The Wisdom of Father Brown

As I noted before, I love quotes, and Mr. G.K. Chesterton was one of the most quotable men of the twentieth century. Mr. Chesterton’s most famous character, Father Brown, of course shared his creator’s proclivity for quick and pithy bits of wisdom. Presented below is a sampling (I’m not giving the stories where they may be found, since some of them could be considered spoilers, and Mr. Chesterton insisted that spoiling the end of a mystery is one of the worst crimes imaginable, since you take away a pleasure that can never be repeated).

“One often has to choose between feeling a damned fool and being one.”

“It seems to me that you only pardon the sins that you don’t really think sinful. You only forgive criminals when they commit what you don’t regard as crimes, but rather as conventions. Thus you tolerate a conventional duel just as you tolerate a conventional divorce: you forgive because there isn’t anything to be forgiven.”

“The love of a man and a woman was the first command of God and is glorious forever.”

“Well, I do believe somethings, of course. And therefore, of course, I don’t believe other things.”

“No man’s really any good till he knows how bad he is, or might be; till he’s realized exactly how much right he has to all this snobbery, and sneering, and talking about ‘criminals,’ as if they were apes in a forest ten thousand miles away…till he’s squeezed out of his soul the last drop of the oil of the Pharisees; till his only hope is somehow or other to have captured one criminal, and kept him safe and sane under his own hat.”

“It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense and can’t see things as they are.”

“People who complain that they never complain are the devil.”

“He looks like an intellectual man, and he is. Unfortunately, like a good many other intellectual men, he’s a fool.”

“Men may keep a sort of level of good, but no man has ever been able to keep on one level of evil”

“Surely it is not generous to make even God’s patience with us a point against Him?”

“I know the Unknown God. I know his name; it is Satan. The true God was made flesh and dwelt among us. And I say to you, wherever you find men ruled merely by mystery, it is the mystery of iniquity. If the devil tells you something is too fearful to look at, look at it. If he says something is too terrible to hear, hear it. If you think some truth unbearable, bear it.”

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