Sir Roger Scruton
A True Renaissance Man
Sir Roger Scruton died January 12, 2020, at the age of 75. He was my favorite philosopher, and one of my favorite writers. Thanks to my friend Eric Metaxas, I was once blessed to have dinner with Sir Roger in Manhattan after he spoke at a Socrates in the City event.
He was a true Renaissance Man who wrote fifty books, as well as articles, novels, and operas. His work covered art, beauty, architecture, music, religion, literature, sex, environmentalism, hunting, and wine.
Sir Roger believed in Truth, forgiveness, gratitude, individual freedom, national sovereignty, tradition, heritage, patriotism, Western Civilization, and Christianity. His writings plumb the depths of what it means to be a human being and what does and does not help us flourish.
Behind the Iron Curtain
Roger Scruton risked his safety to go behind the Iron Curtain during the two decades before the Berlin Wall fell to hold underground seminars for people suffering under the slavery that is socialism. For those souls, starving for knowledge and truth, he taught philosophy, history, fine art, music, and theatre.
His experiences there are what made him a conservative, a defender of beauty, a proponent of personal freedom, and critic of totalitarianism, including its intellectual form known as political correctness.
Why Beauty Matters
As John Stonestreet wrote recently: “In a 2009 BBC documentary entitled ‘Why Beauty Matters,’ Scruton argued that Western culture’s loss-of-touch with beauty is a symptom of its loss-of-touch with reality, especially any reality beyond the material world.
“Scruton contrasts great paintings, sculptures, music, and architecture with the modern and postmodern embrace of ugliness that fills too many museums today: cans of human excrement, urinals, dead animals in tanks, sterile buildings, and literal piles of trash. To call these things ‘art,’ says Scruton, as too many do, isn’t just to rob that word of any meaning. It is to rob our world of meaning.
“Scruton argued that belief in this God—what we might call a “Christian worldview”—was the womb that nourished the greatest art the world has ever known; and that the degradation of art was a direct consequence of the West’s loss of faith.”
Sir Roger explained patriotism this way: “When we wish to summon the 'we' of identity, we refer to our country. We refer simply to this spot of earth, which belongs to us because we belong to it, have loved it, lived in it, defended it, and established peace and prosperity within its borders.
“Those first words of the United States Constitution do not refer to all people everywhere. They refer to the people who reside here, in this place and under this rule of law, and who are the guardians and beneficiaries of a shared political inheritance. Grasping that point is the first principle of conservatism. Our political inheritance is not the property of humanity in general but our country in particular."
After Scruton’s death, Marion Smith declared, “He wanted buildings that made us feel at home; art that inspired thinking of the sublime; and institutions that help all people flourish. His philosophical investigations and pursuit of the truth were always grounded in human experience. Sir Roger should be remembered as the patron saint of Common Sense.”
Sir Roger was hounded and denigrated during the last years of his life by the woke outrage mob. His response to those who would hatefully and viciously tear down everything we have inherited from our forefathers was this:
“Western civilization has come in for a lot of attacks because it's Western. The word Western has been taken to be a standard term of abuse by so many people in the world today, and in particular by people who don’t have the faintest idea what it means, historically, metaphysically, or poetically.
“Our Western civilization is not some peculiar, narrow little obsession of people who happen to live in a certain geographical part of the world. It is an inheritance, constantly expanding, constantly including new things. It is something which has given us the knowledge of the human heart, which has enabled us to produce not just wonderful economies and the wonderful ways of living in the world that are ours, but also the great works of art, the religions, the systems of law and government, all the other things which make it possible for us to recognize that we live in this world, insofar as possible, successfully.”
Stay tuned, for in the coming weeks I am going to publish short summaries of five favorite books of mine, all written by Sir Roger Scruton. He is with the angels now.