A Tribute to G. K. Chesterton

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         Though I often dedicate my reading to, admittedly, impersonal, artless historical-critical writings, a few months ago, upon receiving a copy of G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy from a friend, I allowed myself to wander into popular level apologetics. I anticipated a bland book, filled with positivistic claims, rich with overstatement and idiosyncratic suggestions—similar to what I had previously read in other famous apologetic works. Well, those who have read Chesterton will be grinning at my arrogant and insulting expectations. After the first page, I knew he was something else. Never before had I encountered a writer with such a brilliant prose or phenomenal command of language. I was enamored by his use of paradox and innovative reasoning.

          Like a great wizard, Chesterton enchanted the world. He gave me new eyes. I began to see the mundane features of life as incredibly mysterious and profound. The greenness of the grass was no longer a brute fact to simply be observed, but rather a whimsical choice of the Creator, an outpouring of His creative will. Gravity was not a cold and obligatory law of physics, but rather the result of divine pleasure and imagination. For the first time in my life I contemplated belief in fairies. Certainly Scripture is not exhaustive in its catalog of creatures, thus I am free to heed the testimony of the Irish and look for the sprites in the fields!

            Clearly, I found great joy in Chesterton’s thoughts. Not only was he imaginative, he was also compelling and persuasive. His case for the Christian tradition remains the best I’ve ever read. He had the great skill of demonstrating the explanatory power of orthodoxy. Like a key to an intricate lock, the Christian worldview answered the complex experience of Man. The riddles of the world found their marked replies in the wondrous tradition of the saints.

             G. K. Chesterton, the magnificent Falstaff of the Modern age, has left a deep impression in my life. I’d like to say he awakened the world for me, however, I fear I was the one sleeping. The potent spell that he cast over the trees and the beasts remains, and I take great joy in it. Like a happy captive, I am now bound to orthodoxy. Yet, to honor the prince of paradox, I must say, in that bondage I’ve found freedom. What power lies in ink spilled on a page!


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