Chesterton Sightings

Where you can report references to The Big Man from your daily life of talking, reading, listening, etc.

Larry found this snippet from G. K. Chesterton:

G.K. Chesterton: “unless we live as we believe, we’ll end up believing as we live.”

Thanks much and keep up the good reading.

Our member (but not frequent enough attendee) Patty R. found a local writer paying homage to GKC:

From Kevin Horrigan’s farewell column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch;

I take down my wall of inspirational quotes. Elmore Leonard on dealing with trolls: “Nestor — Nestor was spooky. He was so serious about being stupid.”

G.K. Chesterton: “The Christian idea has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”

And finally, my framed copy of the creed laid down by the late political columnist Lars-Erik Nelson of the New York Daily News: “The enemy is not conservatism. The enemy is not liberalism. The enemy is bullshit.”

That’s one to go out on. So I will.

If you want to read the whole thing, go to and search for Kevin H.’s name, it should come up pretty quickly.


53 thoughts on “Chesterton Sightings

  1. 5 Comments Leave a comment.

    On July 26, 2007 at 9:03 am stlchesterton Said:
    Am reading “Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assasination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism”. In discussing the connections between JFK’s and A. Lincoln’s funeral he quotes Whitman and compares the grieving that went on for Lincoln’s death to “…an extended revival, mixing politics with religious themes …”. He then references GKC’s observation that “The United States is a nation with the soul of a church.” The author, James Piereson, then concludes the section with “If this is true, or if it was once true, it was Lincol who was instrumental in making it so.”

    On October 3, 2007 at 1:44 pm stlchesterton Said:
    Turned on Rush Limbaugh on my way back to the office about 1:45 today on KMOX. Just caught him mentioning G. K. Chesterton and paraphrasing the adage about how the person who stops believing in God will believe in anything. He was discussing the religion of global warming when he made reference to The Big Man.

    On October 15, 2007 at 3:27 pm stlchesterton Said:
    In the 10/14/07 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Kevin Horrigan wrote a column titled “Mega-America”. He starts out with discussing his Dad (aka The Old Man) and times gone by, moves to beer and on to “church”. His experience was with a evangelical mega-church in the north Chicago suburbs.
    As he listened to the sermon, he thought of GKC writing about “The Christian ideal … left untried.”
    Read it for yourself at “” and click on columnists and then Kevin Horrigan and then come back to give us your reaction.

    On October 17, 2007 at 9:36 am stlchesterton Said:
    In the October 22 issue of National Review James E. Person Jr. reviews a new book about Robert Frost by Peter J. Stanlis. In discussing the book (which is reviewed favorably), Person writes:
    “Far from viewing the state of humanity as a puzzle to be solved – how best to liberate mankind from one constrait or another in order to enter a brave new world – Frost’s thought took into acount the unique, dual nature of man, ‘with his strange and wicked and yet half-heroic heart’ in the words of Chesterton’s Father Brown.”

    On October 25, 2007 at 9:26 am stlchesterton Said:
    On Wednesday the 24th, there was a TV show that ended at 9 PM on one of the three broadcast networks; some kind of crime drama. I was not watching it but my wife Lisa informed me that in the closing part of the show a character referenced G. K. Chesterton. The comment was about how fairy tales teach us that dragons can be slayed. I haven’t researched it yet to find what show it may have been- any one out there happen to be watching?

  2. I was reading “How The Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. In Chapter III “A Shifting World of Darkness/Unholy Ireland” he reviews the earliest Irish stories and legends. But before moving to a history of the Celts, his concluding paragraph reads as follows:
    Well, they may not be civilized, but they certainly are confident- and this confidence is one of the open-handed pleasures of early Irish literature. We have no trouble imagining these people, both men and women, riding hard on horseback, drawing the blood of their enemies, leaping about in muscular dancing, and passing the damp Irish night in vigorous coupling. Even their sorrows and deaths are tossed off with a shrug, though they understand tragedy & receive it as convulsively as any people. “For the great Gaels of Ireland,” wrote G. K. Chesterton,
    Are the men that God made mad.
    For all their wars are merry,
    And all their songs are sad.
    No citation is given for where the quote came from.

  3. This is from the American Chesterton Society blog:

    Friday, October 26, 2007
    Chesterton on Prime Time

    Thomas Gibson’s character on “Criminal Minds” this week ended the show with this quote:

    “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”

    Typically, as sometimes happens with Chesterton, the character actor didn’t get the exact quote which is:

    “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ~G.K. Chesterton

    H/T: Mark–who also noticed the misquote.

  4. On the inner jacket liner notes of William F. Buckley, Jr.’s book “Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription”:
    “Buckley,” John Leonard once wrote, “part-Magus, prestidigitating supply-side whoopee, and part matador, goring liberal bulls … somewhere between the Galapalos and Byzantium, like G. K. Chesterton and Moses Herzog … Buckley writes letters to the world.”

  5. Mr. Obama and Mr. Huckabee both have the potential to bring about a clean break with the hyper-partisan politics of the recent past. You could see this in their gracious, hopeful victory speeches. Quoting the English writer G.K. Chesterton, Mr. Huckabee said, “A true soldier fights not because he hates those who are in front of him, but because he loves those who are behind him.” Mr. Obama’s remarks were in the same generous spirit. It’s thrilling to see two happy warriors prevail in such an important battle.
    I found the above paragraph at the American Chesterton Society blog and copied it over verbatim. You can use the link to the right to visit and see the whole thing, click on “ACS Blog” toward the top of the page.
    While this in no way should be considered an endorsement of the candidates mentioned, it certainly is nice to hear some common sense once in a while from the campaign trails and, as always, GKC calls us to a higher plane.
    Thanks to Gary M. for calling me and letting me know about the reference.

