Heretics, by GK Chesterton

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Chesterton’s satirical commentary on modern heretics is a masterful work of philosophy.  In this work Chesterton analyzes Kipling, Shaw, McCabe, America, and a vast number of other characters philosophy.  Chesterton has a masterful ability of turning everything on its head.  When Chesterton explains orthodoxy, all common definitions are thrown out in favor of Chesterton’s own definitions.  He explains that the man in the mad-house is the only one who is actualized.  The man who is outside of the madhouse does not truly understand his own insanity.  So Chesterton begins his attack on all things orthodox. 

 

Chesterton’s handling of Shaw and Kipling is perhaps the best analytical debate on the subject of the two atheistic philosophies.  Chesterton deftly explains that these two men should not be taken seriously and that their efforts are faulty at best.  He further addresses critics who charge him to approach life in a more serious tone by asserting that serious tone does not validate or invalidate one’s own arguments and that serious things are often better explained in cynical and humorous tones. 

 

Of particular merit in the work is Chesterton’s constant and unique analysis of the human experience.  Chapters 14-16 are vastly entertaining and challenging.  Chesterton explains what it is about humanity that denies his neighbor and in doing so challenges us to see the story of the Good Samaritan in a new light.  His argument is essentially that we avoid our neighbor for the sake of fairy-tale and fancy because our neighbor actually is the greater fairy-tale.  Our lake of ability to confine the life of our neighbor is precisely the reason we would rather go on vacation in some exotic estate.  At least away from what is immediately available to us there is some separation from reality, but if we are to be confronted with those who live within arm’s reach, we must journey into the fairy-tale.

 

All in all, this is a fantastic work of rhetoric!  If for no other reason than to enjoy a brief journey into great rhetoric study you should read this book.  If you’re like me, you’ll laugh your way through most.  If you’re like Chesterton’s critics, you’ll decry me for having recommended such a ridiculous display of pompousness.  Either way, Chesterton sums you up in this work.  

 

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