September 11, 2013

Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton - Book Review

I have heard that I should read some G.K. Chesterton.  So I did.  I read Manalive and The Man Who Was Thursday.  I also read another one of his fictitious works, it might have been Lilith. But I have heard that I shouldn't just read his fiction, but one of his other works.  Recently I saw on a blog an encouragement to read Orthodoxy with a link to a free version on Amazon.

Orthodoxy is almost autobiographical, but not really.  It is a collection of thoughts that tell the story of Chesterton's journey away from Orthodox Christianity into truth, only to find that at the center of truth was Orthodox Christianity.

His writing style is fairly unique, and reminds me of C. S. Lewis.  There are references to names and ideas that are time-period specific, quaint little comments that I didn't understand, but gathered that his audience would have understood completely what he was talking about.  There is a whimsical edge to his words, but there is also a deep and profound logic to what he is saying.

I don't think that I could write a review that does this book justice, so I am going to share one of my favorite sections with you:

The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.  
The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.  
But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. 
It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. 
I think he may be right.