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Full text of "G. K. Chesterton"

8                              G.  K.   CHESTERTON
journalism, were more often than not in the form of
argument and criticism of one or other of the established
leaders of popular thought of the day. Couched in the
paradoxical form in which his mind naturally ran, Chester-
ton challenged alike the inequalities of life in Edwardian
England which the Conservatives defended and the
socialistic drift towards ever larger units and more and
more regulation, which so many of the moderns accepted
as progress. In 1905 he collected these controversial
opinions into a book called Heretics, in which he took to
task one after another all these leaders of popular thought—
Rudyard Kipling, George Moore, Bernard Shaw, H. G.
Wells, Joseph McCabe the rationalist—and showed how
in his opinion they were all mistaken. This brilliant and
amusing book provoked the obvious question—uttered, as
it happened, by Mr. G. S. Street—* Heretics from what ? *
* If all these other thinkers are wrong, who is right ? What
is Mr. Chesterton's orthodoxy from which he blames them
for diverging ? ' Always ready to respond to a challenge
of such a sort, Chesterton in 1908 wrote Orthodoxy, in which
for the first time he explicitly accepted the Christian
position and gave his reasons for accepting it.
Until the coming of Chesterton, the defenders of ortho-
doxy had tended to defend it with arguments that were not
only serious but also solemn, and, in most people's eyes at
any rate, the weapon of laughter was a weapon of which
the sceptic had almost a monopoly. It was the first of
Chesterton's achievements that he turned the laugh against
the sceptic, but even more important than his annexation
of laughter to orthodoxy was his annexation of reason.
He entirely accepted the rationalists' contention that the
Christian religion must be judged by reason, but argued that
reason was the friend and not the enemy of that religion.
The universe, he argued, manifestly did not explain itself.
It could be understood only as the creation of something
beyond itself. Man had this strange double nature. Even
when he did that which he knew to be wrong, he was able