Orthodoxy by G. K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton. Published by MobileReference (mobi)
Orthodoxy by G. K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton. Published by MobileReference (mobi)

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Orthodoxy (1908) is a book by G. K. Chesterton that has become a classic of Christian apologetics. Chesterton considered this book a companion to his other work, Heretics. In the book's preface Chesterton states the purpose is to "attempt an explanation, not of whether the Christian Faith can be believed, but of how he personally has come to believe it." In it, Chesterton presents an original view of Christian religion. He sees it as the answer to natural human needs, the "answer to a riddle" in his own words, and not simply as an arbitrary truth received from somewhere outside the boundaries of human experience.

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If G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy: The Romance of Faith is, as he called it, a "slovenly autobiography," then we need more slobs in the world. This quirky, slender book describes how Chesterton came to view orthodox Catholic Christianity as the way to satisfy his personal emotional needs, in a way that would also allow him to live happily in society. Chesterton argues that people in western society need a life of "practical romance, the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure. We need so to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome." Drawing on such figures as Fra Angelico, George Bernard Shaw, and St. Paul to make his points, Chesterton argues that submission to ecclesiastical authority is the way to achieve a good and balanced life. The whole book is written in a style that is as majestic and down-to-earth as C.S. Lewis at his best. The final chapter, called "Authority and the Adventurer," is especially persuasive. It's hard to imagine a reader who will not close the book believing, at least for the moment, that the Church will make you free. --Michael Joseph Gross

Customer Reviews:

  • Wit & Wisdom
    Classic. Relevant. Witty. It's been quite some time since I've read a book more thought provoking on a global level....more info
  • Absolutely brilliant
    Like C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton is one of the greatest apologists of all time. "Orthodoxy" is a masterpiece of Christian literature, my favourite part being the chapter on paradoxes.

    Only the most ingrained skeptics won't find intelligent and useful insights in this book, but that's because they refuse to find anything insightful in any Christian's work.

    G.K. Chesterton has a great sense of humour, a wonderful style of prose, and is clearly a most amazing thinker and a uniquely brilliant Christian. I highly recommend it to all honest seekers & thinkers....more info

  • Timeless
    G. K. Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" is a timeless text defending the orthodoxy of orthodoxy. Using his personal journey from intellectual atheist to intellectual Christian (no, that's not an oxymoron) as a roadmap, Chesterton brilliantly traces the rhyme and reason for belief in the historic, orthodox doctrines of Christianity.

    Amazingly, his descriptions of the intellectual climate of his times reads like a weatherman's prognostications for today's weather conditions. Writing fifty years before the supposed advent of post-modernity, Chesterton's defense of Christianity as the one true meta-narrative addresses post-modernism powerfully, relevantly, and effectively.

    Combine this with the poetry of his prose and his experiential honesty, and you have a book without peer in addressing the crying need of our day. I highly recommend "Orthodoxy" not only for the thinking (and perhaps doubting) Christian, but also for the seeking agnostic.

    Reviewer: Dr. Robert W. Kellemen is the author of "Soul Physicians: A Theology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction," "Spiritual Friends: A Methodology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction," and "Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Leagcy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction."

    ...more info
  • St. GKC
    This is my favorite work of apologetics. GKC uses his gift of paradoxes to turn out one of the most memorable, fun, and quotable books of all time. This is a recounting of Chesterton's pilgimage to the true God (Who turned out to be waiting in his own living room the whole time). GKC has a great joy of life and faith that is infectious.

    "We must thank God for beer and burgundy by not drinking too much of them."...more info

  • Orthodoxy
    Chesterton was regarded as being a genius at seeing the obvious. Here again, I am in awe of his talent for presenting a sequence of proof, with clarity and sense, which was hiding in plain sight. His writing may be old fashioned by today's standards; but then, so is having standards in the first place. He writes precisely and with true emotion. Reading this book is an improving experience on every level; especially those levels that count....more info
  • Orthodoxy is a gem
    Orthodoxy is an excellent concise explantion of how GK Chesterton came to accept Christianity. It is essentially autobiographical and offers a set of thoughts and experiences that point toward Chesterton's realization that there is a God, that miracles do happen and that Jesus was God on earth. It is not a rigorous Apology based solely on logic and argumentation but rather, a collection of ideas that point toward Christianity and away from alternate views of reality.

    I found this particular printing of this book somewhat difficult to read possibly due to the the typeface or the line spacing. I would not recommend this version for anyone with less than stellar reading vision....more info
  • It won't convince nonbelievers
    A Catholic friend recommended "Orthodoxy" by way of trying to justify faith. While it is a very elegant and wittily written book, I can't say it meets that mark.

    "Orthodoxy" is the very personal account of G.K. Chesterton's journey to the Christian faith. But because it is so personal, it doesn't explain faith objectively, but rather only to Chesterton's satisfaction. And having reached the same conclusion as Chesterton, I'm sure it is also to the satisfaction of most believers.

    It is a little frustrating to read the parts where he sets about destroying straw men, or when he proves a point by changing the argument into a semantic one. On the other hand it's a pleasure to see him pick on the likes of Nietzsche. The ultimate lesson that comes from the book, though, is the tautology that faith can't be proven, which is why many good, honest folks don't have any.

    To Chesterton, life is more romantic and, indeed, livable if you accept that some things are beyond human understanding, that there is no sense in trying to explain them, and that they might as well be explained by magic. He believed that "something that we have never in any full sense known, is not only better than ourselves, but even more natural to us than ourselves." This no doubt filled him with comfort because it would give rhyme and reason to lots of chaos in the world. But this attitude can also be interpreted as intellectual laziness, if not cowardice. It is much easier to believe, on faith, in "fairy tales" (as Chesterton proudly called them), than to accept the natural world, as inscrutable as it is, and seek valiantly to understand its mysteries before one's time is up.

    So, while it is an enjoyable read, this book is likely doubly enjoyed by a believer who is looking for a reaffirmation of his faith. Non-believers will find it interesting, if undeservedly condescending....more info

  • Comparing two classics
    Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" and Lewis' "Mere Christianity" are classics of contemporary Christian apologetics. Both write to a similar audience, namely, secular academics. Lewis' appeal was broader, however, for he was reaching out to those people influenced or educated by these academics. Consequently, these books are full of reason and logic but are devoid of Bible quotes. This might dismay some fundamentalists, but this type of apologetic is absolutely necessary. Just as a Muslim will not convince a Christian regarding Islam by quoting the Qu'ran, so, in most cases, a Christian will not convert a secular academic by quoting the Bible. The appeal must be made on common ground, in this case, reason and logic. In this regard, Chesterton succeeds.

    That being said, I give the book only 3 stars because of his rambling, time-sensitive style. It is easy for an American reading in the 21st century to become completely lost in Chesterton's quips and references to late-modernity intellectuals.

    Lewis' broader appeal makes him more accessible to Chesterton, so I recommend "Mere Christianity" over "Orthodoxy" to the average 21st century American, whereas I recommend "Orthodoxy" to those who are educated in late 19th and early 20th-century intellectualism.

    Both books are useful for Christians in developing apologetic skills and for non-Christians, especially seculars, in understanding a traditional, intellectual, and non-fundamentalist brand of Christianity....more info
  • Quite Good, with some exceptions
    Chesterton, not unlike Peter Kreeft, is a Roman Catholic thinker who has gained a noticeable readership among the ranks of evangelicals. This particular book is regularly referred to and relied upon in evangelical works on all sorts of subjects. As such, it is a book that evangelicals should read and take notice of. And clearly, it is a book that many Roman Catholics will empathize with due to its clear advancement of the Roman Catholic church as the purest and most correct source of religion.

    As has been pointed out by others, in advancing Christian orthodoxy, Chesterton takes a decidedly unorthodox approach. Instead of advancing objective evidences or elaborate philosophical arguments, he chooses instead an approach that is actually quite funny in a way - an approach that at its core, resembles Calvinistic presuppositionalism. This is funny since Chesterton, on more than one occasion in this book, flippantly rejects all things Calvinistic, yet I found his entire book to be rooted in an apologetic approach that is in many ways similar to Van Til. He asserts, consistently with Van Tillianism, that those who offer objections to Christianity fundamentally lack an epistemic basis to do so since their objections presuppose and rely upon Christian values, the origin of which they later argue against. This is brought out very clearly in his 'Paradoxes of Christianity' chapter where he critiques the hopeless inconsistency of Christianity's critics. This was a real treat to read.

    In the end, Chesterton advances the view that wonder, happiness, joy, and a proper balance between optimism and pessimism can only be found in Christianity. This conclusion is based upon his own experience, and bolstered by many hypothetical and theoretical examples meant to further the point.

