On Mr. Chesterton’s Destructive Criticism

“WE are in some danger today of underestimating our debt to Mr. Chesterton, and of forgetting the impact which his books made on the minds of young men who were infected by the fallacy of Victorian rationalism. In those distant days many people still cherished the futile hope of reconstructing a positive ethical system on the basis of mere negation. Mr. Chesterton’s destructive criticism of the Huxleys, Bradlaughs and Haeckels of our youth was as devastating as it was brilliant, and its value would be more widely appreciated today if it had not been so completely effective.”

~Arnold Lunn: “Now I See”


A Plain and Defiant Shape

Let us, then, go upon a long journey and enter on a dreadful search. Let us, at least, dig and seek till we have discovered our own opinions. The dogmas we really hold are far more fantastic, and, perhaps, far more beautiful than we think…

Truths turn into dogmas the instant that they are disputed. Thus every man who utters a doubt defines a religion. And the skepticism of our time does not really destroy the beliefs, rather it creates them; gives them their limits and their plain and defiant shape.

~ GK Chesterton


Hasty deductions from highly abstract conceptions of Art, formed by leaving out all the concrete characters of all the poems and pictures we know, are one of the prime sources of critical error. Is not surprising that “Art” should be amoral, alogical, a-this and a-that, when you have arrived at art by sheer subtraction.

-CS Lewis

Self-government for Men

The things we vote on are very seldom the things we see and smell and eat and drink and do. These are more and more controlled by vast and vague central forces, at once autocratic and anonymous. This is the real modern problem, which has nothing to do with utopias; and until it is solved there will be a real satire in self-government for men who are invited to govern everything except themselves.

– GK Chesterton

Hearts and Heads

It is a prejudice of rationalism (not of reason) that rational order is the only kind of order. in fact, the heart’s order is just as much ‘order’, but a different kind. The head seeks truth, the heart seeks goodness. This is why reason’s order is that of a map or outline of truth, while the heart’s order is that of a journey to its goal, its heart’s desire. Reason’s order is static, the heart’s dynamic. Reason’s order is spatial, the heart’s is temporal. Reason’s order naturally takes the shape of a grid, a square shape; the heart’s order naturally takes the shape of a spiral, a round shape. The hunter spirals in on his quarry, his beloved, from every angle; thus, the form of his journey is “digressions upon each point which relates to the end” like the wheel’s spokes leading to the hub.

The order of theoretical thinkers is from premise to conclusion; the order of practical thinkers is from problem to to solution, from unhappiness to happiness, from diagnosis to prognosis, from disease to cure.

-Peter Kreeft

On Reading, with GKC

THE highest use of the great masters of literature is not literary; it is apart from their superb style and even from their emotional inspiration. The first use of good literature is that it prevents a man from being merely modern. To be merely modern is to condemn oneself to an ultimate narrowness; just as to spend one’s last earthly money on the newest hat is to condemn oneself to the old-fashioned. The road of the ancient centuries is strewn with dead moderns. Literature, classic and enduring literature, does its best work in reminding us perpetually of the whole round of truth and balancing other and older ideas against the ideas to which we might for a moment be prone. The way in which it does this, however, is sufficiently curious to be worth our fully understanding it to begin with.