Monday, 15 August 2016

The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name: The Disappearance of the Christian Intellectual from the Public Sphere

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind..." Luke 10:27
"Half a century ago...serious Christian intellectuals ...occupied a prominent place on the national stage. They are gone now. It would be worth our time to inquire why they disappeared, where they went, and whether — should such a thing be thought desirable — they might return....The Christian intellectuals of World War II found their society shaking at its foundations. They were deeply concerned that even if the Allies won, it would be because of technological and economic, not moral and spiritual, superiority; and if technocrats were deemed responsible for winning the war, then those technocrats would control the postwar world. (It is hard to deny that those Christian intellectuals were, on this point at least, truly prophetic.)"
The whole thing is worth reading: Alan Jacobs on the disappearance of the Christian intellectual from the public sphere.

Jacobs is thinking of people of the calibre of T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, W. H. Auden, Dorothy Sayers, the Niebuhrs, et. al.. All of them had questionable idiosyncratic doctrinal positions, but nonetheless were adept at taking the Faith into the public sphere and addressing it not only to their fellow but faithless intellectuals but also to the thinking lay person. The last figure in this line that Jacobs identifies is sometime Missouri Synod Lutheran come Roman Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus (+2009). It's not that there aren't Christian intellectuals today, of course, but they have retreated from the public sphere...or have they been forced out (see more from Richard Reno below)? Whichever the case may be, it is difficult to conceive of a middle brow magazine like Time featuring a Christian intellectual like T.S. Eliot, replete with communion symbolism, on its cover these days - but that probably tells us more about the shift in our culture over the last two generations than about Christian intellectuals per se

More here from Richard Reno.