Monday, September 2, 2013

Angelico Press: The Tumbler of God: Chesterton as Mystic

If you have been keeping up with Catholic news at all, you will be aware that "permission for the first step in a possible canonization process has been granted for the cause of G.K. Chesterton." ( For fans of Chesterton, myself included, this is definitely reason to celebrate. I also figured it would be a good time to review a book about the man himself entitled The Tumbler of God: Chesterton as Man and Mystic, available from Angelico Press.

When one thinks of great mystics of the Catholic faith, we think of people like St. Padre Pio, St. Bernadette of Lourdes, and St. Thérèse of Lisieux to name a few. Gilbert Keith Chesterton is probably far from people's minds, but Fr. Robert Wild looks to add him to the list of mystics with his book The Tumbler of God. For those who find the title unusual, I refer you to Chesterton's work on St. Francis or just reading Chapter 6 of this book.

The book starts off by explaining who Chesterton was and what went on inside of his head. Fr. Wild then draws upon different authors, including Karl Rahner and Thomas Merton, to provide different definitions of mysticism and to examine how well Chesterton would fit into these molds. The author then takes the time to explain what exactly constituted Chesterton's mysticism. If I understand it correctly, Chesterton's mysticism stemmed from seeing reality for what it is and glorifying the Creator. The rest of the book then deals with the mysticism found in some of Chesterton's important writings, such as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man.

I am usually able to pick one chapter in a book as my favorite, but I was unable to narrow it down to just one with this book.  Two stood out in particular to me. The first was the chapter on Chesterton's work Orthodoxy. This is one of my favorite Chesterton works, so the extra insight I gained on it from this chapter was helpful and kindled a spark in me to approach this work again with new eyes. The other chapter I particularly liked was the final chapter, which made a case for Chesterton's sainthood. As Fr. Wild points out, Chesterton isn't your typical mystic or saint, but that's doesn't make him any less of a mystic or saint. It just goes to show that God made us all unique, and we all have the potential for sainthood.

This entire book was written like a thesis by Fr. Wild. With a first person point of view, you are able to hear the author's passion, enthusiasm, and zeal for the great man that G.K. Chesterton was. It was a truly enlightening book which strengthens the case for canonizing Chesterton as well. So whether you are a seasoned reader of Chesterton or someone looking to start reading his works, you will find gold when reading this 5 star book. I look forward to the future with the hope that we will one day have a Saint Gilbert.

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