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Where Does Orthodoxy Live?

The last Tuesday of the month is the monthly meeting of the Twin Cities Chesterton Society at the University Club in St. Paul. Last night we discussed what Twin Cities Chestertonian Steve Miller (no, not that Steve Miller) calls the "trunk" of Chesterton's writings, from which all of his other books and essays find their roots.

The crowd was large, including a number of Evangelical Protestants, some of whom were surprised that even Orthodoxy is viewed by Catholics as a specifically Catholic book, and not just a book of "mere Christianity." Of course, what's remarkable about the book is that it can be read as "mere Christianity," as I did when I read it the first time. But the more one reads it, the more one realizes that Chesterton is already pointing to the Catholic Church, as when he declares in the chapter titled "Authority and the Adventurer":

"Those countries in Europe which are still influenced by priests, are exactly the countries where there is still singing and dancing and coloured dresses and art in the open air. Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground. Christianity is the only frame which has preserved the pleasure of Paganism." (145 in the Doubleday Image Edition)

Notice that "Christianity" is pictured here as synonymous with Catholic Europe and not Anglican England. An older nun tried to argue against the evidence that Chesterton's reference to the Catholic Church was to the Church of England. (She belongs, not surprisingly, to an order of nuns that is fast disappearing.) Chesterton may not say outright that the Authority that regulates the Apostles' Creed is the Roman Catholic Church (and it would be 14 years before he was received into the Church), but his hints are very clear. Christianity is a set of ideas, but it is more than that. It is a body with an authority given by Christ himself.

It's tough for liberal Catholics and Evangelical Protestants to hear, but Orthodoxy has a home, and it's postmaster general is John Paul II.


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