In the opening of Orthodoxy, Chesterton humorously suggests that it is an answer to a challenge.
He had written Heretics, where he had taken on his contemporaries and the falsity of their views. But Mr. G.S. Street, who was one of his targets, wasn’t quite convinced: ”I will begin to worry about my philosophy,” he suggested, “when Mr. Chesterton has given us his.”
I’m no heretic, at least not that I know of. So the fit isn’t a perfect one. But in the latest issue of The City, I drop a similar sort of challenge to Ross Douthat in light of his excellent book Bad Religion. The case he makes is a compelling one, but he leaves the alternative to our contemporary heretical currents more in the background (though not exclusively).
There is no reason to doubt his commitments (there never was with Chesterton’s in Heretics, either), but the books focus is obviously critical: it is titled Bad Religion, after all.
The fun part about all this is that it was part of a symposium and Ross Douthat responded. How? Well, for that you’re just going to have to read it. And you should.