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A Chestertonian Adrift in an Ideological World

CONFESSIONS OF AN APOSTATE

By Christopher Derrick | November 1985
Christopher Derrick is an English writer and has served as a literary advisor to major English publishing houses since 1953. The author of numerous books, his articles and reviews have appeared in such places as the London Times and the Times Literary Supplement. He was a personal friend of the late C.S. Lewis (having been educated under the tutorship of Lewis at Magdalen College, Oxford). Since September 1981 he has been the NOR’s English Correspondent. With this issue he changes hats and becomes one of our Contributing Editors.

I have a story to tell you, and I’m afraid it’s rather a personal story; within it, the pronoun “I” will recur with sickening frequency. But you’ll soon see why.

G.K. Chesterton died in 1936. I was a school­boy at the time, at Douai Abbey in Berkshire, and my headmaster — Dom Ignatius Rice, O.S.B., a great man — had known G.K.C. closely and was bowled over by his death.

A few days later, he summoned me into his presence. “Christopher, I understand that you’re thinking of a scientific career?”

I was: the love of my life was then chemistry.

“Well, I’m asking you to change your plans: I want to lay a charge upon you, a duty, a vocation. The world has quite enough chemists, but it hasn’t got nearly enough good Catholic writers. You write well for your age: I want you to continue Chester­ton’s work to the best of your ability. Will you please make that into your career?”

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