Heretics: The Annotated Edition

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9780970377289: Heretics: The Annotated Edition
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The "enlightened" pursuit of "progressive" philosophy, science, technology, politics and culture have fed an institutional worldview that continues to unravel what's left of the historic unifier in Western civilization - what G.K. Chesterton called the "idea of wonder" in Christianity. This worldview, devoid of the Creator and Savior, splinters and re-imagines the plain text of Scripture and the teachings of the Church in a Byzantine effort to replace good and evil with "It could be better" and "It's not so bad." "The human race," Chesterton writes in Heretics, "fell once and, in falling, gained knowledge of good and of evil. Now we have fallen a second time, and only the knowledge of evil remains to us." Heretics reminds people how to measure their conduct on the basis of good and evil, the light and the dark.

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About the Author:

G.K. Chesterton was born in 1874 in the district of Kensington - London, England. After studying art at the Slade School, and literature at University College in London, the young writer embarked on what was to become a daring and unique literary career. Although his greatest desire was to be known as a journalist, Chesterton would also author volumes of poetry, together with piercing criticisms of contemporary society and its views. His fiction works would sell well, with titles such as "The Man Who Was Thursday", a thriller combining espionage and metaphysics, and "The Everlasting Man", which chronicles mankind's spiritual journey. Following his authorship of many essays surrounding Christianity and Catholicism, Chesterton converted to Catholicism in 1922. The author is also popularly known for his Father Brown books - a priest and detective, this popular character first appeared in "The Innocence of Father Brown". Chesterton died of heart failure at home in 1936, and was posthumously lauded and venerated by figures both literary and religious. In the 21st century, he has been considered a possible figure for canonization for his ample writings on Christianity.

Review:

Heretics is one of Chesterton s most important books. It is also one of his most neglected books. Perhaps the reason has to do with the title. The word heretic conjures up frightful images of controversial characters being barbecued for their beliefs. It smacks of intolerance. The very word dogmatic is perceived as being intolerant. But Chesterton says that man is the animal who makes dogmas. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded. There is something ironic about tolerance being an ideal, and that it is connected to religious freedom. In reality, tolerance has done more to suppress religion than has any persecution. It has left us not only afraid to debate about our beliefs, it has made us afraid even to discuss them. As Chesterton says, We now talk about the weather, and call it the complete liberty of all creeds. This strange silence about religion leaves the impression that religion is not important. There is one thing that is infinitely more absurd and unpractical than burning a man for his philosophy. This is the habit of saying his philosophy does not matter, and this is done universally in the twentieth century... A man s opinion... on Botticelli matters; his opinion on all things does not matter. Chesterton says that we can t get away from the fact that we have a general view of existence, whether we like it or not. It affects and involves everything we say or do, whether we like it or not. And our general view of things is based on our ultimate view of things. Religion is never irrelevant. This book is not an attack but a defense, a defense of the ancient truths that are under attack by modern heretics. Chesterton claims to have gained a deeper appreciation of the Christian Faith through the simple exercise of defending it. He says he never realized the great philosophic common sense of Christianity until the anti-Christian writers pointed it to him. Heresy, it turns out, is usually a distinct lack of common sense. A heresy is at best a half-truth, but usually even less than that. A heresy is a fragment of the truth that is exaggerated at the expense of the rest of the truth. The modern world praises science and hygiene and progress. These are all very well and good, but they have been elevated at the expense of larger truths, such as faith and tradition and permanent ideals. In this book, Chesterton takes on George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, and other heretics whose names may not be familiar, even if their heresies are still exceedingly familiar. The original objection to Heretics, which in fact compelled Chesterton to write Orthodoxy, is that his own criticisms of others were not to be taken seriously unless Chesterton himself declared what he stood for. This is perhaps why Heretics is considered the negative for which Orthodoxy is the positive. But any reasonable reader can see that Chesterton s criticisms are a defense of a well-defined position. By criticizing moral and artistic relativism, he is defending identifiable and absolute standards. By criticizing egoism and the cult of success, he is defending humility. By criticizing skepticism, morbidity and muddle-headedness, he is defending faith, hope, and clarity. Clarity. The truth which Chesterton is defending should be obvious. But because Chesterton has to defend it, it obviously isn t obvious. The heretics have obscured the truth, they have distracted us, they have won us over with lies. The first lie is that truth doesn t matter. --Dale Ahlquist, American Chesterton Society

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