Thursday, February 28, 2008

WFB: More Than "A Conservative"

From a memoir by Patrick Deneen.

I have a fond personal memory of Buckley - a time he was among a group of five representatives of various religious traditions were gathered by Princeton University's "Center for Human Values" to discuss the amorphous topic of "Mind, Faith, Spirit". Guided by Bill Moyers, the assemblage was clearly intended to reach a consensus that religion was wholly a personal and individual matter, and that one's belief should have no bearing on the public life of a nation. Buckley, as one would expect, refused to play nice. He began by announcing that "I may be a little bit of an imposter in this distinguished panel, because I'm sort of ridden with belief." In response to views that it was possible to believe in God but understand and sympathize with those who believe otherwise, he said, "The Ten Commandments say, 'Thou shalt not place other gods in my house,' and the Lord's prayer has in it the phrase, 'lead us not into temptation.' Could you understand by asking that you not be led into temptation that you be spared the seductiveness of other gods?" And, lastly (not in the transcript, but firmly burned in my memory), to the question whether religious belief necessitated rejection of belief other than one's own (which, of course, every other member of the panel dismissed out of hand as an unthinkable suggestion), Buckley replied: "As a member of the Roman Catholic Church, I hold the Creed of my Church to be true, which means by definition that the belief of any other religion in contradiction to that Creed must be categorically false." I believe it was the first time, and possibly the last, that the word "true" was used in an event sponsored by the "University Center for Human Values" without implied or gesticulated scare quotes. I became instantly aware on that day the ramrod backbone it took to write a book like "God and Man at Yale" in 1951 and to found "The National Review" in 1955. He was a man of courage and independence, and we could use more of his kind. RIP

That word, "true", describes Buckley's project, even though it was characterized as "fusionism." Buckley focused on what is true, and let the chips fall where they may.

Amen. Requiescat in pace.


Anonymous said...

It is too bad he was wrong about this "truth".

You are a curious case Daddio. One day I admire your willingness to expound on heterodoxy in economics, but the next day I cringe when I read your thoughts on religious orthodoxy.

Keep up the good work... It makes for interesting reading.

Dad29 said...

So happens that he was NOT 'wrong' about that--either in logic or in faith.

But thanks for your kudos.