Reading Through Orthodoxy: The Introduction

In the first post of this series, Trevin Wax and I detailed what we saw as the merits of G.K. Chesterton and his book Orthodoxy. We also invited you to read along and discuss the latest section of the reading plan with us each week.

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Today, we focus on the introduction, “In Defense of Everything Else.”

Matthew:  Christianity satisfies a double spiritual need

Let’s start with what this book is not: It is not primarily a work of apologetics, though Chesterton says in the introduction that he will contend the Apostle’s Creed is “the best root of energy and sound ethics.” Orthodoxy isn’t an analytic recounting of the contents of that creed, or a detailed history of how Chesterton himself came to believe in it.

Instead, it is a “slovenly autobiography,” a set of “mental pictures” that lay out how Christianity satisfies a “double spiritual need, the need for that mixture of the familiar and unfamiliar, which Christendom has rightly named Romance.” He thinks Christianity admirable because it makes us welcome in the world, while still leaving the world a wonder – that is it offers us a “practical romance” or the “combination of something that is strange with something that is secure.”

Okay, then. But of this “double spiritual need”: Is it? I mean, is this a fundamental spiritual need at all or is it a peculiar experience that Chesterton could have because he was a Westerner? This story of the man who finds what he takes to be New England and discovers that it’s Old England is properly romantic stuff, but how deep does it go? Do we have to be romantics already to feel the force of the problem Chesterton lays out, or is he right that this is an impulse that everyone shares?

Trevin: Chesterton manages to be humble and confident

Do we have to be romantics to feel the force of the problem? In some sense, yes. But I believe he is right that everyone is a romantic deep down (though plenty manage to squelch the magical wonder of existence, and Chesterton has words for these writers throughout this book and Heretics. Let’s let commenters weigh in on the question of the “double spiritual need.”

Before we open up the discussion, however, we should note how humble and confident Chesterton comes across in these opening pages. He describes the book as “a joke against me. I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before.” Though we speak of Orthodoxy as creative and original, it is fundamentally boring if we are analyzing it only in terms of “newness.” Chesterton describes the book as his “elephantine adventures in pursuit of the obvious.”

What I love about this foreword is that we are confronted with a man who is absolutely sure of his convictions and the truth of Christianity, and yet he is humble enough not to take himself so seriously. His carefree nature is matched by cheerful prose that somehow manages to treat the mysteries of the universe with all the seriousness and joy they deserve. My question is, how we can cultivate more of this? People who are grounded and grateful, confident and cheerful, hardened and humble.

Now, share your thoughts

Next week, we will discuss chapters 2-3 of Orthodoxy, “The Maniac” and “The Suicide of Thought,” but first, we would like to hear from you about the introduction.

Is the “double spiritual need” one that all men feel? How can more of us develop the humble confidence Chesterton displays in his writing?

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  • brianBel

    The question you’ve posed is… “Is the ‘double spiritual need’ one that all men feel?” As for myself, it is certainly something I feel, and as a result, folks brand me generally as being a deep thinker. That’s a little annoying to me because it seems to me that everyone, not just a few, should have such a recognition of this double spiritual need. Are not all men philosophical by nature? In my experience, it seems not, despite my hoping they’ll awaken to the wonder around them. Or perhaps, all men are from time to time pricked by moments of this wonder, yet within them it’s buried in self-absorption, or desensitized by carnal or temporal experiences. I don’t quite know, but as I’m sharing with folks in subtle evangelizing, I find myself alluding to the wonder of life, and pointing out to others where we catch glimpses of God.

    • Patricia Hofer

      I doubt the premise in one aspect. We have a double need but isn’t only one of them spiritual? Chesterton breaks it down into “the mixture of the familiar and the unfamiliar.” The familiar would be the natural world we know, or “England.” But we yearn also, in difficult to explain ways, for the “unfamiliar,” the world we don’t yet know even as we’re sure it is there.

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      Framing the need as being tied to a sense of wonder is exactly right. And hence my question: I wonder whether Chesterton’s work only resonates with those who have already cultivated that sense of wonder.

      • jakemeador

        Interesting question. For what it’s worth, my experience of Chesterton was that he taught me to wonder. I didn’t have much of a sense of wonder when I came to Orthodoxy, but GKC opened my eyes to it. So in regards to the double spiritual need question, my experience of the book was that I wasn’t aware of the double need when I came to the book, but Chesterton revealed it to me.

