Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: Brave New Family by G. K. Chesterton

Brave New Family: G. K. Chesterton on Men and Women, Children, Sex, Divorce, Marriage & the Family edited with an introduction by Alvaro de Silva

In this collection of poems, quotes, essays, excerpts, and one fictional story, Alvaro de Silva gives the reader an overview of Chesterton's thoughts on family and home life in his own words. The texts are entertaining and thought-provoking. Chesterton has a gift for paradox. For example, much has been made of the freedom of women in the workplace rather than the enslavement at home. Home is seen as a prison where mothers are slaves to their husbands and children. Chesterton laughs off this charge by showing the freedom of home makers, who can indeed make their own rules and manage things as they want without outside interference. At the office, there's always a boss to satisfy, a schedule to stick to. Holidays are infrequent--nice weather doesn't mean everyone can work outdoors or go to the park instead of staying at their tasks. The home life is true freedom--the home maker can set the dress code, the meal time, the menu itself.

The home is more important than the office as well, since the product, new people, is much more important and much more complicated than any widget imaginable. Human beings come in a great variety, even in when found in small groups of three or four or six or eight. Dealing with them as people with their own ideas and dignity is a tough but vital skill learned by living in close quarters day by day. It's one thing to accept someone as "different" for a few hours each day at work, but to live with them is a richer and more meaningful (and more difficult and challenging) experience.

Chesterton also comments about the roles of men, women, and children with regard to each other. The final section of the book presents a few writings on Christmas and the joyful paradox of celebrating the model family, who was in fact homeless on this occasion, in our homes. We are called to be like that family, to stay together under trying conditions, because we are bound together by a love and commitment more profound and lasting than any workplace or government can command.

 The book provides a nice sampling on Chesterton's thoughts and style. Highly recommended!

Sample Quote:
The modern writers who have suggested, in a more or less open manner, that the family is a bad institution, have generally confined themselves to suggesting, with much sharpness, bitterness, or pathos, that perhaps the family is not always very congenial. Of course the family is a good institution because it is uncongenial. It is wholesome precisely because it contains so many divergencies and varieties. It is, as the sentimentalists, say, like a little kingdom, and, like most other little kingdoms, is generally in a state of something resembling anarchy. [pp. 42-43]

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading Brave New World. This sounds like a great book to follow it up with!