G.K. Chesterton was born one hundred and thirty-eight years ago this month into the Pax Britannica and prosperity of Queen Victoria’s reign. He grew up a normal—if a somewhat absent minded—young man. But at a young age, God gave Chesterton a capacity for joy seemingly unmatched in any of his contemporaries.
He seemed to take nothing seriously, calling the cosmos cozy in Orthodoxy and writing lines such as, “Woe unto him that considereth his hair foolishly, for his hair will be made the type of him.” But this supposed flippancy was only his keen ability to prioritize the truly important from everything else. He took two things very seriously: friendship and the Christian faith; though it is refreshing that he was able to laugh through discussions of these things as well. In his letters, in his essays, in his books, and in anecdotes told of him, he was consistently lighthearted and full of loving optimism. At a young age he pondered in all honesty, and maybe a bit of naiveté, “I wonder whether there will ever come a time when I shall be tired of any one person.” He also found immense pleasure in life’s tangibles,
“I do not think there is anyone who takes quite such a fierce pleasure in things being themselves as I do. The startling wetness of water excites and intoxicates me: the fieriness of fire, the steeliness of steel, the unutterable muddiness of mud. It is just the same with people. When we call a man "manly" or a woman "womanly" we touch the deepest philosophy”1 (From a letter to his wife, postmarked 1899).
Chesterton gloried in “The birthday present of birth,”2 and Christians should be truly thankful for the birth and life of a man with such an expansive mind and spirit-filled, joyous character. History’s geniuses have a poor record when it comes to joy and mirth. The celebrated genius of Edgar Allen Poe was drink-inflamed, and disturbingly dark; Nietzsche went mad; Alexander the Great’s violent mood swings are legendary; even Bernard Shaw’s hilarity was tainted by a vicious and unfeeling belief in eugenics. But Chesterton, his genius uncompromised, enjoyed life, lived temperately and used his powers for defending the faith he loved, singing (completely out of pitch) all the way.
As far as it concerned Chesterton, he acquired no personal enemies, but made a point to endear himself to those lambasting his person in the “The Daily Mail” or “The Times.” Men such as H.G. Wells and G.B. Shaw with worldviews diametrically and militantly opposed to Chesterton’s thought of him as a friend, and a dear one.
Cultural change and language mutation—the products of time passing—will eventually force most names into the choking mists of history, but the name of Chesterton should not disappear into that ancient fog uncontested. His perspective was unique and truly valuable to Christians. He brought mirth to the Gospel and joy to Orthodoxy—two traits that need a good dusting in Christian literature.
R. Eric Tippin
Tippin Dental Group Staff Lounge
May 3, 2012
 Ward, Maisie (2007-12-28). Gilbert Keith Chesterton (Sheed & Ward Classic). Oak Grove. Kindle Edition.
 Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) (2009-10-04). Orthodoxy. Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.