  • Gabriel

    Yes, we do have this “double spiritual need.” It seems to me that we find it most in our longing to have a meaningful life, to make a difference, but still cling to our individuality, to our “self.”
    It seems that we all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, to belong to something worthwhile, but we are also holding fast to the idea that our individuality matters.
    Common eastern world views cannot satisfy this tension as they incite the individual to let go, lose oneself in the grander “oneness.”
    On the other hand western thought has often lost the idea of greater good, because we push the individual to the forefront.
    Only Christianity, with the Trinity at its core, has a foundation for this longing for a true unity in diversity.
    Only in Christianity can we feel the exhilaration of adventure, without leaving the comforts of home.

    • Gabriel

      As to your second question, I have no idea how we can have more confident, yet humble, Christians. I am eagerly awaiting other ideas.

      • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

        That is indeed a good point. You’ll see similar sorts of points come up through the book, I think.

    • Trevin Wax

      That is a great point, Gabriel. We want to matter as ourselves and also matter in relation to something greater that gives us significance.

      • Michael Ryswyk

        Yes. In this sense, Chesterton is Schleiermacher with a more substantive Christology. Lewis later picks up this “romantic” emphasis in his “Weight of Glory” essay, where he too does Schleiermacher from a more orthodox perspective.

        • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

          Michael, why do you point to Schleirmacher? Why not Augustine?

      • Jeff Kincaid

        To truly follow Christ means absolute surrender to Him. The self finds its true identification in the body of Christ. In that sense He is the “oneness,” the “greater good,” the Self and Presence that we seek. I agree with Michael’s comment about not putting God in a box. Hence we get something strange and secure and therefore the “Romance” Chesterton is putting forward. I don’t think any of us can say whether all people feel this way: We live in a fallen world. Our “relation” to Christ is what enables us to know “something that gives us significance.” Christianity is about relationship.That’s one of the aspects that makes it special and unique among world religions. “Romance” for disciples, undeniably. As for the second question, James 4:8 answers it succinctly, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”

  • Chris Talbot

    For me, Chesterton’s brilliance comes in his flawless fusion of wit and wonder. Few writers I’ve read have been able to combine clear logic with childlike awe. However, Chesterton seems to do it almost by accident.

    With that said, I think his writings hit our “double spiritual need”–for both our hearts and minds to be captivated by God’s revelation. Sure, our hearts might beat faster at the new sunrise each morning, but when we think that God may be saying “Do it again” (as Chesterton infamously writes) our minds begin to quicken too.

    Of course, the question is “how do we do that?” Can it be as simple as reading more Chesterton?

    Forgive the shameless plug (although, I’m concerned their unforgivable), but I’d love to hear both of your thoughts on a recent essay I wrote on Chesterton: http://www.helwyssocietyforum.com/?p=3804

  • Timothy F Reynolds

    I don’t feel this double spiritual need. I wonder if it is really a need or whether it is really spiritual, other than in the sense that all human life is spiritual.
    Our one great spiritual need is to be reconciled with God our Creator before we stand before him as our Judge. I can’t see how what Chesterton describes relates to that.
    The nearest I can come to it is this: I need to recognise that this world is not my home but I still need to recognise and rejoice in the marvels of all that God does in it.
    I can’t say that I think this is a great start to the great GK’s book – it doesn’t encourage me to read on.

    • Gabriel

      Hi Tim,
      Thanks for your input.
      I don’t agree that “our one great spiritual need is to be reconciled with God.” Or maybe I only partially disagree. I find we too often emphasize ourselves and our reconciliation against the redemption and reconciliation of the rest of humanity or even all of creation.
      Our salvation is a process which includes sanctification and discipleship, and in the end we long to see a new creation, not only in ourselves, but in rest of God’s kingdom as well.
      The way I see it, if our reconciliation does not include our working toward the redemption of all of creation, then maybe our reconciliation isn’t right.

    • Patricia Hofer

      Hang in there, Timothy. Chesterton is just beginning to edge into his topic, just laying a few bricks, marking out the boundaries. He isn’t even close to putting the finishing touches onto hard-surfaced Christian doctrines like reconciliation and final judgment.

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      Keep pressing on! It’s worth it!

      I do think, though, your question about how reconciliation relates to our need for romance is a really interesting one, and one worth bearing in mind as he goes through the book.

