“Stand Up and Fight, You Crapulous Coward!”

I may explode from the overload of awesomeness! Chesterton illustrated by Ben Hatke!

A sinister spaceship captures an innocent monk … a pugnacious atheist and a devout Catholic vow to duel to the death … and a cross-country chase ensues! 

When two men decide to fight for their respective beliefs, they discover to their astonishment that an unbelieving world won’t let them, and they find themselves partners and fugitives from the law in this steampunk satire.

Penned by G.K. Chesterton in 1909, this whimsical and biting novel eerily foreshadows a world in which “tolerance” is the only god and all those who believe ideas are worth dying for are forced to stand together to defend freedom of speech and belief.

This new *slightly* abridged edition of The Ball and the Cross from Chesterton Press contains splendid illustrations by Ben Hatke, author of the best-selling Angel in the Waters and Zita the Spacegirl.

Chesterton you know.  Ben Hatke you might not.  The guy is great!  Go here, right away, get this book!  Way to go, Regina Doman and Chesterton Press, for scoring this coup!

Hey are you still reading this?  Go get the book!  You won’t regret it!

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  • > those who believe ideas are worth dying for

    … and worth killing for?

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Aw, look how cute! He’s trying to play “gotcha”.

      Read the book, Gonzo.

      • I’ve read the book (and more than 40 from GKC, whom I love and who helped me to be catholic). But GKC is so brilliant that sometimes he induces some kind of blindness in catholics readers.

        Duel is a grave sin

        This (along with the deplorable discussion of the “good” protagonists agains the “bad” tolstoyan… in which the later is more in tune with the catholic teaching than the catholic… a fact that catholics readers do not want to see) might be just a tiny weak or blind spot from GKC’s moral understanding.

        I could (after some discussion) buy that. I cannot buy this:

        ” this whimsical and biting novel eerily foreshadows a world in which “tolerance” is the only god and all those who believe ideas are worth dying for are forced to stand together to defend freedom of speech and belief.”

        So, to defend “freedom of speech and belief” (??) the protagonist, seeing some offensive remark about the Blessed Virgin in an atheist newspaper wants to kill (in a sword-duel, romantically,of course) the atheist? Come on.

        “”I must and will stop this shocking crime,” cried the Tolstoian, crimson in the face. “It is against all modern ideas”
        Now, let us put the matter very plainly, and without any romantic nonsense about honour or anything of that sort. Is not bloodshed a great sin?”
        “No,” said MacIan

        On the other hand
        “The two divine laws, that which is promulgated by the light of natural reason, and that by letters written under divine inspiration, strictly forbid the killing or wounding of anyone outside a public cause, unless forced by necessity to defend his own safety. But those who provoke to a private struggle, or accept a challenge do this; they lend their minds and their strength to this, although bound by no necessity, to take the life, or at least to inflict a wound on an adversary. Furthermore, the two divine laws forbid anyone rashly casting aside his own life, subjecting it to grave and manifest danger, when no reason of duty, or of magnanimous charity urges it; but this blind rashness, contemner of life, is clearly in the nature of a duel. Therefore, it can be obscure and doubtful to no one that upon those who engage in individual combat privately, fall both crimes, that of another’s destruction, and of voluntarily endangering his own life.
        (Denzinger n 1939) (year: 1891)

        There are no “ideals worth of dying” (and killing) in that sense. Christianism is not an ideal, and losing your life in a duel (or taking other’s life) has absolutely nothing to do with christian martyrdom.
        We (catholics of c XXI) are expected to know better about sacredness of human life and “tolerance” (those sarcastic quotes…) than that.

        BTW, I find our comment rather insulting. But perhaps that’s because English is not my native language.

        • The Ubiquitous

          This is a novel of ideas and a fantasy, as you would recall if you would re-read the first and last chapters. After all, how does the duel end? And what happens to both characters?

        • Alma Peregrina

          I haven’t read the book, so I wouldn’t know… but as a writer I wouldn’t like it one bit if one of my readers made such a literalist critic like you did.

          From what I can gather, the “duel” is a metaphor for something more deep… the facedown of two completely diferent worldviews that dispute today’s World.

          Maybe you’re trying to much? Was Chesterton really advocating for the non-sinfulness of duelling… or was he using the popular image of the duel to show something else?

  • wlinden

    I prefer “En garde, you musty sofa!”

  • John Harrison


  • Mark.

    Haven’t read the book since about 1985 (spent grad school mostly reading books from the huge U Illinois library rather than doing what I was supposed to be there to do). Last saw it mentioned in I think a Ngaio Marsh novel (reading for high-Church Anglicans). What was removed in the abridgement?