Saturday, October 25, 2014

Orthodoxy: Centennial Edition

September 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Audio Book, Bound Books, Featured, Kindle e-Books

G. K. Chesterton’s memoir of faith was named “one of the 10 indispensable spiritual classics of the 1500 years.” This beautiful new of celebrates the 100th anniversary of its publication. [See also the companion volume, a centennial edition of THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY.]

George Bernard Shaw (detail)

Image by thomwisdom via Flickr

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 . 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 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 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

Rating: (out of 101 reviews)

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5 Responses to “Orthodoxy: Centennial Edition”
  1. David Graham says:

    Review by David Graham for Orthodoxy: Centennial Edition
    Rating:
    Portly, fun loving, witty G.K. Chesterton decided to write this book as a companion volume to his book HERETICS. Since HERETICS had criticised contemporary philosophies, ORTHODOXY was written to present an alternative viewpoint, and is therefore both affirmative in tone and autobiographical in many places. A sampling of his chapter titles gives some idea of Chesterton’s sense of fun as well as his unusual approach to the matter of Christianity. Chapter one is “In Defense of Everything Else” (one pictures Chesterton with a whimsical, impish smile on his face as he wrote this). There are also chapters on “The Suicide of Thought”, “The Ethics of Elfland” (a really superb chapter), “The Maniac”, and “The Paradoxes of Christianity”. In this easily readable book (only 160 pages in the small paperback edition), Chesterton shows that theological reflections and philosophical ruminations need be neither boring nor incomprehensible. This was jolly good fun to read, being both funny and intellectually stimulating. Highly recommended.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Review by for Orthodoxy: Centennial Edition
    Rating:
    This book is Chesterton’s defence of orthodox Christianity. It is partly autobiographical, in the sense that Chesterton describes various insights into the nature of reality, and various puzzles about reality, and then shows how (to his astonishment) the Christian faith accounts for the insights and answers the puzzles.The following quote expresses this idea:”This, therefore, is, in conclusion, my reason for accepting the religion and not merely the scattered and secular truths out of the religion. I do it because the thing has not merely told this truth or that truth, but has revealed itself as a truth-telling thing. All other philosophies say the things that plainly seem to be true; only this philosophy has again and again said the thing that does not seem to be true, but is true. Alone of all creeds it is convincing where it is not attractive; it turns out to be right, like my father in the garden.”But don’t just take my word for it! You can read it online from the G.K.Chesterton web page and then buy the book!

  3. David Marshall says:

    Review by David Marshall for Orthodoxy: Centennial Edition
    Rating:
    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.

  4. William says:

    Review by William for Orthodoxy: Centennial Edition
    Rating:
    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.

  5. nto62 says:

    Review by nto62 for Orthodoxy: Centennial Edition
    Rating:
    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.

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