Friday 14 December 2018

ABCs of the Christian Life - G.K. Chesterton - The Ultimate Anthology of the Prince of Paradox

ABCs of the Christian Life:
The Ultimate Anthology of the Prince of Paradox
G.K. Chesterton
Peter Kreeft (Foreword)
Christian Classics
Ave Maria Press
ISBN 9780870613104
eISBN 9780870613111


I am a latecomer to the works of Chesterton. It has only been the last year or so that I have started taking a serious look at his works. The more I read, the more I learn, the more I appreciate about the man, his mind, his works, and his faith. But this book was not exactly what I expected, and yet it was almost exactly what I needed to read at the time. The book contains excerpts from Chesterton’s writings on a variety of topics to fit the alphabet. The sections in the book are:

Publisher’s Note
A Asceticism
B Bethlehem
C Catholicism
D Charles Dickens
E Ephemera
F St. Francis
G Gospel
H Heretics
I Insanity
J St. Joan
K Kensington High Street
L Lying in Bed
M Miracles
N Negativity
O Orthodoxy
P Primitive Revelation
Q Questing
R Religions Compared
S Suicidal Thinking
T St. Thomas Aquinas
U Upon This Rock
V Queen Victoria
W Words
X Sex
Y Yes
Z Zion

I have read other books over the years that work on the A to Z model. Specifically Kathy Shaidle’s A Catholic Alphabet: The Faith from A to Z. And I have been working on an A to Z book of prayers for my children. But this book is not just a simple collection of short snippets. The eBook comes in at over 150 pages and the paperback almost 200. Peter Kreeft in the introduction states:

“Whenever I assign Chesterton to my college students, some love him and some hate him. One student explained very candidly why he hated reading him: “His mind is a rapier, and he’s dueling with me, and he cuts my clothes to ribbons and makes me feel naked and stupid.” I replied: “That’s exactly right. Don’t you just love that?” He thought I was kidding. I told him to read Psalm 139.”

And also:

“Someone said that G. K. Chesterton’s sayings are like potato chips: it’s impossible to eat just one. They are gloriously addictive. GKC is a gold mine, and here are some gold potato chips.”

There is definitely gold in this book, and the more of Chesterton that I read the more I want to read. I personally do not recall having Chesterton assigned in school, and checking my list of books read, I did not read any full volumes of his works. The more the pity. I can only imagine what life would be like if I had begin reading Chesterton 20, or 30 years ago. With that being said I strongly encourage you to pick up this book and give it a read.

The chapter that impacted me most was the one on Negativity. It is too large to share but if you are perusing a physical copy of the book jump there. This is an excellent read but be warned because each chapter is taken from another book, either as a section or whole chapter. So, your wish list or your ‘to be read pile’ might grow exponentially as you work your way through this volume. But is that such a terrible thing?

A wonderful volume, great for fans of Chesterton’s work, and serves as a great introduction for those of us less familiar. A great little read!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For reviews of books by Peter Kreeft click here.

Reviews of books by or about G.K. Chesterton:
The Shop of Ghosts - A Short Story
Way of Wonder: Wisdom from G.K. ChestertonInspiration from the Saints Stories from the Lives of Catholic Holy Men and Women - Maolsheachlann Ó Ceallaigh
ABC’s of the Christian Life

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