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New Issue: The Wisdom and Innocence of G. K. Chesterton

May/June 2022 Issue – The Wisdom and Innocence of G. K. Chesterton

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Portrait of a Dean: Crossing Swords with Chesterton

During the first half of the twentieth century, William Ralph Inge was a popular theologian, literary journalist, and clerical celebrity who reached an audience which most modern ecclesiastical leaders would count with envy. He was a serious contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature in his later life. His literary associates and enemies included George Bernard Shaw, Christopher Dawson, the Baron von Hügel, G. K. Chesterton, and Hilaire Belloc. A child of the mid-nineteenth century, he sought, and in his season, enjoyed the position of a late Victorian sage whose opinion on nearly every aspect of current affairs was frequently sought, affirmed, debated, disparaged—everything but ignored. His writings include a respected study of Christian mysticism, two volumes on Plotinus, the third-century  Neoplatonist, and innumerable volumes of controversial essays, sermons, and articles on present concerns. His oeuvre shows qualities of serious-mindedness, deep erudition, wit, a dislike for modern society, and-a rarity among men of the cloth—a knack for the effortless epigram; the line, often misattributed to Bishop Fulton Sheen, “Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next”, in fact originated with Inge, who was a living font of similar aphorisms. Several of his works written between the two world wars were best-sellers, and the standard biography of the man, written by Canon Adam Fox, a fellow Anglican man of letters, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1960. He mattered, while living. Since his death, most everything he wrote has gone out of print.

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