  6. G. K. Chesterton gets two more references in WFB’s book (see January 5th entry above).
    On page 143:
    In the spring of 1961, [Evelyn] Waugh consented to WFB’s request to review Garry Wills’s book on Chesterton [Chesterton: Man and Mark; New York: Sheed and Ward, 1961]. The review was published in the issue of April 22, 1962. (“A second cause which Chesterton might have for complaint is Mr. Wills’s literary style. It is not uniformly bad. Indeed, again and again he shows himself capable of constructing a grammatical, even an elegant, sentence…[Chesterton] was a lovable and much loved man abounding in charity and humility. Humility is not a virtue
    propitious to the artist. It is often pride, emulation, avarice, malice- all the odious qualities- which drive a man to complete, elaborate, refine, destroy, renew, his work until he has made something that gratifies his pride and envy and greed. And in doing so he enriches the world more than the generous and good, though he may lose his own soul in the process. That is the paradox of artistic achievement.”)
    On page 227 Chesterton is mentioned as a noted conservative of “great girth” in a letter to WFB. Buckley responds by mentioning conservative seers that have been pleasingly svelte such as Plato, Mark, Matthew, Paul and Reagan.

  7. The following was submitted by Gary Meyer on February 29, so the program would have been aired on Thursday the 28th:
    Tonite, on PBS (ch 9), Tavis Smiley had Garry Wills as his
    1st guest. (Wills the historian and author of several books
    on Catholicism.)

    Altho obviously scheduled to discuss Wills new book, Tavis
    started with noting that Wills early career was fostered by William F.
    Buckley. With Buckley’s death yesterday, Tavis solicited comments from


    The interview was interesting and…apropos to Scott’s postings
    of …

    On January 12, 2008 at 1:37 pm stlchesterton Said:

    G. K. Chesterton gets two more references in WFB?s book (see January
    entry above).

    Wills said that he had recently receivd a gift from
    W. F. Buckley. It was a charcoal cartoon of Chesterton and Belloc
    done by the noted British cartoonist, Lowe(sp?).

  8. Have finished reading Jonah Goldberg’s best selling book “Liberal Facism: The Secret Hostory of the Amercan Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.” A very fine book in my estimation, going to the roots of what here in the United States we can look back on as the Progressive Movement, GKC also uses the term regularly.
    The Big Man is indexed four times: page 257 reminds us of how ridiculed GKC was for his opposition to Eugenics; page 286 references his observation that fallacies do not cease to be fallacies simply because they become fashions; page 394 paraphrases GKC as follows, “… the danger of an America which stops believing in itself isn’t that it will believe in nothing but that it can believe in anything (remember, GKC said the US was a nation with the soul of a church); and on page 404 (the next to the last page of the book) Goldberg writes “Ultimately the issue here is that of dogma. We are all dogmatic about something. We all believe that there are some fundamental truths or principles that demarcate the acceptable and the unacceptable, the noble and the venal. One root of dogma derives from the Greek for ‘seems good’. Reason alone will not move men. As Chesterton noted, the merely rational man will not marry, and the merely rational soldier will not fight. In other words, good dogma is the most powerful inhibiting influence against bad ideas and the most powerful motive for good deeds.”
    I found the book very lively to read, informative as to the ideological roots of current political leftists in the USA and the branching out of those thoughts and the fruit it has borne in our government activity.

  9. In the April 27 issue of “National Review” John O’Sullivan writes a review of “How’s Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking” by Eric Felten. He wrote: “In short, Felten’s book is a kind of cocktail in itself, a mixture of history, anecdote, chemistry, and wit that meanders from one thing to another in a relaxed and civilized manner, in the once-celebrated style of essayists such as Robert Lynd and G. K. Chesterton. It might almost have been called ‘On Chasing after One’s Cocktail’.”
    Does anyone recognize the name Robert Lynd?

  10. At the website, they have an offering called “NRO TV”. One of the programs is “Uncommon Knowledge” hosted by Peter Robinson. The latest installment is a interview with Tom Wolfe and in Chapter 4, Wolfe references G.K.C. paraphasing him along the lines of: “The man who believes in himself, what a slender reed to lean on”.
    The whole interview (5 Chapters, each about 6-7 minutes long) was very good to watch, highly recommended.

  11. The below is from “National Review Online”; read on down to the mention of our hero in the last line. To read the whole review, go to

    May 16, 2008 12:00 PM

    Much Has Changed in Narnia
    Too little Lion, too much Witch, no Wardrobe.

    By Thomas S. Hibbs

    A wonderful scene in the second half of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian — the second film in the Narnia series, based on C. S. Lewis’s beloved books — highlights the importance of cultivating a memory of the past in the face of strong cultural and political tendencies toward decay and decline. Returning to Narnia after a one-year absence (1,300 years in Narnia time), the Pevensie children — Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) — find themselves in a cave whose walls are covered with ancient drawings. The drawings are memorials to them and their heroic feats in Narnia; it turns out that they have entered a sort of crypt built around the stone tablet on which Aslan was murdered and from which he rose to defeat the White Witch.

