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Quoting Chesterton

In recognition of Veterans Day this week, the New York Times quoted G.K. Chesterton – “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.” The use of this great quote caught me by surprise because the highly quotable Chesterton is not often quoted by the likes of the New York Times.

If you don’t know Chesterton, you should. Chesterton (1874-1936) is considered one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. He was a journalist, theologian, philosopher, novelist and social critic. He was a prodigious writer and speaker. His quotes are nuggets of wisdom and truth that hit their target with the force of a heavyweight punch.  A few are included below.  More can be found HERE .

When it came time for Geneva to name the award we give to the top senior thesis presentation each year, it was a no-brainer. The winner of the G.K. Chesterton Award is announced at the closing assembly in May. A video of last year’s winning presentation by Chloe Shrode is posted on the school’s Geneva TV webpage.

Our seniors are busy finishing their written theses. After Christmas, they will begin memorizing and practicing their recitation and defense. All is being done in preparation for the thesis presentations in May. As with most senior classes, I suspect that some of the students are motivated by the prospect of winning this coveted award. Whether they are motivated or not, all should take comfort in knowing that Chesterton was not always viewed as an intellectual giant. When he was thirteen, his teacher had this to say about him:

“Too much for me: means well by me, I believe, but has an inconceivable knack of forgetting at the shortest notice, is consequently always in trouble, though some of the work is well done, when he does remember to do it.   He ought to be in a studio not at school.   Never troublesome, but for his lack of memory and absence of mind.”

It took time for Chesterton to develop into one of the great thinkers of recent history. It also takes time for our students to develop into young women and men who can present and defend a thesis well. Please join me in encouraging our seniors to finish well their Geneva School education.

Brad Ryden

A Few Famous Chesterton Quotes

  • “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
  • “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
  • “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”
  • “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”
  • “Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.”
  • “Love means loving the unlovable – or it is no virtue at all.”
  • “Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision.”
  • “If there were no God, there would be no atheists.”
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