In Father Damien, Robert Louis Stevenson comes to the defence of Fr Damien de Veuster, now St Damien of Molokai. Fr Damien’s life and death amongst the lepers of Molokai is one of the better known examples of practical Christianity. Although not an obvious target of criticism, Fr Damien was sharply criticised by a Presbyterian minister who dismissed his life’s work and condemned him for converting people to Catholicism. Robert Louis Stevenson was, although also Presbyterian, fascinated by Fr Damien and his work, having visited him in Hawaii, and published an open letter fiercely defending him and his ministry from these allegations.
In Where All Roads Lead, GK Chesterton argues for the necessity of the Catholic Church and converted to Catholicism at a time when the Catholic Church was greatly misunderstood. Upon his own conversion, he realised many of his preconceptions were wrong and set out to address such misunderstandings. Chesterton cautions against allowing one’s preconceptions to go unexamined. Many of the ideas are drawn from the thought of his friend Hilaire Belloc and then presented in Chesterton’s characteristic paradoxical style.
Brought together in this special anniversary text, these two great literary figures came to the defence of the Church, writing at around the same time but from different perspectives. Taken together, the two texts combine to defend the twin essentials of Catholicism: faith and action.