Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My New Chesterton Quotes Book (Published on 14 December 2009)


I'm really excited about this. The title is, The Wisdom of Mr. Chesterton: The Very Best Quotes, Quips, and Cracks from the Pen of G. K. Chesterton. I selected all the quotations, and they are all single sentences. The material is copiously categorized and indexed in various ways, for ease of access.

I have a books page about it, which includes the Introduction, back cover text, table of contents, and excerpts. It's published by Saint Benedict Press (recently merged with TAN Books). Saint Benedict has a book page for it and so does TAN Books. Or you can order it from amazon. If you're a fan of Chesterton, please spread the word!

Anyone interested in this book may also enjoy my extensive G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis web pages (many hundreds of links); also my links-pages devoted to Malcolm Muggeridge, Cardinal Newman, and Romantic and Imaginative Theology. The latter gets into J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, George MacDonald, and related writers and ideas.

It's all a labor of love for me. I wouldn't trade my occupation / vocation for anything. I'm delighted to have the privilege of playing any part at all in spreading an awareness and appreciation for the great, inimitable G. K. Chesterton. I first discovered him as an evangelical Protestant in the early 1980s, when I read Orthodoxy. I thought he was a font of wisdom then, and I have had no reason to change my opinion in the 25 or so years since. It's a joy and great honor to be able to function as an editor for the purpose of making his thought more widely known. When we love a great author, we always want to "spread the message" so that others can share our pleasure in reading his or her work.

The mark of wisdom, I think (as also in the case of great art and music), is a certain timelessness or what might be called a perpetual relevance. What Chesterton wrote in 1905 or 1925 is quite often as relevant today as anything written in the leading journals or other avenues of opinion in the last month. This is because truth is truth, and doesn't change according to fashion or the spirit of the age (zeitgeist).

So, for instance, to use an example of a topic that is always a matter of concern: abstinence; he observes:

Everybody has always known about birth-control, even if it took the wild and unthinkable form of self-control.

That is every bit as true now as it was in 1928 when it was written (and even more relevant, given the Sexual Revolution), because human beings remain the same.

Another example of a thing that never changes, are the pretensions and follies of the intelligentsia, or (a disproportionately large portion of) academia, or the self-defined "smart people." Chesterton is unflinchingly honest and right on target here, as always:

But when learned men begin to use their reason, then I generally discover that they haven’t got any.

Why is it that for the last two or three centuries the educated have been generally wrong and the uneducated relatively right?

Anyhow, it is in this intellectual world, with its many fools and few wits and fewer wise men, that there goes on perpetually a sort of ferment of fashionable revolt and negation.

It would be wrong, however, to conclude from these sorts of sentiments that Chesterton was a cynic. Quite the contrary: in dashing the pretentiousness of the cynical and the prideful, he is precisely being the idealistic and ultimately optimistic Christian that he is. In fact, part of that profoundly deep, spiritual Catholic vision is a rare, oft-observed " innocence" that shows itself in, for example, his great love for children:

One of the profound philosophical truths which are almost confined to infants is this love of things, not for their use or origin, but for their own inherent characteristics, the child's love of the toughness of wood, the wetness of water, the magnificent soapiness of soap.

If anybody chooses to say that I have founded all my social philosophy on the antics of a baby, I am quite satisfied to bow and smile.

Chesterton is as relentlessly humorous and witty as he is wise, but always in a playful way; with a "smile," as it were:

Shakespeare is quite himself; it is only some of his critics who have discovered that he was somebody else.

It is an almost invariable rule that the man with whom I don’t agree thinks I am making a fool of myself, and the man with whom I do agree thinks I am making a fool of him.

The Bible must be referring to wallpapers, I think, when it says, "Use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do."

A man's friend likes him but leaves him as he is: his wife loves him and is always trying to turn him into somebody else.

Over and above the horrible rubbish-heap of the books I have written, now filling the pulping-machines or waste-paper baskets of the world, there are a vast number of books that I have never written, because a providential diversion interposed to protect the crowd of my fellow-creatures who could endure no more.

The citations presented herein cover the whole gamut of human experience and thought: from religion and morality (as we would expect of an unapologetic apologist), to the romance and wonder of childhood, the arts, literature, science, philosophy, economic and social observations, agnosticism, education, history, the follies and foibles of the intelligentsia, the wealthy, and politicians, incessant media bias, everyday life, the family, and gender differences: all offered with astounding insight, playful wit, and a sort of childlike innocence that Chesterton seemed to have never lost.

If one wishes to discover and explore the deep wellsprings of the distinctive Christian worldview, there are few better places to start than the voluminous writings of G. K. Chesterton.


Tiber Jumper said...

congrats on the new book. I just received Bible Truths for Catholic Truths. thanks so much, God bless your work

Dave Armstrong said...

Cool! Hope you like it. I just got my copies a few days ago. I thought it looked pretty good.

Dave Armstrong said...

This post was significantly expanded on 10-13-09, with several examples of GKC quotations added, as well as general commentary about the man and his writing: some of which may be used in the upcoming press release.

FireHead said...

Chesterton was indeed a great writer. Did you read The Everlasting Man?
When Chesterton was asked what book would he have if he was alone in a desert island he answered, obviously, that the book would be one that teaches how to make boats.
To get surprised is something human, it's a reaction that we may often see in children. Chesterton may be like a childran too, in this point of view. His books surprise the readers just like the way he seems to get surprised by reality.
In The Everlasting Man, the real surprise is something that is searched and wanted.
Chesterton is a true catholic. And Catholicism is true. The only Church and religion is the Catholic Church. People call me foundamentalism. I don't understand why. There's only one Truth (Veritas).

