Thursday, December 3, 2009

YIMC Book Club, “Orthodoxy,” Chapter 3

Posted by Webster

The honor roll of the YIMC Book Club reads as follows: Mary, Kneeling Catholic, EPG, Goodalice19, Mujerlatina, Mike, Regina, Frank & Webster (Who am I missing?)

It's been a long day, YIMC Book Clubbers! So I'm going to keep this short and turn it over to you.

Chapter 3, “The Suicide of Thought”

Frankly, between you and me, this overeducated Exeter boy finds Chesterton intimidating. He is so damn smart, he piles on the analogies, the metaphors, like baked beans on a Saturday supper plate. And this chapter has more beans than the two previous chapters combined. But—

Let's all remember that Chesterton was writing in the first decade of the 20th century, one hundred years ago. Imagine that! In the name of Christianity, he took on the following “titans” of Western thought: Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, and Tolstoy! (There are others mentioned in chapter 3, but this is a heavy-hitting line-up.) He stood up to these guys and said, “You know what? You don't get it. The Protestant Reformation ‘shattered’ Christianity 350 years ago, and all the intellectual powers of man have come unhinged from their moral base.”

Here are a couple of related quotes from chapter 3 that resonate with me.

In the act of destroying the idea of Divine authority, we have largely destroyed the idea of that human authority by which we do a long-division sum.


Thinking in isolation and with pride ends in being an idiot. Every man who will not have softening of the heart must at last have softening of the brain. 

What I understand from this chapter is that, by becoming unhinged from the Divine truth that inspired it, Western thought has flown off into an orbit of its own. And Chesterton is calling us back to Christ.

What do you think, my newfound Catholic friends?