Review: Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
Reviewing ‘Orthodoxy’ (the romance of faith) by G.K. Chesterton
What: A classic book on the daring adventure that life becomes when Truth is embraced. Chesterton promotes Christianity in a compelling, breathtaking manner- disposing of everyday misconceptions, throwing faith into a whole new dimension, and revealing its most beautiful facets.
When: Written in 1908, this book is not very well known within normal modern Christian circles, but very well loved by those who have discovered it.
Where: It was written to a British audience, but the ideas expounded are capable of piercing through all the world’s foggy defenses.
Who: If you’ve never heard of Chesterton, I pity you. But now you have heard of him, so know that he is one of the most brilliant writers in history. As an idealist, both a pessimist and an optimist (read the book to find out why), and a man of many talents and reams of interests, his writing is diverse and sincere, pulling profundity out of the mundane and introducing it to the wondering realm of mankind.
Why: Because we need it. We need to see that, as he puts it, “People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There was never anything so perilous or exciting… It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad.” Only when we learn to treat life as a gift, as a miracle, do we truly begin to live. And even current believers in miracles need to be reminded often, lest we fall back into the desolate world of grayness without noticing it. ‘Orthodoxy’ will wake you up.
How: By blasting overwhelming truth into your consciousness. The thing about truth is that it cannot be forever denied, or else we would have muffed it for good long ago. To be sure, exposure to a book such as this is not a guarantee to revolutionize your life. But exposure is the first step for everything, and I hope that in reading this jewel of a book, you will be drawn in beyond hope of escape. And when you become enslaved to Truth, only then are you truly free.
[Disclaimer: I do not agree with every single thing he asserts. But this book is a roller-coaster-pursuit of the Truth. I do not have Truth under my belt- I can only chase it as the most important thing in existence. And this is Chesterton’s passion.]
All I can say in praise of ‘Orthodoxy’ will not come close to the beautiful way Chesterton can put things. So I leave you with a few poignant quotes from the book.
–“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.”
–“The fairy tale discusses what a sane man will do in a mad world. The sober realistic novel of today discusses what an essential lunatic will do in a dull world.”
–“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”
–“Pragmatism is a matter of human needs; and one of the first human needs is to be something more than a pragmatist.”
–“Men who begin to fight the Church for the sake of freedom and humanity end by flinging away freedom and humanity if only they might fight the Church.”
–“We are perhaps permitted tragedy as a sort of merciful comedy: because the frantic energy of divine things would knock us down like a drunken farce. We can take our own tears more lightly that we could take the tremendous levities of the angels. So we sit perhaps in a starry chamber of silence, while the laughter of the heavens is too loud for us to hear.”
–“He never concealed His tears… He never restrained His anger… [But] there was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when he walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was his mirth.”
I absolutely loved every minute of this book. It will make you laugh out loud in unbelievable gratitude, and then cry for the same reason. Please, don’t take my word for it! At only 160 pages, you really can’t go wrong. Such profundity and joy stuffed into this little volume make it worth far more than its weight in gold.