around of growing up the child gets hurt, and he puts on a shell of protection; he is frightened, and he slams doors.

Real maturity lies in having the courage to open
doors again, or, when they are pointed out,
to go through them.

–Madeleine L’Engle

Approachable childlikeness

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14,15).

The unthreatening childlikeness of Jesus intimidated no one. Both friend and foe approached him freely. The Pharisees and Saduccees attacked him with a fervor they could never have mustered had Jesus walked the earth with a heavenly glow and spoken in a royal, electronically enhanced voice. Children were comfortable around him, which even a surface observation would tell you could not be so without his own childlikeness.

–Gayle D. Erwin

Becoming like children

Jesus tells us . . . “Become like children.” Yet we know this is impossible. In the very effort of trying to become like children . . . we put our goal still farther out of reach. But it is precisely here, perhaps, that we come as near to the heart of the mystery as we are able.

It is just when we realize that it is impossible by
any effort of our own to make ourselves children
and thus to enter the kingdom of Heaven
that we become children.

We are children, perhaps, at the very moment when we know that it is as children that God loves us—not because we have deserved his love and not in spite of our undeserving, not because we try and not because we recognize the futility of our trying; but simply because he has chosen to love us . . . as children, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick Buechner

The eternal appetite of infancy

A child kicks its legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, Do it again; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.

For grown-up people are not strong enough
to exult in monotony.

But perhaps God is strong enough… It is possible that God says every morning, Do it again, to the sun; and every evening, Do it again, to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

–G. K. Chesterton
(1874 – 1936)

 

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