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Lectionary Christianity Theology

14 January 20 (Roger Scrunton, Basia, and Mgr Gilbey)

17

Most of what I want to say about the loss of one of the best voices of the Boomers. Who lived through that revolution which destroyed tradition, finding his love of tradition and tribe while the cultural revolution in the West was in the flood.

There is more to come, but Adam writes wisely here.

Sir Roger Scruton, the great conservative philosopher, thinker and writer, has died. Well, we all have to go sometime I suppose. This one irks me somewhat, however, as I have long held his quiet disobedience and nonacceptance with the modern regulatory state as a personal guide and inspiration. I am well aware that the term conservative has lost all its meaning, but if there had been a few more conservatives like Sir Roger then we wouldn’t have lost our way quite so badly.

Scrunton was the best sort of Anglican. Knowing who he was, and where his tribe was, he had an ability to work with and admire those from another tribe, and another tradition. And he refers to less known, more pious, more righteous, and quite recusant. There is a community in Christ that transcends tribe and tradition, but both tribe and tradition remain.

“Mgr Gilbey is a lifelong influence on anyone who met him,” Scruton tells me. “He was the voice of the old, recusant, patrician form of Catholicism, the Catholicism that was hidden away in the veins of English life, with a very clear attachment to an old country way of life as well.” The other Catholic who made a permanent mark on Scruton was Basia, an impoverished Polish student, single mother and devout Catholic, with whom Scruton had an intense but chaste relationship when he was actively supporting intellectual dissidents in Eastern Europe before the fall of communism.

“Basia was completely the opposite of Alfred Gilbey. She was a straightforward, pious person who was leading a dedicated life. I still ask myself the question: how would Basia think of this? How would Albert Gilbey think of this? Such people influence you forever.”

The idea of the “corporate person” is a mainstay of Scruton’s thinking. “You could not understand Alfred or Basia if you disbelieved in corporate persons,” Scruton concluded in Gentle Regrets. “Both lived in constant and fruitful communication with the person they called Holy Mother Church, whom they believed to be animated by the Holy Spirit, and whom they loved with a fervour that surpassed their most ardent earthly attachment.”

The Jews are tribal. The old Jews identified by their tribe more than nation, and when the division of the kingdoms, Judah and Benjamin alone made the Southern Kingdom, and the lost ten tribes the Northern Kingdom, soon apostate. For our natural tendency is to become apostate as soon as the power of God is not apparent and real.

For, like Simon Magus, and unlike Basia, we want to be great.

Acts 8:4-13

4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city.

9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practised magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

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