    The sense of the remote past, as both almost lost and yet recoverable, permeates Lewis’s book. Yet, apart from the scene in the cave, the film neglects this theme in favor of grand battles and a budding romance between Caspian (in a rather lackluster performance by Ben Barnes) and Susan. Indeed, devoted readers of Lewis’s books will likely take umbrage at the many changes the filmmakers have introduced. The unsettling question they ought to be asking themselves is whether the film transforms what, following Chesterton, we might call a great romance of orthodoxy into a Hollywood bubble-gum romance.

  12. From St. Louis Chesterton group member Patty:
    …quote about Chesterton from MODERNISM;The Lure of Heresy, by Peter Gay:
    “to paraphrase what G. K. Chesterton once said about Christianity, it is not that defining modernism has been tried and found wanting, but that it has been found difficult and not tried.”

    Also one other mention: from the God Delusion p.298, Richard Dawkins refers to those Catholic stalwarts Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc.
    There were two other references which I have mis-placed somewhere, I have hopes of finding them, but cannot promise.

  13. This is kind of indirect but definitely belongs to this category. I just finished reading “In Spite Of Thunder: A Dr. Fell Detective Novel” by John Dickson Carr. It was published in 1960 and Dr. Gideon Fell is strongly modeled after G. K. Chesterton in being physically large, wears a moustache and carries a walking stick. His being an amateur detective is like Fr. Brown being folded into the body of GKC. The story I read though has the murder being solved by deduction more than intuition. Very well done and a good read.

  14. From our local Society member Patricia Ryan:
    Chesterton has been popping up all over the place. Jonah Goldberg in his new book “Libeeral Fascism” (see April 23 ’08 entry above also) both quotes and paraphrases him. P.286: “But as Chesterton said,fallacies do not cease to be fallacies simply because they become fashions.”
    2nd time quotes C on page 394 plus quoted again on 404.
    Dinesh D”Souza in “What’s So Great About Christianity” says “…but even as I plunged myself into modern life in the United States,my faith slowly deepened. G. K. Chesterton calls this the ‘revolt into orthodoxy’. Like Chesterton, I find myself rebelling against extreme secularism and finding in Christianity some remarkable answers to both intellectual and practical concerns.” Pages 10 and 11 I had some more sightings on bits and pieces of paper but they seem to have vanished.
    Thanks Patty.

  15. Was reading a book by John Lukacs, “Five Day in London May 1940” which is about Churchill and his War Cabinet dealing with the fall of France, Dunkirk and Italy’s potential to enter the war. Early in the book, the author makes a side comment referencing Chesterton: Coincidences are spiritual puns. I have not come across this saying before and Lukacs gives no documentation. I may submit this to the ACS “Quotemeister” and see what results they come up with, but thought I would give the local society a shot at it first. Here is Dale’s answer on 8/5/08: Dear Scott, It’s from Chesterton’s book “Irish Impressions”.
    Your servant,
    Dale Ahlquist, President
    By the way, I was disappointed in the book. It is a fascinating subject but I could not recommend the book. There is a lack of narrative and the footnotes are a major distraction. In my opinion, Lukacs really needed an editor to help integrate the flow of events.

  16. Hi,
    Angie Dietz here. I talked with my older sister and my father Al Dietz was indeed the president of the Chesterton Club back in the mid-late 1950’s; he and my mom, Kathleen Dietz attended many Chesterton events together–and I believe it was more of a social club. If I can find any information, I’ll be sure to pass it on!

  17. Good to hear from you Angie & thanks for the information. I am proud & humbled to be following in your parents’ footsteps!

  18. Local Society member Patsy spotted this from the 9/5/2008 “St. Louis Review” in the column on page 9 by Christina Capecchi titled ” Handwritten holiness: 42 cents to say thanks”:
    Many centuries later, G. K. Chesterton, the jolly British convert to Catholicism, echoed St. Paul. “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,” he said, “and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

  19. The following came via e-mail from the C.S. Lewis Society of Southern California:
    B. New Book Presents Skeptic’s Appreciation of The Chronicles of Narnia:

    Numerous articles are currently appearing on the new book by’s book critic Laura Miller, The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia. In the book, Ms. Miller recounts her childhood love for The Chronicles of Narnia, only to turn away from from them as a non-Christian young adult, and later to return to them with skeptical admiration. Along the way, she has come to appreciate Lewis’s immense accomplishment in the Narniad, but largely believes that this relates solely to Lewis’s use of pre-Christian legends and symbols and that the Christian imagery was inappropriate and a “betrayal” (a view she incidentally does not hold for Philip Pullman’s bluntly anti-Christian Dark Materials trilogy). Her error lies in failing to appreciate Lewis’s (and J.R.R. Tolkien’s, Charles Williams’s and G.K. Chesterton’s) deeper point that all truly good literature, including ancient legend, reflects shadowings of Christian truths. For Lewis, the difference between standard myth and Christianity is not that the former is more authentic myth, but that Christianity is most authentically what Tolkien called “true myth,” in which the truths embedded in those legends, which althougth untrue have inspired and thrilled generations for millenia, became all too real in the true story of Jesus Christ.

