29 February 2008

Nearer My God

Michael Cromartie interviewed William F. Buckley back in 1997 on his faith. Though he had an unfortunate position on birth control, it is clear he had a deep love of and attachment to the Catholic faith, and it guided all aspects of his life. An excerpt from the interview:
Many years ago Garry Wills said this of you: "Being Catholic always mattered more to him than being conservative." Is he right?

If he meant he has a higher loyalty to God than to civil society, then the answer is obvious: God has to be pre-eminent.
How do you explain your own steadfastness [in faith]?

Grace. I understand the nature of temptation, and I understand that the reach of temptation gets to almost everybody. But to the extent that one anticipates that possibility, in my case one has to reaffirm the postulates. And I never found any problem or conflict with these postulates and Christian doctrine.

You have some very moving pages about your mother and the naturalness of her relationship with God. You say, "Her worship of Him was as intense as that of a saint transfixed. And His companionship was as that of an old and very dear friend." And then you say about her that she had the "habit of seeing the best in everyone" and "a humorous spark in her eye." And she never broke her rule of "never, ever to complain, because, she explained, she could never repay God the favors He had done her, no matter what tribulations she might be made to suffer." She had a great influence on you, too.

Well, she did. She had a great influence on all her children. She was a devoted mother and a superb human being. There is a sense in which one has to resist the temptation to assign a uniqueness to her. Which we nevertheless thought was hers.

So both your parents had a great influence on your own faith, both your father's devotion and your mother's godly example?

Yes, they did. My father was never in any sense ostentatious about his faith. But, as I think I explain somewhere in the book, if I stumbled into his bedroom just before he left in the morning for wherever he was going, one would find him on his knees praying.
I should like to think that the inherent vibrancy of Christianity is waiting to be understood and appreciated. Mind you, I move among a set of people who are the intelligentsia. They are among the most deprived. If one were moving among most other sets of people, one would feel less loneliness in this matter. It is one thing to consult only with the faculty of Yale but quite another to consult the Civic Council of Columbus, Ohio. Christianity is more likely to be a staple part of their lives.

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