Culture and Peoples

In a widely noted commentary on the achievements and failures of Sam Francis in the October issue of First Things, author Matthew Rose offers this conclusion:

Francis claimed that he sought only to defend Western culture. It is impossible to believe him. He displayed no feeling for literature, art, music, philosophy, or theology. He did not see, because his ideology prevented him from seeing, that our culture’s greatest achievements have come in pursuit of ideas that transcend human differences. Francis’s failure of gratitude and wonder made him more than incompetent about power. It made him an outsider to his civilization.

It is not my intention to rehash certain questions that have already been asked and satisfactorily answered in Chronicles (see “A Giant Beset by Pygmies” by Tom Piatak in the December number) about my late friend’s supposed lack of “feeling for literature, art, music or theology.” Those of us who knew Sam were in fact impressed by his extensive knowledge of art, music, philosophy, and world history. Rather than being insensitive to theological questions, the Sam Francis I knew was almost obsessed with certain religious matters.

But such differences are for me less relevant than the fact that First Things, which I have long regarded as a pillar of Conservatism, Inc., would publish an article...

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