Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), born in London, educated at St. Paul’s School, Barnes, London and matriculated to art school, rather than college, was one of the most prolific and well-regarded writers of his era. Though now generally forgotten and seldom-taught, G. K. Chesterton wrote scores of books and contributed to many scores more. Chesterton was a poet, wrote plays and novels, and around two hundred short stories, including the series featuring the priest-detective, Father Brown. Chesterton’s most consistent contribution to letters, however, was as a journalist – composing over 4000 newspaper essays in his lifetime.
Chesterton debated many of the celebrated intellectuals of his time: George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, Clarence Darrow. Of his opponent Shaw said: “The world is not thankful enough for Chesterton.” With thanksgiving and gratitude in mind today, Tuning Fork would like to share a couple excerpts from G. K. Chesterton’s body of writing:
“When our hopes for the coming time seem disturbed or doubtful, and peace chaotic, let us remember that it is really our disappointment that is an illusion. It is our rescue that is a reality. Our grounds for gratitude are really far greater than our powers of being grateful. It is in the mood of a noble sort of humility, and even a noble sort of fear, that new things are really made. We adorn things most when we love them most. And we love them most when we have nearly lost them.”
— Illustrated London News, January 3, 1920
“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”
— from a Chesterton notebook, mid-1890s
In our bountiful America, we are not encumbered by the State to offer our thanksgiving according to the doctrine of any specific religion. We may thank God; we may thank our teeming fellows who each have contributed to our country in their own way and with their individual talents and attributes. Tuning Fork believes the spirit of Chesterton’s remarks on gratitude and prayerful thanks point to a higher encumbrance and duty – to always be grateful in our own unique manner for the gifts each day presents.