‘The Laughing Propher’ lecture tells story of G.K. Chesterton

Dr. Dale Ahlquist gives lecture on Gilbert Keith Chesterton on Monday in Kayser Auditorium. Emileé Edwards | Multimedia Journalist

By Elisabeth George | Reporter

The Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion hosted Dr. Dale Ahlquist on Monday night, who presented a lecture in Kayser Auditorium titled “G.K. Chesterton — The Laughing Prophet.”

Ahlquist is the president of the Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton, a Catholic lay apostolate, the publisher of Gilbert Magazine and the author of five books. Ahlquist is also a senior fellow of the Chesterton Library at London and creator and host of the series “G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense” on the global Catholic television network EWTN.

Ahquist began the lecture by introducing the works and a short history of Chesterton.

“For those of you who don’t know anything at all about him, [Chesterton] was an early 20th century English writer, died in 1936. During this lifetime, one of the most prolific writers who ever wrote,” Ahlquist said. “He wrote 100 books, introductions to 204 books, he wrote plays, novels and detective stories. He wrote books on all different subject, major poetry… was primarily a journalist and wrote for the London newspapers and wrote at least 5000 literary essays.”

Ahlquist demonstrated Chesterton’s joyful outlook on life by retelling several anecdotes and quotes.

“Chesterton said that he was the politest man in all of England because he could stand up on a bus and offer his seat to three women,” Ahlquist said. “He said ‘I imagine I enjoy myself more than other people because there’s such a lot of me having a good time.”

Ahlquist said that the reason Chesterton is not taught more often in institutions of higher learning is because he doesn’t fit in any particular department. Chesterton was a paradox.

“But even though he was certainly funny, he also was very serious. In fact he pointed out that the opposite of funny is not serious. The opposite of funny, is not funny,” Ahlquist said. “You can be serious and funny at the same time. But that’s an idea that most people don’t grasp. They see a contradiction there. Of course, Chesterton is the master of paradox.”

Ahlquist retold several of Chesterton’s prophecies and said that they had all ended up coming true. However, even if his prophecies sounded dire, they were not without hope.

“G.K. Chesterton never condemns. He sounds, when he’s in his prophetic mode, like a dark and doomsday guy. That’s only because he’s warning us that we’re on the wrong road. And he’s telling us we need to get off or we need to change our direction. But there’s no way that we can call Chesterton, a gloomy writer. He truly has the laughing problem because he’s full of joy,” Ahlquist said.

Grand Lake, Colo., senior Logan Miyauchi said he had heard about the lecture from a friend.

“My friend Austin invited me because he knew I’d read a couple books from G. K. Chesterton. Manalive it’s one of my favorite books. So I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear somebody speak about him… I didn’t know a lot about G.K. Chesterton, so learning more about, like, his impact on society more so, and… the bigger things he was a part of, past the books he wrote, was super interesting to me,” Miyauchi said. “And also just kind of hearing more about his beliefs and like, I guess, the anomaly he was in culture, and how we kind of lived that through his life.”