The G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture is located at Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey.
Father Ian Boyd, C.S.B. at the 2005 conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The purpose of the Institute is to promote the thought of G.K. Chesterton and his circle and, more broadly, to explore the application of Chestertonian ideas in the contemporary world. Chesterton's call for a deepened moral and social imagination speaks loudly to the cultural crises of our own time.
The Institute's work consists of conferences, lecture series, research and writing. It is responsible for the publication of The Chesterton Review, a widely respected Journal. In addition, the Institute promotes Chestertonian thinking through television, radio, the press, and the stage. This commitment is not narrow or exclusive. On the contrary, because of his versatility, Chesterton's reach is wide. The Chesterton Review has devoted special issues to C.S. Lewis, George Bernanos, Hilaire Belloc, Maurice Baring, Christopher Dawson, Cardinal Manning, the Modernist Crisis, Japanese Christian writers, Ethics and Economics in Post-Communist Europe. Chesterton, in other words, stands at the centre of a much wider Catholic and Christian culture, as well as J. R. R. Tolkien, Fantasy Literature and a critically acclaimed Special Polish Issue.
In response to the revival of Chesterton in the world, since 2006 The
Chesterton Review publishes an annual issues in Spanish, French, Italian
and Portuguese. As interest in Chesterton grows around the world, with
the re-publication of his Collected Works and their discovery by a new
generation of avid readers, The Chesterton Review is growing too.
The home of The Chesterton Institute and The Chesterton Review is Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey. Founded in 1856 by Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley of Newark and named in honor of his aunt, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the university has remained true to her vision of Catholic education in the service of community and society. Seton Hall, the oldest and largest diocesan university in the United States, has 10,000 students from over forty countries.
Seton Hall's Catholicity is expressed in multiple ways — through liturgy, prayer, social action, and the work of the classroom. Under the direction of Monsignor Richard Liddy, the Center for Catholic Studies, founded in 1997, seeks to explore the various dimensions of the Catholic tradition — theological, cultural, historical and social —- and to provide an integrated understanding of the world in the light of that tradition. Within the aegis of the Center for Catholic Studies is the Institute on Work which attempts to apply Catholic social teaching to the problems of the contemporary world, and the Bernard J. Lonergan Institute. Such is the setting for the Chesterton Institute. In the spirit of John Henry Newman, an outstanding English Catholic of the nineteenth century, the Center is a place of research, teaching and service. It is fitting that an Institute and Journal dedicated to one of the most remarkable English Catholic writers of the twentieth century should be part of this Center.Why the Institute?
Chesterton offers compelling answers to the cultural crisis of our time. That crisis takes different forms, all related: the separation of culture from faith, the privatization of religious belief, the impoverishment of the moral imagination, the assault on the dignity of the human person, the promotion of consumerist individualism and with it the destruction of authentic communities, most especially the family, the loss of a sense of the sacred and the sacramental. The civilization of love urged by the Gospel and eloquently articulated by Pope John Paul II has been challenged, it seems with success, by a pervasive culture of death.
The work of the Institute is thus one of recovery. With Chesterton and the tradition he represented, it proposes a re-awakening of the moral and sacramental imagination; a renewed sense of human dignity; a re-evangelization of culture, a return to social sanity. T.S. Eliot suggested that Chesterton leaves behind a permanent claim upon our loyalty, "to see that the work that he did in his time is continued in ours." Without making a cult of Chesterton, and in co-operation with other faith-traditions, this is the mission of the Institute. Chesterton's vision was compelling because of its coherence. He recognized that hearth and heart, work and worth, were of a piece. Human flourishing was found in families, human wholeness in holiness.
The Institute, through its publications, conferences, seminars, promotion of sound public policy and in co-operation with affiliated groups, offers a rediscovery of that distinct moral tradition. It proposes, with Wendell Berry, that our place of safety can only be the community, "and not just one community, but many of them everywhere, upon [which] depends all that we still claim to value: freedom, dignity, health, mutual help and affection." The Institute's purpose is one of evangelizing, of communicating, even of converting culture. In that sense its work must always be broader than Chesterton himself. To be properly Chestertonian is to be interested less in the man than in the truths he expounded.