democracy of the dead

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton (Chapter 4, “The Ethics of Elfland”):

Tradition means giving a vote to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. …Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.

a bunch of royal dead guys

This dialogue from the Lion King recalled the passage by Lewis where Ramandu informs Eustace that calling a star “a huge ball of flaming gas” only tells us “what it is made of” but not “what it is.” Disney studios is far from presenting the truth here, but I’d venture to say that this bit of dialogue gets closer to the truth than many moderns (both secular and Christian) tend to get.

Pumbaa: Timon, ever wonder what those sparkly dots are up there?

Timon: Pumbaa, I don’t wonder; I know.

Pumbaa: Oh. What are they?

Timon: They’re fireflies. Fireflies that, uh… got stuck up on that big bluish-black thing.

Pumbaa: Oh. Gee. I always thought that they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away.

Timon: Pumbaa, wit’ you, everything’s gas.

Pumbaa: Simba, what do you think?

Simba: Well, I don’t know…

Pumbaa: Aw come on. Give, give, give… Well, come on, Simba, we told you ours… pleeeease?

Timon: Come on, come on… give, give…

Simba: Well, somebody once told me that the great kings of the past are up there, watching over us.

Pumbaa: Really?

Timon: You mean a bunch of royal dead guys are watching us?

[laughter]

Pumbaa: Who told you something like that?

Timon: What mook made that up?

Simba: Yeah. Pretty dumb, huh?