Category Archives: G.K. Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Chapter 4:
“A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
Whether you love him or hate him you cannot help but love him. G. K. Chesterton that is.
In the past I’ve featured a series of favorite Chesterton quotes on the blog (which explains the graphic to the right). Many of those quotes I pulled directly from my favorite Chesterton title, Orthodoxy, a book that celebrated its 100th anniversary a few years back. And I must be behind on my blog reading because I just came across a tribute by Ralph Wood. Wood writes:
G.K. Chesterton’s most renowned book is a hundred years old. Orthodoxy was first published in London by John Lane Press in 1908, and it has never gone out of print—with more than two dozen publishers now offering editions of the book. Graham Greene once described it as ‘among the great books of the age.’ Etienne Gilson declared that Chesterton had a philosophical mind of the first rank. Hugh Kenner said that the only twentieth-century author with whom Chesterton could be compared is James Joyce. And Dorothy Day was inspired to return to Christianity mainly by reading Orthodoxy. Indeed, we might say that the last century belongs to Chesterton—for in that now one-hundred-year-old book, Orthodoxy, he remarkably prophesied the ailments of both modernism and postmodernism, while adeptly commending Christianity as their double cure.
Wood’s article is a good read. Chesterton’s book is a fun read (if you can stomach the wrongheaded assumptions about Calvin and Calvin’s theology). And it is a book that has been said to cure insanity. It’s a classic and there are many different versions available online.
Given the literary forte of Chesterton and attention shown the author by the ever-impressive TSS readers, I’m opening the blog up this weekend for you to post your favorite Chesterton quotes in the comments. You may choose to quote from an essay, a poem, or a work of fiction.
Please remember all comments on this blog are moderated and may not immediately appear (unless you’re on our list of trusted commentators, then it will). The name “Chesterton” attracts a lot of outside web traffic, so if you’ve come here for the first time please remember TSS is a reformed blog and post accordingly.
Never read Chesterton? No problem. Many of his books are a click away and can be read online for free. Start here and read Orthodoxy or Heretics. Try reading one chapter of one book and see if you don’t get hooked.
To kick of this “Quotable G.K. Chesterton Weekend” I’ll begin by posting one TSS reader’s quote from earlier in the week.
A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. [G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Chapter 4]
Great quote! Looking forward to hearing from you.
Happy weekend reading.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton Chesterton (1874-1936) was a firmly committed Roman Catholic, an unashamed anti-Calvinist, and a richly gifted writer. Yet Chesterton made John Piper more of a Calvinist.
Given John Piper’s excellent thoughts on Chesterton’s famous book Orthodoxy, I returned to the book last night. The power at home was out from 4 PM until about midnight thanks to a massive storm that rumbled through the D.C. area knocking down huge trees (+100,000 people are still without power as I write). Last night, illuminated by the faint blue glow of a battery-powered LED lamp, I opened Orthodoxy. Here’s one excerpt:
“Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of to-day) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. …
The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid. …
Buddhism is centripetal, but Christianity is centrifugal: it breaks out. For the circle is perfect and infinite in its nature; but it is fixed for ever in its size; it can never be larger or smaller. But the cross, though it has at its heart a collision and a contradiction, can extend its four arms for ever without altering its shape. Because it has a paradox in its centre it can grow without changing. The circle returns upon itself and is bound. The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a signpost for free travelers.”
-Gilbert K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Radford, VA: Wilder Pubs, 1908/2007) 17-18.