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Heretics By G. K. Chesterton

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  • 8/13/2019 Heretics By G. K. Chesterton

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    Heretics

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    Heretics

    HereticsG. K. Chesterton

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    THE AUTHOR

    Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born in London, England on the 29thof May, 1874. ho!gh he "onsidered hi#self a #ere $rolli"%ing

    &o!rnalist,' he was a"t!ally a (rolifi" and gifted writer in )irt!ally

    e)ery area of literat!re. * #an of strong o(inions and enor#o!sly

    talented at defending the#, his e+!berant (ersonality ne)ertheless

    allowed hi# to #aintain war# friendshi(s with (eo(les!"h as

    George -ernard haw and /. G. 0ellswith who# he )ehe#ently

    disagreed.

    Chesterton had no diffi"!lty standing !( for what he belie)ed. /e

    was one of the few &o!rnalists to o((ose the -oer 0ar. /is 1922

    $E!geni"s and ther E)ils' atta"%ed what was at that ti#e the

    #ost (rogressi)e of all ideas, the idea that the h!#an ra"e "o!ld

    and sho!ld breed a s!(erior )ersion of itself. n the 3ai

    e+(erien"e, history de#onstrated the wisdo# of his on"e

    $rea"tionary' )iews.

    /is (oetry r!ns the ga#!t fro# the "o#i" 1958 $n 6!nning *fter

    nes /at' to dar% and serio!s ballads. !ring the dar% days of

    1945, when -ritain stood )irt!ally alone against the ar#ed #ight of3ai Ger#any, these lines fro# his 1911 -allad of the 0hite /orse

    were often !oted:

    tell yo! na!ght for yo!r "o#fort,

    ;ea, na!ght for yo!r desire,

    a)e that the s%y grows dar%er yet

    *nd the sea rises higher.

    ho!gh not written for a s"holarly a!dien"e, his biogra(hies of

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    a!thors and histori"al fig!res li%e Charles i"%ens and t. in -ea"onsfield,

    -!"%ingha#shire, England. !ring his life he (!blished >9 boo%s

    and at least another ten based on his writings ha)e been (!blished

    after his death. Many of those boo%s are still in (rint. gnati!s ress

    is syste#ati"ally (!blishing his "olle"ted writings.

    4

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    CONTENTS

    1. ntrod!"tory 6e#ar%s on the #(ortan"e of thodo+y

    2. n the 3egati)e (irit

    =. n Mr. 6!dyard Ki(ling and Ma%ing the 0orld #all

    4. Mr. -ernard hawA. Mr. /. G. 0ells and the Giants

    >. Christ#as and the Esthetes

    7. #ar and the a"red Dine

    8. he Mildness of the ;ellow ress

    9. he Moods of Mr. George Moore

    15. n andals and i#(li"ity

    11. "ien"e and the a)ages12. aganis# and Mr. Lowes i"%inson

    1=. Celts and Celto(hiles

    14. n Certain Modern 0riters and the nstit!tion of the . n Mr. M"Cabe and a i)ine

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    To My Father

    I. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS ON THE

    IMPORTANCE OF ORTHODOXY

    3othing #ore strangely indi"ates an enor#o!s and silent e)il of#odern so"iety than the e+traordinary !se whi"h is #ade

    nowadays of the word $orthodo+.' n for#er days the hereti" was

    (ro!d of not being a hereti". t was the %ingdo#s of the world and

    the (oli"e and the &!dges who were hereti"s. /e was orthodo+. /e

    had no (ride in ha)ing rebelled against the# they had rebelled

    against hi#. he ar#ies with their "r!el se"!rity, the %ings with

    their "old fa"es, the de"oro!s (ro"esses of tate, the reasonable(ro"esses of lawall these li%e shee( had gone astray. he #an

    was (ro!d of being orthodo+, was (ro!d of being right. f he stood

    alone in a howling wilderness he was #ore than a #an he was a

    "h!r"h. /e was the "entre of the !ni)erse it was ro!nd hi# that the

    stars sw!ng. *ll the tort!res torn o!t of forgotten hells "o!ld not

    #a%e hi# ad#it that he was hereti"al. -!t a few #odern (hrasesha)e #ade hi# boast of it. /e says, with a "ons"io!s la!gh, $

    s!((ose a# )ery hereti"al,' and loo%s ro!nd for a((la!se. he

    word $heresy' not only #eans no longer being wrong it (ra"ti"ally

    #eans being "learheaded and "o!rageo!s. he word $orthodo+y'

    not only no longer #eans being right it (ra"ti"ally #eans being

    wrong. *ll this "an #ean one thing, and one thing only. t #eans

    that (eo(le "are less for whether they are (hiloso(hi"ally right.

