I have been reading GKC for over 40 years and I doubt whether any writer has brought me more pleasure or instructed me more (outside God’s Word).
He has taught me to think; to rigorously apply my Christian faith to all of life. He has taught me philosophy, theology, psychology, literature, politics, social justice, and love for creation. He has taught me how to repent. He has shown me how to see the shallowness and misguided thinking of so much that goes on today - but he does this often with kind laughter.
Reading him spring-cleans my brain. Reading him almost always points me to
God. He uses language like an expert jewellery maker. He is on the side of Truth, and Truth which is big and fun and glorious and life-affirming; but Truth which unflinchingly shows our need of being saved.
Read his Orthodoxy - an apologetics book like none other which will make you laugh; read his What’s Wrong with the World? and find his diagnosis life changing; read Father Brown, The Man who was Thursday and The Ball and the Cross for entertainment; read his biographies of Francis of Assisi and Thomas Aquinas and marvel how he can understand so well two such different saints; who can resist reciting Lepanto for the ebullience of his rhythm, or his The Ballad of the White Horse for a summoning of the blood in patriotic history? His critical evaluations of Dickens, Browning and Shakespeare are superb and still resonate.
He is a giver of joy. He is a man who baptises your imagination so that you see the world as God made it - or as he liked to say “the right way up”. This is why he uses paradox so much: he wants to shock our thinking of the familiar into something truly more glorious, more truthful:
Reality. He can’t write very long before pointing us to the Cross. He is prophetic in that he warned the world of Hitler and his treatment of the Jews in Poland long before others; he saw China as a world economic power; he saw the breakdown of family life and the mammoth rise in abortion; he predicted both oppressive interfering large governments and grasping uncaring large businesses. He prized the local way before it was espoused by ecologists.
In that he wrote over 80 books, more than 200 short stories, several hundred poems and over 4000 essays, and several plays
there is little chance of me reading everything he ever wrote!
All who met him - including his opponents in debate - loved him. George Bernard Shaw ( no lover of Christianity) called Chesterton the only saint he’d ever met. GKC was like a child - yet one who possessed ( or so it is reported) supernatural powers of concentration. He would write often standing in the middle of the road, or leaning against a wall, and became quite a landmark in London for so doing, much pointed out by taxi drivers!He taught street urchins to catch doughnuts in their mouths. He was fabulously happily married - though spectacularly absent minded. It is said that he prayed every day to remember everything he read. He loved to draw and put brown paper on the walls of his house to facilitate his hobby - when one such was filled with his doodles - down it came - and up went another!
I read Chesterton and I see one example of what it means to be consecrated by the Holy Spirit. And I yearn to be likewise.