I finally finished G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy. It's an amusing read, has lots of great quotes in it and essentially lays out a relentlessly logical case for Christianity.
It speaks well of Chesterton's intellect that he chose to take his battle into the heart of enemy territory and fight the skeptics on the ground of their choosing. In a series of related essays, he maps out the conventional secular and quasi-religious sentiments of the day and then destroys them.
What's interesting about his approach is that he doesn't confront them with direct rebuttals. Instead he rhetorically gets out of their way and lets them wreck themselves. Much of the book consists of him taking various tropes and platitudes and following them to their logical conclusion.
This is a powerful persuasive tool, and devastatingly effective against people who claim that objectivity, logic and facts are all on their side.
The greatest weakness of the book is that I don't get many of the contemporary references. There needs to be an annotated version in which the various thinkers, philosophers and politicians are explained in better detail so we know what exactly they wrote that Chesterton is addressing.
The best part of the book is of course his wit. The man can turn a phrase and he's very similar to Evelyn Waugh in being able to slice someone apart in unexpected ways. There's a passage where he addresses evolution and the neo-Darwinist concept of "higher forms of life" and notes that a German Philosopher mouse might well disagree that the cat is higher, and that life is so hateful, being eaten as soon as possible is actually a better outcome.
There are many ways to help people understand faith, and Chesterton is clearly going for the self-important crowd who are full of their own sense of intellectual superiority. He absolutely wrecks them, and many of the claims he demolishes in this book are regrettably still being spread around by credentialed idiots who think they are the first people to come up with it.
In the present circumstances, it's essential reading.
I've also ordered his Heretics, which was the precursor to Orthodoxy. Heretics is more of an attack, while Orthodoxy is technically an apologetic, outline the story of Chesterton's own conversion. As noted, much of his conversion seems to be reactionary - he gave the popular viewpoint a try, and because it was so weak he knew it had to be wrong and the religious types deserved a closer look.
This is very similar to my experience with not just religion but many other beliefs. In my zeal to defend my position, I study it closely enough to realize that it's spectacularly weak.
Perhaps because its a refutation and pure attack, Heretics is less popular, but it was the genesis for Orthodoxy, so I'm looking forward to reading it.