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Catholic Review of: The Catholic Church and Conversion

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Author:  G. K. Chesterton

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This item received 5 stars overall. (10/14/2009)

Orthodoxy: Completely orthodox.
Reading Level: Advanced

 Catholics United for the FaithBy Catholics United for the Faith (OH) - See all my reviews

Synopsis

An Classic Inside-Out Look at Conversion

Evaluator Comments

Whether Catholic, a convert, or just curious about the Catholic Church, readers are invited to step outside the box and view the Church in a totally unique way in The Catholic Church and Conversion.

By turning things upside down and inside out, G. K. Chesterton encourages readers to reevaluate and analyze preconceived notions. He provokes the reader to think more deeply about the subject at hand. For example, he asks the question: "What is any man who has been in the real outer world, for instance, to make of the everlasting cry that Catholic traditions are condemned by the Bible?"

Although this book is about the Catholic Church and conversion, it is not an apologetics book. While it answers many objections to the Catholic Church, whether from a secular or Protestant point of view, it does not offer a point-by-point refutation of these objections. Chesterton’s broader, yet more intimate, approach provides plenty of remarks that one could logically use to defend the Church. He also discusses the wisdom of the Catholic Church in contrast to other popular "isms" of the time: paganism, socialism, pantheism, spiritualism, and more.

And although Chesterton talks about his conversion and the different stages he went through, this book is not an autobiography. He discusses many of the issues that a convert has to deal with, such as the false conceptions of the Catholic Church. For example, in the beginning Chesterton decided to be fair to the Church of Rome, and in doing so, found that many of the statements against the Church were simply not true.

Using concrete examples, he enlightens the reader to the truth of the Catholic faith. He says, "‘Where should I go now, if I did leave the Catholic Church?’ I certainly would not go to any of those little social sects which only express one idea at a time, because that idea happens to be fashionable at the moment." In the end, Chesterton says he would come back to the Catholic Church, because "it is the one old religion which seems capable of remaining new."

To enter the mind of G. K. Chesterton is to enter a world of profound thoughts and high adventure. At times it is challenging to follow his meandering thoughts, yet the reader is rewarded with revelations that cause one to reflect more deeply on the truth of his statements. Who can deny his timeless wisdom, expressed in nuggets of truth such as, "The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age"? His effervescent wit also keeps readers entertained and hungry to read more. Reading Chesterton leaves one feeling enlightened, refreshed, and invigorated.

Filled with Chesterton’s clever wit, as well as his timeless wisdom, The Catholic Church and Conversion will stimulate the reader’s mind to higher planes of thought and a greater appreciation of the beautiful gift of the Catholic faith.

- Elizabeth Yank (from Lay Witness magazine. www.cuf.org)

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