For the past year or so one of the more enjoyable and enlightening television programs I’ve stumbled across is Dale Alquist’s “G.K. Chesterton, The Apostle of Common Sense” on EWTN (the Catholic television network). I note it now because according to what has been showing up on my dvr over the past few weeks it appears that the fifth season has finished running and they are currently running repeats starting with the first season.
For those who love Chesterton, little more needs to be said. For me, on the other hand, Chesterton is a struggle to read. Many people are charmed by his elliptical round-about essayish style of writing–he’s one of those guys where you are supposed to “enjoy the journey” as he gets to the point. My brain, however, is a bit too lawyer/social sciene and doesn’t really work that way. So I find myself getting impatient at times with Chesterton, although like everyone else I do enjoy his nuggets of style and his overall insights. Moreover, his body of work is so vast that it is impossible to get to all of it and my sense is that (as one might predict) it is of uneven quality.
For those like me, Alquist’s show really hits the mark. Each show is thematic in nature and Alsop does the work of wading through all of this and chasing down the works and excerpts that best capture Chesterton’s insights and most elegant turns of phrase. I’ve found it to be a great introduction to Chesterton that has in fact led me to read (and re-read) Chesterton and to get more out of it. For those who are interested in a good intro to Chesterton, now is a good time to tune in. I find the excerpts from Chesterton’s fiction (often dramatized) to be especially fun because those are the works that I’d probably be least likely to read on my own. I believe that “new” episodes air on Sunday evenings and then repeat on Wednesday mornings, but since I just dvr it I’m not exactly sure of the times (I say “new” because, as I noted, I am prompted to write now because they are actually running very old episodes but they seem to run on the same schedule).
As for Alquist’s somewhat hagiographic approach to Chesterton, I suspect one will find it either charming or off-puting. I find it to be the former, but others may not. Enjoy.
Update: When I originally posted this I referred to Dale Alquist as “Alsop.” I apologize for the error and have corrected it.