Saturday, May 19, 2007

Scruton and Stealing the Heart

"Pay attention to this man. He is one of the brightest minds around."

Some years ago, actually it was 1 Oct 1993 while I was at a conference celebrating the 40th anniversary of the publication of Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind (which itself was an event worth remembering and recounting in detail some day), I first heard Roger Scruton speak. As he was being introduced, the gentleman next to me turned and said, "Pay attention to this man. He is one of the brightest minds around."

As Scruton gave his talk, mostly on Kirk, his work, and the influence it has had, I realized Scruton was someone I should get to know. With the passing of the years, I have. One book that I have waited some time for Scruton to write is a memoirs of sorts. Not an autobiography but a vignette of the events in his life that have influenced him to think and be the way he is. That book is here: Gentle Regrets.

I first heard about it through an on-line excerpt published on the Catholic Education Resource center site. In "Stealing from Churches," Scruton reflects upon the impact two different types of Catholics had on him:

Two people stand out among the many who have illuminated for me the path to Rome — a path that I never took. One enjoyed wealth and social standing. The other lived at the bottom of society, impoverished, oppressed, but serene.

Monsignor Gilbey and Basia are these two. Scruton describes these two and their Church with a passage from Radl:

God is offended by nothing and bears everything, even crucifixion; he loves humanity boundlessly and helps in the manner of a disarmed man: he teaches, leads, praises, gives examples, chides and warns. How does he practise this method? He sends good people into the world, who are a model to those around them ...

and then closes the chapter with:

The apostolic church is a church of the heart. When you steal from it you steal the heart. Hence the theft is easy; and amends are long and hard.

The more I read of this book, the more I see how "amends are long and hard."

Get the book and read the whole thing.

No comments: