I have been coming across G.K. Chesterton quotes for many years now, and finally decided that I had to read some of this man's books. I loaded two of them onto my Kindle and have now read the first, "Orthodoxy" which is a companion to the second, "Heretics".
Some call him an apologist, a defender of the Christian faith, but in this book, he does not so much defend the faith as explain how he came to faith. From an early age he had been struggling to make sense of the world and began to build his own religion, or orthodoxy. As he matured and did a lot of thinking on the matter, he discovered that all of his ideas fit into orthodox Christianity. It quite surprised him and he became known later a great defender of the faith.
Chesterton is an intellect, as is more than evident in this book. I found it amusing at times, insightful where I understood his reasoning, but generally speaking, way over my head. I had several frustrations as I read. He continually refers to his peers or contemporary events, and me, not knowing my historical facts from the early 1900's that well, let alone British localities and contemporaries, got lost on those occasions. He also employs a habit of continually creating paradoxes in his writing. He forever turns things up-side-down, in-side-out, and changes the words to reverse the meaning of the thought he is discussing. It was often done in such an obscure way that he totally lost me.
On the rare occasion when I would fully grasp his point and understand his argument, I would do a little fist pump and then pat myself on the back, assuring myself that I was not a total dolt.
It is said of the man that he was a joy to be with, had a great sense of humour, and thoroughly enjoyed his wine and food. He was a sever critic of his friends but they always remained friends and indeed many of them came to faith because of him , C.S. Lewis being one of them.
In his forward, Matthew Lee Anderson, himself an author, states that it is probably the most important book of the 20th century and that the profundity of it would not hit the reader until the 3rd or 4th reading. I will not be doing that. I will take Anderson's word for it.
In the end, I was a bit disappointed because I had always thought the quotes of his, I had read, were wonderful. And they are. It is just that the rest of the book is too obscure. I will read "Heretics" and then call it a day on Chesterton.