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Orthodoxy: The Classic Account of a Remarkable Christian Experience (Wheaton Literary Series) Hardcover – November 20, 2001
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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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
"Whenever I feel my faith going dry again, I wander to a shelf and pick up a book by G.K. Chesterton."
--from the foreword by Philip Yancey, author of What's So Amazing About Grace? and The Jesus I Never Knew
"My favorite on the list [of top 100 spiritual classics of the twentieth century] is Chesterton's Orthodoxy. It offers wonderful arguments for embracing religious traditions, but it also has humor you don't typically find in religious writing."
--Philip Zaleski, author and journalist
Named by Publisher's Weekly as one of 10 "indispensable spiritual classics" of the past 1500 years.
"Chesterton's most enduring book.... Charming."
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Orthodoxy offers the reader Chesterton's explanation of his belief in the truth of Christianity and the falsehood of secularism and Eastern religions. He begins not with reasons for one having faith, or even historical evidence of Christianity, but rather with an explanation of how he arrived at the conclusion that truth and the meaning and purpose of creation comes to us from God. His explanation is masterful and timeless. It is as relevant today, in our day, as it was when he penned the words over a century ago.
He didn't begin from the perspective that Christianity was true. Instead, almost by process of elimination, he proved a hundred dead-ends to be not true, and further showed that what was lacking in each of them was present in the truth of Christianity.
He didn't start from the church as we know it today and work backwards, needing to strip it of controversy and confusion before he could reach a collection of pure facts - like one chipping away at a jewel to try to determine its components. Instead he began as if Christianity was just being discovered, describing the shining delight of the jewel when first seen.
Instead of answering questions about Christianity, he asked questions that the human heart has always asked - only to find that Christianity was the answer to all of them.
One positive thing I can say about this book is that there are a lot of beautifully worded sentences with chiastic structure--they sound clever but they just don't make sense: "Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her."
OMG THAT SOUNDS SO GOOD, but I keep wanting to ask him, "Oh really? How do you know that?" every time he makes some statement like this.
"For anything that is a work of art must be small in the sight of the artist." (p. 63)
Oh really? That's true of every artist? Ah but this premise helps him set up his conclusion so I guess we'll just let him get away with it because the conclusion sounded really cool.
(Full disclosure: I could only get through half the book.)