In a fast-paced culture oriented toward instantaneous results, “Everybody Loves Raymond” star Patricia Heaton is encouraging her fans to spend time poring over the words of one beloved 20th century Christian philosopher.
Heaton tweeted Friday she’s been reading the writings of G.K. Chesterton before bed each night, describing the author’s words as “a balm for the soul.”
“If you want to be transported out of this vulgar, hate-spewing, brainless, illiterate world we live in,” she wrote, “G.K. is your man.”
The Catholic actor went on to call Chesterton, who was also Catholic, “witty, optimistic, learned, insightful, gentle, [and] joyous.”
There is a long history among Christians of enjoying — and being transformed by — Chesterton’s writings. In fact, the philosopher’s works, particularly his 1908 book “Orthodoxy,” played an enormous role in the Christian conversions of both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
As a young man, Tolkien soaked up Chesterton’s writings, which greatly impacted his own faith journey. Much of “The Lord of the Rings” author’s philosophy on myths — which is that they point to innate truth — can be traced back to a chapter in “Orthodoxy” called “The Ethics of Elfland.” Consequently, the questions with which Tolkien wrestled also perplexed Lewis.
During Lewis’ now-famous stroll with Tolkien at Magdalen College in 1930, the latter argued Christianity is a myth that really happened, that all other fairytales before and after it are merely echoes of the truth. That philosophy was one first put forward by Chesterton in “Orthodoxy,” which was published when Tolkien was just 16 years old.
In the book, Chesterton wrote:
If the Christian God really made the human race, would not the human race tend toward rumors and perversions of the Christian God? If the center of our life is a certain fact, would not people far from the center have a muddled version of that fact? If we are so made that a Son of God must deliver us, is it odd that Patagonians should dream of a Son of God?
When learned skeptics come to me and say, “Are you aware that the Kaffirs have a sort of Incarnation?” I should reply: “Speaking as an unlearned person, I don’t know. But speaking as a Christian, I should be very much astonished if they hadn’t.”
God used Chesterton to bring not only Tolkien to Christ, but to draw Lewis to the faith as well. From there, Lewis went on to author numerous books that have left an indelible mark on Christendom.
So there’s no doubt Heaton is in good company ending her day with Chesterton.