William F. Buckley, R.I.P....

I've known the grief of losing loved ones; my brothers, father-in-law, Mapalo, Rita... many others. Then, of course, my father. If the Lord had not been on our side, we would have been swept away.

Beyond the private sphere, I've been struck with a more public grief, but rarely. I think my grief when John Lennon died wasn't really for him, but for the death of my youth. Immediately, though, I was brought to my senses by my dear friend, Paul Cote, who suggested it was God's kindness, keeping Lennon from even greater condemnation had he lived longer.

When Francis Schaeffer died...

I felt a heavy grief that the Lord had silenced this prophet's voice. His little booklet, The Mark of the Christian, should be required reading for every believer. And abortion--where would evangelicals be today if he and Chick Koop had not gone on a barnstorming tour with their film series, "Whatever Happened to the Human Race," warning the people of God against the slaughter of innocents that surrounded us? Until that moment, evangelicals had been dead in the water on abortion, and that single witness of these two men turned the Protestant church in its tracks.

When I finished the second volume of Iain Murray's bio of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a terrible sadness came over me as I realized Lloyd-Jones was gone. What a father in the faith! So, although I'd never known him, I did miss him.

Now, William F. Buckley has passed into eternity. What should be said about this giant among men?

For myself, I'll leave it with two things: First, that for many years he was the erudite spokesman and generous patron of true conservatism. From the publication of God and Man at Yale, to his recent death, Buckley personified the deep perceptions and insights so rare among American Protestants--particularly evangelicals, yet so common among Roman Catholics. When Buckley stood athwart history yelling "Stop!", even the most cynical barbarians oozing out of the slime of their New Haven and Cambridge lairs were forced to give their triumphalism a break, and, maybe just for a moment, do manly battle.

Sadly, though, it must also be noted that Buckley fired Joe Sobran from National Review, and later presided over NR's smear of both Sobran and Pat Buchanan as anti-Semites. Shorty prior to the termination, Buckley had lunch with Sobran and tried his suave best to dissuade Sobran from meddling with the cozy relationship between the United States and Israel in his writing for NR. Sobran reports Buckley plaintively saying, "Joe, we need these folks."

Sobran refused to salute the neocon flag, so his time was up at National Review. It was to Sobran's credit, but Buckley's shame.

Still, I grieve Buckley's death. He was a great man, living the life Western Christendom bequeathed to him in all its human glory. Rome should be mourning.




The unfailing attribute appearing in all of WFB's obits, is his genuine warmth and kindness. This, despite his ability to dismantle self-styled intelligentsia and leave them quivering on the floor. It is a curious thing, to be remembered for both, and the reputation is not gained without some effort. Could you, perhaps, not see in the Sobran & Buchanan affair, some of that effort? Not every kindness is a compromise, but some are heavenly offensives of the most deadly sort. When Elisha ordered that food be set out for the blinded Syrian army, it was more than compromise, it was decisive defeat. WFB was engaging in that sort of warfare all his life, Sobran and Buchanan couldn't. To each man his mission.

Dear Rob,

I'm with you in most of what you write, yet I have a hard time seeing one's need for "these people" and the compromises thereby entailed as kindness. But even if one could make the case it was, what sort of kindness leads one to fire one's devoted friends, and then smear them with the label of anti-Semitism.

For myself, I think Buckley needed those people much like John McCain and Hillary Clinton need them, and the need had almost nothing to do with kindness. Furthermore, let's look candidly at the fruit of the neocon movement as it's apparent, today, with the non-social agenda conservatives. Isn't pretty, is it?

I comfort myself with the fact that, despite the current editorial commitments of NR, before dying Buckley acknowledged he'd been wrong about the war in Iraq. (But please don't use this statement to jump to conclusions about what I believed yesterday (or now believe) about the war in Iraq.)

Rome mourning?

Great man?

He was a Catholic sell-out who couldn't appear in a Catholic publication. He was also the author of sleazy spy novels.

Buckley also presided over conservatism's demise as the force it had been for several decades prior.

He was interested most in pandering to the Manhattan establishment, and he fired Joe Sobran for not going along.


Great does not equal infallible, sinless, faultless or perfect. Yes, WFB was a great man. As for sleazy spy novels? My guess is you would find just about the entire genre sleazy.

By the way, it's snowing in Denver this morning.


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