24 January 2009

Concerning Chesterton's Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
One of the most interesting, convincing cases made for orthodox Christian theology, but made in a distinctly non-dogmatic way. Though the text is 100 years old (I believe it was published in 1908), the arguments still make sense - indeed, perhaps make more sense - today. Mr. Chesterton uses logic to show just how illogical rationalist beliefs are, and then links his own ideas (and ideals) gained over time to orthodox Christian beliefs.

While some may think that this text is too difficult to tackle, I would say that it is deceptively difficult. Mr. Chesterton's style seems simple enough, and his turn of phrase can sometimes lead to a chuckle. And then one sinks his mental teeth into the words and finds them quite chewy, in a good way. So while it may take time and effort to dig into Mr. Chesterton's deeper meaning, the work is quite rewarding, especially in the early parts of the text.

This book is a must-read for folks who like to think and who perhaps wonder if logical arguments can be made for Christian orthodoxy. Mr. Chesterton shows that this is possible; his arguments are convincing.

One further thought is that, like all writers, Mr. Chesterton puts forward some views which just don't hold much water. After completing this book, I read Orwell's essay "Notes on Nationalism" (text at http://orwell.ru/library/essays/national... where Orwell claims - rightly, I think - that Chesterton's "romantic" view of the French revolution is detrimental to his argument because if someone else else had written the same things about Britain, Chesterton "would have been the first to jeer". (Orwell also makes other remarks on Chesterton, but I leave those aside at the moment.) This critique does not, however, negate the whole of Chesterton's argument in my eyes; it only stands to prove that all of us, even the most readable and reasonable, are subject to the pitfalls of our own proclivities.

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