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Common Sense 101: Lessons from Chesterton

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  143 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Dale Ahlquist Dale Ahlquist, the President of the American Chesterton Society, and author of G. K. Chesterton -The Apostle of Common Sense, presents a book of wonderful insights on how to "look at the whole world through the eyes of Chesterton". Since, as he says, "Chesterton wrote about everything", there is an ocean of his material to benefit from GKC's insights on a kal ...more
Paperback, 300 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Ignatius Press (first published March 31st 2006)
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Douglas Wilson
Nancy and I read this book aloud together, really enjoying it. Chesterton is just a delight, even when he is exasperatingly wrong. Some of those areas are unintentionally brought out by the author, who beats the Catholic drum a little too loudly. But even that didn't wreck a delightful book.
Clare Cannon
Jul 13, 2012 Clare Cannon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Adults & Young Adults
Shelves: non-fiction

As Ahlquist says, this is not a book about Chesterton, but a book about everything else from a Chestertonian perspective. It takes key Chestertonian explanations and groups them under subject headings, sets them in context, and explains their relevance to the issues (intellectual, academic, philosophical, ideological, moral) of our time. Thus it introduces a new audience to Chesterton's wisdom, perhaps in a way that younger readers and non-philosophers could understand more easily.

Some pearls:
This is good. Ahlquist is more readable than Chesterton. I can see that what he is saying is leading up to something, whereas when I read Chesteron directly, I sometimes have to re-read paragraphs because I don't get his train of thought; he always is running away from me, or meandering here and there. Good stuff:

"The key to happiness and the key to wonder is humility. [...:] Humility means being small enough to see the greatness of something and to feel unworthy of it, and privileged to be able
Chock-full of philosophical critiques, shorts bits of wisdom, cheesy wit, and common sense. It was surprisingly a much faster read than I thought it'd be, but every sentence held something valuable. Even if you don't care to learn anything about Chesterton, this book is precious and useful simply for the way it could enlighten the ignorant masses of today.

Ahlquist is in love with Chesterton, but being president of the society devoted to the man, I don't see why he shouldn't be. He also ardently
Jason Leonard
This is wonderful. It is strange to think that I would recommend a book not written by Chesterton as an introduction to Chesterton, but Ahlquist is remarkable at letting Chesterton speak. Given that Chesterton wrote 100 books and 4000 essays, along with hundreds of other things, it can be difficult to know where to begin. I say begin here. Ahlquist will help you navigate the major arguments and thrusts of Gilbert without it feeling like cliff notes. On the contrary, this will make you want to pi ...more
Mr. Ahlquist tends to make leaps in some of his statements that one that isn't overly familiar with Chesterton would not intuitively make, creating sometimes frustrating read. Nonetheless, it is informative and makes you want to learn more about Chesterton.
This is what is lacking in today's world.
So Kate and I have been reading selections from this book about G.K. Chesterton. The author has grouped Chesterton into various topics and then written a sort of narrative which borrows heavily from Chesterton and then inserts direct quotes from him. It's a great collection to have if you want to be introduced to the great man by reading simple snippets and summaries from him. Here are some of our favorites from the last few reads:

In a letter to his future wife: "He wanted to have a simple hous
Carol Barnier
"Why do you carry a knife in your walking stick?" the man asks of Chesterton. "I like things that comes to a point," comes the quintessential Chesterton response. This man's faith is one of the most fun and infectious I've ever witnessed. This book was a great introduction to Chesterton. And frankly, I became a fan of Ahlquist's writing in the process.
Ali M.
While it's nice to get a proper overview of all the different subjects Chesterton spoke on in his time, I don't always appreciate Ahlquist's commentary. He jumps to a lot of conclusions with far less finesse and insight than G.K. himself, and sets up a definitive political stance by the book's end that disservices Chesterton's own comments about how conservatives and liberals are BOTH missing the point. ("The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives ...more
Here is a book that was thoroughly enjoyable to read. It provides great insight into the thought life of Chesterton, especially his amazingly well rounded Christian world view. There seems to have been hardly a subject on which he did not have an opinion, typically an opinion exclusively informed by his deep love for the Lord as well as his thorough understanding of history. He was a prophet not only of his time but ours. To top off the enjoyable experience he has an uncanny way of expressing hi ...more
Uncommonly good! I love GK Chesterton. This was written by a man who used GKC's insights as a way to view the world today. It's amazing how contemporary his writings still are. He used paradoxes to point out great truths.

an adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.

The test of all happiness is gratitude.

The purpose of compulsory education is to deprive the common people of their common sense.

Just a few of the many quotes I love.
The last third of the book dwells on Catholicism and how
Ahlquist truly is a GKC devotee. In 10 or so chapters, each centering on a theme (politics, art, poetry, biographies, seeing wonder in the world, etc.) he lovingly presents the great writer's views with loads of quotes and indeed whole passages from his writings. This is a good introduction to who GKC is. Do not expect a review of his prodigious canon, but the surfaces of many works are scratched as he pulls ideas together to paint a picture of what went on in GKC's mind.
Diane Kennicker
This has been my introduction to G.K. Chesterton. This is a well written book and provides insight into Chesterton and his beliefs. I find Chesterton to be quite the character. Ahlquist seems to have made Chesterton come alive, so to speak, in this book. Ahlquist cited many of Chesterton's writings and I have purchased the book, "The Man Who Was Thursday", so that I may enjoy more than a simple passage.
Ahlquist does a great job of capturing, in very Chestertonian writing of his own, GK Chesterton's thought. Like GKC, he has a terrible understanding of the Protestant/Catholic divide, so those chapters aside, a fantastic book.
The only thing this book needs is to be longer, or just compose an entire annotated collection of Chesterton.
Ben Nesvig
Aug 31, 2013 Ben Nesvig added it
Shelves: 2013-reads
“The purpose of Compulsory Education is to deprive the common people of their common sense.”
Arturo Linares
Buena introducción al pensamiento de Chesterton.
A tremendous introduction to G.K. Chesterton.
Kevin Loker
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Short and sweet 2 4 Apr 25, 2014 07:58AM  
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“He seems so frivolous and so careless, but he gives money to beggars, not frivolously or carelessly, but because he believes in giving money to beggars, and giving it to them “where they stand”.

He says he knows perfectly well all the arguments against giving money to beggars. But he finds those to be precisely the arguments for giving money to them. If beggars are lazy or deceptive or wanting a drink, he knows only too well his own lack of motivation, his own dishonesty, his own thirst.

He doesn’t believe in “scientific charity” because that is too easy, as easy as writing a check. He believes in “promiscuous charity” because that is really difficult. “It means the most dark and terrible of all human actions—talking to a man. In fact, I know of nothing more difficult than really talking to the poor men we meet.” (pp. 13-14)”
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