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Publisher's Summary

Written by G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy addresses foremost one main problem: How can we contrive to be at once astonished at the world and yet at home in it? Chesterton writes, "I wish to set forth my faith as particularly answering this double spiritual need, the need for that mixture of the familiar and the unfamiliar which Christendom has rightly named romance."

Chesterton likens orthodox Christianity to a man who set out in a boat from England and was quite excited to land on an island only to soon discover he had, in fact, landed on England. "I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before." This is Chesterton's autobiography. It is his story of finding the familiar and unfamiliar in Christianity. It is his hunt for the gorgon or griffin and in the end discovers a rhinoceros and then takes pleasure in the fact that a rhinoceros exists but looks as if it oughtn't.

In Orthodoxy, Chesterton argues that people in Western society need a life of "practical romance, the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure. We need so to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome." Drawing on such figures as Fra Angelico, George Bernard Shaw, and St. Paul to make his points, Chesterton argues that submission to ecclesiastical authority is the way to achieve a good and balanced life.

Public Domain (P)2011 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Whenever I feel my fiath going dry again, I wander to a shelf and pick up a book by G. K. Chesterton." (Philip Yancey)

What listeners say about Orthodoxy

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Absolutely brilliant

Loved it. Brilliant. Love the way he turns a phrase to make you both laugh and think deeply at the same time about life, modern thinking and the Christian faith.

I would have some small disagreements on his views of Calvinism however. But that is not the main subject of this book. I absolutely love 98% of the book. I think John Piper wrote a terrific article or two about Chesterton and Orthodoxy at Desiring God.org. He put it much better than I can.
Very highly recommend this book. I think everyone should read it, to think deeply about the wonder and mystery of ordinary life in God's world, to recognise the absurdity of the thinking of the modern world, and to simply enjoy Chesterton's brilliant use of language, illustrations and turns of phrase. He really is a genius. I really enjoyed this book. I will need to listen to it again I think to fully appreciate it. But I loved it.

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Intriguing philosophy/ Well read.

Chesterton highlights the poetic and symbolic power of orthodoxy. He argues that progress must be rested within an orthodox frame for it to have lasting meaning.

This is a great read for a Christian who would like a new way to look at their faith and its connection to conservative belief.

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  • Jon
  • 14-07-2018

Timeless clarity of thought.

I was surprised to find this book first published over 100 years ago, 1908 to be precise. Chesterton's wit and intellectual brilliance have allowed him to write a book that is as fresh and topical today as it no doubt was when it was written.
Part of the charm of Chesterton's writing is his apparent love and respect for his audience. At no time did I feel lectured at or even worse patronised. There was no hint of showing off his intellect (using 10 syllables when 2 or even 1 would suffice) nor dumbing down his argument for the poor unwashed masses. Instead his writing is clear, witty, inviting and engaging.
John Lee should also be recognised for his masterful delivery.
His performance in both tone and cadence perfectly suited this book, thus allowing all the dry wit and sarcasm to be delivered without sounding corny or even worse "bitchy".
However it was his ability to deliver the practical and philosophical arguments with an air of authority but without the hint of supremacy that really made for both an intellectually and audibly enjoyable experience.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Sam French
  • 05-05-2015

A True Gem

G.K. is undoubtedly an intellectual Titan. New and empty philosophies he squashes like flies. With extreme clarity, he bullies his way into your admiration with his sharp insights. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  • David Lingner
  • 23-05-2017

A masterpiece

What did you love best about Orthodoxy?

I listen to this book over and over. Perhaps my favorite book of all time. Chesterton is so enjoyable to listen to. I love his style. John Lee does a wonderful job in reading. I feel like I am listening to Chesterton himself.

11 people found this helpful

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  • No to Statism
  • 15-09-2018

Very Diligent Work

Mr. Chesterton was very fastidious and thoughtful in this book; he reflectively presents his Christian conversion. This is also true as he lays out his Christian beliefs as well. Overall, I found this audiobook to be very gratifying.

