- Paperback: 154 pages
- Publisher: Ignatius Press (March 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0898707579
- ISBN-13: 978-0898707571
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,992,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Christian Imagination: G.K. Chesterton on the Arts Paperback – March, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Peters (Battling for the Modern Mind: A Beginner's Chesterton, 1994) has written a potentially timely book, but one which suffers from a plodding hand. Chesterton, writing from 1900 to 1936, ingeniously and hilariously engaged London's great literary figures and social politicians in "duels" over the state and truth of Christianity, moral relativism and scientific determinism. Peters attempts to explain how Chesterton's uniquely Christian imagination enhanced his arguments. Unfortunately, Peters opaquely imbeds his ideas in a list-like series of densely discussed philosophical, religious and aesthetic topics, barely connected by the words "artist" and "imagination." While Chesterton speaks of imagination in ordinary terms, Peters pontificates beyond, trying to show how "Christian" Chesterton and these concepts are by giving parallels from the Bible to which Chesterton never alludes. (For example, "childlike wonder" supposedly relates to Jesus' reference to "the nearness of the child to the kingdom of God.") In addition, Peters indiscriminately mixes quotations from Chesterton's pre-Christian and post-Christian works as if they were all written from a Christian perspective. Readers new to Chesterton will find this a boring, confusing book, uneasily dependent upon Peters's sometimes unconvincing explanations and almost unreadable in places. A better choice is Alzina Stone Dale's engaging, excellent The Art of G.K. Chesterton (1985), which delightfully combines a biography of Chesterton with an insightful treatise on his art. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Most people know G. K. Chesterton as an apologist for classical Christianity. But he also loved the arts. In "The Christian Imagination," Thomas Peters shows that Chesterton believed that God delighted in Creation, and so should we--an argument that did not always sit well with some of Chesterton's co-religionists, who were more interested in retreating from the world than in writing poetry that celebrated earthly beauty. In this slender volume, Peters analyzes Chesterton's songs, poems, illustrations, nonfiction, and novels. Those who have read only Chesterton's famous "Orthodoxy" may well decide, by the time they finish "The Christian Imagination," to delve into his less famous, but no less rich and rewarding, works. -- From Beliefnet
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I honestly can't think of anything worth complaining about here. That about half of it is quotes by Chesterton? Well, yes, but I've given five points to actual quote books before, and this one explains the context sufficiently to make the quotes, if anything, even more meaningful. Should I complain about the somewhat ostentatious title? With few exceptions, I don't like to do that, unless the title is truly misleading, since most authors don't get to decide the title of their book. Should I complain about the essay-like way it was written in? The almost hero-worship-like way that Chesterton's views are enshrined herein? No, I can't do that. In Mister Peters' place, I'd do it the same way. Should I complain that it's not original enough? I'd never do that, for one of the reasons listed in chapter 3.
The fact of the matter is, this is a great book for Catholics, all about imagination, wonder and fun, and their place in the life of a Catholic, and all taken from quotes by one of the finest defenders of the faith in the last 200 years. Chesterton is a delight, as always, and made no secret of his defense of imagination and fun.
This book goes over Chesterton's views on fiction, on critics and proper reviews, on songs, poems and art, and on good humor, then gives a brief biography of Chesterton, containing some information, which I was unaware of, like the name of his wife. In this entire book, there's only one thing that I disagree with (the notion that people don't want to hear the bad points of an artistic work before they buy it,) which is pretty darn impressive.
I find that Chesterton's best points here are his insistence on the importance of childlike joy and wonder in appreciating the arts, and his strong defense of fun, imaginative expression, regardless of the critical reaction it might receive. Of course, like all defenses of fun and wonder, it's simultaneously an attack on scientism, which is two birds with one stone, as far as I'm concerned. However, if you wanted me to tell you the best quotes in the novel, I'd be here all day. Believe me when I say that you're better off just picking this book up and reading it yourself; especially if you've been fooled by the media's lies about the Catholic Church being the enemy of free expression. This little book puts all that into perspective, and could serve as a nice, little Chesterton introduction as well. I just hope you have as much fun with it as I did.
Chesterton is famous for turning concepts on their heads and helping you see things in a fresh and more generous light. He has a way of expanding your world and encouraging you to shed cynicism and modern paralysis.
I read this book with a group of friends over a number of weeks and we had a tremendously good time. It was a true conversation starter. I'd also recommend it for Christian college courses where the discussion of the Christian's role in the arts is in play. It will get people thinking... and talking.