  20. Father Brown (as read by Kevin O’Brien) has hit the website of “National Review” magazine. Here is the link to the current edition of “Between the Covers” an on-going series hosted by John J. Miller.

    I have not checked it out yet but based on previous “Covers” I have seen it has got to be good!!! Way to go Kevin!!!

  21. At Monday’s meeting, Regina A. brought a item to the attention of the attendees: In Samuel P. Huntington’s book “Who Are We” he referenced GKC’s characterization of the United States of America as a “nation with the soul of a church”. He explicitly credits Chesterton with the comment on page 48 and uses the phase several times further on in the book. Huntington’s characterization of a central element of being an American is acceptance of the “American Creed”, which Huntington characterizes as primarily Anglo-Protestant.

  22. The paragraph below is from an essay in the Wall Street Journal on 2/18/2009 by William Voegeli and the link will take you to the full thing. I like it very much, seeing that it brings together two of my favorite writers, William F. Buckley, Jr. and GKC.
    “What sets the people in the phonebook apart from the professors, according to this argument, is that they believe in and defer to profound truths existing outside of history. They are willing, furthermore, to accept that the “democracy of the dead,” incorporating the cumulative judgment of people long gone and forgotten, might well have grasped those truths better than people, even very smart people, who happen to be alive at this moment.”

  23. Wolfe Man [John J. Miller]

    Today’s Between the Covers podcast is with Gene Wolfe, the legendary science-fiction writer. Here’s what The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says about him:

    Though neither the most popular nor the most influential author in the sf field, [Wolfe] is today quite possibly the most important.

    How’s that for an endorsement?

    In our interview, we discuss his new anthology of short stories, the book that he thinks will be his legacy, and the influence of G.K. Chesterton on his work. At the end, he says this:

    I am a conservative. I certainly read William F. Buckley, Jr. with delight…I think he mellowed a little too much at the end…He wasn’t as sharp-edged as he really should have been. Perhaps the same thing will happen to me.

    Listen in — and subscribe to the whole BTC series on iTunes!
    The above is from and references an interview in their “Between The Covers” series, one of which featured Kevin O’Brien a while back. Scroll down to the bottom of the home page and you’ll find it.

  24. Two things from Fulton J. Sheen’s “Life of Christ”:
    1) Chapter 10, “In his essay ‘The Twelve Men’, dealing with the British jury system, G. K. Chesterton wrote, ‘Whenever our civilization wants a library to be catalouged, or a solar system discovered, or any other trifle of this kind, it uses up its specialists. But when it wishes anything done that is really serious, it collects twelve of the ordinary men standing around. The same thing was done, if I remember right, by the Founder of Christianity.'”
    2) Chapter 17, “We must either lament his madness or adore His Person, but we cannot rest on the assumption that He was a professor of ethical culture. Rather, one can say with Chesterton, ‘Expect the grass to wither and the birds to drop dead out of the air, when a strolling carpenter’s apprentice says calmly and almost carelessly, like one looking over his shoulder: ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’ The Roman sergeant, who had his own gods and was hardened both to war and death, came to the answer during the Crucifixion, when both his reason and his conscience affirmed the truth: ‘Truly, this is the Son of God’.”

  25. I don’t recall the reference but on page 112 of Peter Kreeft’s book “Jesus-Shock” there is a referenced to Chesterton. The reason I can’t give more details is that I read the book in one day, made a note about the page and then promptly loaned the book to a friend. It was a library book and she checked it back in for me and I haven’t followed up. Maybe someone else has the book, which is very good – like all of Kreeft’s work, and can supply the details.

  26. On page 16 of “The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism” by Edward Feser he writes:
    G. K. Chesterton probably never actually said (as he is reputed to have said) that ‘he who does not believe in God will believe in anything.’ But he sure would have said it had he been acquainted with the lunacies one finds peddled by contemporary secularists.”
    Feser then goes on to name some of the schools of “thought”, individual people and moralistic causes springing from the secularists and finishes the paragraph as follows:
    “Though he would scarcely have thought it possible, Chesterton would find that New Secularist Man circa 2008 is an even more absurd creature than the incarnation with which he had to deal: A copy of ‘Skeptic’ magazine ostentatiously tucked under his arm, the Darwin fish on the bumper of his car proudly signals his group identification with other memebers of the herd of ‘independent thinkers.’ He ‘knows’ that there is no God, and he isn’t sure whether even the thoughts he thinks he’s having are real or not. But he is pretty sure that his ‘selfish genes’ and/or his ‘memes’ in some way manipulate his every action, and quite certain that there’s nothing questionable per se about ‘marrying’ another man… Evidently, they don’t make skeptics like they used to.”

  27. The below is copied from National Reveiw Online 7/2/09 in the “Impromptus” column written by Jay Nordlinger. I plan on sharing this information with Mr. Ahlquist of the ACS so that he may follow up and perhaps find which publisher is responsible.

    A reader says that he recently picked up a 2008 reprint of Chesterton’s Everlasting Man. And our reader was surprised to find a disclaimer by the publisher on the title page:

    “This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race have changed before allowing them to read this classic work.”

    And here I’ll let our reader take over:

    As my father-in-law would say, this is ludicrous! It is wrong in so many ways I don’t know where to begin. In the first place, it is an act of cowardice on the part of the publishers. If they were ashamed of the content, why did they print it in the first place? It is also an act of arrogance: How dare they presume to know how Chesterton would have written his book today? Or to apologize on his behalf? Somehow, I find it difficult to imagine that Chesterton would have been cowed by the strictures of political correctness. . . .

