Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chesterton: writer, poet, ...saint?

G.K. Chesterton was a big deal. Literally. He looked a little like an oversized, disheveled and eccentric version of Teddy Roosevelt, checking in at a solid 6'4", 280 pounds and often seen wearing his trademark cape and crumpled hat with a cigar clinched between his teeth. But despite his linebacker build, Chesterton honed his most potent punches on the paper instead of the playing field, and he made a lasting literary impression.

Chesterton was amply gifted with an amazing combination of wit, wisdom, humor and writing ability. Put together, these assets launched Chesterton into a literary career that spanned decades and made him eminently popular in both his native U.K. and abroad. Chesterton wrote and wrote and wrote: newspaper columns, poetry, plays, short stories, novels, biographies, books on history, philosophy, theology and even encyclopedia entries! His writings had such a tremendous impact on his generation that when he died in 1936, he was eulogized by his friend and fellow convert to Catholicism, Ronald Knox, with these words: "All of this generation has grown up under Chesterton's influence so completely that we do not even know when we are thinking Chesterton."Read some Chesterton's works, and you're likely to be left breathless with awe at his genius and at the sharpness of his wit. Yes, they're that good. (If you'd like a taste of some classic Chesterton in the area of faith, I'd recommend reading Orthodoxy or The Everlasting Man.)

The world might now know Chesterton as an author, a playwright, a poet, a biographer, a historian, a theologian and a philosopher, but they might soon be able to add a more illustrious title: a saint.

It was recently announced that Bishop Peter Doyle and the Diocese of Northampton (England) will soon begin to officially investigate the possibility of opening Chesterton's cause for canonization. In honor of this announcement, we'd like to give you 10 of our favorite classic G.K. Chesterton quotes:

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."

"Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car."

"There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less."

"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions."

"There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions."

"A strange fanaticism fills our time: the fanatical hatred of morality, especially of Christian morality."

"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him."

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same thing as to be right in doing it."

"The word 'good' has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man."

"Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable."