marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

The Thing

The Thing by G.K. Chesterton
It will be naturally objected to the publication of these papers that they are ephemeral and that they are controversial. In other words, the normal critic will at once dismiss them as too frivolous and dislike them as too serious.

A collection of essays on various subjects, overwhelmingly related to religion.  Some are topical, like one about an Anglican bishop who made a fool of himself by denigrating St. Francis of Assisi, and provide the insight into the era that primary source so often does.  A controversy in America featuring Mencken, in which he mildly points out that Mencken's statements are not logically consistent. Or a man who wants to sacrifice English enjoyment of lawn tennis -- in order to save lawn tennis.

Others are broader, taking in more perspective. This observation is certainly not topical:

And an even worse example, I think, than the cheapening of the word
CHARITY is the new newspaper cheapening of the word COURAGE.

Any man living in complete luxury and security who chooses
to write a play or a novel which causes a flutter and exchange
of compliments in Chelsea and Chiswick and a faint thrill in
Streatham and Surbiton, is described as "daring," though nobody
on earth knows what danger it is that he dares. I speak, of course,
of terrestrial dangers; or the only sort of dangers he believes in.
To be extravagantly flattered by everybody he considers enlightened,
and rather feebly rebuked by everybody he considers dated and dead,
does not seem so appalling a peril that a man should be stared
at as a heroic warrior and militant martyr because he has had
the strength to endure it.

Tags: g. k. chesterton, non-fiction: essays, primary source review

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