    If the publisher had included a preface that properly discussed the issues they fear may be of concern, that would be one thing. But to print a cigarette-packet-style warning so that parents can prepare their children for the “horrors” ahead is unseemly.

    Very modern. Very dumb.

  28. From Regina A. of our group comes the following; Thanks!!!

    The world depicted in Lord of the World is one where creeping secularism and Godless humanism have triumphed over religion and traditional morality. It is a world where philosophical relativism has triumphed over objectivity; a world where, in the name of tolerance, religious doctrine is not tolerated. It is a world where euthanasia is practiced widely and religion hardly practiced at all. The lord of this nightmare world is a benign-looking politician intent on power in the name of “peace,” and intent on the destruction of religion in the name of “truth.” In such a world, only a small and shrinking Church stands resolutely against the demonic “Lord of the World.”


    “..And Benson read much of Mr. Chesterton, and liked him in a qualified way.”
    Further evidence of Chesterton’s influence on Benson is provided by Benson’s admiration of Chesterton’s Heretics. “Have you read,” he enquired of a correspondent in 1905, “a book by G.K. Chesterton called “Heretics”? If not, do see what you think of it. It seems to me that the spirit underneath it is splendid. He is not a Catholic, but he has the spirit . . . I have not been so much moved for a long time . . . He is a real mystic of an odd kind.”

  29. Two (2) sightings were brought to the meeting held on July 20th!!!
    Joe R. brought in prefatory notes from Dean Koontz’s book “Relentless”:
    Trifles make the sum of life.
    Charles Dickens, David Copperfield.
    The issue is clear. It is between light and darkness, and everyone must choose his side.
    G. K. Chesterton.
    All men are tragic… All men are comic…Every man is important if he loses his life; and every man is funny if he loses his hat.
    G. K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens.
    Thanks Joe!!!
    Jim W. brought in a book recommendation: “The Tripods Attack” by John McNichol. This is the first Volume of The Young Chesterton Chronicles and more information can be found at etc. Jim has been reading the book along with his eleven year old son and has had a positive experience. Very interesting development and very encouraging appearance of the “big guy”. Thank you Jim!!

  30. In Christopher Buckley’s “Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir” there are two references to Chesterton. On page 40 he writes: “Pup’s (William F. Buckley, Jr.) faith was in a sense binary. He had imbibed his catechism at the knee of a deeply devout New Orleans Catholic lady who instilled in him what Chesterton and Waugh called the nursery-story aspect of Christianity.”
    On pages 160-161 he writes: “When I was younger and periodically confessed to him my doubts about the One True Faith, he dealt with it in a fun and enterprising way: by taking me off to Mexico for four or five days, during which we would read aloud to each other from G. K Chesterton’s great work of Catholic apologetics, Orthodoxy.” Buckley then concludes the story with “… [we’d] sit on narrow balconies overlooking the zocalos, drinking margaritas and reading Chesterton aloud to each other. Not a bad way to restore one’s faith, really. Four or five days of this and I was content to shrug off my doubts about the Immaculate Conception or the Trinity. They were some of the best days I ever had with him. In one of the last conversations we had before he died, we smiled at the memory of what we always called ‘the most amazing meal we ever had’- at a roadside stand in Taxco, a cheese-and-chicken tortilla washed down with an ice cold bottle of Behemian beer. Cost: one dollar.”

  31. In C. S. Lewis’ book “Miracles” the Epilogue is headed with: “If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post.” G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy.

  32. From our regular Chestertonian Regina Austermann comes the following:
    “… its hard to read anything that DOESN’T refer to our guy. That probably has more to do with my choice of reading material! Nevertheless, I just picked up THE ISRAEL TEST by George Gilder and the first paragraph of Chapter Two begins with a Chesterton quote. (This is particularly interesting since he has often been labeled an anti-semite.)
    “The Fabian argument of the expert, that the man who is trained should be the man who is trusted, would be absolutely unanswerable if it were really true that a man who studied a thing and practiced it every day went on seeing more and more of its significance. But he does not. He goes on seeing less and less of its significance.'” GKC
    Thank you Regina!!! Keep them coming!

  33. Another contribution from Regina A.:
    This is REALLY surprising because I just happened to be shelving books at SLUH’s library and
    this book intrigued me. BROTHER ASTRONOMER by Fr. Guy Consolmagno 2000 (I’m the first to check
    it out) quotes our man GKC’s Short History of England: “…a mystical materialism marked Christianity from its birth; the very soul of it was a body. Among the stoical philosophies and oriental negations that were its first foes it fought fiercely and particularly for a supernatural freedom to cure concrete maladies by concrete substances.” Perhaps out of context, it makes little sense, but this Jesuit is the Vatican Astronomer from a MIT background and makes some wholly comprehensible arguments about the intersection between science and religion.
    Great contribution! Once again GKC hits the nail on the head with the point that Christianity is ENTIRELY different from all other religions with the fact of the Incarnation. Thanks!!

