A blog dedicated to providing quotes by and posts relating to one of the most influential (and quotable!) authors of the twentieth century, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936). If you do not know much about GKC, I suggest visiting the webpage of the American Chesterton Society as well as this wonderful Chesterton Facebook Page by a fellow Chestertonian

I also have created a list detailing examples of the influence of Chesterton if you are interested, that I work on from time to time.

(Moreover, for a list of short GKC quotes, I have created one here, citing the sources)

"...Stevenson had found that the secret of life lies in laughter and humility."

-Heretics (1905)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I've published all of the following quotes on this blog before, so nothing new; right now I'm just gathering them into one post for a specific purpose....

"...A quarrel is always a mutual appeal to conscience. Under the shock of it the most fantastic paradox-mongers put their trust in the eternal truisms. The poet, when in an ecstasy, will cry out that nothing is forbidden, that everybody is justified. But the poet, when in a quarrel, will not so easily cry out that his publisher is justified. The artist may claim all colours in a rainbow subtlety, fading into each other; but the artist, when disputing an arrangement with the art-dealer, will develop an interest in black and white."

-January 8, 1916, Illustrated London News

"Indeed, I wonder that the philosophy of flux and relativity has not been applied to simple arithmetic. If we are to give changing and varied values to comparatively trifling things like truth and justice and religion, how much more should there be liberty and progress for really important and inspiring ideas like four and nine and eleven? Might not the clerk gaze in rapt reverence at the figure three and see it evolve before his very eyes into something wider, something loftier, something larger than all this; say into 337? We have had a vast and varied production of evolutionary books. May we not look forward to a book on evolutionary book-keeping? Indeed, there have been some modern characters who have kept their accounts in this hopeful way and whom tribal prejudice has sent to jail. They also had evolved a larger morality."

-March 16, 1929, Illustrated London News

"I agree with those who think that this element of mere rank and fashion in the English Church is a thing to be regretted and removed. But I think it odd that many of those who declaim against it declaim also against doctrines and all definite theology. Surely it is clear that the only way to get equality is to get definition. Suppose you or I start an hotel; we may or may not have rules very severely stated in black and white. But at least we know what the result will be of the rules or the absence of the rules. If we have the hotel principles printed very plainly on a big board, we know that the poorest man in the place can always appeal to them. If we had no rules at all, we know quite well that the richest man in the place will certainly be best served....A definition is the only alternative to a mere brute struggle; to have things settled in black and white is the only alternative to having them settled in black and blue. To have a theology is our only protection against the wicked restlessness of theologians. If the Church of England or any other body tries to do without doctrines, the poor will fall way from it more than ever; the poor are found precisely wherever doctrine is found, whether under Popery or the Salvation Army. If we succeed in including all creeds, we shall fail to include all classes. We talk of things being High Church and Low Church and Broad Church. No doubt there is a sense in which all three of them are actualities; and beyond doubt all three of them are infinities. But there is a falsehood in the modern assumption that breadth is the only kind of largeness. Breadth is a small thing; infinite breadth is a small thing. It is only one dimension."

-October 27, 1906, Illustrated London News

"This writer solemnly asserts that Kant's idea of an ultimate conscience is a fable because Mohammedans think it wrong to drink wine, while English officers think it right. Really he might just as well say that the instinct of self-preservation is a fable because some people avoid brandy in order to live long, and some people drink brandy in order to save their lives. Does Professor Forel believe that Kant, or anybody else, thought that our consciences gave us direct commands about the details of diet or social etiquette? Did Kant maintain that, when we had reached a certain stage of dinner, a supernatural voice whispered in our ear 'Asparagus', or that the marriage between almonds and raisins was a marriage that was made in heaven? Surely it is plain enough that all these social duties are deduced from primary moral duties--and may be deduced wrong. Conscience does not suggest aasparagus,' but it does suggest amiability, and it is thought by some to be an amiable act to accept asparagus when it is offered to you. Conscience does not respect fish and sherry; but it does respect any innocent ritual that will make men feel alike. Conscience does not tell you not to drink your hock after your port. But it does tell you not to commit suicide; and your mere naturalistic reason tells you that the first act may easily approximate to the second.'

