Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Seventh Best Review: G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

"Fit only for unscientific children -- like me." 

*****            85 + / 9 -  

Orthodoxy is written for the poet and child in each of us (The part Jesus said can inherit the Kingdom). Orthodoxy is, at the same time, one of the wisest, and funniest, books I have ever read; almost up to the level of Everlasting Man. It seems to me Chesterton does give a logically challenging, if rather whimsical, argument for the Christian faith here. And having read many of the most famous skeptics of our time, his argument remains no less timely, powerful, and suggestive.

How does explain the reaction of intelligent readers, like one on Amazon who found "Little that is intellectually bearable" in this book, and could not even read it through once without throwing it down in disgust? For one thing, Chesterton's approach is not scientific, but psychological. For those to whom science is the only god, a little prior reading might be worthwhile -- John Polkinghome, Stephen Barr, or Hugh Ross on evidences for the Creator in modern cosmology, for example. Let Scott Peck's People of The Lie search your heart. Read New Testament scholars like NT Wright, Ben Witherington, Richard Bauckham, or Craig Blomberg.  Or even try my Jesus and the Religions of Man, which offers empirical evidence of different sorts for the truth of the Christian claims. Let the facts presented in such books take the arrogant edge of your skepticism.
‘The most beautiful face among Western
authors, so far as I have seen them
in pictures, was that of G. K. Chesterton. 
There was such a diabolical conglomeration
of mustache, glasses, fairly bushy eyebrows
and knitted lines where the eyebrows met! 
One felt there were a vast number of ideas
playing about inside that forehead, ready at
any time to burst out from those quizzically
penetrating eyes’ Lin Yutang

Then, maybe, go for a walk through Mt. Rainier National Park when the huckleberries are reddening in the fall, or skin dive in Hawaii. Or walk through a dark forest on a clear night when the stars are out, or watch Venus transmit the sun. Observe and wonder. Become a child again. Laugh at your certainties and prejudices a little. Then pick this book up again.

"(Skepticism) discredits supernatural stories that have some foundation, simply by telling natural stories that have no foundation." "The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer Light, fair as the sun. . .""To be allowed to make love to the moon and then to complain that Jupiter kept his own moons in a harem seemed to me a vulgar anti-climax." You still don't see the relevence or wisdom of such teachings? Oh, well. Chesterton did warn, "If a man would make his world large, he must be always making himself small. . . It is impossible without humility to enjoy anything -- even pride." This book, I guess, is no exception.

And however long your bucket list is already, do not leave this world until you've read the chapter entitled, "The Ethics of Elfland," which is enchanting in a sense that may spill over from literature to reenchant your life.

1 comment:

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