  34. In the opening of Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton described an adventure story he had always wished to write — the story of a man who leaves home, journeys all around the globe, and lands back in England under the impression it is a foreign land. Chesterton described the great joy “to brace oneself up to find New South Wales and then realize . . . that it was old South Wales.” Just so, Max travels to the land of the Wild Things and finds his own problems. Perhaps filmgoers, too, will travel back to their childhoods in watching Where the Wild Things Are and be shaken out of their escapism to discover that that time wasn’t so different from being a grown-up. We’ve just grown to understand our Wild Things better.
    The above is from National Reveiw Online’s review of the movie “Where the Wild Things Are.

  35. In the December 9, 2009 “Wall Street Journal” the Bookshelf column by Albert Pyle contained the following reference:

    Then it’s on to Wilkie Collins, whose “The Moonstone” (1868)—about the theft of a diamond and attempts to solve the crime—gets her vote for being the first detective novel. Next is a chapter on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, the cleric-detective in “The Blue Cross” and dozens of other short stories. Conan Doyle has had nearly as much written about him as Tiger Woods, but the now unfashionable Chesterton is in danger of being lost to the mainstream, so it’s nice to see attention being paid to a “novelist, essayist, critic, journalist and poet” who was also “one of the most brilliant writers of the short detective story.”

    Here is a link to the complete article:

  36. In his book “American Babylon: Notes of an American Exile” Richard John Neuhaus wrote (p.37):
    After his visit to this country in the early 1930s, G. K. Chesterton famously remarked that “America is a nation with the sould of a church.” The remark is both famous and true. More than that, in the absence of an ecclesiiology that tethered them to the Church from its beginnings through every period of its history, for many American Protestant thinkers America became their Church. That was true then, and it is true now.

  37. From Scott Hahn’s “Reasons To Believe”:
    Logic is an instrument of reason. It is not, as some would have us believe, merely a set of rules for self-consistency. As the inimitable G. K. Chesterton noted, no one is more self-consistent than a madman.

  38. Just finished “A Tale of Two Cities” in an edition from “The Modern Library”, 1996. On the inside dust jacket, the second paragraph reads as follows:
    “‘Dicken’s French Revolution is probably more like the French Revolution than Carlyle’s,’ said G. K. Chesterton. “In dignity and eloquence A Tale of Two Cities almost stands alone among the books by Dickens.'”

  39. In Friday’s (1/22/10) edition of “The Saint Louis Review” a letter to the editor from Donna L. Marek of Ogdensburg, NY titled “Word games”; the second paragraph of which said:
    In the 1960s the sexual revolution came along. We were now ready for Planned Parenthood’s so-called “gift” of birth control/abortion. Then, the “pro-choice” (pro-death) movement. Then “legalized” abortion (baby-killing). G. K. Chesterton put it in perspective by stating “They insist on talking about birth control when they mean less birth and no control.”
    While I am (of course) gladdened to see GKC referenced, the writer creates an erroneous impression about his time frame.

  40. From our Chesterton Society member Dave Adams:
    The web site I found it on.

    This is the section that pertains to Chesterton.

    O’Keefe needs a reality check
    In fairness to O’Keefe, he does not describe himself as a conservative, but rather, a “progressive radical.” At the same time, he calls G.K. Chesterton his “intellectual backbone.” In an interview for the American Chesterton Society’s podcast, he depicted himself as a modern-day heir to the conservative icon’s intellectual legacy: “It very well [might] be the case that if Chesterton was alive today, he’d be doing YouTube videos, or he’d be pranking people with camcorders.”

    If this is meant to imply some kind of common ground between Chestertonian and Alinsky-style tactics, O’Keefe needs a healthy reality check. Chesterton was not a progressive, much less radical, but a Catholic with an intensely Christian vision. His writings and novels attack just the kind of anarchy, relativism and subversion Alinsky embraced. Whereas Alinsky promoted rumormongering and, in the words of Time magazine, “something that comes very close to blackmail,” Chesterton followed St. Paul’s dictum that we cannot do evil that good may come. Alinsky believed in the politics of personal destruction (”pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it“). Chesterton embraced all people, however misguided, and tried to lead them to God, with good will and reason. Chesterton served Christ. Alinsky — who boasted he would one day organize hell — served, well, Lucifer.

    For Chesterton, and the Church he so loved, the beginning of wisdom and maturity is the recognition of what actually protects society and effects positive social change. It is not protest, or clever politicking, or subterfuge, but a defense and promotion of the family. Without the family, he wrote, “we are helpless before the State.” More than a half-century later, Pope John Paul II would similarly write that the family is “the place of origin and the most effective means for humanizing and personalizing society.”

    Of all people, conservatives — who so mocked “The One” during the 2008 campaign — should be extremely wary of a false messianism, which attempts to use politics as a short cut towards societal changes that can only truly be realized by changed attitudes and behaviors. Our present pope, as Cardinal Ratzinger, warned of this very error: “Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes not divine, but demonic.”

    A more fruitful path
    For Chesterton, and the Church he so loved, the beginning of wisdom and maturity is the recognition of what actually protects society and effects positive social change. It is not protest, or clever politicking, or subterfuge, but a defense and promotion of the family… For those seeking a more fruitful path of activism, a higher and nobler form is one that emphasizes prayer, fasting, reparation and charity.
    If the goal of O’Keefe, who left off his MBA studies at Fordham University last year to pursue undercover video work full-time, is truly to be a leader in the “future of activism,” he would do well to heed John Paul’s additional assertion that “the future of the world and of the Church passes through the family.” True, the quiet martyrdom of being a self-sacrificing son, brother, and perhaps someday a husband and father, may never return him to fame. But if he is sincere about wanting to “change hearts and minds“, he is far more likely to do so on a wide and lasting scale by finishing his graduate degree and living virtuously in the real world, than by trying to extend his 15 minutes of recognition as an Internet insurrectionist.

