Seven Ways to Be Unfair to G. K. Chesterton

  1. Say that anyone who is supporting the opening of the cause for Gilbert’s sainthood is “too close” to the subject. If someone is hero worshipping Gilbert they cannot be objective about the sainthood question.

The problem with this argument is that there are very few people who know much at all about Gilbert, while everyone else is literally too far from the subject. Where is that perfect person who knows enough about Gilbert to want him to be a saint, but who will stand back far enough to be objective?

  1. Say that Gilbert was anti-Semitic and take a few sentences out of context from his writings to prove it. Or, say that Gilbert was not anti-Semitic, and take a few sentences out of context from his writings to prove it.

The problem with this argument is that there are very few people who know enough about Gilbert and his times to understand this issue fully. One person has taken it upon herself to delve into this subject, but unfortunately only seventeen people have read her book. Ann Farmer’s work Chesterton and the Jews is a thorough study of Chesterton’s statements, the evolution of this thought, his attitudes, and his times, and presents the most systematic answer to the question of Chesterton’s views of the Jews. Everyone should read it.

  1. Say that Chesterton is too fat to be a saint.

The problem with this argument is that we’ve never yet heard that a person was too skinny to be a saint. And yet starving one’s self to skin and bones was often a problem with saints of the past; and it never prevented one of them from becoming a saint. We aren’t saying Chesterton was the opposite, we simply make the point that one’s skinniness or fatness is not an issue in the cause for sainthood.

  1. Say that making Chesterton a saint would ruin his ability to evangelize.

The problem with this argument is that a three hundred pound cigar smoking wine drinking saint may be just what the whole world needs right now.

  1. Say that Chesterton can’t be holy because he was a journalist.

The problem with this argument is that the world of journalism needs saints too, and Chesterton’s journalism should not prevent his sainthood. If you need proof, just read his journalism.

  1. Say that Chesterton himself said he shouldn’t be a saint.

The problem with this is that every saint thinks they aren’t a saint. It’s actually a good sign that they are humble, and maybe they are a saint after all.

  1. Say that Chesterton can’t be a saint because he drank too much.

The problem with this argument is that it isn’t true. He drank, yes, and smoked too, almost a worse sin by today’s standards. Neither activity has a bearing on his character, his goodness, his intellect, his theology or his philosophy.

It may be fair to say that it is tempting to be unfair to Chesterton, but one is really only saying how much more there is to learn about Chesterton. For the full rounded version of Chesterton requires reading a few biographies, and many of his books. Let us cease being unfair, and begin to learn. A good place to start is at the American Chesterton Society: visit Chesterton.org today.

Nancy Carpentier Brown

By

Nancy Carpentier Brown is the wife of artist Michael Brown, and mother of two amazing young women. She became interested in the life of Frances Chesterton as she read biographies of G.K. Chesterton, and recognized in Frances a kindred spirit. Brown is the author of numerous Chestertonian titles, including: The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton, The Father Brown Reader II: More Stories from Chesterton, Chesterton’s The Blue Cross: Study Edition and A Study Guide for G. K. Chesterton’s St. Francis of Assisi; The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide; How Far Is It To Bethlehem: The Plays and Poetry of Frances Chesterton; The Children’s Crusade; Faith & Fable: A Masque, The Three Kings: A Play for Christmas

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

MENU