Chesterton on Riches, Needles, and Camels


“Only the Christian Church can offer any rational objection to a complete confidence in the rich.  For she has maintained from the beginning that the danger was not in man’s environment, but in man.  Further, she has maintained that if we come to talk of a dangerous environment, the most dangerous environment of all is the commodious environment.  I know that the most modern manufacture has been really occupied in trying to produce an abnormally large needle.  I know that the most recent biologists have been chiefly anxious to discover a very small camel.  But if we diminish the camel to his smallest, or open the eye of the needle to its largest – if, in short, we assume the words of Christ to have meant the very least that they could mean, His words must at the very least mean this – that rich men are not very likely to be morally trustworthy.  Christianity even when watered down is hot enough to boil all modern society to rags.  The mere minimum of the Church would be a deadly ultimatum to the world.”

“…The whole case for Christianity is that a man who is dependent upon the luxuries of this life is a corrupt man, spiritually corrupt, politically corrupt, financially corrupt.  There is one thing that Christ and all the Christian saints have said with a sort of savage monotony.  They have said simply that to be rich is to be in peculiar danger of moral wreck.”

Taken from Orthodoxy (San Fransisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), 125.

shane lems

sunnyside wa

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