    For those seeking a more fruitful path of activism, a higher and nobler form is one that emphasizes prayer, fasting, reparation and charity, such as what the 40 Days for Life campaign does for the unborn. The grassroots organization’s powerful and persistent witness has brought about extraordinary results, including the conversion of Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson, who was transformed from an abortion-rights ideologue to a passionate pro-lifer.

    “The human race,” Chesterton observed, “has been playing at children’s games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up.” Where that nuisance is concerned, to paraphase Alinsky’s contemporary Eldridge Cleaver, one is either part of the problem or part of the solution. O’Keefe’s arrest — and the misdirected activism that spawned it — is a timely reminder that, today, a full half century after the dawn of the Sixties, the most radical, countercultural work of activism is to become mature adults. Mighty oaks may yet from little ACORN pranksters grow.

  41. There is a book (copyright 2007) by The Center for the Study of C. S. Lewis and Friends titled “Lent and Easter Wisdom from G. K. Chesterton”. It’s published by our Missour neighbors Liguori Publications. I have purchased a copy and plan on using it in the season upcoming; each day has a quotation from GKC, a Scripture selection, a prayer and a “Lenten Action”. Will be interesting to see what they choose to use from Chesterton’s thoughts. I also noticed that there are similar titles with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Paul II, Thomas Merton, Fulton Sheen, St. Ignatius of Loyola and others. I got my copy from Catholic Supply at Watson and Jamieson in the city, they had it in stock!!!

  42. Chesterton makes an appearance in Jonah Goldberg’s “G-File” weekly e-mail column (check out to find out how to get it) on 3/25/10; the topic under discussion is the “Scooby-Doo” shows:

    These spoiled, educated kids seem to have enough money to drive their van all around the country (again, perhaps to stay one step ahead of the draft board). As my daughter says, “They’re always on vacation!” It reminds me a bit of the Port Huron Statement’s opening line: “We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort . . . looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.”

    Wherever they go, they are told about something scary. They refuse to take the word of their elders, and opt to investigate. Lo and behold, they discover that the local taboos are not true, but are in fact useful myths designed to protect the financial interests of the landholding ruling class and the property of disgruntled heirs seeking to maintain control of unearned intergenerational wealth. These hoaxes would have worked, were it not for these “meddling kids” who refused to know their place.

    It’s like Hanna Barbara is really Charles Beard’s pen name.

    G. K. Chesterton would have recognized the agenda here: to teach kids they should reflexively overturn received wisdom in a fit of misplaced hyper-rationalism.

  43. GKC makes another appearance in Jonah Goldbergs’ e-mail “newsletter” as “The Quote of the Day” from Thursday the 22nd of April:

    Dear Reader (and those of you experiencing parenthetical-joke phantom pain),

    The Fierce Urgency of Now
    The other day I wrote this short piece onIsrael’s Independence Day over at the Enterprise Blog. In it I covered a theme familiar to longtime G-File readers (by which I do not refer to slow readers who take a long time reading the G-File but rather people who might remember ten-year-old columns like this one). That theme? The tendency to assume that the future will unfold as a straight-line projection of today.

    Specifically, I noted that Israel’s existence is a blip on the radar, historically speaking, and the idea that it will be around forever is actually a pretty debatable assumption based upon a granite-like faith that tomorrow will look a lot like today.

    But what got me revisiting the topic was actually a conversation I had with an AEI colleague about libertarians and family policy (those of you who bet that my getting out of the basement and into an office would make me less dorky, well, you’re going to have to pay up).

    I don’t follow libertarian family policy (never mind conservative family policy, liberal family policy, or even Shining Path Maoist family policy) too closely, though I know some very smart people who’re involved in it. Anyway, the conversation turned to the claim made by many libertarians, as well as folks like Al Gore (wolfsbane to libertarians), that modern society has changed so much that it is only right and rational that family structure change, too.

    Here’s my problem with this sort of thinking, which I don’t think is unreasonable on its face. Some institutions endure because they are, well, enduring.

    The whole point of certain institutions is that they are insurance policies against the unknown future (picture G. Gordon Liddy talking about gold, only replace it with “the family”). The phrase “you can always count on family” may not be literally true, but it is more true than “you can always count on your old college roommate.” When times are great, the demands of family (or religion, or good manners, or thriftiness, or a thousand other institutions, customs, and habits of the heart that we can throw under the bulwark of “tradition”) might often seem like too much unnecessary baggage to carry around. But when things hit the fan, family is there in a way that other people aren’t. Not because those other people are bad, but because your family is your family.

    But it’s important to keep in mind that the family — or the Bill of Rights, or good manners, whatever — isn’t a catastrophic insurance policy. The value of these institutions is best understood during a time of crisis, but the influence of these institutions is constant, even in times of calm luxury. The fact that these institutions exist forecloses certain options and avenues for reformers who yearn for a blanker social slate.
    The family, like marriage, is an institution that predates our Constitution and the very concept of democracy, never mind modernity. That is not to say that it hasn’t evolved and changed or that conservatives should never, ever contemplate further changes and greater evolution. It is simply to say that we should do so carefully, reservedly, humbly, in full knowledge that tomorrow may look as little like today as yesterday did.

