Why I prefer Chesterton over Lewis

A short defense full of holes:

For me, the appeal of C.S. Lewis lies in his ability to imbue the physical with the spiritual. Or more properly his readily apparent belief that the physical is imbued with the spiritual. Next to that you have his interesting and much quoted work in apologetics set in refreshing plain-talk—not dumbed down, just great simple writing. For me, G.K. Chesterton just does this better. He’s more poetic, more paradoxical in more interesting ways, and far, far funnier—and at the same exact time far, far more serious.

Now, of course, I haven’t read everything by Lewis nor have I read everything by Chesterton but, well, there you go. To better illustrate where I’m coming from I also prefer Charles Williams over Lewis and Chesterton. Williams is a far worse writer and communicator but his failures give you more to chew on and more to think about than the above two combined.

I do realize that this is a lot like saying I prefer Red Skelton over Jack Benny (and I realize saying that makes me seem far older than 29)—that is, who cares? I don’t know though, there has to be someone out there like me. What do you think?

I’m so going to lose my spot in the Christian Literary Appreciation Society for this. And I was going to make assistant secretary this year and everything.

8 responses to “Why I prefer Chesterton over Lewis”

  1. For some time, I feel like you’ve fallen off in your blog. Must be out of interesting things to comment on. Unfortunately, I think you completely lost me on this post. So with that, I say farewell Upper Fort Stewart. Good luck.

  2. Whoah! Harsh. I guess you’re not a Charles Williams fan then? Thanks for being honest, though, Maestro. I appreciate it and will add your comment to my wall of shame. No joke, I keep track of these things.

    Anyway, best of luck. And thank you for visiting Upper Fort Stewart.

  3. Maestro may be having a bad hair day. Or year.

    I find G.K. Chesterton better than C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams rather lesser than both. Our senior writer strongly believes that Lewis got his best ideas from Chesterton, and frankly I’ve never seen anything in Lewis’ writing to refute that assertion. (Red Skelton’s okay, but Jack Benny was simply great. 😉

    Hoping you get Beowulf for Christmas!

  4. That was a bit harsh. I can appreciate the honesty too but perhaps Maestro might have just stopped reading your blog and left it at that. I think people take blogs and/or blogging too seriously. I’ve been considering just stopping the blogging madness for this sort of reason!

  5. Thanks, Therese and Heather. It really doesn’t bother me though (I could just delete her comment). Like I told my wife yesterday, it makes me feel famous when people badmouth me on the internet. 🙂

    A metaphor for preferring Charles Williams: I’m a huge Bob Dylan fan. Of all his classic, perfect albums, my favorite is Street Legal, a largely forgotten late 70s work. Why? I can get into it. I can see the seams and edges. It approaches my level—at first—before I see that it’s still shooting past me. (All this ignoring the fact that it’s, you know, really cool.)

    Anyway, Charles Williams, he’s the Phillip K. Dick of Theological Fantasy.

    Plus, someone from Gilbert commented on my blog! Thanks for stopping by Therese. Welcome to Upper Fort Stewart.

    And Heather, don’t stop the madness! Keep blogging and Illegitimi Non Carborundum!

  6. I think Maestro likes Lewis more than Chesterton or Williams, that’s all.

    I’ve been reading Descent Into Hell and The Greater Trumps for, like, three years now. Just can’t get through the damn things. Williams is very inventive but the writing… aigh…

    It’s interesting that even as serious a skeptic as Martin Gardner likes Chesterton, because of his paradoxical poetic imagination. Lewis has that too, in his stories… but the formal apologetics of both sometimes bring out the agnostic/atheist in me because they can be so… I dunno what the right word is. Bombastic? Over-reaching? Like, they seem to imply that if you want to think correctly you’ve got to take their particular extensive systematic theology on board, and it includes a dislike for tinned meats, pacifism, vegetarians, feminism and modernist poetry, which are all signs of creeping heresy. (Lewis said some very contemptous things about T.S. Eliot without reading much of his stuff, when in fact the two agreed on a whole lot.)

    Don’t get me wrong, I do like their stuff quite a bit. I suppose what it is is this: they were both often championing the past against the present, and got some very good ideas out of that; but it also kind of dates them.

  7. Anyway, Charles Williams, he’s the Phillip K. Dick of Theological Fantasy.

    Gosh, I’d have said G.K. Chesterton was P.K. Dick; and Charles Williams would be the Milan Kundera of Theological Fantasy.

    And where does that leave George MacDonald or Dorothy Sayers?

    (This could be fun! Secular Inklings, anyone?)

  8. 🙂 Well, I don’t think of PKD as a particularly gifted writer but as a genius of the imagination. If that helps. Plus, I’ve read neither McDonald nor Sayers nor Kundera. Of the Inklings, I’ve read only Lewis, Tolkien and Williams.

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