"Paradise is exactly like where you are right now . . . only much, much better."  - Laurie Anderson
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Jester-Prophet G. K. Chesterton

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." - Chapter 5, What's Wrong With The World, 1910

"Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice." - ILN 9/11/09

"Coincidences are spiritual puns."

"The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden." - ILN 1-3-20

"The voice of the special rebels and prophets, recommending discontent, should, as I have said, sound now and then suddenly, like a trumpet. But the voices of the saints and sages, recommending contentment, should sound unceasingly, like the sea." - T.P.'s Weekly, Christmas Number, 1910

"It is the main earthly business of a human being to make his home, and the immediate surroundings of his home, as symbolic and significant to his own imagination as he can." - The Coloured Lands

"Properly speaking, of course, there is no such thing as a return to nature, because there is no such thing as a departure from it. The phrase reminds one of the slightly intoxicated gentleman who gets up in his own dining room and declares firmly that he must be getting home." - Chesterton Review, August, 1993

"Bigotry is an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition." - Lunacy and Letters

"We are learning to do a great many clever things...The next great task will be to learn not to do them.- "Queen Victoria" Varied Types

"Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it." - Autobiography, 1937

"There are two ways of renouncing the devil," said Father Brown; "and the difference is perhaps the deepest chasm in modern religion. One is to have a horror of him because he is so far off; and the other to have it because he is so near. And no virtue and vice are so much divided as those two virtues." ("The Secret of Flambeau" )

"It is not merely true that a creed unites men. Nay, a difference of creed unites men - so long as it is a clear difference. A boundary unites. Many a magnanimous Moslem and chivalrous Crusader must have been nearer to each other, because they were both dogmatists, than any two agnostics. "I say God is One," and "I say God is One but also Three," that is the beginning of a good quarrelsome, manly friendship." ("The New Hypocrite" What's Wrong with the World)

"These are the things which might conceivably and truly make men forgive their enemies. We can only turn hate to love by understanding what are the things that men have loved; nor is it necessary to ask men to hate their loves in order to love one another. Just as two grocers are most likely to be reconciled when they remember for a moment that they are two fathers, so two nationals are most likely to be reconciled when they remember (if only for a moment) that they are two patriots." (ILN June 4, 1921)

"The man of the true religious tradition understands two things: liberty and obedience. The first means knowing what you really want. The second means knowing what you really trust." (G.K.'s Weekly, August 18, 1928)

"I still believe in liberalism today as much as I ever did, but, oh, there was a happy time when I believed in liberals..."

"The sort of man who admires Italian art while despising Italian religion is a tourist and a cad." ("Roman Converts" Dublin Review, Jan-Mar. 1925)

"We lose our bearings entirely by speaking of the 'lower classes' when we mean humanity minus ourselves." ("A Defence of Penny Dreadfuls" The Defendant)

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.

"Atheism is indeed the most daring of all dogmas . . . for it is the assertion of a universal negative." ("Charles II" Twelve Types)

"An interesting essay might be written on the possession of an atheistic literary style. There is such a thing. The mark of it is that wherever anything is named or described, such words are chosen as suggest that the thing has not got a soul in it. Thus they will not talk of love or passion, which imply a purpose and a desire. They talk of the "relations" of the sexes, as if they were simply related to each other in a certain way, like a chair and a table. Thus they will not talk of the waging of war (which implies a will), but of the outbreak of war - as if it were a sort of boil. Thus they will not talk of masters paying more or less wages, which faintly suggests some moral responsibility in the masters: they will talk of the rise and fall of wages, as if the thing were automatic, like the tides of the sea. Thus they will not call progress an attempt to improve, but a tendency to improve. And thus, above all, they will not call the sympathy between oppressed nations sympathy; they will call it solidarity. For that suggests brick and coke, and clay and mud, and all the things they are fond of." (ILN 12-7-12)

"There are two kinds of paradoxes. They are not so much the good and the bad, nor even the true and the false. Rather they are the fruitful and the barren; the paradoxes which produce life and the paradoxes that merely announce death. Nearly all modern paradoxes merely announce death." (ILN 3-11-11)

"There are two ways of being bloodless - by the avoidance of blood without, and by the absence of blood within." (ILN 8-3-18)

"It's not that we don't have enough scoundrels to curse; it's that we don't have enough good men to curse them." - ILN, 3/14/08

"All men thirst to confess their crimes more than tired beasts thirst for water; but they naturally object to confessing them while other people, who have also committed the same crimes, sit by and laugh at them." - ILN 3/14/08

"Civilization has run on ahead of the soul of man, and is producing faster than he can think and give thanks." - Daily News, 2/21/02

"Theology is only thought applied to religion." - The New Jerusalem

"All the exaggerations are right, if they exaggerate the right thing." - "On Gargoyles." Alarms and Discursions

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people." - ILN, 7/16/10

"My country, right or wrong," is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, "My mother, drunk or sober."

"There have been household gods and household saints and household fairies. I am not sure that there have yet been any factory gods or factory saints or factory fairies. I may be wrong, as I am no commercial expert, but I have not heard of them as yet." - ILN Dec 18, 1926

"The person who is really in revolt is the optimist, who generally lives and dies in a desperate and suicidal effort to persuade other people how good they are." - Introduction to The Defendant

"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." - ILN, 4/19/30

"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 possibly be alive." - A Miscellany of Men

"What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism." - Sidelights on New London and Newer New York

Suggest an aphorism and/or a prophet

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