The Wit and Wisdom of G.K. Chesterton

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

“Journalism consists largely in saying ‘Lord Jones is dead’ to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.”

“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”

“Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.”

“It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything.”

“All men are ordinary men; the extraordinary men are those who know it.”

“The most dangerous criminal now is the entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral men.”

“What people call impartiality may simply mean indifference, and what people call partiality may simply mean mental activity.”

“Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.”

“Wit is a fighting thing and a working thing. A man may enjoy humour all by himself; he may see a joke when no one else sees it; he may see the point and avoid it. But wit is a sword; it is meant to make people feel the point as well as see it. All honest people saw the point of Mark Twain’s wit. Not a few dishonest people felt it.”

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

“Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about the things in my pocket. But I found it would be too long; and the age of the great epics is past.”

“A businessman is the only man who is forever apologizing for his occupation.”

“Feminism is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands.”

“I regard golf as an expensive way of playing marbles.”

“A detective story generally describes six living men discussing how it is that a man is dead. A modern philosophic story generally describes six dead men discussing how any man can possible be alive.”

“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around.”

“There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.”

“We call a man a bigot or a slave of dogma because he is a thinker who has thought thoroughly and to a definite end.”

Have your own favorite Chesterton quote? Be sure to share it down in the comments section! I’d love to hear it!

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25 thoughts on “The Wit and Wisdom of G.K. Chesterton”

    1. I tried listening to Orthodoxy on audio, but quickly came to the conclusion that it’s book that needs to be read (i.e. pondered, poured over, re-read) rather than heard. :)

      Thanks for commenting!

  1. Great quotes. I’m a big fan of Chesterton’s, and I’m currently about halfway through Heretics. Like you said, Orthodoxy is a great one to dig into.

    A favorite quote from early in Heretics: “The word ‘heresy’ not only means no longer being wrong; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word ‘orthodoxy’ not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong. All this can mean one thing, and one thing only. It means that people care less for whether they are philosophically right. For obviously a man ought to confess himself crazy before he confesses himself heretical.”

  2. I loved the one about books, that was excellent. Thanks for sharing. I got Orthodoxy for my Kindle but haven’t read it yet, it seems I need to put Chesterton higher on my reading list.

    1. I love Orthodoxy as a complement to Lewis’s Mere Christianity. Where Lewis explained Christianity through prose, Chesterton illustrates it through poetry. Chesterton isn’t trying to prove Christianity true in Orthodoxy, but his goal is to show that it is beautiful and entirely plausible.

  3. I’ve learned where my famous, “I once had an open mind, but my brain kept falling out.” quote comes from. I’m always the last to think of cool stuff, lol. These are great! I need to read me some more Chesterton. :-)

  4. “Thinking in isolation and with pride ends in being an idiot. Every man who will not have softening of the heart must at last have softening of the brain.”

    “The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in the fairy books, ‘charm,’ ‘spell,’ ‘enchantment.’ They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery.”

    Orthodoxy is a treasure trove. :) Enjoyed your list Ink Slinger!

  5. “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.”
    I’m writing an essay on courage right now. I like how he defines it, yet I think there are other, better definitions, such as Harper Lee’s, or Ambrose Redmoon’s.

    He was a wise man. I think I might read Orthodoxy now… :)

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