    I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5 for reasons that others might deem unfair. While there were many sections of this book that were very insightful and on point, there were also sections where Chesterton seemed to be rambling toward no particular end. This might be an unfair criticism because the book was not meant to be a systematic apologetic for Christianity, but instead a semi-autobiographical account that charts Chesterton's own thought process. As a result, the reader will also notice that Orthodoxy is a work that is nearly devoid of Biblical references, much less exegesis. I found this problematic precisely because one could read this book, conclude that Chesterton was completely right in everything he said, and still be able to reject Christianity completely since the book did not interact at all with Biblical truths.

    Lastly, I must say having read this book, it is no surprise to me that a guy like Philip Yancey would be bonkers over it (Yancey wrote the introduction to the edition of the book I read). Chesterton was a man who embraced Roman Catholicism in a Protestant environment, and did so defiantly. In many ways, Chesterton writes as if he is an army of one. Not coincidentally, this also tends to be the attitude that Yancey has adopted relative to his views within evangelicalism. As such, Yancey's introduction to this book mindlessly strikes out against other evangelicals who don't see the world the way he does, and it is clear that his inspiration lies at least in part in Chesterton. I couldn't help but get the feeling that both of these individuals, to greater or lesser degrees, came to embrace the idea of being contrary for the sake of being contrary, and then justifying it with language extolling the virtue of being revolutionary, as if this is supposed to be an end in itself. It is admittedly hard for me to have much respect for such views, and maybe I'm misreading both men. But that was certainly the indication I got after reading this book, and it is a position that is not only anti-intellectual, but easily becomes completely self-serving.

    In the end, the book is a good read which makes many insightful points. Chesterton clearly believed that truth should translate to joy and wonder. This is certainly a message that all believers should pay attention to, and to this end, I think this book succeeds....more info

  • Classic apologetics text
    G.K. Chesterton came to his belief in Christianity through the "back door", so to speak. He found the existing philosophies of the time illogical, formulated his own, and then found that what his own philosophy resembled most of all was Christianity. Christianity, to Chesterton, gives one much more freedom than liberalism.

    While this is an often entertaining read, it takes an alert mind to grasp all that Chesterton is saying in this book. This is one of those texts, like Lewis' "Mere Christianity", that stands the test of time, and is worth having on one's shelf to peruse again and again for nuggets of wisdom....more info

  • Awesome
    Very entertaining. I'm a protestant but this book gave me a new respect for catholics. Chesterton helped me get a more clear view of my own faith....more info
  • Chesterton's Humor and Perspective
    G.K. Chesterton has a down to earth perspective and sense of humor that is uncommon to most Christian writing today. He is willing to pick on himself, and admits to making arguments with faulty logic at some points, but is still a collosal genious, and is a known early influence of C.S. Lewis. If you have already read C.S. lewis, you can see some of Chesterton's thoughts comming through in his works, having read this book.

    "A soldier surrounded by enemies... He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine." - G.K Chesterton from "Orthodoxy"...more info
  • He sneaks up on you...
    Not since The Great Divorce by CS Lewis have I read a book this surprising. Like Lewis, Chesterton employs what is seemingly whimsical to chart a course of logic. The reader, politely enduring what is plainly fanciful, soon finds that Chesterton has stolen the lead. Doubling back, he then takes the solidity of accrued wisdom to playfully poke the materialist in the eye.

    Good natured, jovial, yet deeply perceptive, Orthodoxy not only defends the Christian worldview, but seeks, in the Catholic tradition, to establish ecclesiastical authority. To the extent that it does so is up to the reader. I never found Chesterton less than provocative and often entirely persuasive. His reasoning is frequently unexpected, but always (and supremely) pertinent. Though I am no longer Catholic and may, rightly or wrongly, suspect the institution (see papal infallibility), I consider Orthodoxy highly ecumenical and a welcome girder for my faith. 5 stars....more info
  • Orthodoxy
    This book will help you to stop and think of the real issues in this life as will as for eternity!...more info
  • Circle Talk at its Best
    This book is both dull and magnificent. Chesterton's writing style is brilliant even though often his writing is pointless. Like a trial lawyer engaged in circle talk he says a mouthful but at the same time, although eloquent, it is a mouthful of nothing. Much like a gorgeous flower it is best to view it than ingest it. So this book too is better lightly read than seriously studied....more info
  • A detective's romance
    Before his series of Father Brown mysteries, G.K. Chesterton wrote "Orthodoxy," an autobiographical 'detective' story of how he came to believe the Christian faith. Drawing from "the truth of some stray legend or from the falsehood of some dominant philosophy...an anarchist club or a Babylonian temple what I might have found in the nearest parish church," Mr. Chesterton playfully and inductively reasons his way toward the one worldview that best explains and preserves the phenomena in the world he found around himself.

    The world around Mr. Chesterton was rife with Modernism in the early twentieth century. Based on philosophies of the late nineteenth century, religious and political traditions were being questioned. Anarchism, communism, and socialism were the parlor topics of the day; the merely symbolic importance of religion was being settled upon. These are the roots of our post-modern society today in which the meaning of nearly everything (even words, according to literary deconstructionists) is now in doubt. At one point in the chapter entitled "The Suicide of Thought," Mr. Chesterton quips, "We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table." An exaggeration even today, undoubtedly. Still, we have traveled quite a distance philosophically since the era before the World Wars, and "Orthodoxy" is an excellent snapshot of where we've come from.

    But be warned: This snapshot captures a lot of active thought. It took me a couple of reads over as many years to get a handle on the structure of the book, and now the rest of it has been becoming clearer to me. Part of the problem is Mr. Chesterton's writing style. There is much playfulness in his language, and a reader could mistakenly conclude that the author's reasoning relies heavily upon wordplay, the turn of a phrase to turn the tables on his opponents. It can become frustrating if one isn't careful. Mr. Chesterton himself acknowledges this impression, "Mere light sophistry is the thing that I happen to despise the most of all things, and it is perhaps a wholesome fact that this is the thing of which I am generally accused." But don't miss the meat for the gravy (or the salad for the dressing, as your case may be). The potency of his arguments doesn't rely on his clever semantics but on his connections between observed facts and the ancient, corresponding orthodoxy of Christianity. Mr. Chesterton has fun with words because he can, not because he needs to.

    This mixture of cleverness and careful thinking ultimately leads Mr. Chesterton to this conclusion: Christian faith is well-reasoned trust in Christ. And the desire for well-reasoned trust is a "practical romance," as Mr. Chesterton calls it--a need in the ordinary person for "the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure...an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome." A way to accept the knowable while looking beyond it toward what is yet to be known.

    Mr. Chesterton wrote "Orthodoxy" for people looking for that kind of romance. "If anyone is entertained by learning how the flowers of the field or the phrases in an omnibus, the accidents of politics or the pains of youth came together in a certain order to produce a certain conviction of Christian orthodoxy, he may possibly read this book." However, this book isn't for everyone. "If a man says that extinction is better than existence or blank existence better than variety and adventure, then he is not one of the ordinary people to whom I am talking. If a man prefers nothing I can give him nothing." The inconvincible cannot be convinced. Yet the skeptical (such as Mr. Chesterton once was) can be because they are the doubters who're still looking around. I myself come from a skeptic's background and regard "Orthodoxy" as a plausible, if sometimes difficult to comprehend, and wonderful way someone can come to trust the claims of Christianity....more info

  • Gilbert Mnemonic
    Once I had the good fortune to be in a discussion group for this book. Like most book reading groups, most of the members didn't read the book, skimming or glancing at it, barely cracking the cover. However, this book was different. It exercised a spell even on those who didn't read it. Why? Because Chesterton is so given to aphorisms that even if you don't follow his logic (or illogic some might contend) or don't agree with his arguments (or random trains of thought in another view), you still might be caught by some pithy epigram or turn of phrase.

    I heartily throw in my lot with all those who think this is GKC's best non-fiction book, but I'd rather tackle the opposite concern of the problems it poses for the casual reader. One reason is that Chesterton often resorts to metonymy as a kind of shorthand, which means he uses a piece to represent a whole. In a bad writer, this amounts to stereotyping (of which Chesterton has been accused). In a good writer it nevertheless anchors the work to a time and locality.

    In Chesterton, it means you need to either be an anglophile or have a good grip of things British. You don't know that gaol is a jail or Pimlico slang for prison. Bedlam represents a madhouse. Taking this idea to extremes, he often uses a hot button word to represent an idea (and nearly always an idea opposite to that commonly held). Anybody else would accompany such passing thoughts with reams of footnotes and disclaimers, but Chesterton eschewed both, and instead goes for the naked effect.

    The example that comes to mind is that he seems to be arguing in favor of the Inquisition, when in fact he's making some other point altogether. For most readers that conjures the horrors of Torquemada as lampooned in Mel Brook's movie History of the World Part One. GKC however, is referring not to the Spanish excesses, but to the gentler, kinder version on the continent which at its inception not only had no truck with torture but in fact forbade it.

    As most readers are aware, Chesterton was Anglican (Church of England) when he wrote this book, although his thinking is arguably Anglo-Catholic. It's also largely a book of thinking out loud rather than a settled, finished statement. Some chapters therefore read easier than others, The Ethics of Elfland and The Flag of the World being the premier examples.

    So many readers are so happy to discover Chesterton that he is quoted everywhere from Rolling Stone to Looney Tunes (In a Chuck Jones Foghorn Leghorn cartoon the chickenhawk's pop is named G.K.Chickenhawk). I think that's a good thing because these days many people are not readers, preferring video games or some other entertainment, and of those who are, many don't "get" Chesterton. While this may prevent a full scale Chesterton revival, it opens doors for those who, like Phillip Yancey and Dale Ahlquist bring him up every chance they get, and gives those of us taken by his ideas or at least a few epigrams a chance to scatter the largesse....more info
    Chesterton's books often defy reviewing and 'Orthodoxy' is probably the prime instance of the class. The dilemma is how to praise it in a five-star mode, without burying it for its faults-I not being a skilled panegyrist or spin doctor. So, the bad news first, and I hope you bear with me.

    While it is fair to say that this is a very rewarding read in the long run, I admit that even as an avid and omnivorous reader it took me about five passes to feel I grasped all of it, and I would still approach an exam question on it with trepidation. It is also dated in places, but this is trivial. Chesterton is not so much a windbag, or really repetitious, but plain garrulous. He himself admits that this is 'a sort of slovenly autobiography', and that it details the intellectual and emotional path that brought him to the orthodoxy of the church and the Apostles' Creed in a 'set of pictures rather than a series of deductions'. Even worse, our genial genius says that he sets out to write all this personal history of theology and soul-forming for 'any average reader'. It is true. He uses very few difficult terms and technicalities. But you cannot study this like a textbook or read it like a novel, unless it be taken as on odd species of the stream of consciousness type. He does not so much write as think out loud on the paper. It requires that you absorb his meaning by a sort of spiritual osmosis. And of course to do that you have to open your heart as well as your mind, which implies considerable trust in the author. An element of humility helps, as well as some patience. Is that brainwashing? In no way: the whole time you have the option to disagree or stop reading. After all, (as he would say), it is only a book which enables you to meet the author by your own free will.

    That said, it is a happy and good-hearted story as much as an intellectual odyssey. Everyone who successfully writes a book of this type succeeds in a very personal style. (Augustine's 'Confessions' and C.S. Lewis's 'Pilgrim's Regress' spring to mind.) Chesterton is a deeply modern Victorian, which is why he is constantly being republished. He accurately perceived the worldview and mood of his day and foresaw where it would lead in the future-our today. He is a whole and wholesome person. His faith is integrated. He knows how to enjoy himself. His disposition to the body, the mind, and the heart is holistic, even Gestaltic. They all function as they should in a fully whole person, a sum which is far more than its parts. It is good psychology and sociology, much more so than a shelf-full of academic textbooks on these subjects, I know, I have a few shelves-full.

    A chapter synopsis runs the risk of being absurd, but here it is:

    Chapter 1: Introduction in Defence of Everything Else
    His motivation statement, to produce a positive account of his personal belief.

    Ch. 2: The Maniac
    'Sin' not being a popular concept he proposes the tendency to madness or sanity as the test of a good philosophy. What stops us being merely happy on earth? Egotism/self-centredness a universal problem.

    Ch. 3: The Suicide of Thought
    Reason itself is a matter of faith. No faith leads to no thinking. The errors of (philosophical) materialism; Evolutionism (not the theory of evolution itself); nominalism (philosophical not churchmanship); moral relativism; pragmatism/utilitarianism.

    Ch. 4: The Ethics of Elfland
    Nature of tradition and democracy and their relationship. Myths/fairy tales and magical stories are not mere tall tales but forms of great truths. Myths capture meaning and follow an inner core of rationality despite being 'unscientific' in magical spells and items. Logic in Elfland is always logic, but in the real world scientific 'laws' are not laws, just 'weird repetitions', containing mechanism but not meaning. [Hence the need for science fiction, to put the myth back into science.] The greatest myths contain the 'Doctrine of Conditional Joy'. Eg, the apple in the garden of Eden in Genesis; Cinderella's instruction to leave the ball before midnight; and Pandora's Box. There is a pervasive meaning in all things, or meaninglessness in all things.

    Ch. 5: The Flag of the World
    Contra relativistic sociology/anthropology, common morality (fairness, respect for life, restraint of violence) is common to all civilised peoples of history. Being and existence is fundamentally good, not neutral, therefore we must have 'universal patriotism...a primal loyalty to life'. Humanism is a weak-willed reality-denying error. Suicide condemned as rebellion and rejection of life.

    Ch. 6: The Paradoxes of Christianity
    Christianity accused of wildly and almost impossibly opposite errors. Eg, Christianity is morbidly fixated on sin and damnation, but is also somehow a rose-tinted spectacles pie-in-the-sky type of religion. Or, Christianity is soppy-for gullible children and old-maidish, but also too aggressive, producing Crusaders like Richard Coeur de Leon. Is it possible to coherently compound the elements of truth in these accusations?

    Ch. 7: The Eternal Revolution
    Is human progress possible, and what do we mean by progress? Evolution. Marxism simplistic, bound to fail [and yea, verily, it came to pass]. Doctrine of original sin.

    Ch. 8: The Romance of Orthodoxy
    Miracles. Creeds. Science. Buddhism. '...to a Christian existence is a story'.

    Ch. 9: Authority and the Adventurer

    Trinitarianism. Free will and rationality. Jesus and the Church. Why the Roman Empire fell, why the life of Christ is the life everlasting....more info

  • Theology with pub cosiness
    A nice, quick read with convincing arguments about the inevitable dead end of the "progessive" nature of Evolution contrasted with the "conservative" values of Christianity. Plenty of wit on display and a barbed pen to take on GB Shaw, HG Wells, and Oscar Wilde among other notables. Here's to fairy tales....more info
  • A Spiritual and Philosophical Marksman
    "Joy...is the gigantic secret of the Christian...[Jesus] the
    tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect...above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall... never concealed His tears...He never restrained His anger...Yet He concealed something...shyness...There was something He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray...There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth...His mirth." (Orthodoxy)

    Beautiful, isn't it! Chesterton is the Ring Master of thoughts, able to take our fragmented ideas and tame them with a perfect balance of eloquence, poetry, and logic. He is also like a skilled combatant. How is a non-believer, or a non-catholic, able joust with this man's mind? His ideas are razor sharp, liberating for those who seek the truth but deadly for those who would dare wield their clumsy philosophy. And his delivery is nothing less than a masterful marksman--right at the heart of the matter....more info

  • Witty, Wise, and Wonderful: May Be the Best Apology Ever
    I think this book is one of the greatest apologies for the Christian faith ever penned; possibly even better than C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity". Rather than attempting to build an airtight logical argument from the ground up in which the reader is forced to accept the premises of Christianity or be logically inconsistent, Chesterton builds his apologetic on the idea of wonder and imagination. He attempts to show that anyone who enjoys an imaginative, romantic, adventure filled life owes it to themself to look into the Christian faith, because this is exactly what it offers. He offers a frank disclaimer at the beginning of the book in which he says that anyone who does not want this kind of life need not read this book because it has nothing to offer them. He constantly attempts to make the reader see the mystery and the glory of normal, everyday things and then argues that Christianity offers the best possible scenario for holding together the mysterious with the mundane. The fact that the book is focused on mystery, romance, and imagination, however, is not to say that Chesterton rejects logic or good critical thinking altogether. To the contrary, he delightfully skewers, slices, and dices the inconsistency and ridiculousness of a great deal of worldly wisdom and the popular thinking of his age, which, as it turns out, does not look all that different from a great deal of the accepted wisdom of our own. Chesterton, however, recognizes that logic has it's limits, and that it cannot fully appeal to or account for all that makes us human. The book is filled with many wonderful passages, and there are parts of the book where it seems like every line you read is a quotable quote. So, with Chesterton's disclaimer in mind, if you are looking for an eminently readable, and unique defense of the Christian faith you owe it to yourself to get this book.
    On a final note, I feel the need to respond to the reader who accuses Chesterton of being racist and elitist in this book. I'm wondering if the reader read the same book I did, as I found nothing that I can recall that was racist or elitist at all, and anyone who knows anything about Chesterton at all will know that he was neither of these things. Chesterton was one of the greatest spokesmen of all time for the importance of ordinary people and common values and morality, and, especially in his later life, was an outspoken opponent of racist practices and groups like eugenics and the Nazi party....more info
  • Fabulous Apologetic Literature
    CS Lewis is hailed as perhaps the most widely-known Christian apologist. This may be true, but Chesterton is by far the most satisfying apologist from a literary standpoint. In Orthodoxy, he writes in response to a newspaper journalist's attacks on Christianity, and does so in such compelling prose that this is considered not just a Christian classic, but a literary treasure. He delves into parallels and metaphors so perfect that they lend credibility to his arguments and serve to maintain a reader's interest throughout.