Semper fidelis!

Dave Armstrong said...

Amen! If to believe in one truth is to be a fundamentalist, then count me in! Great observations . . .

FireHead said...

There's only one Truth, one Church, one Faith and one Baptism.
All the other pseudo-religions are fake. They all are from Gnosis. Do you know what Gnosis is? It is the real enemy of the Catholic Church. Gnosis is the anti-religion, the religion of the serpent.

Dave Armstrong said...

Other religions have a great deal of truth (to varying degrees), mixed in with error.

FireHead said...

More than 400 000 anglicans converted to Catholicism.
Roma locuta, causa finita est!!

Teri said...


I'm reading "Heretic" by Chesterton now and it's great.

I do want to purchase your books soon. Do you have one ready on Calvin yet or just Luther?

To me, Luther is the one I feel more sympathy with. I've heard in Catholic Classes, (of all places) how Luther himself wrote of the harsh treatment he was subjected to by his father and his mother. He could never please them. Nothing he did was ever good enough or right.

The Church needed reforms and it got reforms. Luther thought his church was the reformed new Church. Most Lutherans that are Catholic Converts say their service is much more Catholic than Protestant.

However, John Calvin, Theodore Beza's "prophet" developed his own theology and with the skill of a lawyer, put it down systematically.

Strange that neither Calvin nor Luther thought men should rebaptized or not baptize infants!

I hope you get one out on Calvin soon.
I'm hoping this doesn't open up the
post to the Anti-Catholic jihadist.
Their "holy war" declared on Catholics is so silly and exhausting.

In the peace of Christ,
p.s. Ken, don't bother answering this because I'm not checking back.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Teri,

Excellent (reading GKC).

I have a book published about Martin Luther already:


You can buy that as a paperback or $3 PDF file, or part of the 16 e-books for $25 package deal (both PDF and Word).

The one on Calvin is in process. I'm (kinda sorta) almost three-quarters done. It is a response point-by-point to Book IV of his Institutes.

In my blog series I quote every single one of his words from Book IV. You can see the existing installments at the top of my Calvin, Calvinism and General Protestantism page:


But the book will not be all that; it'll be an abridged, compact version, offering systematic answers to Calvin's errors, and organized differently.

Tentative title so far: Catholic Answers for John Calvin: Replies to Book IV of The Institutes of the Christian Religion.

After that (my 20th book) it is a book about Mary, using the scores of existing papers and re-editing them a bit.

FishHawk said...

"Biblical Evidence For Catholicism" has been included in this weeks Sites To See. I hope you like the image I featured, and I hope this helps to attract many new visitors here.


Dave Armstrong said...

Steve Hays' nonsense and my past critiques of it is hardly typical of my overall work, but thanks for the link!

Coffee Catholic said...

Wow! Nice blog! I have to admit though that the likes of GK Chesterson tend to go right over my head.

I'll have to check out some of your books! I'm a convert to the faith (Baptised in 1998) and still learning ~ and now me and my husband have a one year old daughter and twins on the way so we'd better get ourselves a bit more informed!

My husband isn't Catholic. Yet. But he soon will be! God is so good. Erlend goes to Mass every Sunday and wow... it's so amazing seeing God at work in someone's heart!

Please pray for Orkney, which is where I live now. Please pray in the spirit of Luke 10:2 because the Faith is nearly gone from this place accept for the "older folk." We have a monastery of Redemptorist monks here which is amazing! God deffinately want's Orkney back! So if anyone can spare some time each day to pray for Orkney ~ for this place to come back to the Faith, for God to send Priests and Decons and to keep Golgatha Monastery full of monks, I would be SO greatful!

God bless!!

on a farm in Scotland (though I'm American)

Dave Armstrong said...

Glad you like my blog, Michelle. It sounds like a very interesting life you lead. I hope to visit Scotland next year and visit the Armstrong ancestral lands, right over the border with England.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Congratulations. I look forward to the publication of the book.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks Elizabeth. I can't wait to finally see the thing myself. I have a radio interview about it coming up (in six days). I'm waiting to see when it will be aired (it's a taped interview), so I can post the date and time and URL.

Robert Colquhoun said...

Chesterton is truly amesome and this looks a great book- many congratulations for this great endeavour, from robert colquhoun in england.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks. It was nice of you to comment.

Ken said...

John Piper has an interesting article on Chesterton's book, Orthodoxy:


Dave Armstrong said...

But Ken! How dare he use the wicked phrase "anti-Calvinist"!!! Doesn't he know that is the height of uncharity (that only we Catholics can be guilty of with our diabolical term "anti-Catholic")?

Ken said...

yea, I did notice Piper used that term and it struck me later as ironic, given our dislike of your "anti-Catholic" label on some of us.

In my opinion, he should have used, "anti-Calvinism", because that is a system that Chesterton was writing against.

Anyway, I commend Piper to you and you can listen to all his sermons for free and watch them - he is a happy Calvinist, as I strive to be also.

"The joy of the Lord is your strength." Neh. 8:10


Even Teri said she liked John Piper and his way of communicating the doctrines of Calvinism were good.

Dave Armstrong said...

he should have used, "anti-Calvinism"

Yes, exactly; just like I mean "anti-Catholicism" (the theology, not people) when I say "anti-Catholic" -- as I have explained 753 trillion times, but you never get it.

Hope springs eternal that one day you and your cronies will get it . . . but most in your rank are intellectual cowards (you excepted).