June 13: [Gilbert Keith Chesterton] Apologist and Writer, 1936
June 13, 2011 18 Comments
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About this commemoration
Born in 1874, Gilbert Keith Chesterton was one the intellectual giants of his day, and was known for his writing that spanned ﬁelds as diverse as literary criticism, ﬁction and fantasy, satire, and Christian apologetics. Chesterton often blended elements of such genres together, as indicated in his famous novel The Man Who Was Thursday, which combines a mystery plot with Christian imagery and symbolism. His work in the ﬁeld of literary criticism was immensely inﬂuential in his day, and his book length study of Charles Dickens can be credited with bringing that author’s work back to the forefront of scholarly study.
As a young man, Chesterton had been fascinated with spiritualism and the occult, but his faith grew stronger over the years, as he devoted himself to the defense of what he called “orthodoxy,” which was for him, among other things, an acknowledgement of the mystery and paradox of Christian faith in an age of increasing skepticism. His spiritual journey toward the ancient faith of the Church culminated in his conversion to the Roman Catholic Church in 1922.
In works such as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man, Chesterton defended Christian faith with a unique blend of wit and religious fervor, while simultaneously satirizing the prevailing viewpoints of the day that often sought to dismiss faith as irrational and unnecessary. The latter work was particularly important to C.S. Lewis, who called it “the best apologetic work I know.” Today, Chesterton is still known and loved for his sharp wit, his intellectual tenacity, and his refusal to resolve the ambiguities of Christian faith in favor of facile and passing conceptions of truth. His work has inﬂuenced intellectual ﬁgures as diverse as Ernest Hemingway and Dorothy L. Sayers, and he is a ﬁgure beloved of Protestants and Catholics alike.
I O God of earth and altar, who didst give G. K. Chesterton a ready tongue and pen, and inspired him to use them in thy service: Mercifully grant that we may be inspired to witness cheerfully to the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
II O God of earth and altar, you gave G. K. Chesterton a ready tongue and pen, and inspired him to use them in your service: Mercifully grant that we may be inspired to witness cheerfully to the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Chronicles 29:10–13
1 Corinthians 15:50–52
Preface of God the Father
From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.