and Christian faith as “a religion of little things.” Not surprisingly,rnhe describes the complexities of modern life as a kind ofrnmadness, a “final divorce” from such realities as what he callsrn”liberty in small nations and poor families” and “the rights ofrnman as including the rights of property; especially the propertyrnof the poor.” hi a sermon he gave to a congregation in St. Paul’srnCathedral in 1905, he commented on the dangers of fragmentationrnin modern life, the way in which liberal individualism resultedrnin a condition of solipsism in which each person constructsrna private shadow world out of his own isolatedrnexperiences and inner needs. Citing a passage from the Book ofrnProverbs (29:18)—”where there is no vision, the people perish”rn—he goes on to assert the need for a faith which will givernunity to an otherwise meaningless existence: “The people whornfollow wicked, fallacious visions, wrong visions, end in great disasterrnand terrible punishments, but the people who do not followrnany vision at all do not exist or cannot exist for long.”rnIn an age which rejectsrnreligious authority, thernever-changing pronouncementsrnof modern scientists are acceptedrnwith rehgious trust.rnThe corollary of Chesterton’s celebration of a philosophyrnwhich respects the religious value of material things is his distrustrnof philosophies and religious and political systems whichrnexalt the inner life at the expense of the outer life. As he pointsrnout, the work of heaven is entirely material, and the work of hellrnis entirely spiritual, hi his view, an attachment to a family, to arnsmall community, and to a particular place is the basis of moralrnand political health. In Manalive (1912), his hero insists, “Godrnbade me love one spot and serve it, and do all things howeverrnwild in praise of it, so that this one spot might be a witnessrnagainst all the infinities and sophistries, that Paradise is somewherernand not anywhere, is something and not anything.” Forrnhim, even extreme evil such as devil-worship is recognized by itsrnlack of material definition: those who worship the evil one, hernexplains, “always insist upon the shapelessness, the wordlessness,rnthe unutterable character of the abomination.”rnBut the writer who develops the Chestertonian critique ofrnspiritualism furthest is his coreligionist Muriel Spark. Only afterrnher conversion to Chesterton’s sacramental religious faithrndid Mrs. Spark begin to write the novels which earned her thernreputation as one of the most urbane critics of modern life. Atrnhome in numerous small worlds, her novels record with wittyrnand realistic precision the particular details of ordinary life inrnsuch small communities as that of Miss Jean Brodie’s Edinburghrnin the 1930’s, of bored and resdess expatriates in ruralrnSouth Africa in the 1940’s, of the sharply observed intellectualrncoteries of Worid War and post-Worid War London, as well asrnof the divided communities of modern Israel, or of contemporaryrnManhattan and of the filmstar world of modern Rome. Yetrnin spite of the wealth of realistic documentation, her characters’rnlives remain fantastically artificial and unreal. Only in the languagernwith which they describe the unreal financial system tornwhich they cling for security do they project an image of thernnatural world from which their lives are cut off: “They spoke ofrnthe mood of the stock-market, the health of the economy, as ifrnthey were living creatures with moods and blood. And thusrnthey personalized and demonized the abstractions of their lives,rnbelieving them to be fundamentally real, indeed changeless”rn{The Takeover, 1976).rnLike Chesterton, Muriel Spark writes increasingly improbablernfantasies in order to draw attention to the growing unrealityrnof modern life. In one way or another, all the unhappy peoplernin her novels are in flight from the material universe: each ofrnthem lives in a totally private world. In a typical conversation inrnMemento Mori (1959), someone wonders whether or not otherrnpeople are in fact real. In Muriel Spark’s version of the modernrnworld, the question is not an easy one to answer. In this instance,rnhowever, it happens that the characters in conversationrnare near a graveyard, and that one of them is a Christian believerrnand herself a novelist; pointing to the graveyard “as a kind ofrnevidence” of the reality of other people, she asks: “Why botherrnto bury people, if they don’t exist?” In The Hothouse by the EastrnRiver (1973) the solipsistic nightmare has become the only reality.rnPaul and Elsa, the main characters, turn out to be peoplernwho are dead, but who refuse to accept the fact of their ownrndeaths; and the people whom they meet in the nightmare cityrnof Manhattan are fantasies whom they themselves have invented.rn”How long, cries Paul in his heart, will these people, thisrncity, haunt me?” The satiric point concerns the unreality of anrnurban life so cut off from natural things that it is impossible torndistinguish fantasy from reality, and the dead from the living:rn”You would think they were alive,” someone says, “one can’t tellrnthe difference.”rnBoth Chesterton and Muriel Spark suggest the same solutionrnto the solipsistic nightmare of modernity. Since thernproblem originates in the separation of the sacred from the profane,rnboth authors advocate that the material and the spiritualrnbe brought together into a single whole. In The MandelhaumrnGate (1965), a novel devoted exclusively to an exploration ofrnthe consequences of a fragmented existence, Barbara Vaughan,rnthe central character, expresses a belief in such a unified existence:rn”Either the whole of life is unified under God,” she says,rn”or everything falls apart.” In The Bachelors (I960), one of therncharacters asks, “Afraid? What is there to be afraid of?” Thernanswer to this disturbing question is that people must learn tornfear the stubborn realities which will continue to exist evenrnwhen their existence is denied—such realities, for example, asrnthe “four last things” referred to in the uncompromisingly directrnquestion and answer of the Penny Catechism which providesrna title for Memento Mori. To the question, “What are thernfour last things to be ever remembered?” the Catechism answersrnsimply: “The four last things to be ever remembered arernDeath, Judgment, Hell and Heaven.” In The Bachelors, the girlrnwho may soon be murdered by her spiritualist boyfriend is reluctantrnto acknowledge the danger in which she lives: “Yes,”rnsaid Alice’s voice in the dark, “I’m afraid of the things I don’trnknow. I don’t want to know.”rnWhat both Chesterton and Spark recommend as a solutionrn14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn