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Heretics - Enhanced Version

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  3,993 ratings  ·  371 reviews
Heretics is a collection of 20 essays originally published by G. K. Chesterton in 1905. In his first essay, Chesterton describes his understanding of the words Orthodox and Heretic as they apply to, and have changed in, the modern period. Chesterton argues that in modernity, "The word 'orthodoxy' not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong". He c ...more
Kindle Edition
Published July 14th 2009 (first published 1905)
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John M
Jun 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chesterton, let's face it, is thematically ataxic. He can't keep to one idea; in the words of an acquaintance of mine, he sidesteps issues by making sense. Reading Orthodoxy was an experience analogous to hearing an inebriated genius swerve through celestial ideas. The book's only lack is that its subject demands a structure it doesn't provide.

Heretics is a different story. Here Chesterton is truest to his form. He's free to roam the world of his improvised ideas as he surveys what he considers
...more
booklady
Heresy means a belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine and so a heretic would be a person holding such a belief or opinion. It’s a word we don’t use or hear much anymore, probably because we are afraid of certainty in religion. We prefer ‘tolerance’. This trend was gaining ground in Chesteron’s day. (Wouldn’t you love to hear what he would have to say about our world today?!)

Heretics, I was surprised to read in this excellent lecture article by Dale Ahlq
...more
Brian Eshleman
I must have deposited every third or fourth sentence from this book into my OneNote file for future use and reflection. His sayings go down easily, but they have a collective impact. He can skewer the fallacious assumption of one's worldview without making the reader feel personally pricked.

Chesterton is that writer I would never think to list among my favorites, and of whom I have read only a small fraction of his work. Yet, every time I get into any nonfiction he wrote, I think I need to quara
...more
Jonathan Terrington

4.5 Stars

The Oxford English Dictionary

Heretic: noun
a person believing in or practising religious heresy.
a person holding an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted.


Heretics is by G.K. Chesterton's own admission, a work that merely serves to point out the 'heresies' contained within the popular veins of thought surrounding him in society. It seems odd that such a word as 'heretic' could be applied to what is popular, when it is known that heresy normally tends to be the opinion against p
...more
Barnabas Piper
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chesterton’s clarity of thought and incisiveness of expression never cease to impress and help me. I don’t always agree, and occasionally don’t follow, but I’m always better for it.
David Sarkies
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
Philosophy in the Edwardian Age
7 March 2016

This is one of those books that has so much in it that it is literally impossible to cover in a single review. Okay, I probably could do it but the review would be incredibly long and I would probably end up repeating everything Chesterton said in the book, but then again a lot of my reviews end up being a short rehash of what the author said anyway. I guess the reason that I do this is because even if everybody who reads this review puts the book onto
...more
Amy
Obviously, this is G.K. Chesterton so I am going to love it. However, probably my "least" favorite of the books I've read by him. It feels somewhat random and thrown together. I can see how it paved the way for Orthodoxy, though, one of his greatest works.
Contains many profound thoughts! I love the way he writes. I particularly appreciate his advocacy for "bad" novels.
...more
Justinian the Great
Look it’s really good, but it would be probably much better if the person reading knew beforehand the authors whom he calls “heretics, I didn’t know, I could still understand what he was saying. Maybe the author himself could have explained better what were the thoughts and writings of these folks.
David Washington
Well.

Heretics was my first experience with G.K. Chesterton. And it was a grueling one. Reading this book was an experience in attrition. I trudged through it, picking it up and down, up and down. Though I finished it with an inner fanfare and “Hurrah!!”, I simply could not get into the subject matter.

Heretics takes a look at prominent figures in Chesterton's days from his perspective and their views and philosophies on things. I think the title is a misnomer because he doesn't speak of these fi
...more
Tim
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
I'm just finishing this book for the third or fourth time. Chesterton blows my little mind. He has such wonderful insight into what it is to be human. I think of him as a humanist that was a Christian. One of my favorite lines in this book is that "what is valuable and lovable in our eyes is man--the old beer-drinking, creed-making, fighting, failing, sensual, respectable man." For Chesterton, man is incurably an idealist, a romantic, a thinking, feeling, paradoxical being. However, what is most ...more
Sandra
Dec 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nicola
Shelves: christian, philosophy
This was the first book I read from Chesterton and I have to admit that, even though it was a bit difficult to follow, I found it genius. It is very difficult to classify this book, but I believe it is a great source of criticism to some modern addictions such as progress, beauty, democracy and anti-religion. I liked it very much by the fact that he manages to criticize in a very respectful and objective way. He destroys the ideals of several important novelists and philosophers by using charact ...more
Charles Cole
To explain my review. The concepts in the book aren't all that bad, I'm really just not a fan of the constant use of paradox and empty maxims. It was a fairly grueling read in that it was unnecessarily full of these fillers. However, there were some genuine gems in here, and the book got relatively better heading towards the later chapters. Here are some quotes that I quite enjoyed:

"It is a sufficient proof that we are not an essentially democratic state that we are always wondering what we shal
...more
Tess
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
G.K. Chesterton was such a genius. He blows my mind repeatedly in his books, and gets me thinking about things in a completely different light from that which I am used to thinking about them. Amazing. Here are the greatest hits from this book, at least as far as I'm concerned:

-- For with the removal of all question of merit or payment, the soul is suddenly released for incredible voyages.

-- And this gay humility, this holding of ourselves lightly and yet ready for an infinity of unmerited trium
...more
Richard Duncan
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No review by me could even remotely begin to do justice to the wit and wisdom in GK Chesterton's book Heretics.

I read this book at the recommendation of my son, Alan. I'm glad he encouraged me – strongly, I might add – to read Heretics. Next, I will read Orthodoxy.

Although Chesterton wrote in a different time and on a different continent, his words have strong application for what we are facing today with postmodernism, pluralism, and a new kind of religion called tolerance, which is really into
...more
Shane Saxon
This book contains some really fascinating ideas, but it also has some really confusing ones. It would have helped if I had a more thorough understanding of the philosophies of Chesterton’s day. Also, I’m looking forward to reading Orthodoxy which might explain some of what I read here. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but when reading Chesterton you have to remember that he is primarily a philosopher not a theologian. However, here are some of the ideas which I thought were particularly thought pro ...more
David Smith
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read. As relevant today as it was when he wrote it. Chesterton pulls back the veil on so many beliefs of our Modern and Post-Modern world, and reveals their frailty. Mostly a critique, one finds analysis of authors and figures in Chesterton’s day they won’t know now. Never fear, the essays are still accessible and can be understood for their argument.
Dominic Robin
Not as good as Orthodoxy, but, then, nothing is as good as Orthodoxy. It's better than most anything else though. ...more
Josh L
Mar 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chesterton was a jovial, good-natured man, known for his raucous laughter and his love for naps and good beer. But Chesterton was also criticized for his joy, particularly criticized for how many jokes he made at his opponents’ expense. Heretics exhibits that style of jovial criticism, as in its pages Chesterton contests the philosophies and the philosophers of his day, but does so with wit and flair.

The chapters of this book are each devoted to a different writer or thinker of Chesterton’s day,
...more
Pinkyivan
Nov 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
His best essay collection where he discusses ideas of his contemporaries.
This makes you realize how modern public intellectual debates and whatnot are completely vapid compared to the lively discussion of early 20th century England where you had people like Chesterton, Kipling, Bernard Shaw, Wells, Belloc and a few others being what Dawkins and Lane Craig are today.
Ye old days were at least in this much more interesting.
Nuno R.
For a few years, I heard numerous references to Chesterton. I'm sure I will dive into his work and it's so good to know he has a long bibliography. He was a genius, a brilliant thinker and I wish I could find more conservatives like him. The quality of our argument depends a lot on the quality of our oponents. His ability to create/point out paradoxes makes his writting at the same time piercing and wity, challenging and delightful. ...more
Ryan
Before revisiting Orthodoxy, I decided to pick up Heretics first since Chesterton wrote it first and the reaction to it prompted him to write Orthodoxy. I am so glad I did. It may not quite reach the level of the positive and beautiful statement that is Orthodoxy, but there are so many quotable and insightful passages written against modern skepticism as only Chesterton can.
Here’s a little taste:

“They would make us simple in the things that do not matter-- that is, in diet, in costume, in etiqu
...more
Todd Stockslager
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
Review title: Life is always a novel

In the decades since his death, I imagine Mr. Chesterton has been bounding about Heaven in an unfeigned energy of pure virginal (his term) faith and and delight in its wonders, perhaps trading epigrams with Oscar Wilde (who would not be the only forgiven sinner in Paradise) in joyous competition, and quoting with delight the words of that new young songwriter Jimmy Buffett "the more we learn the less we know."

OK, perhaps not, but after reading thousands of boo
...more
Jerry
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.


Chesterton has a fairly predictable writing style: first he writes something that sounds completely wrong; then he explains it; and then he writes a short pithy phrase that makes it obvious what he was really talking about. For example, that “The evil of militarism is not that it shows certain men to be fierce and haughty and excessively warlike. The evil of militarism is that it shows most men to
...more
Darby Hughes
Insightful and witty as you would expect from Chesterton. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one. It’s not about Marcion, Arius, and Pelagius, it’s about popular thinkers & artists like HG Wells, Rudyard Kipling, and others in the author’s day that we wouldn’t necessarily think of as heretics, but were espousing very non-Christian ideas in British culture.

He brings out their doctrines and philosophies in entertaining and unexpected ways. Definitely not as good as Orthodoxy (one of my all-ti
...more
Hayfa
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are amazing books which are worth five stars, and then there's Heretics which deserves a sixth star for its writer's exceptional genius.

Now, I am in a real state of excitement. I will make sure to write a decent review as soon as I become moderately excited (not that I consider excess of excitment as something bad. I'm just too excited to be able to steady my fingers and write something comprehensible.)

For the time being, here are two of my many favourite sentences in the book:

[N]o man ou
...more
Josh Long
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My experience with Chesterton is that he leads you in circles around an idea, with metaphor upon metaphor, and paradox upon paradox, making you feel like you weren't following any argument at all. To your surprise, abruptly meeting once again with sense, apparently being on track all along.

In heretics, we see him using this in the context of refuting many of the predominant views of that day, those that challenged some cardinal (and some inconsequential) tenets of christianity. This book is arg
...more
Ben Smitthimedhin
"Fires will be kindled to testified that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer. We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but something more incredible still, this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face."
Chesterton's Heretics is an attempt to do just that -- his ability to weave common sense with a keen eye on the world around him makes for a dizzying read. Every chapter is its own essay, b
...more
فاروق الفرشيشي
(English level -9999 sorry -_- )
Being a Heretic is not something to be proud of, but being a Heretic doesn't make someone disrespectable. Going through the different meanings of Heresy, Chesterton, studies, a group of the most famous men of literature of his time, as well as many of what used to be, I guess, serious problematics at the time. Being a Heretic is being wrong, according to Chesterton's point of view, which is very Christian, very Liberal and very Imperialist. But,the good thing, is
...more
Jay
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure even where to begin in trying to review this book. My Goodreads friend, Christopher H, nailed it (as he usually does). So, dear reader, if you're out there, I highly recommend you read his review.

I'm taking the liberty of adding this bit of ridiculous speculation. It occurred to me as I was driving to work this morning, that if G. K. Chesterton had been born a Baby Boomer, his favorite British band would be the Kinks and his favorite Kink's song "Waterloo Sunset." Now that I've got
...more
Jana Light
I really wanted to like this book, and I really wanted to like Chesterton. But after finishing two of his apologetic or more philosophical books, I remain unimpressed and disappointed. More often than not, Chesterton makes a strong claim contradicting a common assumption or perception, and then fails to follow it up with any kind of support. When he would present an "argument" against either a person's beliefs or assumptions, or a more common/communal belief, sometimes he would simply turn the b ...more
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Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was born in London, educated at St. Paul’s, and went to art school at University College London. In 1900, he was asked to contribute a few magazine articles on art criticism, and went on to become one of the most prolific writers of all time. He wrote a hundred books, contributions to 200 more, hundreds of poems, including the epic Ballad of the White Horse, fi ...more

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