The truest fairy tale

The truest fairy tale: an anthology of the religious writings of G. K. Chesterton
Edited by Kevin L. Morris.
Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 2007, Pbk., 255p., £17.50, ISBN 9780718830618

Gilbert Keith Chesterton studied art at the Slade School of Art, University College, London, which in turn was founded in 1826 as “London University” as a secular alternative to the religious universities of Oxford and Cambridge. It may not be a coincidence that he was educated in a politically liberal Unitarian household and that his more than ninety books were written “with a broad brush”, relying on his memory rather than checking his sources.

He was a journalist whose books are sometimes recycled journalism. Among his books, the best known include The Father Brown Stories, Heretics, Orthodoxy, and The Everlasting Man, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, published twenty volumes as the Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton (of which Dave Parry bought the first two volumes in 1986).

It is therefore fortunate that pages 56 – 241 of the book under review contain snippets (some five to a page) of his writings in books and magazines, arranged under eleven main headings: basic religion, general approaches to Christianity, anti-religion, religions other than Christianity, the Christian denominations, the Christian disposition, Christian spirituality, Christian history and its Biblical origin, Christian life, the Church and Society, doctrines.

Pages 7 – 10 contain a foreword by Ramon Duffy, with pages 11 – 55 containing Introduction to Chesterton’s Religious Life, Religious Mind, Writings, with fifty-two references.

Page 11 of this Introduction quotes from his Autobiography “I for one have never left off playing and I wish there were more time to play”. No wonder I enjoy his works, since I wrote in my own Alternative Alternative (Issue 233, 30 March 1989) “It is a little known fact that God meets you half a mile before the pearly gates and takes you by the hand and asks, ‘Did you have a good wander, Dave?‘ “

Contributed by: David E. Parry, MA, DipLib, MCLIP, who is a retired college librarian and the editor and publisher of the newsletter Alternative Alternative.