5.0 out of 5 stars Orthodoxy
If you are looking to read one of the most gifted writers of the last century, then this is the place to start. I love G.K. Chesterton and this is, perhaps, his best work. Orthodoxy is a joy ride.
Published 16 months ago by Brent Wiley
3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable look at Orthodoxy
This book contains a depth of content that its small size might seem to hide; it is a truly delightful 'autobiography' of an author enamoured with the "romance of Orthodoxy." Written in response to a challenge offered by an acquaintance, Chesterton proceeds to examine the nature and character of orthodoxy in the modern world. Its personal flavour is...
Published on Dec 29 1999 by Darren White
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5.0 out of 5 stars Orthodoxy,
This review is from: Orthodoxy (Hardcover)If you are looking to read one of the most gifted writers of the last century, then this is the place to start. I love G.K. Chesterton and this is, perhaps, his best work. Orthodoxy is a joy ride.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A detective's romance,
The world around Mr. Chesterton was rife with Modernism in the early twentieth century. Based on philosophies of the late nineteenth century, religious and political traditions were being questioned. Anarchism, communism, and socialism were the parlor topics of the day; the merely symbolic importance of religion was being settled upon. These are the roots of our post-modern society today in which the meaning of nearly everything (even words, according to literary deconstructionists) is now in doubt. At one point in the chapter entitled "The Suicide of Thought," Mr. Chesterton quips, "We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table." An exaggeration even today, undoubtedly. Still, we have traveled quite a distance philosophically since the era before the World Wars, and "Orthodoxy" is an excellent snapshot of where we've come from.
But be warned: This snapshot captures a lot of active thought. It took me a couple of reads over as many years to get a handle on the structure of the book, and now the rest of it has been becoming clearer to me. Part of the problem is Mr. Chesterton's writing style. There is much playfulness in his language, and a reader could mistakenly conclude that the author's reasoning relies heavily upon wordplay, the turn of a phrase to turn the tables on his opponents. It can become frustrating if one isn't careful. Mr. Chesterton himself acknowledges this impression, "Mere light sophistry is the thing that I happen to despise the most of all things, and it is perhaps a wholesome fact that this is the thing of which I am generally accused." But don't miss the meat for the gravy (or the salad for the dressing, as your case may be). The potency of his arguments doesn't rely on his clever semantics but on his connections between observed facts and the ancient, corresponding orthodoxy of Christianity. Mr. Chesterton has fun with words because he can, not because he needs to.
This mixture of cleverness and careful thinking ultimately leads Mr. Chesterton to this conclusion: Christian faith is well-reasoned trust in Christ. And the desire for well-reasoned trust is a "practical romance," as Mr. Chesterton calls it--a need in the ordinary person for "the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure...an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome." A way to accept the knowable while looking beyond it toward what is yet to be known.
Mr. Chesterton wrote "Orthodoxy" for people looking for that kind of romance. "If anyone is entertained by learning how the flowers of the field or the phrases in an omnibus, the accidents of politics or the pains of youth came together in a certain order to produce a certain conviction of Christian orthodoxy, he may possibly read this book." However, this book isn't for everyone. "If a man says that extinction is better than existence or blank existence better than variety and adventure, then he is not one of the ordinary people to whom I am talking. If a man prefers nothing I can give him nothing." The inconvincible cannot be convinced. Yet the skeptical (such as Mr. Chesterton once was) can be because they are the doubters who're still looking around. I myself come from a skeptic's background and regard "Orthodoxy" as a plausible, if sometimes difficult to comprehend, and wonderful way someone can come to trust the claims of Christianity.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic every believer should read...,
Chesterton was a contemporary of Leo Tolstoy, H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. Much of what he writes is "in answer" to them and their divergent views of the meaning of life.
Chesterton came to a deeply held Christian faith that took its outward expression in his 1922 conversion to Roman Catholicism. Today, Chesterton is best remembered as the creator of the "Father Brown" detective stories, but he was a prolific writer, penning studies of Robert Browning (1903) and Charles Dickens (1906), novels including The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904) and The Man Who Was Thursday (1908), poems, collected in 1927 and essays, collected in Tremendous Trifles (1909) and Come to Think of It (1930).
In the opening chapter of Orthodoxy, Chesterton "eliminates the competition" by skewering competing world-view theories, showing their warts and all. He then describes flawed approaches to life that will lead to despair, in the second chapter, "The Suicide of Thought." Having put erroneous views to rest, for the remainder of the book he describes the central truths of Christianity as the only correct way of understanding creation and human life.
Chesterton portrays himself as one who has traveled all around the world, only to have arrived at home again as if it were some new and strange land. "Home" being the traditions of Christian faith. Such a journey may seem unnecessary, but you will agree that same paradox appears in everything from Dorothy's journey in the "Wizard of Oz" to T. S. Eliot in "Little Gidding." It is the way of human kind, according to Chesterton, to seek and to find-even if what is found was "there all along." (A fact echoed in Chesterton's dedication of the book "To My Mother").
Those who read Orthodoxy will travel with Chesterton as guide-which may be the best way to go, because he is an amusing intellectual companion who has trod that way before.
Philip Yancey wrote the foreword to this edition and claims this book transformed his Christian understanding. If that is not enough to tempt you to read it, perhaps this quotation will: "The orthodox church never took the tame course or accepted the conventions; the orthodox church was never respectable... It is easy to be a madman; it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one's own." (page 149).
