George Grant: The North American C. S. Lewis

GL7022So where does liberalism actually lean, when fleshed out or unfolded? So we have these principles we are enfolded in, what do they look like ethically, theologically, ecclesiologically, when they unfold? So, just as you plant a sunflower seed you get a sunflower plant, an acorn becomes an oak tree, ideas have consequences, as Weaver said. And so, Grant was very concerned, as was Lewis, with the realm of ideas, because he knew that in the realm of ideas there were consequences, in terms of people’s understanding of identity, of purpose, of communities, of education, of culture, and of all these things. Continue reading

‘Lament for a Nation’ – An Interview with Ron Dart

lamentforanation50A24This afternoon I want to talk to our friend Ron Dart, who, I think holds a unique place in Canadian letters and history, Ron has gone to some great lengths to reintroduce us to some of the more notable Canadians of letters and politics over the past century or century and a half. People who are often forgotten, and not mentioned often, nearly as often enough, in textbooks. But today we are going to talk about a particular book that had great impact in the 1960s, in fact, with people of my age it was a bit of a bit of a cult piece at the time. When we had the election in 1963 in Canada, one of the main issues in that election was whether Canada would introduce nuclear warheads, on Bomarc missiles, that were station in Canada, basically, with the North American Air Defense System … the Prime Minister of the day, John Diefenbaker was opposed to introducing the nuclear weapons, and that was one of the central issues in the election, the leader of the Liberal Party [the opposition] at the time, Lester Pearson agreed to accept nuclear missals, and by during that he got the support of the United States government … Continue reading

George Grant and Radical Orthodoxy

G7492I remember, with much fondness, a lunch spent with John Milbank at Peterhouse (founded in 1284) in Cambridge in May 1995. I was doing, at the time, research on the Anglican High Romanticism of S. T. Coleridge and the Anglican High Toryism of T. S. Eliot. I was on my way to Little Gidding for a few days to ponder Eliot’s Four Quartets. John Milbank had published his innovative and plough to soil tome, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (1990). Radical Orthodoxy did not exist at the time, but the seeds of the movement had definitely been sown with Theology and Social Theory. Needless to say, we chatted much at Peterhouse (the definitive High Church college at Cambridge—Milbank made sure I realized this was Laud’s college) about Milbank’s demanding read of a book and how his challenge to secular reason opened up new yet much older terrain in which to do theology, philosophy, social theory and, in time, political philosophy. Continue reading

Lament for a Nation: Then and Now

lamentforanationthenandnowThe more I learn about Grant thanks to Ron Dart and David Cayley, the more I am impressed. This booklet, though brief, points to an urgency first heralded so brilliantly by George Grant 50 years ago upon the publication of his Lament For a Nation.

Dart states in the Preface that “There is a direct line and lineage, in short, from the principles and ideas articulated in Political Realignment [written by Ernest and Preston Manning] and the form of conservatism that dominates Canada and much of republicanism in the United States.” Grant’s Lament is committed to “an older and deeper notion of what is worth conserving”. “Lament for a Nation is a lament, therefore, about the way a driven and ambitious form of liberalism has banished the contemplative way and enthroned the active way…” Continue reading

T.S. Eliot And C.S. Lewis: Discord And Concord

It is virtually impossible to live in the 20th century Western Tradition without being exposed to T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) and C.S. Lewis (1898-1963). Both men, for different reasons, were main actors and intellectuals on the stage of the early decades of the 20th century. Eliot and Lewis rise, like towering Alpine peaks, far above the lesser mountains that surround them. Books abound aplenty about them, and libraries are packed with their literary contributions and many publications. Continue reading

High Tories, Left and Right

As someone who self-identifies as a “High Tory” I have on occasion been asked to explain what exactly a High Tory is. I usually respond by explaining what a Tory is first and then explaining what is suggested by the qualifying adjective High. While Tory can be simply a nickname for a member or supporter of the Conservative Party I use the term to mean someone who holds to a certain set of principles and convictions and a certain way of looking at life and the world. The expression “small c conservative” is also used by those who wish to identify themselves as being conservative other than in the partisan sense but I prefer the word Tory because it hearkens back to an older form of conservatism, that exemplified by the eighteenth century poet, biographer, essayist, and lexicographer Dr. Samuel Johnson. Continue reading