    Keep It Simple, Keep It Loaded
    A simple way of grasping this is to think of guns. There are lots of good arguments about gun rights. But it amazes me how often these debates boil down to whether you can imagine that tomorrow will look a lot different than today. So many liberals dismiss the “right to revolution” arguments on the grounds that they can’t imagine its ever being necessary. Nor can they imagine a military invasion or a collapse of the social order sufficiently chaotic to justify the laws of self-preservation.

    And don’t even get me started on zombies.

    I hope these unimaginative liberals are right. But I can tell you this: When the zombies rise, I won’t be racing to the homes of friends who happened to be lifetime members of Handgun Control Inc. I will be heading North to Alaska, where I have family and they have guns, lots and lots of guns. And, more to the point, while the prevalence of guns in our society will do little to nothing to prevent the zombie menace from ever arising, those guns go a long way toward circumscribing the menu of available policy options for the state. In other words, the existence of gun rights makes the “need” for gun rights seem less apparent.

    Quote of the Day
    I would be remiss if I didn’t make this the quote of the day:

    “In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.'”

    — G.K. Chesterton, The Thing

    No, no. Different Thing.

    Oh, so anyway, I got started on all of this stuff about the fallacy of assuming tomorrow will look like today and I forgot why I brought it up in the first place: I need a word for it. Presentism isn’t right, because that’s the historiographical faux pas of imposing today’s biases on the past. Futurism doesn’t work because that’s either a pre-fascist artistic movement of early-20th-century Italy or another word for futurology, the “science” of selling unfalsifiable predictions to idiots.

    Any suggestions? I’d prefer not to have a neologism, but if that’s what’s required, so be it.

  44. I’ve just moved back to St. Louis after many years. Will be a Chesterton Society Regular. Don’t know if your members are familiar with John Saward’s THE WAY OF THE LAMB in which each chapter begins with thoughts of Chesterton. This priest’s book knocked me out of my chair and I’ve never seen Chesterton in quite the same way since.

  45. In searching for GKC and natural religion, I discovered a whole article and comments re GKC – some good, some scathing. Very interesting.

    Best one in my book was the quote from Etienne Gilson on GKC’s Saint Thomas:

    Etienne Gilson . . . [when Chesterton’s biography of] St. Thomas appeared . . . said to a friend of mine ‘Chesterton makes one despair. I have been studying St. Thomas all my life and I could never have written such a book.’ After Gilbert’s death, asked to give an appreciation, he returned to the same topic—‘I consider it as being without possible comparison the best book ever written on St. Thomas. Nothing short of genius can account for such an achievement. Everybody will no doubt admit that it is a “clever” book, but the few readers who have spent twenty or thirty years in studying St. Thomas Aquinas, and who, perhaps, have themselves published two or three volumes on the subject, cannot fail to perceive that the so-called “wit” of Chesterton has put their scholarship to shame. He has guessed all that which they had tried to demonstrate, and he has said all that which they were more or less clumsily attempting to express in academic formulas. Chesterton was one of the deepest thinkers who ever existed; he was deep because he was right; and he could not help being right; but he could not either help being modest and charitable, so he left it to those who could understand him to know that he was right, and deep; to the others, he apologized for being right, and he made up for being deep by being witty. That is all they can see of him.’” (Maisie Ward, Gilbert Keith Chesterton (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1943 619 – 20)

  46. From our faithful Regina:
    … I just received a terrific article on The Big One and want you to pass it on to other devotees. The Times Literary Supplement on June 10,2011 had a THREE PAGEdiscussion by Bernard Manzo. It is a full, fair and fabulous discourse on Chesterton.

  47. November 18th, 2011 G. K. Chesterton and Archbishop Fulton Sheen by Joseph Pearce

    I’ve just received an e-mail from a priest who recounts a delightful anecdotal memory of Fulton Sheen. Here it is:

    I noticed in looking over your “electronic portfolio” that you are of course greatly interested in G.K. Chesterton. Just to help confirm your interest in Chesterton, let me tell you of an experience I had while attending HTS Seminary around 1976. I had written the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen in 1975 asking his advice about writing a master’s thesis on his works. He responded personally to my letter and recommended that I write not on him but on G.K. Chesterton. He wrote that everything he did was inspired by Chesterton! Later the next year Archbishop Sheen arrived at our seminary in Dallas to offer mass and preach. After mass he greeted people personally and when I approached him I reminded him of my letter. He immediately responded by saying, “You’re the one! Yes, Chesterton’s the man. I could not have done anything without Chesterton. Write on him.” I was amazed that he remembered my letter and I was amazed at his frank humility about his work. Even though I never wrote a thesis I enjoyed my communication with Archbishop Sheen. He was one of my childhood heroes.
    Dr. James Patrick (who helped found St. Thomas More College in Ft. Worth, Texas) was the head of our graduate theology program at that time and made a copy of my letter and filed it, as he was a Chesterton fan himself. He remarked that a direct attribution was what literary historians look for, but often never find.
    The above was copied over from the St. Austin Review.

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