  • brianBel

    Timothy,
    Perhaps what’s at work here is the notion of what it is to be a “complete” person. If one of my children is an accomplished student and athlete and is very popular around his friends, outsiders may view that with envy. Yet, as a parent, if my wife and I see a spiritual deficit, then we’d know that the child is incomplete. We are complete when God works in our life spiritually while we navigate through this world temporally. Similarly, attempting to navigate life intellectually without allowing for the metaphysical (that which is beyond physics) will take that person only so far; they will be incomplete. It seems you re holding a very narrow theological view (ie “Me and Jesus”) and as such you’re missing the view of our material existence as being the cosmic temple he created. Remember, we are flesh and spirit, not just spirit. And God delights in the proper union of the two, as modeled by his Son, Jesus.

  • Michael

    When he defines “romance” as “the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure,” how can we deny that we have that need to recognize God in that way. If God—and therefore life—is not secure, where is the hope of the cross? If God—and therefore life—is not strange, then I begin to wonder if we have not put God in a box. And these two ideas are so related. I fear at times that I (and I sense that I am not alone in this) have lost this sense of the strangeness of life because I have so filled life with what makes me feel safe and in control and numb, that I’ve lost the ability to recognize the strangeness (and wonder and joy that comes with it), and therefore I depend upon me and not the security of God.

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      Michael,
      Doesn’t that get the order backward, at least for Chesterton? Proving the need by pointing to the solution doesn’t do much for anyone who isn’t already committed to the solution…

      Matt

      • Michael

        Fair enough. And I haven’t read past the first chapter, but I got the impression that Chesterton was not so much interested in proving the need to those who aren’t committed as he was in reminding those who are that the need exists. If that is the case, is it ok to point to the solution to prove the need? Or am I missing something? Thanks,
        Michael

        • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

          Well, I do think the rest of the book shows the various components and elements of the need….and how Christianity provides a solution. But the direction of the argument is from the need to the solution, and not the other way around (at least as I read it).

          Also, we really ought to get rid of that “God in a box” business. : ) I’ve a rant on that in the new book that I may just stick here at Mere-O next week, just because.

          Matt

          • Bethany Persons

            I was wondering if you were going to address that cliche…

          • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

            One more reason to read the book, Bethany! : )

          • Michael

            Thanks. Looking forward to reading the rest (and the anti-cliché rant).

    • Shawn White

      It seems, in part, that this is part of the Enlightenment hangover we are currently suffering from. Everything must be broken down to is most basic component and understood thoroughly. There is no room for mystery, particularly in the sciences. All must be conquered and discovered. We have misused reason to starve wonder rather than feed it.

  • jdickmann

    I had a conversation just yesterday with a young woman about where she stands as far as her belief in God. She told me that she wasn’t sure what she believed. When I asked her if her uncertainty bothered her, she said, “Sometimes. Like, I’ll lay there everyonce and a while and it will really bother me.” When I asked if that ever led to anything she said, “No. I usually just push it away so I don’t have to deal with it.”
    I say all that to say, I think we do have a double spiritual need but many people simply “push it away” so that they don’t have to face the reality of things. For many, the thought that we are not the highest of things, but we were designed for this world, and this world for us.

  • Annita Wheeler Parmelee

    I think the only way to develop “humble confidence” similar to that of Chesterton is to continually pursue the knowledge of the triune God. There is nothing more humbling, or that instills more confidence. For me that entails not only bible study but also seeking out other Christians who display humble confidence: friends, teachers, and writers. It requires my personal commitment, and what I learn is the “lens through which I view everything.”

    • brianBel

      Similarly, to me, the most humbling verse in all of scripture is, “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Pet 1:4. So, he invites me, wretch that I am, to be a partaker of his divine nature. That’s the ultimate condescension on his part, that leads to great humility on my part. Plus, he sends his Holy Spirit to be MY helper. Again, who am I that he, God of all, would be my helper? He’s serving me, not the other way around!

      • Annita Wheeler Parmelee

        We agree on the means to humility and the appropriateness of it. My explanation sounds so clinical though. Chesterton is anything but clinical. One one level he is most child-like, and I think that comes from his absolute faith in God which was a result of hard study, questioning, and then committing to what he discovered.
        His sense of wonder also is child-like. Sometimes that is what I miss most. ..”.let the children come to me.. for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
        On another question, I doubt it is true that a person needs a sense of wonder before coming to “humble confidence,” but I think viewing the world with wonder can only increase that quality and experience.
        Some of us have never lost our sense of wonder and lightness, and the rest of us can consciously choose to encourage it.
        Wonder leads to joy!