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    hi#self on his orthodo+y. he dyna#iter, laying a bo#b, o!ght to

    feel that, whate)er else he is, at least he is orthodo+.

    t is foolish, generally s(ea%ing, for a (hiloso(her to set fire to

    another (hiloso(her in #ithfield Mar%et be"a!se they do not

    agree in their theory of the !ni)erse. hat was done )ery fre!ently

    in the last de"aden"e of the Middle *ges, and it failed altogether in

    its ob&e"t. -!t there is one thing that is infinitely #ore abs!rd and

    !n(ra"ti"al than b!rning a #an for his (hiloso(hy. his is the habit

    of saying that his (hiloso(hy does not #atter, and this is done!ni)ersally in the twentieth "ent!ry, in the de"aden"e of the great

    re)ol!tionary (eriod. General theories are e)erywhere "onte#ned

    the do"trine of the 6ights of Man is dis#issed with the do"trine of

    the

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    (ossibly ha)e any serio!s effe"t on the #an or on the world. *nd

    yet if that !tteran"e were really belie)ed, the world wo!ld stand on

    its head. M!rderers wo!ld be gi)en #edals for sa)ing #en fro#life fire#en wo!ld be deno!n"ed for %ee(ing #en fro# death

    (oisons wo!ld be !sed as #edi"ines do"tors wo!ld be "alled in

    when (eo(le were well the 6oyal /!#ane o"iety wo!ld be

    rooted o!t li%e a horde of assassins. ;et we ne)er s(e"!late as to

    whether the "on)ersational (essi#ist will strengthen or disorganie

    so"iety for we are "on)in"ed that theories do not #atter.

    his was "ertainly not the idea of those who introd!"ed o!r

    freedo#. 0hen the old Liberals re#o)ed the gags fro# all the

    heresies, their idea was that religio!s and (hiloso(hi"al dis"o)eries

    #ight th!s be #ade. heir )iew was that "os#i" tr!th was so

    i#(ortant that e)ery one o!ght to bear inde(endent testi#ony. he

    #odern idea is that "os#i" tr!th is so !ni#(ortant that it "annot

    #atter what any one says. he for#er freed in!iry as #en loose a

    noble ho!nd the latter frees in!iry as #en fling ba"% into the sea a

    fish !nfit for eating. 3e)er has there been so little dis"!ssion abo!t

    the nat!re of #en as now, when, for the first ti#e, any one "an

    dis"!ss it. he old restri"tion #eant that only the orthodo+ were

    allowed to dis"!ss religion. Modern liberty #eans that nobody is

    allowed to dis"!ss it. Good taste, the last and )ilest of h!#ans!(erstitions, has s!""eeded in silen"ing !s where all the rest ha)e

    failed. i+ty years ago it was bad taste to be an a)owed atheist.

    hen "a#e the -radla!ghites, the last religio!s #en, the last #en

    who "ared abo!t God b!t they "o!ld not alter it. t is still bad taste

    to be an a)owed atheist. -!t their agony has a"hie)ed &!st this

    that now it is e!ally bad taste to be an a)owed Christian.

    E#an"i(ation has only lo"%ed the saint in the sa#e tower of silen"eas the heresiar"h. hen we tal% abo!t Lord *nglesey and the

    weather, and "all it the "o#(lete liberty of all the "reeds.

    8

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    -!t there are so#e (eo(le, ne)erthelessand a# one of the#

    who thin% that the #ost (ra"ti"al and i#(ortant thing abo!t a #anis still his )iew of the !ni)erse. 0e thin% that for a landlady

    "onsidering a lodger, it is i#(ortant to %now his in"o#e, b!t still

    #ore i#(ortant to %now his (hiloso(hy. 0e thin% that for a general

    abo!t to fight an ene#y, it is i#(ortant to %now the ene#ys

    n!#bers, b!t still #ore i#(ortant to %now the ene#ys (hiloso(hy.

    0e thin% the !estion is not whether the theory of the "os#os

    affe"ts #atters, b!t whether in the long r!n, anything else affe"tsthe#. n the fifteenth "ent!ry #en "rosse+a#ined and tor#ented a

    #an be"a!se he (rea"hed so#e i##oral attit!de in the nineteenth

    "ent!ry we feted and flattered s"ar 0ilde be"a!se he (rea"hed

    s!"h an attit!de, and then bro%e his heart in (enal ser)it!de

    be"

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