The Chesterton Option, according to Dale Ahlquist

Practical guidelines for living a Christian life in the world. Check it out at

“Chesterton used to say he was the politest man in all England: he could stand up on a bus and offer his seat to three women at the same time.”

This was my introduction to G. K. Chesterton, at least in my adult life. My brother, circa 2000, had memorized parts of “The Ballad of the White Horse” and enthusiastically recited it to us. I picked up “The Ball and the Cross” several years ago and got only a few pages in.

And then this intro, to this lovely address, given by Dale Ahlquist at a tiny college graduation in cozy New England. It cheered me up, cheered my whole life up, and filled me with a zeal to accomplish worthy things. Cheesy, but true.

Mr. Ahlquist eloquently described the sad state of our times, saying that we have “formed a crass commercial culture, based on coveting, self-indulgence, and instant gratification…Our imaginations have run wild with alternative realities” and the “loss of faith and reason [is] robbing us of our dignity and our free will…Society is falling apart…because the basic brick with which a civilization is built is crumbling, and that brick is the family.”

Cheerful, hey? Stay with me. According to Mr. Ahlquist, G. K. Chesterton has allll the answers to these problems, and they are beautiful answers.

Society may be crumbling, but it is not too late. As Mr. Ahlquist reminds us, civilization is a human invention, and “we can make or remake society according to any design…if we decide to do it.” According to Chesterton, the family will save civilization.


By transforming the world.


By passing on our culture, learning and art to the next generation.

This is where Mr. Ahlquist presents what he calls “The Chesterton Option.” It is a blueprint for a life that, while lived in the world, is lived with purpose and faithfulness. The Chesterton version of conscious culture, I like to think.

Here it is:

The Chesterton Option

Practical guidelines for living a Christian life in the world, inspired by G. K. Chesterton. Check them out at
The politest man in all of England.
  •  “Be faithful to the Faith.” Mr. Ahlquist urges us to live with courage, to not be afraid of telling that truth of the Incarnation, which is worth dying for, and more importantly, worth living for.
  •  “Take control of your own life…Free yourself from everything that would enslave you.” According to Chesterton, it is a “sign of decadence when we pay others to fight for us and others to dance for us and others to rule us.” Another Chesterton gem: “It is cheap to own a slave and cheaper to be a slave.”

Mr. Ahlquist gives practical guidelines for being faithful to the Faith and for taking control of your own life.

  • Be as free not to use technology as to use it.
  • Work to become your own employer.
  • Buy local.
  • Start your own schools.
  • Join a cost sharing healthcare co-op.
  • Join a local credit union.
  • Give money to the poor, and “give them the dignity of being able to spend it themselves, instead of spending it for them.”
  • Make your own entertainment.
  • Make your own art.
  • Read old books.
  • Grow things, whether veggies or children.
  • Share a family meal every day, and “linger long.”
  • Pray as a family every day.
  • Keep a period of silence every day.
  • Keep the Sabbath and yourself holy.
  • “Break the conventions, and keep the commandments.”
  • “Look at everything as if you are seeing it for the first time.”
  • “Be thankful, and think about God…and you will be happy.”

“There is no obligation on us to be richer, or busier, or more efficient, or more productive, or more progressive, or in any way worldlier or wealthier, if is does not make us happier.” – G. K. Chesterton

The Chesterton Option and My New Year’s Resolutions

Practical guidelines for living a Christian life in the world, inspired by G. K. Chesterton. Check them out at
Resolution #1: Drink more tea. 🙂

For the New Year of 2018, I decided to really put into place The Chesterton Option, as much as possible.

Some aspects I have already been working on, such as making time for silence and joining a healthcare co-op.

This year, I resolve to continue those good habits, and implement more. My full list of resolutions is here for you to hold me accountable:

Practical guidelines for living a Christian life in the world, inspired by G. K. Chesterton. Check them out at
Napping under trees counts as keeping silence, I believe.

And now that these resolutions are up here for the world to see, I have to keep them! I will go into more details on each of these as I go along my journeh, so stay posted.  Aaaand I would LOVE any suggestions you have for how I can best implement these resolutions.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Do any of these ideas resonate with you, or have you already been crushing this way of life? Let me know!!

Peace and Happy New Year to all,


Practical guidelines for living a Christian life in the world, inspired by G. K. Chesterton. Check them out at

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