Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Oracle of the Dog

I've just finished reading The incredulity of Father Brown, and this was one of the parts I most liked:

‘The dog could almost have told you the story, if he could talk,’ said the priest. ‘All I complain of is that because he couldn’t talk you made up his story for him, and made him talk with the tongues of men and angels. It’s part of something I’ve noticed more and more in the modern world, appearing in all sorts of newspaper rumours and conversational catchwords; something that’s arbitrary without being authoritative. People readily swallow the untested claims of this, that, or the other. It’s drowning all your old rationalism and scepticism, it’s coming in like a sea; and the name of it is superstition.’ He stood up abruptly, his face heavy with a sort of frown, and went on talking almost as if he were alone. ‘It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense and can’t see things as they are. Anything that anybody talks about, and says there’s a good deal in it, extends itself indefinitely like a vista in a nightmare. And a dog is an omen, and a cat is a mystery, and a pig is a mascot, and a beetle is a scarab, calling up all the menagerie of polytheism from Egypt and old India; Dog Anubis and great green-eyed Pasht and all the holy howling Bulls of Bashan; reeling back to the bestial gods of the beginning, escaping into elephants and snakes and crocodiles; and all because you are frightened of four words:
‘He was made Man’.


Lucia said...

That is a neat exerpt! I love The Oracle of the Dog. One of my favorite parts when Father Brown notices a man talking about how wonderful dogs are. Father B. says that dogs are all right, just so long as you don't "make the mistake of spelling it backwards" A lot of people seem to be making that mistake these days. ;)

Ria said...

I love the Oracle of the Dog too, 'tis one of my favorites. I love how in a number of FB stories, the murder seems supernatural, spooky or at least VERY complex and it is really very simple. The Oracle of the Dog and The Curse of the Golden Cross and both excellent examples.