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G.K. Chesterton, a British author. Wiki­media Commons | Courtesy

 

At 8 a.m. on a Monday, while many stu­dents are still sleeping, the members of Hillsdale’s G.K. Chesterton Society gather for their weekly meeting. Chesterton was a British author, poet, the­ologian, and jour­nalist.

“It’s ironic that we meet at eight in the morning,” said freshman Seth Winters, co-consul of the society. “Chesterton liked to say ‘Day­break is a never-ending glory; getting out of bed is a never ending nui­sance.’”

The Chesterton Society was founded this semester by Winters and his co-consul, sophomore Maggie Vang­ieson.

Winters said he started the group because of the impact Chesterton’s work had on him.

“Chesterton is my favorite author and has a big influence on my day-to-day life,” Winters said. “His work is very wonder filled, and he is a staunch defender of truth.”

Vang­ieson said she dis­covered Chesterton in high school and bought many of his books last summer. She says she decided to go to a con­ference put on by the American Chesterton Society, where she met Winters.

“When I heard he was starting a Chesterton society, I had to get involved,” Vang­ieson said.

A typical meeting con­sists of around 10 members gath­ering for breakfast and then reading an essay or short story by Chesterton para­graph by para­graph around the table before dis­cussing it. So far, the society has tackled several works including “On Running After One’s Hat,” “On Lying in Bed,” “A Defense of Skeletons.”

“We did the skeleton essay for Hal­loween,” Winters said.

Stu­dents said they appre­ciate the format of the meetings.

“It’s cool hearing the stories out loud,” freshman Patrick Mitchell said. “It helps the mystery come alive; you hear the inflec­tions.”

It is the beauty of Chesterton’s work, members say, that they have come to appre­ciate throughout their studies.

“Chesterton writes in a way that doesn’t draw attention to himself,” sophomore Emma Trist said. “He draws out the beauty in the most normal unas­suming thing like rain.”

Others say they want to under­stand Chesterton because of the authors he influ­enced.

“I come because Chesterton is quoted by many of my other favorite authors,” Mitchell said. “Under­standing Chesterton helps me to under­stand the authors he influ­enced, like Evelyn Waugh and C.S. Lewis.”

Vang­ieson said her vision is to help expose Chesterton’s work to other stu­dents.

“We want to share Chesterton with the campus because he’s bril­liant and he talks about many of the things we study here: God, truth, and the good life,” Vang­ieson said.

Despite the healthy numbers of the society, both Vang­ieson and Winters said they would like to see more stu­dents attend.

“Right now, we just add chairs and if there’s too many people to fit, we just sit farther away from the table,” Winters said.

Vang­ieson said anyone is welcome to come.

“Chesterton is acces­sible, and whether you’ve read him or not, you’ll learn some­thing,” Vang­ieson said. “He’s chal­lenging and makes you think, but he’s enjoyable along the way.”