Chesterton has been called been called "the prince of paradox" because his theology is often robed in a light, energetic, rapid-paced and whimsical style. This was brought about to no small degree by his custom of dictating all of his writings. (A custom, we might note, shared by none other than the Apostle Paul).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Defense of Orthodoxy,
(...)The orthodoxy Chesterton speaks of is not the Eastern Christianity but traditional Christian doctrine from even before there was a division in the Church. It is akin to Lewis's Mere Christianity in that it is not in any particular denomination but mainly to be found in the early creeds of the Church which the vast majority of Christians acknowledge as authoritative (e.g., Apostles', Nicene).
In response to those who dismiss Chesterton's views as "unscientific" or "outdated," I answer, as Chesterton might, that a strictly empirical method of acknowledging reality is not defensible on strictly empirical grounds, and to assert such is thoroughly narrow-minded and dogmatic, or something to that effect. Chesterton's treatement of foreign peoples may often be characterized by ill-informed or distorted views, but I cannot recall any malice towards them. In our society so eager to be offended, many often overlook the truths within satire, or satirical writing. As for his views just being an excuse to be contrary, if anything he was seeking to be the same, similar to two thousand years of Christianity. As he famously writes "Tradition is the democracy of the dead."
Finally, I believe that any unprejudiced person, while perhaps not agreeing completely, would find it difficult to deny out-of-hand Chesteron's characterizations of man, man's sinful nature, and his wonder at the universe. And at the very least, his style is engaging and Orthodoxy is certainly great reading.
5.0 out of 5 stars Leaves you wanting more!,
Chesterton has the gift of thought and the gift of expression, a rare commodity in the age of chatter and blather. I found myself puffing to keep up with his logic!
I think the power of the book is found in the subtitle: romance and faith. Americans see God through the squint of Puritanism, so we see Him as merely a syllogism or a cosmic party pooper. We forget that our God was once accused of being a glutton and wine-bibber. I could see many alleged Christians doing likewise if He were here today. Chesterton breaths the life back into Adam's clay, and for this I thank him!
5.0 out of 5 stars G.K. Chesterton is the Man,
By A Customer
This review is from: Orthodoxy: The Classic Account of a Remarkable Christian Experience (Hardcover)In the tradition of the heavywights like C.S Lewis. G.K.Chesterton makes the final case for the Truth.
5.0 out of 5 stars The most comprehensive vision of the world as it is.,
This review is from: Orthodoxy (Audio Cassette)You cannot read this book in one session and say that you understand it. You need to rethink it all several times, enjoying it as you enjoy a quality picture: after numerous blinks.
GK was able to put inside a brief book a colossal work in all dimensions: deepest logic, total truth content and excellent wording, all backed up by everyday-life examples.
As with any masterpiece, you recognize it in the fatc that if you borrow or add one word in the entire book and you end up destroying it. Chesterton explains why the world is insane in his ABSOLUTE view (take it or reply it, if you can) by recalling old truths and new concepts; he re-news what makes sense and why that makes sense.
One attracting issue about this writer is that he avoids wrestling against anyone who doesn't share his view. He kills the wrong view, elegantly saving the opponent, with humorous prosaic poetry.
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty defense of the historic faith,
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant,
Only the most ingrained skeptics won't find intelligent and useful insights in this book, but that's because they refuse to find anything insightful in any Christian's work.
G.K. Chesterton has a great sense of humour, a wonderful style of prose, and is clearly a most amazing thinker and a uniquely brilliant Christian. I highly recommend it to all honest seekers & thinkers.
4.0 out of 5 stars Wordy, but well worth a read,
Chesterton makes two really good points throughout the book: 1) sanity lies in maintaining seemingly opposed extremes in a kind of dramatic tension. It's not balance, it's both at once. It's not a contradiction, it's a paradox. Christianity fits this like nothing else: singularity/plurality, freedom/servanthood, individuality/assimilation, etc., all are fused together in seeming contradiction of common sense. But don't we always find truth to be stranger than fiction? In contrast, monomania is a kind of insanity, like total belief in oneself, or the belief that one unfalsifiable human construct, like evolution, completely illuminates everything. 2) The importance of maintaining a kind of humble childlike wonder about the world, the universe, about existence itself. What if you saw a four-inch-long fully-functional helicopter hovering about? Wouldn't that be delightfully incredible? Not too long ago, after reading this book, it dawned on me, upon observing a dragonfly, that that was precisely what I was looking at. I'm not even talking about creationism, irreducible complexity, any of that. It is in fact, neither here nor there. Just the fact that such a marvelous thing should exist, by any means, is truly stupendous. It should inspire deeper thought about fundamental issues. The modern-day 'scientific' priesthood is perpetually at pains to systematically dismantle the ability to see things this way even as they proclaim it superficially.
The funny thing about Chesterton's writing is that he gets so wrapped up in his ideas that rather strange-sounding, apparent non-sequiturs come up every so often. A sample Chestertonism: "As a fact, anthropophagy [cannibalism] is certainly a decadent thing, not a primitive one. It is much more likely that modern men will eat human flesh out of affectation, than that primitive man ate it out of ignorance." Well, duh!? As in his Father Brown mysteries, Chesterton loves to toss off sweeping statements, and is a bit too shy of explicating his ideas with the utmost clarity sometimes; chalk it up to slovenliness, I guess.But for the most part his ideas are sound and his writing thought-provoking.
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Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton (Paperback - Oct. 11 2007)
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