  • Bethany Persons

    I need to get in on this! I downloaded Orthodoxy weeks ago, and saw the original post for this series and I have no excuses! My assignment – be ready for the Aug 21 discussion.

    In the meantime, I’ve gotten bogged down in The Everlasting Man. Matt, can you explain why you think it is Chesterton’s greatest, as you mentioned in the previous post?

    • Trevin Wax

      By the way, I’m not sure I agree with Matt that “Everlasting Man” is better than “orthodoxy.” Both are superb, but I think Orthodoxy is a better book.

      • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

        Trevin, I see we have our next read-through project! : )

      • RonH

        That’s a tough one. Something to keep in mind when reading Chesterton though is that he originally trained as an artist (of the visual sort). Most of the time, when he writes he doesn’t so much make arguments as paint pictures. He gives you a new way of looking at the world, like a great painter would. “Orthodoxy” is a beautiful, sweeping landscape… “Everlasting Man” is more of a subtle still-life whose beauty is in the richness of detail. Harder to get at perhaps, but in a way more powerful.

        Both need more exposure though, and I applaud you chaps for doing just that!

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      Bethany, I will take that up. It deserves a full post, I think. If you don’t get it in the next two weeks, ping me by email and I’ll deliver. I want to reread Everlasting Man, just to make sure I’m making the case properly. : )

  • Brian J. Mann

    That double need you speak of here is quite valid. We can see this all the way back to the Garden. Adam and Eve lost the very thing they most needed—a romance with God. This romance defined by something both secure and yet strange (to put it in Chesterton’s terms). The secure was that they knew there was a God, who he was, that he created them, and so forth. The strange was that they did not know everything about him or everything especially about both good and even evil. The temptation and hence the fall left man lost from this romance. They now knew more than they should have known and in the wrong way per se. Their lives were no longer included a walk with God in the garden. They lost their astonishment to the world in which they lived and no longer felt at home with God, but very far away. When this romance of the strange and secure is restored, one can be at home with God, and ok with not knowing everything again.

    As to how we can develop the humble Chesterton-like confidence, we can pray, seek the Lord, study His Word. People who do this come to experience the truth that the more we go on in this journey, we get smaller, and God gets much bigger. In turn, somehow mysteriously we get bolder about both of these things.

    • http://bridgingthegospel.wordpress.com/ Jeff

      Well said. I like your connection to the Garden of Eden.

      • http://www.catherinelakebaptist.com/ Brian J. Mann

        thanks

  • Jeff

    I do think we have a double spiritual need for adventure, romance and security. This need is a combination of something that is strange with something that is secure. These two, he argues, keeps us healthy and keeps us sane, as we will read in the following chapters.

    I love how he writes with humility throughout, stating that no reader can accuse his story as more ludicrous than himself and that he considers himself the fool in the story he writes. He’s witty fellow.

  • Gabriel

    So, I have been giving the question about confident, yet humble, Christians more thought. I think one thing we can do is give them answers. Not watered-down answers that don’t inspire, but instead the kind of answers that not only instill confidence because they are so complete, but also these kinds of answers also tend to instill a sense of awe in the grandeur of God and the universe he made.

    However, to get to this point, we must work hard to learn those things. Maybe the (protestant) church needs to bring back catechism? Maybe we need to push more students to read Orthodoxy (or other older works)?

    Also, I see a need for a true mentoring to occur. Christians need to invest in the lives of those who are younger (spiritually and physically). Quality time with those who need growth (don’t we all) will bring about lasting change. The rub is that it seems quality time only comes after quantity time.

    • Trevin Wax

      I agree. But this goes against the wisdom of the age, which is constantly telling us how off-putting Christians are for giving “answers” when really we just want to wrestle with the ambiguities and questions.

      • Gabriel

        How do we counter this age in the culture?

        • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

          Gabriel, you’re point about the different *sort* of answers is really important. Answers that instill awe and wonder, as you put it, strike me as very different than answers to many math puzzles. (Though perhaps we ought be more astonished at math–it would be more Chestertonian to be so, I think.)