    Do not be deceived, however, into thinking this is an easy read. It most certainly is not. Chesterton's prose is written in the English of his time, which may seem antiquated to some readers, and his style is very dense and requires concentration. Not the concentration required for, say, Ulysses, but neither is it fluff to be read in an afternoon. To the reader willing to devote the time and energy, this is a treasure....more info

  • Sarcastic Deep Thoughts
    This book was recommended by many different speakers at a conference I attended including Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz. The author of this book is very sarcastic and at the same time is a very deep thinker. If your like me you might need to read over each page more than once before continuing but overall it is a great book....more info
  • From a Failed Pagan
    Love this book. Chesterton is sort of the Mark Twain of apologetics. Reading it I found that I was laughing one minute and seriously blown away the next. I am not a Christian, but this book gave me hope that maybe there is a place for a logic and faith based Christianity which is both orthodox and stronger than a fearful fundamentalism. I like the fact that Chesterton opposes his critics while for the most part honestly respecting them as intelligent people. It's the sign of a man secure in his ideas.

    I would recommend this book to any other failed pagans out there. Would also be a good read for any agnostic interested in the role of imagination in simple, thoughtful living....more info

  • Hee Hee
    The following quote from "sincre reader" is the most amusing thing I have read in a long time:

    "His only excuse is that he existed in a time when science was not as advanced as it is today."

    What a hoot! You should have your own comedy show, Sincere Reader!...more info

  • Orthodoxy
    Chesterton is difficult to read because he makes references to things and places that I do not know about but his work is still good reading.

    If you don't get his point just keep reading and you soon will because he gives so many examples that sooner or later you will understand one and it becomes clear.
    ...more info
  • Let's be even-handed here
    Let me keep this short for the person who just wants a quick and dirty view. I realize that most readers loved this book and will defend it to the end, but to be fair the book can be hard to follow at times, i.e., the book requires a background knowledge of the late 20th century that most causual readers don't have and can be frustratingly inconsistent in terms of clarity.

    The book is witty and provocative, but if you're looking for something to use to help your agnostic neighbor who's hooked on phonetics and the X-box, this book will be a big snore.

    For those of us who want an apologetics change-up, it's a good read....more info

  • It Delights Me No End
    What an excellent book! Oh, what an excellent book! G.K. can do no wrong. Every Christian ought to read this book - 5 times, maybe. ...more info
  • Oh, the Sanity...
    There are very few writers I can remember who have a wit and a mastery of words equal to Chesterton's (Annie Dillard is just about the only one I can think of). For that reason alone, Orthodoxy is worth reading for just about any lover of words, believer of not. He has the most extraordinary way of saying the most absurd things that are also perfectly logical. He says those obvious things that had never struck you before, and it's utter sublimity when you happen upon those moments in this text. Of course, Chesterton's whole goal in writing this book is to provide that sort of insight. Perhaps the most adventuresome, the most true way of looking at the world and of living in this world is the very old way that's been sitting right in front of us all the time, orthodox Christianity. It may sound crazy. Certainly, "mystery" and "adventure" aren't words that always spring to mind when one thinks of Christianity, but they should be. Chesterton's the sort of writer that can make Christianity seem like something new. This isn't a perfect book, but it's close. And it should be a must-read for everyone....more info
  • The Orthodox Paradox
    In this masterpiece Chesterton spells out in strong literary beauty the apparent contradictions in Christianity that baffle non-Christians. He draws the distinction between the 'balance' that many people search for and the paradox in Christianity. The Christian is not searching for a balance, but wants both seeming opposites in their fullest degree. Chesterton lays the truth of Christianity on the line in this book showing his conversion and by doing so assists others in their own conversions....more info
  • Extensively referenced thinker revealed
    GK is one of the most referenced apologetics in our current literature. I was curious to see first hand why.

    GK writes with an unusual personal bravado. He doesn't hesitate to call out peers for special ignominious recognition. Political incorrectness is rampant.

    The book was penned in the 1920's. Several chapters dissect emerging worldview philosophies of the pre-WWII period. You'll recognize some with others seemingly so obscure that they must have dropped out of common debate since the writing.

    Several chapters and snippets are superb. Others, because of the 1920 setting amidst the debates of the time, were not salient or topically interesting. Of the great stuff, a couple of specifics:

    1. I found GK's discussion of suicide to be brilliant. I never thought of the nasty topic in this way. It is highly effective on many levels for suicidals and life-lovers.

    2. GK has a killer anti-Darwin argument that's not an argument all. It rises above the debate. I've not seen this position argued before.

    This is a very interesting precursor text to current Bible based apologetic theology. I thoroughly enjoyed learning the origin of medieval gargoyle's in cathedral architecture too.
    ...more info
  • This book can be peeled like an onion
    The Romance Of Faith. Like any real romance, this book about faith can be peeled back in each reading to reveal a deeper and richer truth. With witty voice (I know it's not an audio book -- but you can almost hear him) Chesterton shows us that God doesn't fit into anyone's box -- and that true faith is the most exciting & perilous thing of all. To truly believe leads us to truly live. For years this has been my favorite book -- and one which shows the richness and jolly goodness of faith.

    One caveat -- must smoke a pipe while reading in order to fully appreciate book....more info

  • GK Chesterton and the Modern
    This book is oft' given the quite unfair burden of being compared to CS Lewis' Mere Christianity. They are however very dissimilar.In so far as developing a practicum understanding of the Christian worldview, Lewis should probably be recommended. In so far as dealing with overtly intellectual issues (the collapse of idealism, the belittlement of epistemology, and other modern notions), GK Chesterton should be recommend. Chesterton was confronting the Modernist movement head on. His interest lie with the modernist tendency to think of truth as unknowable or as merely personal preference. It's a stunningly apt response to such trains of thought. If you are in an intellectually driven sphere, GK has a lot to offer. His work is well able to drive people deeper into their intellectual constructed worlds, but I think the sane individual will opt instead to use it as an opportunity to understand the greatness, the vastness, and the utter reality of the world....more info
  • C.S. who?
    A great book even for its literary excellence alone. I've never read anyone which such a mastery of words. I don't understand why his guy isn't required reading in schools.
    CS's Lewis' Mere Christianity is probably the most popular book on Christianity, outside the Bible, in the US. Perhaps because it can be read by little children. But before Mere Christianity, there was Orthodoxy and I would recommend it over Mere Christianity anyday....more info
  • Work of Surprising Intelligence
    To know the writings of G.K. Chesterson causes one to wonder how Orthodox he could really be! To be orthodox requires a certain seriousness, a constant respect for serious matters. Yet Chesterson is known to be a boisterous writer, remarking with self-depreciating humor that mystery novels (his own Father Brown sereis belonging to this genre) were the least interesting and formulaic of all novels. Orthodoxy, however, represents an odd challenge, which Chesterson doesn't seem to be bothered by at all: approaching the serious matters of true religion with wit, the greatest of the Aristotilian virtues. The result is a profoundly intelligent, and remarkably sensible in the Thomistic tradition, work of apologetics and, indeed, philosophy....more info
  • THE book for the emergent world
    The metaphor of the man setting sail from England only to be blown about at see and rediscover England - with all of the joy of discovering a new land, and all the comfort of returning home...simply brilliant.

    This book is packed with rich, witty, ballsy content that makes me proud and happy to be a follower of Christ....more info
  • Wonderful
    In a lucid exposition, G. K. Chesterton calls it the way he sees it. Consider the fallacy of the inner light, i.e., one's own internal inspiration. He says such people who worship the god within worship themselves. He is not talking about the Spirit within in this case, he's talking about self-worship.

