The Romance of Orthodoxy [Wisdom from G.K.]

This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad.

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (p. 92)

Truth Is A Hairs Breadth from Blasphemy [Wisdom from G.K.]

It was no flock of sheep the Christian shepherd was leading, but a herd of bulls and tigers, of terrible ideals and devouring doctrines, each one of them strong enough to turn to a false religion and lay waste the world. Remember that the Church went in specifically for dangerous ideas; she was a lion tamer. The idea of birth through a Holy Spirit, of the death of a divine being, of the forgiveness of sins, or the fulfillment of prophecies, are ideas which, anyone can see, need but a touch to turn them into something blasphemous or ferocious.

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (p. 92)

Lions and Lambs [Wisdom from G.K.]

It is constantly assured, especially in our Tolstoyan tendencies, that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamb-like. But that is a brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb. The real problem is–Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity?

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (p. 90)

Drawn and Quartered, Chesterton-Style [Wisdom from G.K.]

Both passions were free because both were kept in their place. The optimist could pour out all the praise he liked on the gay music of the march, the golden trumpets, and the purple banners going into battle. But he must not call the fight needless. The pessimist might draw as darkly as he chose the sickening marches and the sanguine wounds. But he must not call the fight hopeless.

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (p. 88)

Crimes and Criminals [Wisdom from G.K.]

Take another case: the complicated question of charity…A sensible pagan would say that there are some people one could forgive and some one couldn’t…Christianity came in here as before. It came in startlingly with a sword, and clove one thing from another. It divided the crime from the criminal. The criminal we must forgive unto seventy times seven. The crime we must not forgive at all…We must be much more angry with theft than before, and yet much kinder to thieves than before.

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (p. 87)

Just Call Me “Chief” [Wisdom from G.K.]

It separated the two ideas and then exaggerated them both. In one way Man was to be haughtier than he had ever been before; in another way he was to be humbler than he had ever been before. In so far as I am Man I am the chief of creatures. In so far as I am a man I am the chief of sinners.

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (p. 86)

What If Jesus Wasn’t the Christ? [Wisdom from G.K.]

But if this mass of mad contradictions really existed, quakerish and bloodthirsty, too gorgeous and too threadbare, austere, yet pandering preposterously to the lust of the eye, the enemy of women and their foolish refuge, a solemn pessimist and a silly optimist, if this evil existed, then there was in this evil something quite supreme and unique. For I found in my rationalist teachers no explanation of such exceptional corruption…Such a paradox of evil rose to the stature of the supernatural. It was, indeed, almost as supernatural as the infallibility of the Pope. An historic institution, which never went right, is really quite as much of a miracle as an institution that cannot go wrong. The only explanation which immediately occurred to my mind was that Christianity did not come from heaven, but from hell. Really, if Jesus of Nazareth was not Christ, He must have been Antichrist.

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (pg. 82)

Perhaps the Truth of God? [Wisdom from G.K.]

This began to be alarming. It looked not so much as if Christianity was bad enough to include any vices, but rather as if any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with. What again could this astonishing thing be which people were so anxious to contradict, that in doing so they did not mind contradicting themselves?

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (pp. 80-81)

Complimenting Themselves With Insults [Wisdom from G.K.]

The one real objection to the Christian religion is simply that it is one religion. The world is a big place, full of very different kinds of people. Christianity (it may be reasonably said) is one thing confined to one kind of people…I was thoroughly annoyed with Christianity for suggesting (as I supposed) that whole ages and empires of men had utterly escaped this light of justice and reason. I found that the very people who said that mankind was one church from Plato to Emerson were the very people who said that morality had changed altogether, and that what was right in one age was wrong in another…I found it was their daily taunt against Christianity that it was the light of one people and had left all others to die in the dark. But I also found that it was their special boast for themselves that science and progress were the discovery of one people, and that all other peoples had died in the dark. Their chief insult to Christianity was actually their chief compliment to themselves, and there seemed to be a strange unfairness about all their relative insistence on the two things.

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (pp. 79-80)

Unmanly Warriors [Wisdom from G.K.]

I felt that a strong case against Christianity lay in the charge that there is something timid, monkish, and unmanly about all that is “Christian,” especially in its attitude towards resistance and fighting…The Gospel paradox about the other cheek, the fact that priests never fought, a hundred things made plausible the accusation that Christianity was an attempt to make a man too like a sheep…I turned the next page in my agnostic manual, and my brain turned upside down. Now I found that I was to hate Christianity not for fighting too little, but for fighting too much. Christianity, it seemed, was the mother of wars. Christianity had deluged the world with blood. I had got thoroughly angry with the Christian, because he never was angry. And now I was told to be angry with him because his anger had been the most huge and horrible thing in human history…What was this Christianity which always forbade war and always produced wars? What could be the nature of the thing which one could abuse first because it would not fight, and second because it was always fighting?

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (pp. 78-79)

Throw Everything At It and See What Sticks [Wisdom from G.K.]

I was much moved by the eloquent attack on Christianity as a thing of inhuman gloom; for I thought (and still think) sincere pessimism the unpardonable sin…if Christianity was, as these people said, a thing purely pessimistic and opposed to life, then I was quite prepared to blow up St. Paul’s Cathedral. But the extraordinary thing is this. They did prove to me in Chapter I (to my complete satisfaction) that Christianity was too pessimistic; and then, in Chapter II, they began to prove to me that it was a great deal too optimistic. One accusation against Christianity was that it prevented men, by morbid tears and terrors, from seeking joy and liberty in the bosom of Nature. But another accusation was that it comforted men with a fictitious providence, and put them in a pink-and-white nursery…One rationalist was hardly done calling Christianity a nightmare before another began to call it a fool’s paradise.