Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008)

William F. Buckley, Jr., the father of the modern conservative movement, passed away overnight in his home in Stamford, Connecticut.

Mr Buckley, in an interview given in 1997 following the release of his book Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith, replied to the question of whether he believes in Christ and His resurrection with these words:
Well, yes, I do. I think that's absolutely central to Christianity. St. Paul thought so, and so does everybody. If Christ has not risen, then everything is in vain. But the circumstances of His resurrection were quite widely reported, and we know that His apostles devoted their entire lives in ways that would not be thinkable, except on the absolute certainty that this had happened. So yes, I think it is central, and I devote a certain amount of time to that. It is, I think you're correct in suggesting that it is often thought of as simply a myth, sort of a happy thought. I don't think it's happy thought. If it were, as Russell Kirk--I quote here--then Christianity would be something--nothing more than simply conjurings of social observations. It's the startling fact, Christ rose.
(Hat tip: Blogging Religiously)

And here are Mr Buckley's thoughts on traditional liturgical language, written in his unmistakable prose and with all his usual wit:

This morning, the Church of England has issued its re-wording of the Lord's Prayer. Now, the head of the Church of England, at least titularly, is the Queen of England. She continues to be addressed with all the euphuistic pomposity of Plantagenet prose, but now they are modernizing the form of address appropriate to God. One continues to refer to the Queen as Your Majesty, and as "Ma'am," but for God, "Thee" and "Thou" are—out. The Lord's head has been placed on the Jacobinical block. He is not quite yet addressed as Comrade, or even Big Brother: but He is definitely made to feel at home in the modern world.

It now goes not, "Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name"—but "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name." Granted, they have left the capital letter in "Your," which must have been done after grave debate in the relevant councils. But clearly it was felt that "Thy" was simply—too much. Who does He think He is? The Queen of England?

It goes on, "Your will be done on earth as in Heaven." One wonders what has been gained by that formulation over the traditional formulation, which read, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." There is transparent here something on the order of a Parkinsonian imperative: A venerable passage will be reworded by a rewording commission insofar as a commission to reword possesses the authority to do so.

...[S]ome would go so far as to say that it is most unlikely that [the Lord's will] is being done by the Royal Commission on the Vulgarization of the Book of Common Prayer when they take such a sentence as "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven" back from the alchemists who worked for the Lord and for King James, and beat it into the leaden substitute which they have now promulgated.

One wishes that were all, but there is no sin of omission for which we might be grateful. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" has been changed to, "Do not bring us to the time of trial, but deliver us from evil." Why? For the sake of clarity? (That is the usual answer.) I know, because every sense in my body informs me, and every misinclination of my mind, what is temptation, from which we seek deliverance. But "the time of trial"? That sounds like the Supreme Court is in session...

Perhaps it was ordained that the Anglicans, like their brothers the Catholics, should suffer. It is a time for weeping, and a time for rage. Do not go gently into the night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. That would be the advice of this outsider to my brothers in the Anglican Church. They must rage against those who bring upon Christianity not only indifference, but contempt.
(Hat tip: Western Orthodoxy)

May his memory be eternal!

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