    On health matters. He says there is something unhealthy in the mere pursuit of health. Consider his observation about courage, "Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die."

    On things unseen he writes about miracles and people who believe in them. "For some extraordinary reason, there is a fixed notion that it is more liberal to disbelieve in miracles than to believe in them. Why, I cannot imagine, nor can anybody tell me."
    He adds that those who believe in miracles do so because they have evidence, whereas those who disbelieve do so because they have doctrine that teaches them so....more info

  • An Exhilarating Read
    One of the best books I have read.

    Chesterton wrote a masterpiece. He thought about things in unique ways which makes his writing extremely insightful. And furthermore, his writing is exciting. It goes beyond simple communication to conveyance of truth--a rare gift....more info
  • With witty language, the excitement of real life is revealed
    Chesterton shows us that God doesn't fit into anyone's box -- and that true faith is the most exciting & perilous thing of all. To truly believe leads us to truly live. This book is as witty as it is insightful -- and deserves to be read multiple times. It has had a profound influence on my view of God and has made the Him seem larger. A fascinating read....more info
  • Orthodoxy
    Chesterton is difficult to read because he makes references to things and places that I do not know about but his work is still good reading.

    If you don't get his point just keep reading and you soon will because he gives so many examples that sooner or later you will understand one and it becomes clear.
    ...more info
  • nothing worthwile comes quick or easy
    In this book Chesterton has given us enough material upon which to meditate for a lifetime. What he writes is often far more complex than it seems after the first reading. Although this book can be difficult to follow at times due to the wordiness of Chesterton, he always clarifies himself and his points regardless of the fact that is often takes him a whole chapter. The real value of this piece is realized not after the first reading, but after the fifth tenth and unknown readings. If your mind is sharp, you will find yourself frequently laughing out-loud at Chesterton's clever and concealed way of refuting the foolishness of our current thought with the foolishness of God. Chesterton says that his philosophy that he reveals in this book is not of his own creation, for he did not make it, God made it and it made him... I tend to agree....more info
  • Orthodoxy
    Chesterton no doubt was a brilliant man! In Orthodoxy he does not write for the common person, but for philosophers and intellectuals who enjoy such semantics. I had wished he had expressed his ideas more simply: i.e. in parables and analogies, like his Lord did, but such is very hard to do! As a preacher of the gospel I was disappointed with much of the book for this reason....more info
  • Fit only for unscientific children, I guess. (Like me)
    Orthodoxy is written for the poet and the child in each of us (The latter being that part of us Jesus said can inherit the Kingdom). Orthodoxy is, at the same time, one of the wisest, and funniest, books I have ever read; almost up to the level of Everlasting Man. It seems to me he does give a logically challenging, if rather whimsical, argument for the Christian faith here. And having read many of the most famous skeptics of our time, his argument remains no less timely, powerful, and suggestive.

    How do I explain the reaction of the reader below, then, who appears intelligent, but finds "Little that is intellectually bearable" in this book, and could not even read it through once without throwing it down in disgust? For one thing, Chesterton's approach is not scientific, but psychological. For those to whom science is the only god, a little prior reading might be worthwhile -- John Polkinghome or Hugh Ross on evidences for the Creator in modern cosmology, for example. Let Scott Peck's People of The Lie search your heart. Or even try my book, Jesus and the Religions of Man, which offers empirical evidence of a more historical nature for the truth of the Christian claims. Let the facts presented in these books take the edge of your arrogance.

    Then, maybe, go for a walk through Mt. Rainier National Park when the huckleberries are reddening in the fall, or skin dive in Hawaii. Or walk through a dark forest on a clear night when the stars are out. Observe and wonder. Become a child again. Laugh at your certainties and prejudices a little. Then try reading this book again.

    "(Skepticism) discredits supernatural stories that have some foundation, simply by telling natural stories that have no foundation." "The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer Light, fair as the sun. . .""To be allowed to make love to the moon and then to complain that Jupiter kept his own moons in a harem seemed to me a vulgar anti-climax." You still don't see the relevence or wisdom of such teachings? Oh, well. Chesterton did warn, "If a man would make his world large, he must be always making himself small. . . It is impossible without humility to enjoy anything -- even pride." This book, I guess, is no exception....more info

  • The Apostle of Common Sense is Alive & Well!
    G.K. Chesterton continues to charm and fulfill our quest for unvarnished, plain talk reminders of right, light and the persuasiveness of beauty in truth. A classic to return to time and again for references to affirm a solid moral compass. ...more info
  • Horrible Formatting
    This book has THE WORST formatting I've ever seen. It looks like it was hastily put together using Microsoft Word. Very amateurish. The cover doesn't even have the title on the spine, so I can't recognize it on my bookshelf.

    The version from BiblioBazaar:
    is MUCH MUCH better, well worth the extra dollar or two....more info
  • Perfect Sense
    I recommend this book to EVERYONE.
    Chesterton's logic is flawless. This book should be required reading in all Theology classes. Don't buy this for your library buy it to read it....more info
  • A Stand for the Boldness and Beauty of Orthodoxy
    Chesterton's text is a great stand for the true rationality and beauty of Orthodoxy. In reflecting up on his own discovery of orthodoxy, he seeks to show the sanity and beauty of Christian thought when compared to contemporary philosophies. It would be difficult to tie down the work in a brief thesis, as it exists as a loose auto-biography of his thought processes coming to orthodox faith. If I could be so bold as to venture to a thesis, it is that orthodoxy is the only guarantor of sanity, beauty, and forward progress in the world. Beyond this, the text speaks for the specifics of these ideas.

    Chesterton's text is witty and insightful. For this reason, I suggest it most highly. More than once did I laugh heartily at his reflections upon contemporary think. Additionally, I often felt a chill as I thought, "This man has his finger on a truly good thought here." I suggest Orthodoxy to all, for it is an accessible, excellent read that will truly affirm a true vision of beauty in the world....more info
  • An exhilarating read!
    A simply fascinating piece of literature. This is the type of book that you will find yourself putting down to ponder what you just read time after time. I can't say that I agree with every point that Mr. Chesterton raises, but, reading Chesterton is exhilarating....more info
  • G.K. Chesterton is the Man
    In the tradition of the heavywights like C.S Lewis. G.K.Chesterton makes the final case for the Truth....more info
  • Chesterton is one of the greats!
    After finishing this book I had a question...why can't more books be like this?

    Chesterton is a masterful writer with humor and wit that entertains and with a sharp mind and tongue that keeps you wanting to know more about his beliefs. He follows the belief that there is nothing more exciting or dangerous than having an orthodox christian belief. Writing from a Catholic perspective, he truly is one of the greatest authors of this century. No wonder CS Lewis admired him so much, Orthodoxy is a masterpiece of literature and storytelling....more info

  • Misleading Title - Dated Book
    Having come recently to the Orthodox faith, I eagerly cracked the covers of G.K. Chresterton's ORTHODOXY, The Romance of Faith. What I found was a carmudgeon's rantings, which for the most part consisted of points that had faulty underpinnings. More disturbing still was the underlying racism and elitism woven throughout the fabric of this so-called testimonal on faith. Fortunatley for me, this book isn't even actually about Orthodoxy, but about Roman Catholicism, and Anglicanism, so my burgeoning faith is still safe from the likes of Chesterton....more info
  • The most comprehensive vision of the world as it is.
    You cannot read this book in one session and say that you understand it. You need to rethink it all several times, enjoying it as you enjoy a quality picture: after numerous blinks.
    GK was able to put inside a brief book a colossal work in all dimensions: deepest logic, total truth content and excellent wording, all backed up by everyday-life examples.
    As with any masterpiece, you recognize it in the fatc that if you borrow or add one word in the entire book and you end up destroying it. Chesterton explains why the world is insane in his ABSOLUTE view (take it or reply it, if you can) by recalling old truths and new concepts; he re-news what makes sense and why that makes sense.
    One attracting issue about this writer is that he avoids wrestling against anyone who doesn't share his view. He kills the wrong view, elegantly saving the opponent, with humorous prosaic poetry....more info
  • A classic every believer should read...
    Some books are timeless classics. In the world of Christian classics Orthodoxy is one of them. It is G. K. Chesterton's account of his search for authentic Christianity in the midst of the conflicting voices of the modern world. So it is both deeply theological and also personal, even quirky, in its critical review of the various other, opposing approaches to life.

    Chesterton was a contemporary of Leo Tolstoy, H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. Much of what he writes is "in answer" to them and their divergent views of the meaning of life.

