Who: G. K. Chesterton was a devoutly Catholic journalist, poet and novelist of the early 20th century. His most apt nickname is “The Prince of Paradox.”
Overview: All Things Considered is a series of brief newspaper articles treating various topics of the day—and Chesterton is capable of treating the most serious topics with levity. We can’t read Leonard Ravenhill all the time; for this reason, God gave us G. K. Chesterton.
Meat: Good writers can point us to biblical truth; great writers, like Chesterton, can arrive at truth starting from any heading. “On Running after One’s Hat” is still one of his most famous articles. “The Modern Martyr” and “The Error of Impartiality” contain exactly the kinds of brilliant insights a reader comes to expect from Chesterton.
“Fairy Tales” (quoted below) is a fascinating explanation of the truth of children’s tales: we are hemmed in by conditions or laws, and there is no escaping the truth that our choices have consequences. In this sense, Chesterton says, fairy tales carry moral truth, or a truth about morality. (The same theme is explored in “The Ethics of Elfland,” a famous chapter in Orthodoxy, published in the same year.)
Bones: Some of the political debates here—doubtless scathing in their day—are lost on today’s reader, especially those who aren’t English. Other topics are downright trivial; but then, that is probably what makes reading them so fun.
Quotes: “One of the great disadvantages of hurry is that it takes such a long time.”
“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” (“On Running after One’s Hat”)
“But the whole modern world, or at any rate the whole modern Press, has a perpetual and consuming terror of plain morals. … Our modern Press would rather appeal to physical arrogance, or to anything, rather than appeal to right and wrong.” Chesterton continues to say that if someone murders their grandmother, the press will call it “vulgar, disgusting . . . will accuse it of a lack of manners . . . Another school will say that it is an uneconomic waste of a good grandmother. . . . The only real point that is worth mentioning is that the action is wicked.” (“The Boy”)
“If you really read the fairy-tales, you will observe that one idea runs from one end of them to the other–the idea that peace and happiness can only exist on some condition. This idea, which is the core of ethics, is the core of the nursery-tales. The whole happiness of fairyland hangs upon a thread, upon one thread. Cinderella may have a dress woven on supernatural looms and blazing with unearthly brilliance; but she must be back when the clock strikes twelve. . . . A promise is broken to a cat, and the whole world goes wrong. A promise is broken to a yellow dwarf, and the whole world goes wrong. . . . A girl is given a box on condition she does not open it; she opens it, and all the evils of this world rush out at her. A man and woman are put in a garden on condition that they do not eat one fruit: they eat it, and lose their joy in all the fruits of the earth.” (“Fairy Tales”)
“Only the weak exhibit strength without an aim.”