    • Wesley

      I believer the mentoring aspect that you mention is actually a must in this process. I believer this same idea you have is discipleship. We are commanded as believers to make disciples. Matthew 28:18-19 speaks of this. Even to look at the text, “Go….and make disciples of all nations….teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” To look at this passage in the Greek you see the “Go” is actually “as you are going” so the command here is not “to go” but “as you are going make disciples” This is the Great Commission that Christ left for all believer. So, as we see in vs. 18 and 20 then in Acts 1:8, He has given the authority and assurance to make disciples and thus all show the importance and mandate of that very thing. Lack of discipleship does exactly what we are battling today. Discipleship must be a priority in order for believers to mature in their faith.

      • Gabriel

        I’m glad you brought that up Wesley. I agree with you wholeheartedly

        • Wesley

          That was a great point that you made in your post!

  • Wesley

    I believe the way in which we keep a “humble orthodoxy” is through the “humble confidence” as seen by Chesterton but also a much greater understanding. Similar to what “brianBel” wrote in the comment responding to “Annita Wheeler Parmelee”. I agree completely agree with there comments on the idea of keeping humility. However, I would like to add more. I believer we must continue to remind ourselves that not only are we challenging these topics with scholars, and those in history with greater knowledge or insight, we must also compare our knowledge and insight to that of our Creator. The reality is that we will reach the gates of heaven and God will continue to reveal His character and creation to us. We will realize that our doctrine and theology were wrong. Most of us will realize that the understanding of these things go far deeper than we could have ever imagined. We will finally be at the feet of all Truth and Knowledge. This will be the day that all pride will be thrown out for the sake of listening to the all knowing. With this idea in mind we must hold fast to the study of scripture while building upon our convictions. No one will ever become so comfortable with their conviction that no research or studying will take place under the subject again. So, as we dive deeper into convictions and studying we must keep a “humble conviction” in the authority of scripture but keep our humble character in that we finite people can be wrong or just skimming the surface.

    • brianBel

      I wonder though… you speak of conviction, and Chesterton refers to the Apostle’s Creed, which we could say is the conviction of the Church. And so I imagine there are some commenting here who aren’t creedal. Is acceptance of this Creed (a) necessary for this confidence we’re alluding to, and (b) part and parcel of what it means to be orthodox? Part B of my question may be getting ahead of where Chesterton will take us, though we’re promised that we will KNOW the truth, and that truth will set us free. So, I think having a confidence in the conviction of the Church would surely help in unveiling and highlighting the double spiritual need.

      • Wesley

        A) I don’t know that it would mean that in absolute definition. I think that question would have to go deeper into specific question of certain points within to answer with a confident answer. B) I am not sure the answer to this one as not having thought much upon what convictions you must have to be considered orthodox. I would say that question goes deeper as well into whether you are talking about the Orthodox Church or orthodoxy in its true definition, both of which I am not studied enough to answer. I would completely agree with your last statement and I may have not worded my response in the best way. I was simply adding on to what the both of you fantastically already attacked. I was merely trying to point out that we can hold none of these angles as an absolute but must keep the humility in all of these modes of study and confidence. What I was doing was taking a piece that you both mentioned and speak of some of my recent conviction. I apologize if it comes off as any sort of absolute or final destination, but rather that this mode added to those the both of you have mentioned would help keep us in humility.

  • Rusty Leonard

    Is the “double spiritual need” one that all men feel?

    Haven’t we all felt like that? It’s like we come out of the grocery store and forget where we parked our car. We become so familiar with the routine of parking that when we exit the store the parking lot landscape becomes unfamiliar. And who hasn’t looked for their keys or sunglasses only to find them in their hand or on their head. So there is paradox within our orthodoxy that seems to feed two needs. Some examples could be, the already/not yet aspect of the kingdom of God, the two natures of Christ, serving the disenfranchised is seen as serving Christ. Chesterton seems to write in such a manner as to help us see our experience rather than merely our ideas.

    How can more of us develop the humble confidence Chesterton displays in his writing?

    The images that Chesterton creates inspire devotion in the believing heart and perhaps hope in the unbelieving. The “desirability of an active and imaginative life, picturesque and full of a poetical curiosity,” is the starting point. “We need to be happy in this wonderland without once being merely comfortable.” We must meditate upon what Chesterton called “this life of practical romance.”

