Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My new friend G.K.


I've been hearing about G.K. Chesterton for a while now. I've spied clever quotes by him on blogs and facebook profiles. This is a man who wrote a book that contributed to C.S. Lewis' conversion to Christianity, which sounded impressive to me. So in my first official "for fun" reading, I picked up not a novel, but G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense.


It was quite enjoyable! While you do have to get past the fact that the author clearly worships the ground Chesterton walks on, he gives a good introductory overview to the man and his writings. It was amazing to see how Chesterton's observations continue to ring true almost a hundred years later. He wrote all kinds of things and on all kinds of topics. I was a little less interested in his writings about politics and a little more interested in his writings about Christianity and the Church (he eventually became Catholic). I also think it would be fun to read some of his mystery stories. Perhaps most immediately, though, I'd like to read some more of his thoughts on womanhood.

Here's a taste:
Now if anyone says that this duty of general enlightenment [of children]... is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that our race has thought it worth while to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world. But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets cakes. and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.

Are you a Chesterton fan? What's your favorite quote of his?

7 comments:

  1. Yeah. He's amazing. You should also read Orthodoxy. His mystery series 'Father Brown" is also very good. My favorite quote of his is:

    "Christianity even when watered down is hot enough to boil all modern society to rags. The mere minimum of the Church would be a deadly ultimatum to the world." zing! :)

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  2. Love Chesterton. Sometimes I get a little lost reading some of his books, but I love them anyway. I really love some of his different quotes.

    If I am quoting it correctly, I think my sister's favorite quote is, "Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. " You'll have to forgive us. We appreciate wild randomness in my family. :)

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  3. I am not a Chesterton fan for the same reason that LAF loves him: http://www.ladiesagainstfeminism.com/artman/publish/Biblical_Womanhood_and_Christian_Living_14/Book_Review_What_s_Wrong_With_The_World_by_G_K_Chesterton1003192.shtml

    But he is quite witty and great for quotes as long as you don't think about them for too long. Right now Josh and I are reading through the complete Father Brown, and I love it. So I don't like Chesterton as a "philosopher" or "theologian" but I enjoy him as a writer.

    Fun quote: Marriage is an adventure, like going to war.

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  5. wait, did someone just quote your own post in your blog? if they did, its because it was that good of a post! i love that you're getting to do "for fun" reading now (at least without feeling guilty) so please keep posting so that i can live vicariously! i've been really excited to read some G.K too because I have only heard great things about his philosophizing and influence on the thinking of other great writers. I'm excited to see more of what you find out!

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  6. *blushing*

    Well, I guess it's obvious I got so excited by the Chesterton talk that I breathlessly clicked away before reading the quote you'd included...

    Deleting now -- sorry for the airhead moment!

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  7. You happened to print one of my favorite Chesterton quotes! As a homeschooling mom who used to drive an aircraft carrier, I can testify that being everything to several little someones can be more exhausting than the "real" job... with the added burden that people respected one job and not the other.

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