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.