When any of my admittedly fortunate kids has voiced an opinion to the effect of “everything would be perfect if only X,” they invariably confront their dad’s “sweater theory” of life.
The sweater theory reminds that life is an all-or-nothing proposition, an inestimable gift with no “if onlys.” Like pulling on the loose thread of a sweater, a seemingly innocent endeavor risks entirely unraveling the pullover, leaving things not slightly better but dreadfully worse.
Imagine my joy to learn that in “Orthodoxy,” G.K. Chesterton’s apologetical masterwork, he warned the following: “Do not free a camel from the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel.” There was my sweater theory pithily stated (emphasis added).
“Fake it till you make it” is motivation I draw on frequently when I know the good I’m supposed to do but in my weakness, I don’t feel like doing it. What a comfort to discover that before I was born, C.S. Lewis had already provided the underpinnings for this philosophy.
In “Mere Christianity,” Lewis advised: “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. . . . When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” What a confirmation: Not only might the faking it be brief, the making it might carry me all the way to heaven.
It is thrilling when sound theory holds up in practice. It is scarcely less wondrous when sound practice holds up in theory
The native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought; and enterprises of great pitch and moment, With this regard, their currents turn awry, and lose the name of action.