    Chesterton came to a deeply held Christian faith that took its outward expression in his 1922 conversion to Roman Catholicism. Today, Chesterton is best remembered as the creator of the "Father Brown" detective stories, but he was a prolific writer, penning studies of Robert Browning (1903) and Charles Dickens (1906), novels including The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904) and The Man Who Was Thursday (1908), poems, collected in 1927 and essays, collected in Tremendous Trifles (1909) and Come to Think of It (1930).

    In the opening chapter of Orthodoxy, Chesterton "eliminates the competition" by skewering competing world-view theories, showing their warts and all. He then describes flawed approaches to life that will lead to despair, in the second chapter, "The Suicide of Thought." Having put erroneous views to rest, for the remainder of the book he describes the central truths of Christianity as the only correct way of understanding creation and human life.

    Chesterton portrays himself as one who has traveled all around the world, only to have arrived at home again as if it were some new and strange land. "Home" being the traditions of Christian faith. Such a journey may seem unnecessary, but you will agree that same paradox appears in everything from Dorothy's journey in the "Wizard of Oz" to T. S. Eliot in "Little Gidding." It is the way of human kind, according to Chesterton, to seek and to find-even if what is found was "there all along." (A fact echoed in Chesterton's dedication of the book "To My Mother").

    Those who read Orthodoxy will travel with Chesterton as guide-which may be the best way to go, because he is an amusing intellectual companion who has trod that way before.

    Philip Yancey wrote the foreword to this edition and claims this book transformed his Christian understanding. If that is not enough to tempt you to read it, perhaps this quotation will: "The orthodox church never took the tame course or accepted the conventions; the orthodox church was never respectable... It is easy to be a madman; it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one's own." (page 149).

    Chesterton has been called been called "the prince of paradox" because his theology is often robed in a light, energetic, rapid-paced and whimsical style. This was brought about to no small degree by his custom of dictating all of his writings. (A custom, we might note, shared by none other than the Apostle Paul).

    If you find this review helpful you might want to read some of my other reviews, including those on subjects ranging from biography to architecture, as well as religion and fiction.
    ...more info
  • A Masterpiece
    I feel sort of silly trying to review a book by Chesterton so I'll just say this: I have read this book twice. The first time I read it I was so disappointed in it that I became angry for having wasted my time. To my eventual benefit I wrote scathing remarks in the margins of each page.

    A decade later I picked it up again and that's when things got weird. As I read it a second time I got the distinct impression that I was reading a vastly different book. Had the contents magically changed? My scathing margin notes remained the same, however, and I could vaguely discern which passages from Chesterton they were allegedly referring to. I could even, with the help of my notes, reconstruct what I had once thought Chesterton was "hopelessly trying to say." Since my second reading I have come to regard it as one of my favorite writings. This is truly a masterpiece written by one of the most gifted and imaginative minds we've produced....more info

  • Curious, Brilliant Apologetics
    Orthodoxy is not the book I thought it would be. I really expected a rigorous, systematic defence of orthodox doctrine. Instead, I read a rousing autobiography, which left me in continued awe of the author, but rather bemused about Chesterton's mental habits.

    First off, Chesterton in relation to various heresies (in particular secularism), is a bit like a drunken man with a sledgehammer in a china shop. Not an angry drunk, but a happy, wild-eyed, well-practiced drunk. Chesterton's intellect so thoroughly overpowers the counterarguments that he sometimes seems at a loss as to which direction to swing the hammer. So he muddles cheerfully along, smashing a bit of Nietzchism here, crushing a Socialist argument there. And through it all he seems painfully aware of the oncoming post-modern society, in which the ultimate secular virtue of tolerance would leave us oblivious to rational argument.

    Orthodoxy is replete with classic Chesterton. He makes his points with precise metaphors that waste no words. A particular favorite of mine is his argument against the relativist effort to remove value from physical or abstract objects. Chesterton cites the title of a work called "the Love of Triangles" and points out that if Triangles are loved for anything, they are loved for being triangular.

    As with The Everlasting Man, Chesterton provides his readers with a neat intellectual trick that can be used for self-analysis. In Orthodoxy, the trick is the reduction of conversation to monosyllabic sentences. Chesterton has found another key characteristic of the modern world here - the tendency of people to adopt a complex language for the express intent of not saying anything at all. Anyone familiar with the sciences will understand the necessity of precision in language, combined with the maddening inability of the words themselves to convey the desired meaning. As an example, I refer to isotactic, syndiotactic, and atactic polymers. These terms refer to the pattern of orientation in polymer chains. Is it possible to infer that from the terminology? Our language is full of adopted "scientific" nomenclature that contains meaning of which we are unaware. One of these days, I'm going to state a hyperthesis and wait for someone to point out my spelling error.

    But I digress. Chesterton's recognition is that the more complex our language, and the more specialized its application, the less meaning the language itself conveys. Witness the confusion over the terms "liberal" and "progressive," cited by Chesterton as examples. Anyone familiar with the modern (American" connotations of these words will recognize that "liberal" is someone who wants to limit free speech, have government control over the economy, mandate the membership of the Boy Scouts, and dictate how many gallons of water can be contained in your toilet tank. Progressive is simply someone who wants to progress back to the 60's. The meanings of the words are a far cry from the definition of the words.

    Chesterton supplies the antidote - one syllable words only. While this is obviously of limited utility, it's a nice exercise (like trying to cook breakfast using only your left hand, if you're right handed). His point is well taken - the one-syllable words are pretty hard to confuse or confute, and they're remarkably handy. They're also anathema to wordy people like me.

    I cannot, of course, help compare Chesterton's autobiographical Orthodoxy with Augustine's Confessions. I shudder to think that it is the different audiences that define the difference in these books, but in any case here is a contrast between a brilliant ancient writer and a brilliant modern writer, both explaining how they came to accept Christ and His Church. Where Augustine is expansive, structured, precise and deeply interested in addressing each of the many ways we might consider the phenomenon of "memory," Chesterton is rambling, concise, and chaotic in his visualization of madness and genius.

    Finally (yes! Finally!) I have to admit that I remain unconvinced of Chesterton's hyperthesis of sanity. Where Chesterton sees sanity as the result of a tension between two extremes (in fact, two poles), I suspect that it is such tension that generally "cracks" people's heads (in most cases the tension between perceived reality and reality-by-policy).

    Chesterton, however, will get the better of me with such arguments as: "To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything is a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. 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."

    Magnificent!...more info

  • Fun, witty and enlightening
    A great book. Very quotable and full of refreshing perspectives on just about everything you could imagine pertaining to relevant thought. My only criticism of it is that, if you approach it as a defense of Christianity, it's not very logically coherent. I sometimes found the logic of his conclusions would get unintelligably tangled in his extraordinary wit as he attempted to express how he arrived at his belief. It approaches it from a witty, emotional and intelligent perspective; but, if your looking for something logically sound, I actually prefer C.S. Lewis or Ravi Zachariah, both of which were significantly influenced by Chesterton. But over all, it was a very enjoyable and profitable read that really helps expand the perspective by which you observe the wonder and majesty of the world of thought which we often take for granted. All in all, I enjoyed it very much....more info
  • Leaves you wanting more!
    After reading the first paragraph, I thought, "I wish I had written this book."

    Chesterton has the gift of thought and the gift of expression, a rare commodity in the age of chatter and blather. I found myself puffing to keep up with his logic!

    I think the power of the book is found in the subtitle: romance and faith. Americans see God through the squint of Puritanism, so we see Him as merely a syllogism or a cosmic party pooper. We forget that our God was once accused of being a glutton and wine-bibber. I could see many alleged Christians doing likewise if He were here today. Chesterton breaths the life back into Adam's clay, and for this I thank him!...more info

  • Christianity Vol. 2
    While Chesterton dedicates this book to his mother, he claims that George Slythe Street is the books inspiration and creator. That is, G.S. Street was one of many critics to present an opinion about Chesterton's Heretics, and happened to have presented the opinion to which Chesterton responded. When on the first page Chesterton states that it was incautious of Street to provoke an individual that is all too ready to write books, and in the final sentence of the first chapter claims that he would write Street another book if he needed clarification with regard to a topic only touched upon by Chesterton, it quickly becomes clear that Orthodoxy is yet another shining example of Chesterton's mirth applied to frequently solemn subject matter. Orthodoxy, as Chesterton appears to agree, is, however, the appropriate conclusion to the work he began with Heretics. If Heretics presented all that is wrong, Orthodoxy can rightly be seen as presenting the standard by which Chesterton deemed such philosophies heretical. To truly appreciate either of the aforementioned titles, both should be read as if they were a singular work.

