G.K. Chesterton, “Tremendous Trifles”

I checked out this book after reading a convincing recommendation of it by a young online pundit — and I’m glad I did.  The whole book is online here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/8092/8092-h/8092-h.htm#link2H_4_0012

G.K. Chesterton is, of course, an important Christian writer and apologist, his writings influencing, among others, C.S. Lewis.  Now, this particular book is simply a collection of his newspaper columns, and much — perhaps most — of them have no direct bearing on Christianity.  But Chesterton is a terrific role model as a joyful believer, and frequently overt belief breaks through in the columns collected here.

I’ll give two examples of the latter.  Here’s the last paragraph from his column “The Twelve Men”:

Our civilisation has decided, and very justly decided, that determining the guilt or innocence of men is a thing too important to be trusted to trained men. It wishes for light upon that awful matter, it asks men who know no more law than I know, but who can feel the things that I felt in the jury box. When it wants a library catalogued, or the solar system discovered, or any trifle of that kind, it uses up specialists. But when it wishes anything done which is really serious, it collects twelve of the ordinary men standing round. The same thing was done, if I remember right, by the Founder of Christianity.

The last column in the edition of the book that I read (“The Ballade of a Strange Town”) is very Walker Percy-esque in its ending:  Two travelers are having a vaguely unsatisfying trip until it is discovered that they have found themselves in the wrong town.  Then, suddenly, they cheer up.  And one of them, Chesterton himself, observes:

We did not speak again until we had left Lierre, in its sacred cloud of rain, and were coming to Mechlin, under a clearer sky, that even made one think of stars. Then I leant forward and said to my friend in a low voice—“I have found out everything. We have come to the wrong star.”

He stared his query, and I went on eagerly: “That is what makes life at once so splendid and so strange. We are in the wrong world. When I thought that was the right town, it bored me; when I knew it was wrong, I was happy. So the false optimism, the modern happiness, tires us because it tells us we fit into this world. The true happiness is that we don’t fit. We come from somewhere else. We have lost our way.”

The length of each column is just right, and Chesterton is such a lively and uplifting — buoyant an buoying — writer!  Self-deprecating and funny, he is all that serious Christians are often thought of as not being.  Reading this book put a smile on my face and in my heart.