G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy – Part 1
Chesterton’s Orthodoxy was not an easy read the first time around. Reading it on an airplane may not have helped my comprehension.
I’m now on my third reading, and each time the door opens wider and more and more rays of brilliance shine through. I also read Heretics this year, which may have helped me in coming back to this work since it is a follow-up of sorts. After wielding his devestating intellect and wit against various philosophies of his day (many of which are making the round again) he was challenged to state what he does believe in.
He begins by comparing his own journey to a man who left England, sailed around what he thought was the entire ocean, only to set foot again in that ancient home of the Brits. Like this man Chesterton says:
I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy.
It may be that somebody will be entertained by the account of this happy fiasco. It might amuse a friend or an enemy to read how I gradually learnt from the truth of some stray legend or from the falsehood of some dominant philosophy, things that I might have learnt from my catechism–if I had ever learnt it.
At the outset the book is admittedly autobiographical. But before we attempt a post-modern “this is just his story” spin to it, we are hit with the logic of his journey. Reason and common sense are the winds in his sails, and as a result his story ends up a powerful defense for the Christian faith. And that faith is defined by Chesterton at the outset:
When the word orthodoxy is used here it means the Apostles’ Creed, as understood by everybody calling himself Christian until a very short time ago and the general historic conduct of those who held such a creed.
If truth stands the the test of time, then this “slovenly autobiography” certainly has the ring of truth. The passages, though written in an early 20th century, British flavour (see what I did there?) one might think he somehow had a special insight into the 21st century.
Or then, maybe he just saw the logical progression of the nonsense that defined his day.
Next time: The Maniac