12 Things Chesterton Was Totally Right About

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Only twelve? Yes.  For now.  To paraphrase Chesterton, “Epic Pew posts, like morality, consist in drawing the line somewhere…” Here’s the short list.

1. “Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God.” – Christendom in Dublin, 1933

Some things have become so obvious they need no additional commentary.

2. “He is a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative.” – Varied Types

Culturally, the world is upside down.  People have always sinned.  But never before has there been a culture that has been so accepting of vice to the point of enshrining some vices as “human rights.” Virtue, modesty, obedience, self-mastery…these are now considered forms of oppression and when heresy is the norm, the only rebellion left is orthodoxy.  That’s another Chesterton quote, by the way. 

3. “If you attempt an actual argument with a modern paper of opposite politics, you will have no answer except slanging or silence.” – Chapter 3, What’s Wrong With The World, 1910

Have you read the things people say to one another in com-boxes?  When no one’s right or wrong, all that’s left is to shout at the other.  Whoever shouts loudest wins.

4. There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man.” – Chapter 19, What I Saw In America, 1922

To what shall we look to for an explanation of man’s dignity and rights?  If not God, if not man as God’s living Image, all that’s left is the will to power. Whoever has the most lobbyists wins.

5. “There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.” – ILN, 1/13/06

Why does it seem that tolerance and respect always exclude Christianity?  Why are the most intolerant people the ones who constantly cry “tolerance!”?

6. “Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.” – The Uses of Diversity, 1921

Where’d the middle class go??

7. “By a curious confusion, many modern critics have passed from the proposition that a masterpiece may be unpopular to the other proposition that unless it is unpopular it cannot be a masterpiece.” – On Detective Novels, Generally Speaking

“Look how offensive it is!  ART!” I would list examples, but I don’t want to give them press.

8. “Let all the babies be born. Then let us drown those we do not like.” – ‘Babies and Distributism’, GK’s Weekly, 11/12/32

He was trying to be shocking here.  But there would be far too many heads nodding in agreement were he to say this today or write it in an op-ed in the Times. Abortion on demand was initially for supposedly rare cases or for the health of the mother (which is mainly rhetorical anyway). Then psychological and social considerations became part of “health”.  Now we hear ethicists talking about “post-birth abortion.” Yeah. That’s a thing.

9. “It is still bad taste to be an avowed atheist. But now it is equally bad taste to be an avowed Christian.” – Introductory Remarks, Heretics

True, it is still in bad taste to be an atheist, if only because the New Atheists are such a joyful bunch.  But do you wanna really suck the life out of a cocktail party?  Announce your adherence to the Nicene Creed.  Wanna get kicked out?  Admit you find Humanae Vitae to be frighteningly prophetic.

10. “It is ludicrous to suppose that the more sceptical we are the more we see good in everything. It is clear that the more we are certain what good is, the more we shall see good in everything.” – Heretics

As a teacher, I have noticed an odd mentality pervasive among students today.  They seem to believe that the more skeptical one is, the more intellectual they are.  Similarly, the less one holds to any kind of morality (except for support for gay “marriage” and environmentalism) the more moral one is.  It is as Chesterton says, ludicrous. I don’t get it, and so I shall say nothing more about it.

11. “I might inform those humanitarians who have a nightmare of new and needless babies (for some humanitarians have that sort of horror of humanity) that if the recent decline in the birth-rate were continued for a certain time, it might end in there being no babies at all; which would console them very much.” – ILN, 5-24-30

The population scare is just that.  A scare.  Birthrates in developed countries have been falling for some time, as even our man GK recognized.  Modern eugenicists and the UN seem to treat human beings (especially poor ones) like a plague.  Ask families with more than two kids about the kinds of things people will say to them.   Remember THIS?

12. “Over-civilization and barbarism are within an inch of each other. And a mark of both is the power of medicine-men.” – ILN, 9-11-09

One of the commonest modern myths is that whatever happens in a hospital is “medicine”.  Surgical Sterilization?  Medicine.  Abortion?  “Women’s health.”  Let me stop you right there, Jack.  This is not at all a slight on the noble and holy vocation of the physician, so don’t even.  But consider one of the constant refrains of the pro-abortion crowd, that if abortions aren’t legally protected then they’ll happen in back-alleys, as if the worst thing about abortion was that it happened somewhere other than the sanctuary of the clinic. 

*All quotes taken from The American Chesterton Society, www.chesterton.org

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