Reading: Orthodoxy

> 2021-02-03

Here are a series of short notes on G.K. Chesterton’s [1] book Orthodoxy [2].

Chesterton earns the nickname the “prince of paradox”; every chapter contains multiple statements that flip the conventional perspective. Two statements in particular from the chapter “The Flag of the World” stood out.

Rational optimism leads to stagnation; it is irrational optimism that leads to reform.

The more transcendental is your patriotism, the more practical are your politics.

The contradictions in the word choice are deliberate but surprisingly astute.

Another interesting aspect is how the book, published over 100 years ago, directly addresses issues faced today - some of which were even highlighted as recently as the publication of Cynical Theories [3]. The “Suicide of Thought” chapter states:

The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad.

Again in “The Flag of the World” Chesterton highlights the folly that “a creed can be held in one age but cannot be held in another” while in “The Eternal Revolution” he warns against pursuing revolution without a fixed goal.

In summary, this work highlighted two things:

  1. The great truths may be paradoxical
  2. The wrongs that exist share the same roots across time

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