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By G. K. Chesterton
When then-Father Fulton J. Sheen invited G. K. Chesterton to write the preface to his first book, God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy, the Prince of Paradox disarmingly demurred: “I know nothing about Philosophy.” To which, Sheen recounts, “I retorted that he had written an excellent philosophy himself, namely, Orthodoxy.” First published in 1908, Orthodoxy is the record of one man’s startling discovery, accomplished with the utmost daring, of what had already been discovered before. Hence Chesterton’s refusal to call the philosophy contained in these pages “my philosophy”—“for I did not make it. God and humanity made it; and it made me.”
People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. ( G. K. Chesterton)
Written thirteen years before his reception into the Catholic Church, Orthodoxy is widely acclaimed as Chesterton’s most brilliant work, an outstanding synthesis of truth and its apparent contradictions that reveals Christianity as the answer to the riddle of reality. Chapter by chapter, from strength to strength, Chesterton testifies to the astounding fact of wisdom, ever-ancient, ever-new: “I have kept my truths: but I have discovered, not that they were not truths, but simply that they were not mine.… I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy.”
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Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874–1936) was an immensely prolific English writer, poet, and journalist. A convert to Roman Catholicism, he is best known for his influential works in apologetics, such as Orthodoxy, Heretics, and The Everlasting Man; his biographical studies of Charles Dickens and Robert Browning; and his ingenious Father Brown detective stories.