Sunday, March 9, 2008

Readings: Buckley, Full Circle


My few, but faithful, readers will perhaps have noted my frequent practice of reading from the oeuvres of prominent men and women of letters who have recently “left the building” and posting some of their words. (Those would be the posts that you didn’t read, but never mind that.)

I think that all, or most, of those writers whom I have so remembered have been individuals at least one of whose books I had previously read. William F. Buckley, Jr. was not such a writer.

Until now, I have known Buckley strictly through television and journalism. With his passing, and since--even though both his ideology and his religion were antithetical to me--I have to admit his importance relative to the era of American political history most of which we have shared, I decided to read one of his books. With so very many to choose from, I decided that the thing to do was to begin where he pretty much began. So I borrowed a copy of God and Man at Yale from the library. I have thus far read the opening chapter, “Religion at Yale.” On that topic, here are a few of Buckley’s own words:

Before leaving religion in the curriculum, brief reference should be made to the substantial contribution to secularism that is being made at Yale and elsewhere by widespread academic reliance on relativism, pragmatism, and utilitarianism. The teachings of John Dewey and his predecessors have borne fruit. And there is surely not a department at Yale that is uncontaminated with the absolute that there are no absolutes, no intrinsic rights, no ultimate truths. The acceptance of these notions, which emerge in courses in history and economics, in sociology and political science, in psychology and literature, makes impossible any intelligible conception of an omnipotent, purposeful, and benign Supreme Being who has laid down immutable laws, endowed his creatures with inalienable rights, and posited unchangeable rules of human conduct.

If only we could all agree on what those “unchangeable rules” are, what a wonderful world it would be.

We are poor little lambs
Who have lost our way.
Baa! Baa! Baa!

9 comments:

Kyle R. Cupp said...

We understand truth through language, and there is no absolute and ultimate language, at least not one spoken by us wee little lambs.

Rodak said...

Kyle--
I believe that the core of Confucius' project was to reform the world by reforming language. I think that he did not succeed, although the outer trappings of his plan linger on as some kind of dogma.

Civis said...

His religion was antithetical to you?

Rodak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rodak said...

NOTE:
I deleted the comment above in order to correct a typo. Here it is, corrected:

Civis--
Despite all hemming and hawing to the contrary, the fact that Catholics exclude Protestants from their communion effectively excludes them from their religion. That makes it antithetical, imo.
I have had this discussion many times on other blogs, however, and I don't want to have it again here.
I'll discuss it on your blog, if you want to post about it.

Civis said...

I just didn't know what you meant. I never heard you say that [I'm assuming you are talking about] about Catholicism.

No, I don't want to talk about it unless you do. If that is your only beef "antithetical" seems awful strong.

Rodak said...

Civis--
I don't think that antithetical is too strong. The impossibility of a common communion makes impossible the reunification of the Christian churches into one Church.

Civis said...

Antithesis. n. The direct or exact opposite.

Sounds like it is antithetical only with regard to this one practice, but whatever. If you feel "antithetical" is the word you want to use, go with it. I feel you pain, man.

Rodak said...

only with regard to this one practice

I don't see any "only" as operative with regard to that "one practice." So I stick with "antithetical" knowing full-well how it's defined.