Estar en Babia

There is a phrase some Spanish children hear all the time in school, “¿Estás en Babia?” It is our equivalent of, “Are you daydreaming?”

“To be in Babia” became an easy way to describe someone who was someplace else mentally. The phrase goes back to the kings and queens of Spain when they would leave their castles and political responsibilities and head for the mountains. They would disconnect in the silence of nature. Babia is a comarca (larger than our counties, but smaller than our states) in the northern mountains of Spain, about an hour and a half north of us.

We visited for a few days, wanting to escape and “estar en Babia.”

The Paradox

Instead of looking at books and pictures about the New Testament I looked at the New Testament. There I found an account, not in the least of a person with his hair parted in the middle or his hands clasped in appeal, but of an extraordinary being with lips of thunder and acts of lurid decision, flinging down tables, casting out devils, passing with the wild secrecy of the wind from mountain isolation to a sort of dreadful demagogy; a being who often acted like an angry god—and always like a god. Christ had even a literary style of his own, not to be found, I think, elsewhere; it consists of an almost furious use of the a fortiori. His “how much more” is piled one upon another like castle upon castle in the clouds. The diction used about Christ has been, and perhaps wisely, sweet and submissive. But the diction used by Christ is quite curiously gigantesque; it is full of camels leaping through needles and mountains hurled into the sea. Morally it is equally terrific; he called himself a sword of slaughter, and told men to buy swords if they sold their coats for them. That he used other even wilder words on the side of nonresistance greatly increases the mystery; but it also, if anything, rather increases the violence. We cannot even explain it by calling such a being insane; for insanity is usually along one consistent channel. The maniac is generally a monomaniac. Here we must remember the difficult definition of Christianity already given; Christianity is a superhuman paradox whereby two opposite passions may blaze beside each other. The one explanation of the Gospel language that does explain it, is that it is the survey of one who from some supernatural height beholds some more startling synthesis.

Chesterton, Orthodoxy