Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society
Dale Ahlquist (born June 14, 1958, in St. Paul, Minnesota) is an author, public speaker, Evangelical convert to Catholicism, and Catholic apologist. He has written, edited, or contributed to more than fifteen books on G. K. Chesterton, including The Apostle of Common Sense, Common Sense 101: Lessons from G. K. Chesterton, The Complete Thinker, and In Defense of Sanity. Ahlquist is the president and co-founder of the American Chesterton Society and the publisher of its magazine, Gilbert. He is the creator and host of the television series, The Apostle of Common Sense, on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). He is also the co-founder of Chesterton Academy, a Minneapolis-based high school rated one of the top 50 Catholic schools in the United States.
Ahlquist is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, speaking on Chesterton’s wit and wisdom, his prophetic insight, and his role in the New Evangelization. He has given over 600 lectures at major colleges and universities and other venues, including Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Notre Dame, Oxford, Cal-Berkeley, Caltech, Rice, Penn, Dartmouth, San Pablo (Madrid), the Vatican Forum in Rome, and the House of Lords in London.
In 2012, he was named a Senior Fellow of the Chesterton Library at Oxford University.
Background and education
The fifth of six children, Ahlquist grew up in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Paul. He graduated from Henry Sibley High School, where his father, Albert, was a biology teacher.
Conversion to Catholicism
Raised in a Baptist household, Dale Ahlquist observed the developing fragmentation of Protestant denominations. Reading G. K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man during his honeymoon in Rome profoundly changed his life and inevitably led to research into the Early Church Fathers and the history of the Catholic Church. Systematically, Dale began to see his point-by-point objections to Catholicism wither away on matters of the papacy, the sacraments of the Catholic Church, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1996 he founded the American Chesterton Society. He was received into the Catholic Church on the Feast of the Holy Family in 1997, along with his two oldest children Julian and Ashley. His wife, Laura, who had not been a practicing Catholic when they met, also returned to the Church.
American Chesterton Society
The American Chesterton Society (ACS) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization co-founded by Dale Ahlquist in 1996 with the mission of promoting interest in the 20th century’s most prolific English author, G. K. Chesterton. The ACS is the leading resource for scholarly research on Chesterton, hosts annual conferences across the United States and abroad, international pilgrimages, and offers guidance to more than 60 local societies dedicated to Chesterton around the world including Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, and Russia.
In 2000, Ahlquist quit his job as a political lobbyist to run the American Chesterton Society full-time.
Gilbert: The Magazine of the American Chesterton Society
Gilbert! is the flagship magazine of the American Chesterton Society and is published and edited by Dale Ahlquist (formerly edited by Sean P. Dailey.) It is published six times a year. Each issue contains original writings by and about Chesterton, but also covers a wide variety of subjects including family life, the arts, politics, faith, current events, popular culture, literary and film criticism, and original short fiction.
The magazine initially came about as the result of combining three modest newsletters: Midwest Chesterton News, published by John Peterson in Chicago, All Things Considered, published by Ron McCloskey in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and Generally Speaking, published by the American Chesterton Society. The original name of the magazine was Gilbert!, and Vol. 1, No. 1, was published in September, 1997. The name changed to Gilbert Magazine, with the subtitle Outlining Sanity, with Vol. 7, No.1, in September, 2003. It became Gilbert: The Magazine of the American Chesterton Society with Vol. 17, No. 1, in September, 2013.
The Apostle of Common Sense television series
The television program, G. K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense, appears on EWTN. For seven seasons Dale Ahlquist hosted The Apostle of Common Sense featuring Chuck Chalberg as G. K. Chesterton and Kevin O’Brien as Stanford Nutting, Father Brown, and Nietzsche, amongst other characters, with guest appearances by Julian and Ashley Ahlquist, Kaiser Johnson, and Frank C. Turner. The series is designed to help viewers discover and rediscover G. K. Chesterton, to be challenged by his ideas, to see the completeness of his thought, and to experience the joy and depth of his faith. Ahlquist has covered Chesterton’s most popular books and beloved characters on the show, including the famous sleuth Father Brown, Innocent Smith, and Chesterton’s friends and foes George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, and Clarence Darrow.
Dale Ahlquist is the co-founder of Chesterton Academy, a high school in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that is centered on G. K. Chesterton’s ideas of integrated learning. Launched in the fall of 2008 with just 10 students, the school now enrolls more than 100 students in grades nine through twelve and offers summer school programs, options for homeschool students, and adult enrichment classes.
Chesterton Academy educates young men and women in the Catholic tradition of faith and reason, centered on the truth of the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the study of art, music, literature, language, history, mathematics, science, philosophy, and religion, the school aims to prepare children to think both rationally and creatively, to defend their faith, and to contribute positively to society.
- The Gift of Wonder: The Many Sides of G.K. Chesterton (Editor), American Chesterton Society, 2001. ISBN 978-0970891105
- The Apostle of Common Sense, Ignatius Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0898708578
- G.K. Chesterton's Sherlock Holmes (Contributor), The Lilly Library, 2003, ISBN 0-964878844
- Lepanto (Editor), Ignatius Press, 2004. ISBN 978-1586170301
- A Miscellany of Men (Introduction), IHS Press, 2004, ISBN 0-97182861X
- Common Sense 101: Lessons from G.K. Chesterton, Ignatius Press, 2006. ISBN 978-1586171391
- The Well and the Shallows (Introduction), Ignatius Press, 2006. ISBN 978-1586171261
- The Catholic Church and Conversion (Introduction), Ignatius Press, 2006. ISBN 978-1586170738
- G.K. Chesterton on G.F. Watts (Contributor), Watts Gallery, 2008, ISBN 978-0954823092
- In Defense of Sanity (Editor), Ignatius Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1586174897
- Manalive (Editor), Ignatius Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1586174798
- The Universe According to G. K. Chesterton: A Dictionary of the Mad, Mundane and Metaphysical (Editor), Dover Publications, 2011. ISBN 978-0486481159
- The Complete Thinker, Ignatius Press, 2012. ISBN 978-1586176754
- The Defendant (Editor), Dover Publications, 2012. ISBN 978-0-486-48602-4
- The Soul of Wit: G.K. Chesterton on William Shakespeare (Editor), Dover Publications, 2012. ISBN 978-0-486-48919-3
- The Hound of Distributism (Contributor), ACS Books, 2012. ISBN 978-1-50510-477-6
- Knight of the Holy Ghost: A Short History of G.K. Chesterton, Ignatius Press & The Augustine Institute, 2018. ISBN 978-0-9993756-4-8
- "2012 Catholic High School Honor Roll Top 50". Catholichonorroll.org. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
- "G.K. Chesterton Library". Chestertonlibrary.blogspot.it. 2012-07-18. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
- Carleton College, Dale Ahlquist '80 interviewed in Star Tribune
- "Upon This Rock — That Doesn't Roll – Conversion Story of Dale Ahlquist | The Coming Home Network". Chnetwork.org. 2012-10-31. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
- "American Chesterton Society | G.K. Chesterton for the 21st Century". Chesterton.org. 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
- "Local Societies". Chesterton.org. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
- Katherine Kersten At home with British mastermind's legacy. Minneapolis Star-Tribune, June 6, 2005
- "Gilbert Magazine". Chesterton.org. 2012-10-13. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
- "EWTN Series". Ewtn.com. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
- "Board of Directors". Chesterton Academy. Retrieved 2013-09-05.