The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

Chesterton Being Considered for Sainthood

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As those of you who read this blog may or may not know, I am an admirer of G.K. Chesterton and Distributism, the economic philosophy he espoused.  Nonetheless, I was surprised to hear that the odoriferous, 300-pound, cigar-chomping journalist is being considered for sainthood. In a special report over at The American Spectator, Christopher Orlet breaks the news that “an English Catholic bishop is seeking to open an investigation into whether GKC should be declared a saint.”

Chesterton devoted much of his life to righting the huge economic disparities that existed in his homeland. Moved by Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum and Pope Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno , which described the dangers for human freedom and dignity arising from unrestrained capitalism and totalitarian communism, Chesterton made it his life’s mission to formulate a humane, people-centered economics. He came up with Distributism.
THOUGH OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD, Distributism is really about self-reliance and wide property ownership as the best guarantee of political and economic freedom. He once said that socialists seek to redistribute wealth. Distributists seek to redistribute power.
Distributism was dismissed in his time as “Three Acres and Cow.” If the criticism has waned it is only because few people have heard of it. Where distributism is still discussed, snarky critics usually say it is utopian and a nostalgic return to the pre-Industrial Revolution era, a time when most people worked at home, in common fields, in the bosom of their families. The standard criticism is, if Distributism is so wonderful why did rural folks give up something similar to it to move to the cities to work in cotton mills and factories where you could earn as much as three dollars a week? History abhors simple explanations. But it probably didn’t help that throughout most of the West working class farmers were not allowed to vote, so their only voice in political matters came through riots, which occurred frequently as the rich fenced-off farm and pasture land during the Enclosure Movements. One cannot understand the urbanization of the West without studying the Enclosure Movements, writes George Orwell: 
‘Stop to consider how the so-called owners of the land got hold of it. They simply seized it by force, afterwards hiring lawyers to provide them with title-deeds. In the case of the enclosure of the common lands, which was going on from about 1600 to 1850, the land-grabbers did not even have the excuse of being foreign conquerors; they were quite frankly taking the heritage of their own countrymen, upon no sort of pretext except that they had the power to do so.’
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Author: Daniela

I was born in Croatia, at that time Yugoslavia. My family moved to the US when I was very young, but I still treasure the memories of my grandfather teaching me how to protect myself against the "evil eye," my grandmother shopping early every morning, at the open air market, to buy the freshest vegetables for the day's meals, and the traditions that were the underpinnings of our society. Someone once noted that "For all of us that want to move forward, there are a very few that want to keep the old methods of production, traditions and crafts alive." I am a fellow traveler with those who value the old traditions and folk wisdom. I believe the knowledge they possess can contribute significantly to our efforts to build a more sustainable world; one that values the individual over the corporation, conservation over growth and happiness over wealth.

2 thoughts on “Chesterton Being Considered for Sainthood

  1. It’s high time we had a saint for the unascetic among us, who love food and drink and don’t care who knows it. I endorse GKC for our patron saint.

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