Laughter and the Between: G. K. Chesterton and the Reconciliation of Theology and Hilarity

Duncan Bruce Reyburn

Abstract


In this article, I argue against the claim made by Vassilis Saroglou that religion, and specifically Christianity, may be taken as an a priori incompatibility. This is done through a discussion of the reconciliation of theology and humor that is evident in the work of G. K. Chesterton — a theologian who was forever laughing, joking and defending the ephemeral. To navigate this reconciliation, I tackle Chesterton’s writings on two fronts. To begin with, after reading Chesterton through the lens offered William Desmond’s ‘fourfold sense of being’, I discuss his thinking on humor in terms of his distinctive articulation of Christianity in paradoxical terms. Secondly, I then discuss Chesterton’s views on humor with regard to his prioritization of the virtues of honesty, humility and hospitality in relation to his own paradoxical logic. In showing these two strands of his thinking — his paradoxy and morality — to be deeply intertwined, I suggest that the reconciliation of humor and theology is most perfectly located in and represented by what may be understood as the centre of Chesterton’s theological project: the desire that is expressed through the Christian hope for the renewal of all things.

 

 


 


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