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March 13, 2024

Leaders Are Jolly Warriors

There are several key figures who have shaped NSA and its vision for education and life. While these people never lived to see NSA, we value them as a major influence on the culture and mission of the college. This series will look at seven important Christians and how they have shaped the program at NSA and its vision to graduate leaders. The first figure is G.K. Chesterton who embodied the ideal of leaders being jolly warriors. 

Chesterton was a Christian author and writer who lived from 1874 to 1936. His work as an apologist for Christianity was critical in pushing back against the growing materialistic evolution of his day. His book Orthodoxy is a fundamental work of Christian apologetics, which argues that Christianity’s “main advantage is that it is the most adventurous and manly of all theologies.” In looking at Chesterton’s work, we learn the importance of how to fight. It is not enough to have the right answer. You must be right, but you must also embody the joy of the truth. Chesterton said it this way, “Pessimism is at best an innocent half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live.”

"Joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live.”

Chesterton was a massive bulk of a man. He was six foot four and three hundred pounds. One author described him as an overgrown elf. He was also well-known for his joy and laughter; they were both contagious. He once said, “I suppose I enjoy myself more than most people because there’s such a lot of me having a good time.” He was a strong defender of the truth but also did it in a way grounded in joy. He said of himself: “I represent the jolly mass of mankind. I am the happy and reckless Christian.”

Chesterton understood the importance of fighting for the truths of Christianity. He often debated George Bernard Shaw, an atheist and humanist writer. They held a series of public debates between 1911 and 1928, debating various topics from socialism and eugenics to vegetarianism and feminism. Chesterton understood that Christianity was the answer to these modern ailments, which were numerous and growing in popularity. At one point, he wrote, “The one perfectly divine thing, the one glimpse of God’s paradise on earth, is to fight a losing battle–and not lose it.” Even back then, he understood that while it might seem like Christianity was waning in the Western world, and the cause might seem lost, he was still up for the fight. He wrote, “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” Chesterton and his massive bulk refused to move while the world was moving away from Christianity. And he did it with a smile. 

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

The man also defended the Christian virtues of humility and gratitude. The world God has made is a strange and mysterious place, and we get to enjoy it daily. In one of his articles, he talks about a time when he sprained one of his legs and had to rest until it was healed. He discovered that it was a wonderful experience for him. He writes, “The one way to love anything is to realize it might be lost.” He adds, “If you wish to realize how fearfully and wonderfully God’s image is made, stand on one leg.” Chesterton regularly promoted the importance of being thankful for the ordinary blessings of life: sunshine, wine, marriage, friendship, and daily bread. It was a primary mark of his life. 

Chesterton rightly saw the degradation of his age and, specifically, the decline of education during that time. He wrote, “To say that the moderns are half-educated may be too complimentary by half.” He saw the materialistic worldview gutting the education system of his day, and he knew it was ruining the next generation. The primary issue is that secular education has attempted to remove God from the curriculum. He explained, “It is always trying to expand the scope of education and always trying to exclude all religion and philosophy from it. But this is sheer nonsense.” 

“To say that the moderns are half-educated may be too complimentary by half.”

The result is that the modern school system loses its vision of learning about God and his world. Rather than being grounded on traditional and classical education, modern schools run after the latest fad and fashion, indoctrinating students in stunted trivia rather than true knowledge. The result is a lot of highly educated people who are ignorant of God and the real world. Chesterton said in response to this corruption that the primary public duty is “not to educate the uneducated but to uneducate the educated.” 

Chesterton reminds us of the need for true education in a world that has gone mad. While some institutions are trying to keep up with the next educational fashion, NSA is teaching a curriculum that has been time-tested and proven influential in creating leaders. Our program is the same one that shaped Chesterton to be the jovial apologist of his day. We strive to embody this Christian joy in our work at the school and in our community of teachers and students. We know that a good leader must know the joy of the Lord. A good leader leads with a song in his heart. Come and see for yourself how we build jolly warriors