A Chesterton Primer

Book Review: Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton, by Kevin Belmonte.

Most Christian readers know of G.K. Chesterton. I’m sure that few of those readers have actually read much of his work – a category into which I fall. Having read Belmonte’s book I now feel that I have a basic introduction to the man and his work. The biography is really more of a primer. As stated in the Author’s Note, “Such is the aspiration of this book: to introduce a life and legacy that should be better know. It does not in any way aspire to be a comprehensive or definitive study.” Belmonte achieves his aspiration. The book seems to be an excellent overview of his life and work.

As a Christian reader I, like many others, knew his book Orthodoxy, at least by reputation and isolated quotes. I also knew of his influence on C.S. Lewis. Defiant Joy helped to expand my limited knowledge of a remarkable writer and literary critic and understand that he was a “whole” man with a world view that was big enough to include writing and thinking that wasn’t distinctly about God in a manner that honored God completely.

At several points Belmonte demonstrates the unique character of G.K.C. (as he was often called). I particularly appreciated the insights into Chesterton’s ability to be great friends with those men with whom he disagreed. Given some of the personal vitriol among Christian theologians and bloggers today, this is something to long for.

C. S. Lewis was deeply affected by G.K.C., The Everlasting Man in particular; something that Lewis regularly acknowledged. Belmonte says,

“Moreover, Lewis’s affirmation of Chesterton’s influence upon him is one supreme reason, among many, as to why Chesterton the apologist matters today. As an apologist, he helped to give the world C.S. Lewis, perhaps the most influential Christian apologist of all time” (p. 234).

If for no other reason, I’d encourage Christian readers to engage with the thinking of G.K.C. and Belmonte’s Defiant Joy is a good place to start.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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One response to “A Chesterton Primer

  • Cherel

    I’m currently reading Orthodoxy and enjoying it! I also read for Booksneeze and wish I could have gotten this book. Sounds very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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