G.K. Chesterton: Don’t Lose Your Head in the Absolute Thrill of Orthodoxy

“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.

It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic.

The Church in its early days went fierce and fast with any warhorse; yet it is utterly unhistoric to say that she merely went mad along one idea, like a vulgar fanaticism. She swerved to left and right, so exactly as to avoid enormous obstacles. . . .

It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic.

It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own.

It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob. To have fallen into any of those open traps of error and exaggeration which fashion after fashion and sect after sect set along the historic path of Christendom—that would indeed have been simple.

It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame.

But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.”

G.K. Chesterton, in Orthodoxy

HT: Justin Taylor


  1. I will stalk you across the interwebs to hold you accountable for GK Chesterton quotes. Except it was a direct cotext quote, so this time you get a pass… this time. 🙂

    Great passage.

    My work commute is 1/2hr each way and I’ve sometimes found Orthodoxy easier to listen to than to read for some reason. librivox.org is a tremendous resource.

  2. Thanks, Dan. I also enjoy Librivox, at least most of the time. I’ve been spoiled by listening to so many audio books from the library and the excellent performers on them like John Lee and Martin Jarvis.

    I’m glad to know I’ve got a Consistent Chesterton hound on my trail if ever I misstep to set me straight.

    From now on I’ll just post chapters. 🙂

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