"Do not, I beg you, be troubled by forces already dissolved. You have mistaken the hour of the night. It is already morning." (Hilaire Belloc)
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Joe Sobran, Defender of the Faith
Joe Sobran had a Renaissance mind along with a moral sense, a genial wit, and a seemingly effortless flow of felicitous phrasing. Whatever the topic, he was capable of entertaining while instructing, always conveying to the reader of his columns, articles, and essays (without the least touch of pedantry) something of the centuries—even millennia—of thought, experience, and expression underlying the topics at hand. Whether he was engaging religion, morals, politics, history, or literature, including his beloved Shakespeare, he presented truth from a fresh perspective, in arresting language, and with clarity and cogency.
Among the many friends Joe made are a number—like Robert Reilly, Pat Buchanan, and Paul Likoudis—who contribute testimonials to the effect that his writing had and has on them. One example that sums up Joe’s contribution and the depth of response he could arouse in his readers comes from Fr. Ronald Tacelli of Boston College:
During the final collapse of the Roman Empire, Livy wrote of ‘the dark dawning of our modern day when we can neither endure our vices nor face the remedies needed to cure them.’ In this astonishingly relevant book — astonishing, because some of its essays were written many decades ago — Joe Sobran . . . describes, with clarity, power, and great beauty, the remedies — really, the remedy, The Thing — needed to cure us. In this way,Subtracting Christianity can be thought of as Joe’s parting gift — maybe his greatest gift — to the civilization he loved so much. Profound gratitude is the only proper response.
Lifelong pro-life warrior Joe Scheidler (the defendant in NOW v. Schiedler) highlights another great cause of our era to which Joe showed great faithfulness. Scheidler refers to Sobran as “without question, the most persuasive and articulate defender of life and morality of the past 50 years.” This is not to be wondered at since the moral, philosophical, religious, and cultural issues bound up in abortion involve all the deepest gifts of Christianity and Western Civilization to the world’s understanding of human life and of what makes it valuable. So when Joe Sobran wrote on the human life issues of our era—abortion, euthanasia, bioengineering, cloning, and the like—he was offering the highest level of social criticism from a thoroughly baptized mind fully informed by the best that Christian culture has thought and written.