“People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum and safe. There never was anything so perilous or exciting as orthodoxy”
“Orthodoxy” by G.K. Chesterton is quite easily one of the greatest Christian works of the 20th century although from reading it you get the impression that Chesterton had no clue that his work would ever be seen as something influential. He writes as one who is only doing so on a whim, and that tends to work for the books advantage. Chesterton’s book is a joy to read, but if you expect this book to be anything more than enlightened ramblings you may be disappointed. By this I mean that, while the book is a wonderful read, it reads as if Chesterton were merely flowing from one thought to the next without really any end goal in mind. Most all of his chapters will inevitably end up connecting back to the beginning of the Chapter in some means as a sort of loose circle of thought, but the author feels free to go wherever his thought or the spirit leads.
As a result of this you should be prepared to simply enjoy the ride and allow your mind to wander with Chesterton as you read this book. By doing so you will hear very interesting and thoughtful contemplations on evolution, buddhism, Frederich Nietzche, suicide, materialism, politics, martyrdom, mythology, and the absurdist human desire for meaning (just to name a few). Chesterton is an intellectual giant who, upon contemplating life, meaning, purpose, death, and the philosophy of self realized that Christian Orthodoxy was one of the few things that was successful in actually making complete sense of the world around us and our place in it. He elaborates heavily on the Christian view of the world and how vastly distinct it is from the other theologies and philosophies of the world.
It is also worth noting that Chesterton was a wonderful wordsmith. His thought flow very smoothly and his writing comes off natural, like an old grandfather recalling a tale he has told a thousand times. Nothing feels forced here and (thought I do not fully agree with all of his conclusions) I can easily follow how he reached every conclusion he states. He puts as much logic into Christianity as is possible for a “faith” to have, and I would be a terrible reviewer if I failed to mention that this is easily one of the most quotable books I have ever come across. The book is riddled with “Chesterton-isms” that are both enlightening and occasionally humorous. His writings are reminiscent of Lewis or in style, but with the mental and philosophical strength of Kierkegaard or Bultman, and the lucid and free roaming nature of Donald Miller. Very well done, and highly recommended.
If you want a free copy of Orthodoxy, you are in luck because it exists in the public domain: