In a previous blog post entitled The Poetry of Discomfort, I tried to write about the strange romance which seems to be attached to discomfort and privation. The last paragraphs were as follows, and the opening quotation is from Chesterton:
must be based on discomfort". This seems true. The problem with comfort
is that it keeps on disappearing. We are comfortable, and we forget we
are comfortable. Not only the comfort disappears; the whole physical world disappears. Discomfort reminds us of both. It brings us back to the body-- perhaps it is not too much to say that it points us towards the Incarnation, a concept we can never really take in and of which we are always losing sight.
One final thought, since I can hardly top that one; have you ever noticed the extent to which organized religion, on the physical side, is almost a pursuit of physical discomfort? We always emphasise the humility involved in kneeling before God-- but it seems relevant that it is not only humbling, but also uncomfortable!
I've been re-reading one of my volumes of Chesterton's collected Illustrated London News articles. (Man, I would love a complete run of them.) In one article, Chesterton is writing about boring Church of England sermons (this is before he crossed the Tiber), and it occurred me-- not for the first time-- that I like the boringness of organised religion.
Even more...in my agnostic days, I yearned for it. Somehow, boring sermons sounded more appealing than exciting sermons. Perhaps it's because a boring sermon emphasizes that you're sitting there for some other reason than entertainment, and I was tired of the tyranny of entertainment. There is much more to say on this subject; I may say it in the future.