    In Orthodoxy, Chesterton does justify his position maintained throughout Heretics in a manner as uniform as he might have been able to conjure. Throughout the work Chesterton utilizes his own experiences and thoughts to illustrate and, perhaps, demonstrate his seemingly inevitable arrive at truth. At times it almost seems as if Chesterton slips into irrelevant stream of thought tangents but never fails to reconcile his intended point, illuminating the necessity of what might have otherwise seemed entirely unnecessary. In fact, Chesterton masterfully builds what he claimed is not a properly thorough defense of Christianity into what might be one of the most poignant apologetic works ever. He does so in a way that makes Orthodoxy read like a suspense novel in that the entire effort bears its timeless fruit in the last few pages, if not in the last sentence, after supplying almost innumerable pieces of information that appeared just unrelated enough to ensure that the final piece would act as a blazing beacon of a keystone. While Chesterton might have failed to present that tangible evidence, that scientific process by which the claims of Christianity can be undoubtedly proved, he clearly and boldly presented that proof which every Christian exists for; the proof that every Christian can verify, albeit not as gracefully. While Chesterton's The Everlasting Man might be the work that he is best known for, Heretics and, especially, Orthodoxy are magnificent demonstrations of Chesterton's ability to cast light on the eventual obvious reality and significance of everything.
    ...more info
  • Who Should Read This?
    I really liked this book, but to recommend something without discretion is not always wise.
    I would recommend this book to the person who feels poisoned by the eminent despair and boredom of modern thinking.
    Secondly, I would recommend it to the thoughtful and sincere agnostic as an aid in his or her efforts in searching for the answer.
    Lastly, I would recommend it to the thoughtful Christian (and I would like to encourage all fellow Christians to be thoughtful).

    I feel that I should also note this: Chesterton was not concerned so much with elaborate arguments and defenses of Christian faith when he wrote this book, rather it is a challenge to our basic assumptions upon which the vast majority of our arguments lie....more info

  • Orthodoxy - Still Relevant Today
    "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions."...more info
  • Defending the format
    A common criticism of Orthodoxy is the format, and while people are entitled to criticize the rambling nature of Chesterton's exploration as aesthetically displeasing, there are plenty of rigidly organized explorations of faith; all neat and tidy with headings even. If you read his introductory comments on why he wrote the book, you should be able to see that the whole work focuses on how he stumbled unintentionally into seeing the beauty and reason of orthodoxy through the accumulation of a thousand little things that all pointed in the same direction: God. The book purposely models this, and frankly I find the joy of the book is how he expresses faith this way.
    I admittedly found it very confusing my first read, but each time I read it again more and more of it starts to connect. Give the book a second chance if you stumble at first Soon you'll start to see the pattern of thought in his "rambling" observations, an intentional metatphor for the divine pattern and purpose that escapes us in our everyday "rambling" lives....more info
  • Wordy, but well worth a read
    "Orthodoxy" is described by Chesterton as "a slovenly autobiography", a description that's really not too far off the mark. Instead of depending upon rigorous logic, the contents of this work are rather "mental pictures" of a sort, which is what the author states at the outset. This sort of approach is easy to attack by any contrarian skeptic, but I can't criticize Chesterton, as he and I are really cut from the same cloth. Loath to state the obvious, we both prefer to *illustrate* the truth via induction. This is a perfectly valid method of presenting ideas, it's just that it's easy to misunderstand and misrepresent. It's for this reason that this book probably wouldn't change someone's mind-kind of a litmus test for the open-minded, which, it turns out, self-proclaimed `skeptics' or `freethinkers' are anything but.

    Chesterton makes two really good points throughout the book: 1) sanity lies in maintaining seemingly opposed extremes in a kind of dramatic tension. It's not balance, it's both at once. It's not a contradiction, it's a paradox. Christianity fits this like nothing else: singularity/plurality, freedom/servanthood, individuality/assimilation, etc., all are fused together in seeming contradiction of common sense. But don't we always find truth to be stranger than fiction? In contrast, monomania is a kind of insanity, like total belief in oneself, or the belief that one unfalsifiable human construct, like evolution, completely illuminates everything. 2) The importance of maintaining a kind of humble childlike wonder about the world, the universe, about existence itself. What if you saw a four-inch-long fully-functional helicopter hovering about? Wouldn't that be delightfully incredible? Not too long ago, after reading this book, it dawned on me, upon observing a dragonfly, that that was precisely what I was looking at. I'm not even talking about creationism, irreducible complexity, any of that. It is in fact, neither here nor there. Just the fact that such a marvelous thing should exist, by any means, is truly stupendous. It should inspire deeper thought about fundamental issues. The modern-day `scientific' priesthood is perpetually at pains to systematically dismantle the ability to see things this way even as they proclaim it superficially.

    The funny thing about Chesterton's writing is that he gets so wrapped up in his ideas that rather strange-sounding, apparent non-sequiturs come up every so often. A sample Chestertonism: "As a fact, anthropophagy [cannibalism] is certainly a decadent thing, not a primitive one. It is much more likely that modern men will eat human flesh out of affectation, than that primitive man ate it out of ignorance." Well, duh!? As in his Father Brown mysteries, Chesterton loves to toss off sweeping statements, and is a bit too shy of explicating his ideas with the utmost clarity sometimes; chalk it up to slovenliness, I guess.But for the most part his ideas are sound and his writing thought-provoking....more info

  • If You Read One Book of Apologetics, Make It This One
    GK has a way of bringing up ideas that seem revolutionary at first blush, but upon explanation wind up being obvious. Indeed, in his introduction, he describes his own spiritual journey that way: he likens himself to a British explorer setting sail in his yacht who winds up discovering England. He begins by explaining the limitations of reason, pointing out that men go mad not by losing their reason, but by losing everything except their reason. GK says poets seek to get their heads into the heavens, but rationalists seek to get heaven into their heads. This latter process can (not must) lead to madness. Next, GK considers the leading philosophies of his day-pragmatism, determinism, and Nietzche's theory of Will-in light of this excessive rationalism. He sums up neatly: "A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt -- the Divine Reason." On the ensuing pages GK shows how Christianity alone provides the key for how one is to live. A few aspects of his arguments struck me as exceptional. His arguments are eminently reasonable, not mystical appeals to faith. His arguments consider the whole of man, from the broadest possible historical, psychological, and political perspectives. His arguments are balanced: he is unafraid to point out the weaknesses of his position and the strengths of another. Finally, his arguments are imbued with a gentility, humility and lightheartedness that are sorely lacking in our public debate. It is a rare thing to be persuasive on questions of religious belief and morality; GK not only manages to pull it off, he provides a few chuckles in the bargain....more info
  • Awesome book!
    I read this book for my honors class as an alternative option for those of us who had already read Mere Christianity. Chesterton is an entertaining as well as insightful reader. I don't agree with all of his ideas but his examples for how he reached his conclusions are fun and fairly logical from his point of view. I strongly reccomend this book to anyone exploring the ideas of Christianity from within a Christian background....more info
  • Prolix but worth the effort
    Chesterton is hard to take at times; his irritating metaphors and play on words can grind one down. But, what is extraordinary is that this book is so relevant to the "now". He has grasped the nettle of modern relativism and said: "no, accipio crucem Christi; I believe in the Trintiy of princely might": "it is utterely rational for me to so believe". A definite "must" for anyone who wishes to deal with the issues of modernity and faith. ...more info
  • An Examplar of Grace, Wit, Good Writing, and Clear Thinking
    One reviewer stated that G.K. Chesterton "sneaks up on you." This is an apt discription of ORTHODOXY. G.K. Chesterton wrote this book for his critics and perhaps for himself. Chesterton's written expression is charming, engaging, humorous, and effective. Those who are skeptical of Cathilocism would benefit from this book if only to gain some insight into the Catholic Faith. Even though they may disagree, they would learn something from good prose writing.

    Chesterton begins his study by giving some of his intellectual background and early skepticism toward religion and especially Catholicism. Readers should know that Chesterton was an agnostic and perhaps an athiest at an early age only to change his mind. Chesterton is clear that he did not read Catholic Apologetics and that his sympathy for Catholicism did not originate from Catholic literature. His intellectual journey came from the skeptics' literature. He states in his ORTHODOXY the contradictions of the skeptics criticisms of Catholicism led him to the Faith. He realized that Catholicism could not be two or three contradictions at the same time.

    Chesterton also cites some of the saints, heroes, and heroines in Catholic history. One good example is Joan of Arc. Chesterton compares her to Nietzche and Tolstoy. To paraphrase Chesterton, Joan of Arc was more violent than Nietzche who supposedly preached violence, and Joan of Arc was more sympathetic to peasants than Tolstoy if only because she was a peasant.

