Room (with Bath) at the Inn, 1941
The breakdown here in America is not due to a negative evil like sin, but to avoidance alike of all negative and positive things like the virtues and vices in the hope that by postponing both heaven and hell long enough a Utopia of science may be discovered. It is thought that if the good can be held off long enough, comfort will triumph, like in Russia.
It is not at all unusual, for instance, to hear a newly married couple say that they will avoid children until they have acquired enough capital to support and educate them properly. One rarely gets enough money to support and educate one’s own children properly. Similarly artists are often heard to say that they will do pot-boilers until they have accumulated sufficient money to enable them to paint “as they want to.” Well, they never do. The young couples, like the pseudo-artists, love the neutral sterilities more than they do the positive (or even negative) trials and triumphs of real life. For the comforts of the escaper are not life. They are the techniques, the mechanics of life only.
The very poorest thing made directly by human persons is infinitely superior to the very best thing made by a machine. If we do not comprehend and approve that instantaneously and with our whole heart, we are barbarians. That does not mean that there is not a place, and a very proper place, for the machine-made thing, any more than it means that there is no place for the barbarian.
One might call our present mess “the Revolt against Nature”: the insult to everything human. When a human revolts against his humanity, the person against personality, he of course revolts against God. The point is, however, that the revolt is dishonest. We can be saved even if we spit in the face of the Deity. We do nothing as honest or positive as that. We prefer the sterile and hopeless course of waiting until we have money enough to worship God properly before worshiping him at all.
Nothing is too good for God. We will wait until we “acquire sufficient means” to send a Packard to our underprivileged God in a dirty stable and quickly carry Him to the best hotel. The finest suite for the Holy Child is none too good.
But when we have “acquired sufficient means” to do all these quite praiseworthy things for our God we feel vaguely that perhaps the little Child would be happier after all in the stable with the cattle and his mother. We in the hotel have progressed beyond the family. Some way we cannot fit the Child into the modern hotel in our imagination. Neither can we fit ourselves into the environment of the stable. His parents should have waited until they had acquired sufficient means to bring him up properly. We feel that Mary and Joseph have insulted heaven by not providing properly for the “environment of the expected little-one.”
Sooner or later we are going to be slightly bored by an Infant Savior who chooses to redeem us from a manger. And sooner or later, I suppose, the Child will see less and less of us. I almost feel that it will be his loss and not ours.