What the Editors Are Reading

During Russell Kirk’s fruitful lifetime
I regularly took his sage advice concerning
books I ought to read. Dr. Kirk
had seemingly perused everything worth
perusing. Thus, on his say-so in 1968, I
read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested
T. S. Eliot’s The Idea of a Christian

I hate to tell you, but many things are
even worse than in annus horribilis ’68:
manners, morals, cultures, systems of belief,
ideals of authority. But, I admit, it’s easier
to get fresh seafood and a smooth shave.

The idea of a renewed look at Eliot’s
premises commended itself to me recently
due to the deteriorating outlook
for a moral recovery. I thought, “Could
we maybe return to the Christian outlook
on life, to something like its intended
brilliance and relevance to the human
enterprise?” Eliot approached this question
in a series of three lectures at Corpus
Christi College, Cambridge, in the years
between the Munich debacle and the Nazi
invasion of Poland.

He wasn’t trying to gin up enthusiasm
for government takeover of the church.
Anything but. All the same, he recognized
paganism as the alternative to “the formation
of a new Christian culture.” How to

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