    Chesterton deals with the supposed restrictions imposed by Catholic authorities over the millennia. Chesterton is too simplistic in his remarks regarding this issue, but he does make sense. The Catholic authorities imposed certain restrictions only to keep the Europeans from reverting into violent paganism and social chaos.

    Chesterton also shows an appreciation for the cultural and intellectual contributions of Catholicism over the millennia. He is very clear that the Catholic monks and teachers saved Western Civilization when barbarianism threatened to deluge Europeans without any hope of recovery. It was the Catholic Church who literally saved Western Civilization and significantly improved it. One must remember that it was the Catholic monks who literally hand copied books, wrote intellectual discourse, hand copied the Bible, etc. The Catholic monks and nuns were the only teachers during the "Dark Ages" in Europe until the gradual rise of the Medieval Catholic universities beginning in the 11th century.

    One should note that Chesterton did not engage in ad hominem attacks in answering his critics. He refuted his critics by effectively engaging their ideas and offered thoughtful responses. This reviewer is not Catholic and to some may appear to be a skeptic. However, this reviewer recognizes reasoned thinking and good writing. Whether one is Catholic or not, this book is well worth reading....more info
  • His best work
    Although Chesterton humbly passes this book off as merely an answer to questions posed to him during his life, it is an incredible read. I have read some parts of it numerous times and the whole book more than once. This is one of those gems that you will read with a pen in hand, scribbling in notes and underlines like you were back in college again....more info
  • I'll Be Brief
    There are so many reviews here. I'll be brief.
    I've read this book many times (though not this edition, which someone said is poorly formatted) and it's a whirlwind of provocative thought. Clever beyond what most any other writer can achieve. A defense of his faith that could almost convince the faithless, and if not, at least it will entertain them.
    At least read the chapter on THE PARADOXES OF CHRISTIANITY. It's a kick, and could get you hooked on Chesterton....more info
  • The Rebuttle to Modern Philosophy
    In this book, one of the great writers of the last century, writes his defense of the philosophy of Historical Christianity. He goes to great lengths to debate the views of his contemporaries (H.G. Wells, Robert Bernard Shaw) and the influences on his contemporaries (specifically Nietzsche). Chesterton can seem to go off topic at times (it is said he never wrote rough drafts - what we read is his thought process un-edited), but his insights and are purely astounding and worth going down those rabbit trails. I won't dare go into his arguments, as I'm sure other reviews have done that sufficiently, plus I'm not smart enough or have have enough time to do them justice. Read the book for yourself. Chesterton is an absolute delight to read. It's a shame that a man like G.K. Chesterton has been forgotten, while the men whom he often debated have so heavily influenced our culture. We would do well to bring the clarity of thought and ideas of Chesterton back into the public forum. For a Christian who wishes to intellectually defend his faith (as opposed to the blind faith we are often accused of), this book is indispensible....more info
  • Pure Joy in book form
    When I bought this book I thought it would be dry and I was kind of agonizing over reading it. But by the time I finished the first page I was hooked in and I read it all in one night. To say I loved it would be an understatement. This is my favorite book of non fiction and it may be my favorite book overall...maybe a tie hehe. I've never laughed so much when I read a book in my life. His style was invigorating. The little stories he uses for examples are entertaining and so insightful. And his logic is just nonpareil. Logic is a sorely missed art in these modern days. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I am Catholic myself, but non Catholics or non Christians, anyone could love this book. Even though he talks about some writers I'm not really familiar with, you get the hang of what he's getting at quickly. The way he talks about fairy tales especially caught my attention and really made me think. And I've thought so many times about his statement about how people have made the world small...it just gets deeper and deeper. This is a masterwork and must, must, MUST read. I'm looking forward to reading it again and again. ...more info
  • I wanted to like this book
    I myself recently returned to the Catholic church, and I really wanted to like Chesterton's book. And I did *enjoy* it. His style is entertaining, and as a long-time C. S. Lewis fan I now know where Lewis got his own style.

    But in the end, what Chesterton seemed to have written was not Why I am a Christian or Why I am a Catholic, but Why I am a European. And he seems to have thought this amounted to the same thing.

    His dismissal of Islam as being cruel and suited to people from dry places is astonishing. His dismissal of knowing God within as leading to....Tibet is likewise astonishing! A lot of his argument seems to be prejudice dressed up as reasons. That he likes romance and adventure, and finds Christianity romantic and adventurous is all very well, but if Christianity is true, it is intended for Tibet and the dry places of the earth as well as the cozy English countryside that he loves....more info

  • The Paradoxes of Christianity
    "Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die."

    Orthodoxy is filled with insightful information regarding some of the most poignant critiques against the Christian faith. This book should serve as a starting point for all exploration into the topic. What's more frightful than arguing with someone who has a lot of answers? Probably arguing with someone who can generate just as many questions and can argue your side of the issue better than you can. We usually only think on one side of the issue (our position), but Chesterton expounds both.

    It isn't necessarily a very easy read, but it is still very relevant for today's skeptic. Begin here: "The sense of the miracle of humanity itself should be always more vivid to us than any marvels of power, intellect, art, or civilization." Any book that looks to refute something must begin with awe in the fact that there is an intellect which makes it even possible to toil in the world of ideas and fact. A great follow up book would be Mere Christianity. ...more info
  • What a hoot!
    This book is a hilariously funny read of the rolling on the floor variety! It had me LOL uncontrollably in public when I first discovered it at a local bookstore. And I happen to be a heretic, of the early Christian variety with a little New Age thrown in, that Chesterton so apparently dislikes.
    Paraphrasing some of my favorite lines (about the editor of the Clarion) "he's one early Christian that should have been eaten by lions" or "there's another word for Agnosticism, it's called Ignorance" or "Jesus tells you to love your neighbor, Annie Bessant says you are your neighbor" and then goes on to complain that the reason you love your neighbor is the same reason you love a woman, because she's different from you.
    He also has lot of not so Christian things to say about George Bernard Shaw (apparently a compulsive liar, I never knew! hehehe) and Nietzche. Occasionally Chesterton makes a salient point, such as will being limiting. But most of it is the very "light sophism" that he complains his critics accuse him of. Students of logic would love this book because it's fun to pick apart the endless twisted reasoning. He gets away with it (and why I suspect this book has remained popular for so long) because of the unintentional humorous bon mots combined with a childish glee and naivety and, yes, charm. Chesterton doesn't like the "funny" adjective applied to him and complains he never says anything funny that he doesn't deeply believe in first. Poor guy. Nonetheless not a page goes by that doesn't have you chuckling....more info
  • an entertaining read, even when you violently disagree
    Chesterton was a gleefully confessed madman and a genius with language, but he's also very "Johnsonian" in his own way--and by that I mean that much like dear Dr. Johnson he says everything so well ... that sometimes you're so delighted by the prosity that you don't consider the message. I'm less blinded by the textual pyrotechnics than I once was, and I'm less wholeheartedly dazzled by the philosophy than I once found myself ... but it's still an interesting read and it still makes some remarkable so-obvious-you-never-noticed-it observations about life, the universe and everything.

    The best thing you can say about Chesterton is that you don't have to agree with him to enjoy reading him....more info

  • A Defense of Orthodoxy
    Like most others who have read Chesterton, I find him enjoyable, hilarious, and utterly commonsensical. Orthodoxy is the perfect introduction to the man and his writings.

    (...)The orthodoxy Chesterton speaks of is not the Eastern Christianity but traditional Christian doctrine from even before there was a division in the Church. It is akin to Lewis's Mere Christianity in that it is not in any particular denomination but mainly to be found in the early creeds of the Church which the vast majority of Christians acknowledge as authoritative (e.g., Apostles', Nicene).

    In response to those who dismiss Chesterton's views as "unscientific" or "outdated," I answer, as Chesterton might, that a strictly empirical method of acknowledging reality is not defensible on strictly empirical grounds, and to assert such is thoroughly narrow-minded and dogmatic, or something to that effect. Chesterton's treatement of foreign peoples may often be characterized by ill-informed or distorted views, but I cannot recall any malice towards them. In our society so eager to be offended, many often overlook the truths within satire, or satirical writing. As for his views just being an excuse to be contrary, if anything he was seeking to be the same, similar to two thousand years of Christianity. As he famously writes "Tradition is the democracy of the dead."

    Finally, I believe that any unprejudiced person, while perhaps not agreeing completely, would find it difficult to deny out-of-hand Chesteron's characterizations of man, man's sinful nature, and his wonder at the universe. And at the very least, his style is engaging and Orthodoxy is certainly great reading....more info


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