John Lee did an excellent job reading the text of this audiobook!

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  • AnnaH
  • 24-02-2018

Loved it!

There always seems to be a twinkle in Chesterton's eye. I really felt that the narrator captured his voice - his narration enriched the narrative.

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  • Pete
  • 31-07-2016

GK Chesterton Relevant Brilliance

I have read everything I can get my hands on from CS Lewis, but I think that GK Chesterton may be even more influential to me now. The insights in this book is exactly what people need to hear in today's culture. I find his insights brilliant and unique, also the source of much inspiration for those who came after. A must read!

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  • Handyman
  • 24-05-2016

Does justice to a classic

Chesterton is timeless. The reading by John Lee was excellent in most parts, especially in the final chapters. But he was a bit sing-songy in the first few chapters which I found distracting. Nevertheless, this is well worth the listen.

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  • Super Freddy
  • 03-02-2017

The greatest book I have ever read

The Master of Paradox, Chesterton, changed my world with this book. He opened my eyes to something that was always before me. He made me hear what was too loud for me to hear before.

Comical, intelligent, and most of all, truthful. Chesterton makes you fall in love with Orthodoxy.

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  • nathan
  • 10-11-2019

Great book by a great writer

Just finished this book and really enjoyed it. Chesterton clearly articulates a lot of what I felt coming back to the Church, but couldn’t really explain well. He takes on Nietzschean idea of the “over man” or ubermensch, Marxism, Stoicism, Panthiesm, scientific materialsm, and the idea of a “mono-myth,” and compares all of them with Catholicism. Even though this book is from 1908, I still see these ideas in today’s pop culture (and many of them overlap). The “over-man” and stoicism themes I see in the culture of powerlifting/jiu jitsu/“human optimization" or from popular podcasts like Tim Ferris. Marxism is institutionalized into many of the arts institutions I interact with on a regular basis. Despite the fact that the jet engines of Nazi Germany or the spacecraft of the USSR disprove the idea that scientific progress is aligned with human progress, many of my peers embrace scientific materialsm as do popular figures like Sam Harris. Pantheism is alive and well in the popular environmental movement. Figures like Jordan Peterson endorse the idea of a “Mono-Myth” which first came from Joseph Campbell. However, in the public sphere of today’s modern smorgasbord of ideologies, I don’t see Catholicism represented as an option at all.

One phrase from the book that stuck with me was in speaking negatively about our modern times, Chesterton talks about something like “Charity without truth, and truth without charity.” This made me think of how music is taught (just something I can easily relate to). If a student is having a problem. I don’t just say “you’re getting it wrong.” Neither do I say “It’s fine, you’re living your truth.” I say something like “that was wrong, but it’s ok. Try it again with xyz in mind.” I think this is supremely important. A chance for forgiveness while also acknowledging that right and wrong exist.

I just love Chesterton’s writing. His use of analogies to cut to the heart of an issue reminds me of Jesus’ use of parables in the Gospel. Another one of my favorite lines (I have an exact quote this time):

"I found that Christianity, so far from belonging to the dark ages, was the one path across the dark ages that was not dark. It was a shining bridge connecting two shining civilisations.”

This is a great summation of what I’ve come to realize through reading not only this book, but also MacIntyre’s “After Virtue” and Woods’ “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization."

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  • Joseph G. Simpson
  • 05-10-2019

One Way. One Truth. One Life.

A man of the world lives a life grounded to it, breath to breath, face in its dust.

A man in the world lifts his life heavenward, erect, untethered to the created, but to his Creator.

The first is necessarily upside down, disoriented, order to a decaying and dying material existence. The later, the natural man, hunts for that which he can not see, but believes, he knows but not how, he desires but knows not why.

In the end, both receive their reward. One with regret, the other, naturally, as returning home.

1 person found this helpful

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