What’s Wrong with the World?

The mystic and the madman disagree
On what all men may know with certainty.

The mystic finds two truths that don’t align,
Yet in his study, keeps an open mind.

The madman cannot think outside his box-
And finds his mind confined by bars and locks.

Though we may all desire simplicity,
Complexity preserves our sanity.

-Wills Osborn (2/28/22)


This poem is based on a concept put forth by G. K. Chesterton in his book, What’s Wrong with the World? In chapter 2, “The Maniac,” he states, “Materialists and madmen never have doubts.” With this, he encourages people who reject Christianity, in favor of a tidy materialistic system, to open their minds and allow room for a little “mysticism.” In doing so, they may find the universe and its Creator more complex than they imagined.

I think this can be applied, by extension, to those of us who enjoy trying to fit everything we learn into a tidy theological system. (Free will and sovereignty do not seem compatible, yet, maybe they are meant to be held in tension- both accepted as true despite their apparent incompatibility?) Chesterton seems to suggest that, by allowing for complexity, we will maintain our sanity.

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