Of Such Is the Kingdom of Heaven

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The two facts which attract almost every normal person to children are, first, that they are very serious, and, secondly, that they are in consequence very happy. They are jolly with the completeness which is possible only in the absence of humour. The most unfathomable schools and sages have never attained to the gravity which dwells in the eyes of a baby of three months old. It is the gravity of astonishment at the universe, and astonishment at the universe is not mysticism, but a transcendent common-sense. The fascination of children lies in this: that with each of them all things are remade, and the universe is put again upon its trial. As we walk the streets and see below us those delightful bulbous heads, three times too big for the body, which mark these human mushrooms, we ought always primarily to remember that within every one of these heads there is a new universe, as new as it was on the seventh day of creation. In each of those orbs there is a new system of stars, new grass, new cities, a new sea.

G. K. Chesterton, The Defendant, Ch. 14: A Defence of Baby Worship.

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3 responses »

  1. I love Chesterton, but I’ve thought before that his view of children is somewhat sentimental. The wide-eyed three month old may well be in awe and wonder of the world. Or perhaps he has gas. Or maybe he’s quietly plotting what mischief he’ll get into when he’s finally mobile (just kidding. Sort of). 

    Kids are certainly cute, but I think it takes some measure of maturity to develop a really “robust” wide-eyed wonder. I’m guessing that Chesterton at 27 was in a much better position to be astonished and delighted with the world than Chesterton at 3 months old.

  2. I just love G K Chesterton (and I won’t even ask if you’ve read this book!).
    Really every common thing is so much more interesting when you see it with a little child. My almost two year old grandson had us looking at a beta fish for fifteen minutes. That fish has been in our study for two years and I never once made note of how that fish loved its food, loved to hide behind the big clam shell, how it can float almost motionless… until my grandson brought me to it.

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