So, what is the attraction of those old verities? Simply put, they allow us to achieve the right balance. G.K. Chesterton said that orthodoxy looks wildly unbalanced at times, but in fact it is precisely balanced. We are standing on one foot on a narrow point. We thrust out an arm here, a leg there, to balance ourselves. If we were to change the distribution of forces in any direction, we would fall.
The unbelievers look at us and say, “We don’t buy your beliefs, we won’t adopt your behaviors, and we don’t need your relationships. We want to be free of the burdens you would impose upon us.” But we do not impose those burdens on you. For that matter, they are not felt as burdens by us. We are simply doing what it takes to balance ourselves on this pinnacle. You are free to choose whatever beliefs, behaviors, and relationships you want. And you will then fall and go smash. The world you want to build will fall and go smash.
This grieves us. If you insist upon it, we cannot stop you, but neither will we join you. Falling and smashing holds no attraction for us. And someday, when your beliefs, behaviors, and relationships have thoroughly disappointed you, we will still be around. We’ll be glad to show you how to achieve the right balance in life.
This may sound arrogant, but it isn’t. It’s just the way things are. Balance to stand upright is not a matter of what we think it should be, nor what you think it should be, it just is. Some things “work,” some don’t. Some things conform to reality, some don’t. Yours don’t. Ours do, not because they’re “ours,” but because they just do. We have found the better way, but not because we are better than you. Left to ourselves, we would go in all sorts of different directions, and we would fall and go smash, too. We understand the things you want, really. We get their attraction. But they don’t work. It may take a long time for you to figure that out. You may never figure it out, but others who have gone your way will. And when they figure out the balance, they will find our beliefs, our behaviors, and our relationships to be what makes it all work again.
We did not invent the faith by our cleverness, nor did we adopt it because it validated our sense of morality. We discovered it by experience, often painful experience. It’s what works.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”