  • gmoothart
  • Shawn White

    It is important to understand the balance as Chesterton points out here. There is a balance and perhaps a tension between curiosity and comfort; discovery and domicile; adventure and acquaintance.

    What we find in our everyday lives (or maybe not our lives but in the lives of others) is an extremism to one of these seemingly contradictory states. Yet Chesterton is teaching us that we can have both wonder and welcome in the same thing. Sadly, some people are so caught up in the past that they are completely blinded to the wonder and awe of today or the future. At the same time, there are those who care nothing for the past but reach for the future and their dreams without properly understanding how the old has influenced and grounds their future and their dreams.

    To have both at once seems to be sublime and I think Chesterton is telling us that we do have both. It is not so much a search for how to do this, but that it is done already just in our everyday living. The trick is not to manufacture this tension, but to embrace it because it already exists. We have to learn to recognize it, not create it. Isn’t this the point of his final paragraph? He went off thinking he was being original, only to find out he was the last in a long line? How often have I done the same thing?

    • Patricia Hofer

      You make an excellent point Shawn. It is the balance or tension between two things that Chesterton is drawn to. He continues that discussion throughout the book. We’ll get to it again in “duplex passion.” He also likes the slightly illogical logical.

  • Jason Estopinal

    I think there is a more important subject here, and that is – presuppositions.

    Chesterton shares his presuppositions when he says, “…I propose to take
    as common ground between myself and any average reader… 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. But nearly all people I have ever met in this western society in which I live would agree to the general proposition that we need this life of practical romance; the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure. We need so to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome. We need to be happy in this wonderland without once being merely comfortable. It is this achievement of my creed that I shall chiefly pursue in these pages.”

    And so Chesterton maintains the universals are:

    1. “Extinction is better than existence”

    2. “…nearly all people… would agree to the
    general proposition that we need this life of practical romance; the
    combination of something that is strange with something that is secure.”

    I would agree with his first premise, but his second one I will have to
    be convinced of as I read-on (this is my first time reading “Orthodoxy”).
    However, I think that as a reader, a reader that probably already agrees with
    Chesterton’s conclusions, who already cant resonate with the presumptions, then this is a weak start.

    A note about presuppositions as it overlaps with “meaning”.

    The most fundamental question when coming to Christianity, for the unregenerate, is and must be “what’s in it for me?” Aware of this we hear Piper playing the tune of “Christian hedonism”, Wright and “human flourishing”, Keller with (well, I cant put my finger on Keller’s but it’s a mix of the two previous), and even the Westminster Divine’s “…To glorify God and enjoy him forever”. As much as like these treatments and even us these in evangelism and talking logically about our faith with others, I still cant help but feel a little bit disingenuous,because, if we were honest with ourselves and our reading of scripture we would see that these are not what read as the motivation in the NT. As much as we have knee jerked away from it, the fact remains, its essentially:

    1. A heaven to gain.

    2. A hell to shun, and

    3. Something to do with the “Kingdom of God/heaven” (and I think most moderns try to root their teaching of hedonism, flourishing, romance – in Chesterton’s case, etc. on the back of notion of “kingdom” and “kingdom talk” when in actuality not that much time is really given it by any NT writers… Has anyone else wondered/observed this as well?

    At least that the way it seems to me – a common laymen.

    Im excited about this read along!!!!

    Jason

    PS I was trying to remember C.S. Lewis’ kind of “chief end of man”, I dont quite remember, but I feel like his was pretty good haha.

    • Shawn White

      I’m not sure Chesterton is saying that “extinction is better than existence” is a universal. He says that those who hold to that view ought not read his book because they do not share any common ground.

      I would agree with Chesterton on that point, that they should avoid his book. Actually, they should avoid everything all together. Sadly, for them it is already too late because they do exist and non-existence is out of the question. What they fail to understand in taking that view is that it is the height of wickedness to believe it.

      If we take the idea that God is good and God is pure Being (existence), then to wish for non-existence is to wish for pure Non-Being which equates to wishing for pure evil. But what they miss is that evil is a parasitic on the good that exists (evil cannot exist without the presence of goodness). So, if anything is evil then there is some good in it (sometimes we just have to look rather hard to find it). However, to wish for something that is all evil with no good (existence) is to wish for something that is complete foolish and wicked. And, to Chesterton’s point, people who wish that ought not waste their time consuming things that exist since that is the very opposite of their desire.

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