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G.K. Chesterton's Influence Remembered

Share This article -bNASHVILLE, Tenn. - Though his first visit to America was in 1921, literary giant and apologist GK Chesterton had startlingly profound insights about democracy in America that still hold true today -- perhaps even more so given the tumultuous state of our nation's current political climate. Chesterton's enormous cultural impact and influence have been chronicled in two new releases from biographer Kevin Belmonte, Defiant Joy and The Quotable Chesterton (Thomas Nelson).

Chesterton espoused the necessity of a moral citizenry.

"So far that democracy becomes or remains Catholic and Christian, that democracy will remain democratic. In so far that is does not, it will become wildly and wickedly undemocratic."

In his 1922 book, What I Saw in America, Chesterton expressed keen admiration for America's founding documents.

"America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature."

Who was GK Chesterton?

An acclaimed journalist, literary critic, lecturer, and apologist, G.K. Chesterton, throughout his life, was first and foremost an astute observer of emerging social trends and schools of thought. He gave voice to time-tested principles that serve a nation well no matter the change that is "in the air" and how those changes fit into the bigger picture of society. Chesterton's gift of eloquence and wit allowed him to boil down ideas to basics -- weigh them against his Christian values -- and inform others.

Perhaps most importantly, Chesterton could speak to people on the street on a common level, but with great complexity. He was an all-around player and all facets of his game were sound. He was an intellectual who could get down on the level of the "regular guy," and was just as comfortable in universities and hallowed halls.

Chester captured the imagination of many of his famous contemporaries. Philip Yancey, C.S. Lewis, Frederick Buechner, T.S. Eliot, Flannery O'Connor, and Dorothy Sayers all had in common a deep appreciation for G.K. Chesterton.

  • Yancey expressed his great indebtedness to Chesterton at length by writing an introduction to Doubleday's 2001 edition of Chesterton's masterwork, Orthodoxy.
  • C.S. Lewis's return to faith was greatly influenced by his reading of Chesterton, and he constantly recommended that seeker friends read Chesterton's classic apologia, The Everlasting Man.
  • Buechner paid an essay-length tribute to Chesterton's classic metaphysical thriller, The Man Who was Thursday, along other essays in tribute to Gerard Manley Hopkins and Mark Twain.
  • T.S. Eliot mourned Chesterton's death in 1936, and penned a generous and revealing obituary to honor him.
  • Dorothy Sayers called Chesterton "a beneficent bomb," owing much to his Christian witness. She later wrote an introduction to his posthumously published play, The Surprise.

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