Ian Ker has released
a new biography of G.K. Chesteron (reviewed here) that suggests that the author’s reputation has been too narrowly limited to conservatives and Christians. Ker notes the far-ranging excellence of Chesterton as critic, commentator, and imaginative author.
Chesterton’s reputation has been difficult to assess, in part because so many of his fans from the Catholic and political right have tended to emphasize only his Christian apologetics, as in Orthodoxy (1908). Yet even that is a more complicated work than often portrayed, with little of the theological rigidity and sense of moral stricture one associates with the term. For instance, Chesterton took a detour at one point to discuss the Fenians, the Irish rebels against British rule, whom most of his countrymen regarded as terrorists. With his usual enjoyment of paradox, he argued that “the lawlessness of Ireland is a Christian lawlessness, founded on reason and justice.”