LONDON, ONTARIO – When the Reverend Maurice Boyd (1932–2009) died in New York City at the age of 77, it scarcely caused a ripple here in London where twenty years before he had occupied our most prominent pulpit; serving as the senior minister at Metropolitan United Church from 1975 to 1988. The inspired oratory of this very dynamic preacher had built up that downtown congregation to the largest of its kind in the entire country. I thought it was particularly shabby when Boyd’s successor at the (by then) seriously depleted Met, Robert Ripley, didn’t see fit to even mention his illustrious forbear’s passing in his inane Free Press column that ran every Saturday. “Ah, perhaps that explains it,” I thought a few years later when Ripley threw over his ministry and his faith and came out as an atheist.
LONDON, ONTARIO – At a time when people are straining to discern shapes and patterns amidst a blizzard of contending reality narratives that are blowing in from every direction at once, parroting vague platitudes like “We’re following the science,” “Listen to the experts,” “Diversity is our strength,” or “We’re going to build back better” might buy you a temporary sense of reassurance but it cannot last. After a few hours of perhaps desperately needed sleep, anyone capable of thought is going to wake up in the grip of a whole new set of questions, like, “Who is it that determines which ‘science’ we’re going to ‘follow’?” “Do any of these ‘experts’ have our best interests at heart?” “What is the purpose which the supposed ‘strength’ of ‘diversity’ is going to drive?” And “How can politicians who’ve never built a thing in their lives tell us how to ‘build back better’ something as infinitely complex as a functioning society?”
LONDON , ONTARIO - I was a little distracted this week with a couple of editing jobs, three shifts in a bookshop and that welcome uptick in socializing that is characteristic of summer’s end. So instead of some new concoction, Hermaneutics this week offers you an essay on George Orwell which I was delighted to land in Quillette late last month (https://quillette.com/2021/08/27/theres-a-lot-more-to-george-orwell-than-nineteen-eighty-four/) and this talk which I delivered to the Baconian Club of London in the spring of 2002. This speech, mostly focusing on the American artist, N.C. Wyeth, was my first extended meditation on visual art and taught me a thing or two about using my eyeballs and trusting my instincts when tackling an intimidating subject for which I retained no innate or specialized knowledge. Those lessons came in handy exactly ten years later when I took on the commission to write my book, Three Artists: Kurelek, Chambers and Curnoe (Elmwood Press, 2016).
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THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :