marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

All Things Considered

All Things Considered by G. K. Chesterton

A collection of essays about odds-and-ends of the era.  His first essay is on the empheral and how insignificant the essays all are -- and how their worst fault is that they are so serious, since he could not expend the effort to make them funny.

But he touches on canvassing for vote, inconvenience, higher culture, jokes, Christmas and much more.  He tells the soldier who said his religion was Methuselahite -- to live as long as he could -- but then, why was he enlisting as a soldier? The famous incident of the Captain at Koepenick. (Who was, if you haven't happened on this story, an imposter who did a lot of stuff merely by feigning to be a captain.) The essay on fairy tales touches on themes that will later be elaborated in Orthodoxy. He discusses the reporting of speeches by describing how Mark Anthony's speech in Julius Caesar could be reported, and actually would be.

But the true delight of this collection is that it's Chesterton who's saying it all.  There is no  substitute for actually reading him, because you miss out on such gems as:

I have known some people of very modern views driven by their distress to the use of theological terms to which they attached no doctrinal significance, merely because a drawer was jammed tight and they could not pull it out.


When some trick of this sort is played, the newspapers opposed to it always describe it as "a senseless joke." What is the good of saying that? Every joke is a senseless joke. A joke is by its nature a protest against sense. It is no good attacking nonsense for being successfully nonsensical.


I have even seen some controversialists use the metaphor, "We must fight them with their own weapons." Very well; let those controversialists take their metaphor, and take it literally. Let us fight the Soudanese with their own weapons. Their own weapons are large, very clumsy knives, with an occasional old-fashioned gun. Their own weapons are also torture and slavery. If we fight them with torture and slavery, we shall be fighting badly, precisely as if we fought them with clumsy knives and old guns. That is the whole strength of our Christian civilisation, that it does fight with its own weapons and not with other people's. It is not true that superiority suggests a tit for tat. It is not true that if a small hooligan puts his tongue out at the Lord Chief Justice, the Lord Chief Justice immediately realises that his only chance of maintaining his position is to put his tongue out at the little hooligan. The hooligan may or may not have any respect at all for the Lord Chief Justice: that is a matter which we may contentedly leave as a solemn psychological mystery. But if the hooligan has any respect at all for the Lord Chief Justice, that respect is certainly extended to the Lord Chief Justice entirely because he does not put his tongue out.

Tags: g. k. chesterton, non-fiction: essays

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