So Long As They’re Dead…

Left to right: J.R.R. Tolkien, Thomas a Kempis, G.K. Chesterton, and St. Augustine of Hippo

Francis J. Beckwith describes the process of being invited, and then dis-invited, to write a piece in honor of a distinguished academic and evangelical friend for festschrift, which was being compiled by some folks in conjunction with the appropriately named Moody Publishers.

Several days later, however, the editors informed me that the publisher had forced them to disinvite me. Why? Because the members of Moody’s board, as the editors put it, “are not ready as an institution to allow Catholic contributors for their books,” even though in my prospective chapter—“The Reclamation of First Philosophy”—I had planned to do nothing distinctly Catholic. I had intended to defend the honoree’s understanding of philosophy and its relation to other disciplines. (To get a sense of what I mean by “first philosophy,” see my essay, “In Defense of First Philosophy,” published last June at The Catholic Thing.)

Beckwith then describes the front page of Moody’s website, which at the time contained dozens of books featuring the likes of Tolkien, Chesterton, Augustine, heck, even Thomas A Kempis!  This then leads him to speculate, that the Moody folks have a problem only with the living members of the tradition, who, to borrow half a quote from Chesterton, “merely happen to be walking about.”

Beckwith ends with a tongue-in-cheek jibe:

Perhaps Moody is as much the company’s name as it is a description of its board’s temperament. Your guess is as good as mine. But I do know that if I had to do it over again, I would propose my chapter under a pseudonym, claiming that it is really a foreword that had been penned by the late North African English novelist and monk, J.R.R. Thomas Chesterton of Hippo. I think that would have done the trick.

I particularly liked Mark Shea’s Summation:

Evangelicalism is in an accellerating process of distintegration into compenents such as Anglo-Catholic-friendly Evangelicalism, fundamentalism, post-modern (and increasing post-Christian) political action groups both left and right, moralistic therapeutic deism, virulent anti-Christian post-modern deconstructioism and sundry other subsects.  The people trying to keep a hold on historic Christianity whipsaw between wanting all the solidity of orthodox Catholic teaching while fearing that it could mean becomeing Catholic.  So they read dead Catholic like kids peeking at porn but then chicken out when confronted with Catholic converts like Frank Beckwith, cuz he might have cooties and they might be catching.

They are right, of course.  Those cooties are very catching.





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