News and Site Highlights Archives
(Also see our newsletter, Permanent Things.)
Charles W. Colson
The Russell Kirk Center is sad to hear of the death of Chuck Colson. He will mostly be remembered for the wonderful work he did with prisoners, giving their lives dignity and meaning.
After his time in prison, Colson devoted himself to cultural renewal, which he saw as essential in fending off the collapse of civilization. He saw our duty to be a people of conviction, to inflame the moral imagination of the West, as clear, no matter the outcome. Colson concludes his book, Against the Night, by asking, “Can the barbarians be resisted? I hope and believe so . . . but even if they are not, we must go forward in obedience, in hope, and in joy. For those who are ‘signed by the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark’. This is the challenge—and the promise—before us.”
Sunday, April 29, marks the eighteenth anniversary of the death of Russell Kirk. He would have agreed with the convictions Colson expressed, and to give them added emphasis may have invoked lines of T. S. Eliot: “There is only the fight to recover what has been lost. For us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”
(Photo: Charles W. Colson, William F. Buckley, and Annette Kirk at a 2003 White House celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Conservative Mind.)
The latest number of the Russell Kirk Center newsletter (Spring 2012) has just been posted. It features news on the launch of the publishing partnership between the Kirk Center and Brazilian publisher É Realizações and a profile of Wilbur Fellow Ryan Streeter. You can download it, and past issues, here.
RIP Irving Louis Horowitz
The Kirk Center and The University Bookman regret the passing of sociologist Irving Louis Horowitz, who died in March. Recipient of many accolades, Horowitz was a sociologist of wide-ranging interests, from religion to analysis of state power and social order in assessing a society’s quality of life, an approach that has since become standard.
Horowitz has a special place in the memory of the Kirk Center. It is he who made possible the Library of Conservative Thought, a collection of more than thirty volumes published by Transaction Press, with which Horowitz was long affiliated, and edited by Russell Kirk. These thirty-odd volumes constitute a basic reading list for the educated conservative, and include classics such as James Burnham’s Congress and the American Tradition, Irving Babbitt’s Rousseau and Romanticism, Orestes Brownson’s Selected Political Essays, and Kirk’s own America’s British Culture. These books brought the tradition of conservative reflection to a new generation, and rightly placed them alongside other important works of sociology, intellectual history, and politics.
In his eulogy for Russell Kirk, given at Kirk’s Memorial Mass in 1994, Horowitz stated that Kirk was now “at one with the great tradition he helped articulate and recover”—words that also aptly describe the legacy of Irving Louis Horowitz.
Kirk in Time
In an article in the February 13, 2012 TIME magazine, “The Conservative Identity Crisis,” the author says that “modern conservatism was born in the early 1950s” when “a young writer named Russell Kirk unearthed a rich philosophical tradition going back to British writer and politician, Edmund Burke; Kirk's 1953 book, The Conservative Mind was a sensation, influencing a generation that included William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.
“Kirk's was never the only brand of conservatism, but his ideas were like a magnet pulling others toward them, and steadily, a coalition of the right was formed. Kirk emphasized the religious roots of society, which spoke to the rising Christian conservatism of the 1970s. He counseled slow and orderly change rather than radical or utopian schemes; this made his movement a welcoming home for Americans unnerved by the social revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. He held that individual property is the root of freedom ... and he cherished traditional values and local institutions rather than shiny new ideas from central headquarters, which made his philosophy a comfortable place for the inevitable backlash against Washington and the New Deal.”
New Senior Fellow
We are delighted to announce that James E. Person Jr. has been named a Senior Fellow of the Russell Kirk Center. Mr. Person is a long-time friend of the Center. He is a publishing manager, writer, and editor at large, and the author, among other books of Russell Kirk: A Critical Biography of a Conservative Mind (1999). Currently he is editing the forthcoming Selected Letters of Russell Kirk.
The latest number of the Russell Kirk Center newsletter (Fall 2011) has just been posted. It features a profile of the new complete Kirk Bibliography, compiled by our archivist, Charles C. Brown. It also includes an interview with Márcia Xavier de Brito, who is translating many works of Kirk into Portuguese. You can download it, and past issues, here.
We are deeply sorry to learn of the death of Fred Meijer. Meijer was a philanthropist par excellence and beloved by all in Michigan who knew him. Readers interested in his life and legacy may be interested to see Jim Person’s review of his biography published in the University Bookman last year.
Annette Kirk and Jeffrey O. Nelson both contributed tributes to a memorial page for Mr. Charles H. Hoeflich (1914–2011), a long-time friend and financial supporter of the Kirk Center who died recently. The Kirk Center is deeply grateful for his support and commemorates a long and fruitful life.
Kirk Audio at ISI
We commend to your attention the John M. Olin Online Lecture Library at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which hosts several lectures about Russell Kirk and his influence by scholars including Ted McAlister, Michael P. Federici, W. Wesley McDonald, George H. Nash, Gleaves Whitney, and Allan C. Carlson. It also hosts more than twenty-five audio lectures by Russell Kirk.
In time for Halloween, “Ghostly Kirk,” a site that tracks the ghostly tales of Russell Kirk, is now on the web, courtesy of Jeff Pearce.