Saturday, January 10, 2009

Figuring out why I like Chesterton

I like Chesterton. I suppose, in some sense, it is a personal preference. In another sense, it is quite practical. In a third sense, it is totally impractical.

Reading Chesterton will probably not make one rich. Although it could contribute to one's happiness, a far greater reward.

Reading Chesterton will probably not make one famous. Unless one's name is Dale Ahlquist and repeatedly shows his face on EWTN. But for the rest of us: no fame.

Reading Chesterton will not help your health. In fact, there are many Chestertonian arguments on the merits for and against cigar smoking, wine drinking, steak eating and other various perilous activities. Reading Chesterton will probably not contribute to your fitness, unless you download some podcasts and listen to them on the treadmill. Which some people actually do. Really.

However, Chesterton will be your gatekeeper, a worthy occupation for an old dead man. He will teach you how to think. He will help you exercise the old white matter upstairs.

Thinking may lead to lifestyle changes. Belief changes. Monetary changes (such as working to get out of debt). Job changes (such as becoming self-employed). Pet changes (such as obtaining a cow, donkey or other domestic beast of burden).

Why do you like Chesterton? Has reading Chesterton changed your life in any way?

7 comments:

  1. +JMJ+

    Reading Chesterton saved me from making some bad relationship choices. A really cute guy was chatting me up and I almost fell for it . . . until he saw the Chesterton book I was reading and said, "That guy was a real right-wing b------, you know. Terrible . . ."

    Crash and burn, aye?

    Well, does that count as having changed my life? =P

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  2. Yes! What a great story. Now you can put relationships through the "Chesterton Test": a good litmus test, to my mind.

    Thanks, Enbrethiliel!

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  3. Timothy David1/12/2009 2:03 PM

    I am naturally declined towards pessimism and depression. Chesterton's early religion of finding joy in the mere fact of existence pulled me (and still does) out of my darkest moment(s). That may seem like a bit much, but it's true. Just this morning I was walking around feeling depressed when the smell of some juniper trees hit me. I suddenly recalled that I could smell, see, walk, and many, many other amazing things beside. I began singing to myself the chorus to a song I came up with after reading one Chesterton's book: "How did I ever get weary of the world?"

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  4. You make me smile, Timothy.

    Even pondering the Christmas stockings, I can't help but recall Chesterton's ability to thank God for the stockings, as well as the legs to put in the stockings.

    Every day is a miracle, every moment we are alive, a gift. That is a great reason to love Chesterton, for that realization, too, is a gift.

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  5. Aside from the obvious -- that Chesterton makes me happy -- I think that it's natural for people to be drawn to The Truth; and GKC surely draws us to The Truth.
    Why-oh-why isn't he taught in Catholic schools?

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  6. For the following reasons (not an exhaustive list):

    Our man Gilbert brought me (and many others) into the Catholic Church.

    He's one of the best writers in the English language.

    He's very reasonable and a much clearer thinker than almost anyone else you'll find in modern letters.

    He was very humble.

    He was loving - even of his enemies.

    His intercessions are very helpful. He continues to pray for us and support us.

    His gratitude and wonder and love of life are beautiful and should be emulated.

    At the same time he had a profound understanding of pessimism, despair, and the works of Satan. Having gone through his own dark night of the soul, he was able to spread to others the light he discovered when everything was darkest. He is not a shallow otpimist.

    He loved life, but lived in a spirit of sacrifice, willing to lose his life to have it.

    He was a great man, who leads us always to the Everlasting Man, Jesus Christ.

    Lots more, but these are the first I thought of.

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  7. I haven't purchased any beasts of burden as a result of reading Chesterton, but he does constantly push me in two directions simultaneously: know your world and your theology well enough to talk about the two seamlessly and winsomely.

    I am constantly inspired by how much he read and understood, and how incisive he was when he reflected on it.

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