Welcome to The Pen Of The Muses! The posts below are often about theological, philosophical, political, lit., or writing topics because that's what's really important to me and what I'm most excited about sharing. But I am human. Man lives not by deep theological concepts alone. Not everything I post will be weighty.

-D.C. Salmon

Friday, August 3, 2012

G.K. Chesterton (Omnibus V Textbook) Douglas Wilson

This is something that I didn't write, it's totally worth passing on because it's well written, it's about G.K. Chesterton, and it was written by Douglas Wilson.

"G.K. Chesterton was a prolific writer of the early twentieth century. After a short period of unbelief in his youth, he lived most of his life as a very public Christian, converting to Roman Catholicism in 1922. He was born in 1874 and died in 1936, which means that almost all of his literary work was conducted in the early twentieth century. He wrote hundreds of poems, thousands of essays, hundreds of short stories, and eighty books. His output was enormous, but his span was equally staggering. He wrote about philosophy, he wrote biographies, he dealt with economics, he was a journalist, he was a Christian apologist, he wrote detective fiction, and he wrote fantasy. In short he was a torrent of literary output.

He was a large man, with a much larger imagination. He was almost 300 pounds and was 6' 4" tall. He has accurately been described as "the prince of paradox." He once said that a paradox is truth standing on its head to get attention. His wit was memorable, and he is one of the most quoted figures of the twentieth century. He was a friendly adversary to George Bernard Shaw, who once patted his stomach and asked what they were going to name the baby. Without missing a beat, Chesterton replied that if it was a girl, they would name her Mary, if a boy John. But if it turned out to be only gas, they would name it George Bernard Shaw.

Chesterton was an apostle of bracing, good sense. Someone once said of C.S. Lewis that he "made righteousness readable." This is a quality that he shared with Chesterton, and not surprisingly Chesterton was a significant influence on Lewis:

     "It was here that I first read a volume of Chesterton's essays. I had never heard of him and had no idea of what he stood for; nor can I quite understand why he made such an immediate conquest of me....Liking an author may be as involuntary and improbable as falling in love. I was by now a sufficiently experienced reader to distinguish liking from agreement. I did not need to accept what Chesterton said in order to enjoy it.... I liked him for his goodness."

If Lewis is father to many hundreds of thousands, we may consider Chesterton in some way to be their grandfather. Chesterton was significant for the generations that followed him because of the influential people he influenced. He helped to shape and form those who were to be enormously influential. Chesterton was truly a great man.

But he was also significant in his own day, in his own generation. Just as the Evangelical Awakening, ed by men like Whitefield and Wesley, was a part of the reason England was spared a bloodbath like the French Revolution, so also the sunny disposition and common sense faith exhibited by Chesterton was a very real antidote to the fashionable intellectual currents steering Europe towards war. In the aftermath of World War II, it is often hard for us to see how au courant fascism was- not just in Italy and Germany, but also in England and America. Chesterton stood courageously (and winsomely) against many of the popular political idols of the age."

-Douglas Wilson

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