I recently finished reading G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy.” It took me just shy of a year to finish it which is a little embarrassing considering that it is only 240 pages long. However, compared to the last Christian book I read on the Templar Knights, “Orthodoxy” has a lot of “meat” to it giving me much to think about. Like a papal encyclical, this book is very dense and you could honestly ponder and debate a single paragraph for hours. The true genius of Chesterton is his ability to present these highly philosophical arguments in a witty and understandable way.
In “Orthodoxy” Chesterton offers an argument for the Christian faith. He dives into why the ideas and values of Christianity make sense. Each chapter presents an idea in the form of a question which Chesterton then tries to answer. He doesn’t dive into the Catholic Catechism or the Bible for his answers but instead builds his arguments from the ground up using logical deductions and many examples drawn from his observations. Essentially, Chesterton says that he was trying to build up a rational and consistent philosophy on how he should live. It turns out that everything he thought was a good idea was not an original one as they had been part of Christian doctrine for centuries.
What impressed me about this book is how something written over one hundred years ago in England is still relevant today. In fact, you would think that Chesterton was writing a blog about the current state of politics in the world. That took me by surprise because I was expecting to read a book on spirituality. Instead, I got discussions on politics, psychology, sociology, and ethics. Chesterton doesn’t confine himself to a philosophical vacuum, but constructs his arguments based on what he sees and hears in the world around him. The book even filled me with a little more optimism about our current world. I see that many of the problems we face today have been around in modern society for centuries in one form or another. Somehow the world has always moved forward despite everyone thinking that their generation’s problems will doom all of humanity and destroy our future.
I would put “Orthodoxy” on your reading list. In fact, it might make the list twice as it probably requires a second reading in order to better understand Chesterton’s arguments. I know that I’m going to put this book back on the shelf for another year or two and then give it another go. This might be the first book I will read twice. Yeah, it’s that interesting.
- The Wit and Wisdom of G K Chesterton (newstatesman.com)
- Chesterton on gratitude (geneveith.com)