G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was an Englishman who wrote more than 70 books, regaled contemporaries with debates on every subject under the sun, enchanted readers with his Father Brown mysteries, and regarded life as a moral melodrama. In his fine opening assessment of this prolific writer, William Griffin comments on him as poet, columnist, biographer, social theorist and commentator, playwright, mystery writer, travel writer, and religion writer. This volume is part of the Orbis Books' Modern Spiritual Masters Series.

Chesterton began life as a liberal Unitarian, progressed to Anglican, and ended up Roman Catholic. Dale Ahlquist, editor of the journal Gilbert, has stated: "The subject of all Chesterton's writings is the unseen presence of God in the modern world. Indeed, the two ideas we take from Chesterton are that religion begins with the realization that the world is a magical place, and that politics begins with the realization that all human beings have a God-like dignity. Every human transaction, therefore, whether social or economic, is an opportunity either to dignify or to exploit our fellow man." Griffin measures this Christian's purview by the ideals of paradoxy, hilarity, humility, and Scripture. Here is a sampler of quotations from Chesterton.

• "Vanity is social; it is almost a kind of comradeship — Pride is solitary and uncivilized. Vanity is active; it desires the applause of infinite multitudes — Pride is passive, desiring only the applause of one person, which it already has. Vanity is humorous, and can enjoy the joke even of itself — Pride is dull, and cannot even smile."

• "We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbor."

• "The supreme adventure is being born. There we do walk suddenly into a splendid and startling trap. There we do see something of which we have not dreamed before. Our father and mother do lie in wait for us and leap out on us, like brigands from a bush. Our uncle is a surprise. Our aunt is, in the beautiful common expression, a bolt from the blue.

"When we step into the family, by the act of being born, we do step into a world which is incalculable, into a world which has its own strange laws, into a world which could do without us, into a world that we have not made. In other words, when we step into the family, we step into a Fairy Tale."

• "Christianity, which is a very mystical religion, has nevertheless been the religion of the most practical section of mankind. It has far more paradoxes than the Eastern philosophies, but it also builds far better roads."