"Christians encourage wine as something which will benefit men. Teetotallers discourage wine as something that will destroy men. Their conscientious conclusions are different, but their consciences are just the same. Teetotallers say that wine is bad because they think it moral to say what they think. Christians will not say that wine is bad because they think it immoral to say what they don't think. And a triangle is a three-sided figure. And a dog is a four-legged animal. And Queen Anne is dead. We have, indeed, come back to alphabetical truths. But Professor Forel has not yet even come to them. He goes on laboriously repeating that there cannot be a fixed moral sense, because some people drink wine and some people don't. I cannot imagine how it was that he forgot to mention that France and England cannot have the same moral sense, because Frenchmen drive cabs on the right side of the road and Englishmen on the left."

-The Uses of Diversity (1921)

"We do not really want a religion that is right where we are right. What we want is a religion that is right where we are wrong. In these current fashions it is not really a question of the religion allowing us liberty; but (at the best) of the liberty allowing us a religion. These people merely take the modern mood, with much in it that is amiable and much that is anarchical and much that is merely dull and obvious, and then require any creed to be cut down to fit that mood. But the mood would exist even without the creed. They say they want a religion to be social, when they would be social without any religion. They say they want a religion to be practical, when they would be practical without any religion. They say they want a religion acceptable to science, when they would accept the science even if they did not accept the religion. They say they want a religion like this because they are like this already. They say they want it, when they mean that they could do without it.'

"It is a very different matter when a religion, in the real sense of a binding thing, binds men to their morality when it is not identical with their mood. It is very different when some of the saints preached social reconciliation to fierce and raging factions who could hardly bear the sight of each others' faces. It was a very different thing when charity was preached to pagans who really did not believe in it; just as it is a very different thing now, when chastity is preached to new pagans who do not believe in it. It is in those cases that we get the real grapple of religion; and it is in those cases that we get the peculiar and solitary triumph of the Catholic faith. It is not in merely being right when we are right, as in being cheerful or hopeful or humane. It is in having been right when we were wrong, and in the fact coming back upon us afterwards like a boomerang. One word that tells us what we do not know outweighs a thousand words that tell us what we do know. And the thing is all the more striking if we not only did not know it but could not believe it. It may seem a paradox to say that the truth teaches us more by the words we reject than by the words we receive. Yet the paradox is a parable of the simplest sort and familiar to us all; any example might be given of it. If a man tells us to avoid public houses, we think him a tiresome though perhaps a well-intentioned old party. If he tells us to use public houses, we recognise that he has a higher morality and presents an ideal that is indeed lofty, but perhaps a little too simple and obvious to need defence. But if a man tells us to avoid the one particular public house called The Pig and Whistle, on the left hand as you turn round by the pond, the direction may seem very dogmatic and arbitrary and showing insufficient process of argument. But if we then fling ourselves into The Pig and Whistle and are immediately poisoned with the gin or smothered in the feather-bed and robbed of our money, we recognise that the man who advised us did know something about it and had a cultivated and scientific knowledge of the public houses of the district. We think it even more, as we emerge half-murdered from The Pig and Whistle, if we originally rejected his warning as a silly superstition. The warning itself is almost more impressive if it was not justified by reasons, but only by results. There is something very notable about a thing which is arbitrary when it is also accurate. We may very easily forget, even while we fulfil, the advice that we thought was self-evident sense. But nothing can measure our mystical and unfathomable reverence for the advice that we thought was nonsense.'

"As will be seen in a moment, I do not mean in the least that the Catholic Church is arbitrary in the sense of never giving reasons; but I do mean that the convert is profoundly affected by the fact that, even when he did not see the reason, he lived to see that it was reasonable. But there is something even more singular than this, which it will be well to note as a part of the convert's experience. In many cases, as a matter of fact, he did originally have a glimpse of the reasons, even if he did not reason about them; but they were forgotten in the interlude when reason was clouded by rationalism. The point is not very easy to explain, and I shall be obliged to take merely personal examples in order to explain it. I mean that we have often had a premonition as well as a warning; and the fact often comes back to us after we have disregarded both. It is worth noting in connection with conversion, because the convert is often obstructed by a catchword which says that the Church crushes the conscience. The Church does not crush any man's conscience. It is the man who crushes his conscience and then finds out that it was right, when he has almost forgotten that he had one."

-The Catholic Church and Conversion (1927)

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