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The Wisdom of Chesterton

Kevin Belmonte, having ploughed through the Chesterton landscape before in book form, has edited A Year with G.K. Chesterton: 365 Days of Wisdom, Wit, and Wonder. The unique thing about this book is that it gives a good snapshot of Chesterton's writings from many different facets. At one point, Belmonte draws from a passage which Chesterton writes, "This world and all our powers in it are far more awful and beautiful than we ever know until some accident reminds us....If you wish to realize how fearfully and wonderully God's image is made, stand upon one leg. If you want to realize the splendid vision of all visible things-wink the other eye" (4). Chesterton has a unique way of dealing profoundly with the most common of objects, including aspects of the human body, and relates them to God's design in the world. Belmonte goes to great lengths to provide us from Chesterton's own writings the splendid worldview of a man who was both poetic and uniquely articulate.

Another wonderful aspect of the book is Belmonte's inclusion of Chesterton's work on Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and other notable artists. At one point Chesterton writes about St. Francis by remarking, "He was above all things a great giver; and he cared chiefly for the best kind of giving which is called thanksgiving. If another great man wrote a grammar of assent, he may well be said to have written a grammar of acceptance; a grammar of gratitude" (137). Chesterton has a way of bringing to the surface the very character of a man, including both his moral fiber and character. Chesterton goes onto talk later in the book about whether or not Dickens would fade from the modern world but contends that rather it is the modern world that is fading (143). Of particular note in this book edited by Belmonte is his inclusion of Chesterton's powerful writing on the book of Job, including Chesterton's understanding of the concept of paradox in the book.

The structure of the book was very helpful with a bible verse on each page, a Chesterton quote and a On This Day section which includes a historical reference point for Chesteron's life, writing, and world. I think the only drawback of the book is that you always want to read more about a specific work or magazine article. It might not even be the fault of Belmonte, but often books that are daily readings fail to fully appreciate the full context of Chesterton's writings. Other than this minor criticism, the book was a delight and will be a delight for many years to come.

Much thanks to Thomas Nelson and the Book Sneeze program for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review.


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