G. K. Chesterton - 10 bons mots

by Kim on June 14, 2009

The great writer, fantasist, and apologist G. K. Chesterton (b. 1874), the “prince of paradox” who fired his salvos at liberals and conservatives alike (so my kind of guy!), died today (June 14th) in 1936. Here are ten of the big (21 stone!) man’s brilliant bons mots.

“There is only one unanswerable argument against Christianity: Christians.”

“The mere pursuit of health always leads to something unhealthy.”

“To be clever enough to get all that money, one must be stupid enough to want it.”

“Bigotry may be roughly defined as the anger of men who have no opinions.”

“A puritan’s a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things.”

“Man seems capable of great virtues, but not small virtues: capable of defying his torturers, but not of keeping his temper.”

“Remember that the church went in for specifically dangerous ideas; she was a lion-tamer… This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into the foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.”

“All conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave anything alone you leave it to a torrent of change.”

“Tradition is only democracy extended through time… Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

So raise your glass to old G. K. - who also reminded us “that no animal ever invented anything so bad as drunkenness - or so good as drink”!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }


Ben Myers 06.14.09 at 3:51 pm

Lovely post! I’ve just started collecting the nice Ignatius Press edition of his works: and just five seconds before reading this post, I finished typing up a quote from Orthodoxy about the fact that “the only objection to Natural Religion is that somehow it always becomes unnatural.”


Rick O. 06.16.09 at 12:26 am

Wonderful bits, those, wonderful to read as well as to re-read. And as true when they were written as they are today.

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