Monday, January 27, 2014

The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton

G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, Ignatius, 1993.

Our book group discussed G. K. Chesterton's The Everlasting Man last Friday. We read Chesterton's Orthodoxy last year, so it was interesting comparing the two. Orthodoxy is more tightly argued and shorter than The Everlasting Man, but both are arguing for the truth of Christianity. Orthodoxy seems more of a logical argument; while The Everlasting Man seems more a work of the imagination. Chesterton is painting broad strokes why humans are different from other creatures, Jesus is not just another religious leader, and Christianity is not just another religion.

The Everlasting Man is divided into two parts. Part one describes the man in the cave, ancient civilization, history of religions, pagans, and mythology. The second part discusses Jesus Christ and the Christian Church. This book is a reply to H. G. Wells' Outline of History. Wells saw human as similar to other earthly creatures. He also saw Jesus as just another man. Chesterton wants to help us to see how wrong Wells is. He wants to give us fresh eyes to see the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and Christianity.

A theme in this present work that is true of other works by Chesterton is a Christian Humanistic perspective. Chesterton sees the world and the things in it as good, as a gift from God. We are to be grateful for it and rejoice in the giver of all good things. He sees good in paganism, myths, and reason. He sees that Christianity is the fulfillment of all the good things, of reason, mythology, and paganism. He argues against the idea that Christianity is against reason. In contrast, it is Christianity that joined faith and reason together.

The Everlasting Man is considered one of Chesterton's best books. It helped C. S. Lewis in his journey of faith. It showed him that Christianity is the true myth. Chesterton says the following about faith and reason: "The Catholic faith is the reconciliation because it is the realization of both mythology and philosophy. It is a story and in that sense one of a hundred philosophies; only it is a philosophy that is like life. But above all, it is a reconciliation because it is something that can only be called the philosophy of stories" (246). The Everlasting Man is recommended for all readers.

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