Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Was PM Harper a Tory? Terry Gavin on Ron Dart and the Red Tory tradition (2006)

Editor's comment: In 2006, the Georgia Straight published an article asking if PM Stephen Harper was properly termed a Tory. The article focused on Ron Dart's insights into the 'Red Tory' tradition. The article is an interesting read as a retrospective of the Harper regime.  

B822096683Z.1_20150908105953_000_GUP1HSOI9.10_GalleryStephen Harper is no Tory

by Terry Glavin on February 2nd, 2006 at 9:00 AM

Milton Acorn was Canada's "people's poet". He was a founder of the Georgia Straight. There was a time when his poetry readings filled union halls across the country with adoring legions of communists, feminists, and student activists.

Stephen Leacock was the founding father of the Canadian sense of humour, but he was also the chairman of the political-science department at McGill University. His Arcadian Adventures With the Idle Rich was a bestseller in Moscow in the heady days following the Bolshevik revolution of 1917.

Just a few steps from the plot where Leacock is buried, at Sibbald Point, Ontario, is the grave of Mazo de la Roche, who was once Canada's best-loved novelist. She authored the internationally acclaimed Jalna series, which was a sort of multivolume, epic Brideshead Revisited.

Then there was Eugene Forsey, proud Newfoundlander, socialist, Rhodes scholar, and constitutional expert. He was a founder of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, the forerunner of the New Democratic Party.

Apart from being dead, the thing these people have in common is that they were all Tories.

Here's another Tory: Ron Dart, a prolific, polymathic, and very-alive political-science professor at the University College of the Fraser Valley. 

CLICK HERE to continue reading




Tuesday, July 7, 2015

THE OWL & JADIS pt 7 & 8 - Ron Dart on George P. Grant

THE OWL & JADIS pt 7 - "George Grant: The Canadian Lewis" - with Ron Dart 

THE OWL & JADIS pt 8 - "C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald: Soul Friends" - with Ron Dart

Sunday, July 5, 2015

THE OWL & JADIS pt 5 & 6 - Ron Dart on George P. Grant

THE OWL & JADIS pt 5 - Athens and Jerusalem: Beyond Dilettantism - with Ron Dart 

THE OWL & JADIS pt 6 - Grant: The Betrayal, Clearcutting and Recovery of the Ancient Ways - with Ron Dart 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Owl & Jadis pt 3 & 4: Ron Dart on George P. Grant

The Owl and Jadis - Part 3 - "Grant and Jerusalem: The Dilemma of Biblical Judaism" with Ron Dart

The Owl and Jadis - Part 4 - "Grant and Athens: Classical Thought and the Contemplative Way" with Ron Dart

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Owl and Jadis part 1 & 2 - Ron Dart

The Owl and Jadis - Part 1 - "Grant and Empire: Washington and the New Romans" with Ron Dart


The Owl and Jadis - Part 2 - "Grant and Imperial Ideology: Enfolding/Unfolding" with Ron Dart

Monday, June 29, 2015

George Grant and Lament for a Nation - Lazar Puhalo interviews Ron Dart

Archbishop Lazar Puhalo interviews Ron Dart on George Grant and his Lament for a Nation.


George Grant and Radical Orthodoxy - Ron Dart

I teach Him (Grant) now—but oddly only started to read him around 2010. So only since then any direct influence—but no doubt indirectly much before then.
                         (John Milbank to Ron Dart, email, 12-15-2014)  
Conrad Noel continued the Headlam/Hancock sense that the church was the true society and extended earlier intuitions about the links between liturgy and social order. He surely realized the powerful links between beauty and justice, social and natural harmony.                  
                          (John Milbank to Ron Dart, email, 1-2-2015)                  


The Dethronement of Secular Reason:

Grant and Milbank

I remember, with much fondness, a lunch spent with John Milbank at Peterhouse (founded in 1284) in Cambridge in May 1995. I was doing, at the time, research on the Anglican High Romanticism of S. T. Coleridge and the Anglican High Toryism of T.S. Eliot. I was on my way to Little Gidding for a few days to ponder Eliot’s Four Quartets. John Milbank had published his innovative and plough to soil tome, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (1990). Radical Orthodoxy did not exist at the time, but the seeds of the movement had definitely been sown with Theology and Social Theory. Needless to say, we chatted much at Peterhouse (the definitive High Church college at Cambridge—Milbank made sure I realized this was Laud’s College) about Milbank’s demanding read of a book and how his challenge to secular reason opened up new yet much older terrain in which to do theology, philosophy, social theory and, in time, political philosophy. I did, a few days later, when at St. John’s College Oxford, attend a lecture by Professor Patrick Collinson, who spent most of the time bashing Archbishop William Laud (but such were his puritan and protestant prejudices). I was fortunate at the time to be spending time with David Nicholls (rector of SS Mary & Nicholas Church Littlemore—The church Cardinal Newman built and where he crossed the Rubicon to Rome—quite a different read on Laud and politics than that offered by Collinson.     

Friday, June 5, 2015

Review of Ron Dart's 'Lament for a Nation: Then and Now - by Henk Smidstra

A Lament for a Nation: then and now.  Ron Dart, 2015, New York. American Anglican Press
A Review by Henk Smidstra

6a00d834890c3553ef01b8d113b027970c-500wiIn this little book of 38 pages, Author Ron Dart explicates important Canadian political philosophical issues as he leads us through the events and ideas contained in George Grant’s pivotal book, Lament for a Nation, originally written in 1965. Perhaps Dart’s contribution could be called: “Dart’s Notes” on George Grant’s important book, a work acknowledged being a masterpiece of Canadian political theory. Dart provides us with timely, much needed, insights and perspectives on Canadian political history and philosophy, which not only help our understanding as we read, or reread, George Grant’s book, but the booklet of itself sketches the groundwork of an alternative philosophical path for us as we ponder our political choices this election year amidst the din of political rhetoric and spectacle of absurd attack adds. “It is my hope,” Dart writes in his Preface, “that this little book will highlight the perennial significance of Lament, both when it was published in 1965 and for 2015 and beyond….”

 The body of the booklet contains four essays relevant to disclosing the main points of Grant’s reflections on the political philosophical situation of his time.  There is repetition and overlap in the essays, but in each Dart explores different aspects and perspectives, of the political historical context, and of the political philosophical context. As well, Dart compares Grant’s affinities and differences with others such as Ernest Manning and Alan Ginsberg  who were also writing and critiquing liberalism at that time. Dart writes passionately but plainly about a topic familiar to him.  He has thought about the topics at hand deeply and has put much work into them before, namely, the concern about the waning of Canadian Nationalism and the rise of American liberalism.  From our cultural political situation in 2015, one might wonder how a book written fifty years ago can still be relevant to Canadians.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review of Ron Dart's 'Lament for a Nation: Then and Now' - Brad Jersak

Fifty years have passed since the publication of Canada's most important work of non-fiction: George P. Grant's, Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism. For those have not read it, the book was written in 1965 as a true lament (in the tradition of Jeremiah the prophet) for the death of the Canadian vision.

Grant's lament, of course, was not merely a cry of despair (or one would not write at all), but rather, functioned as a wake-up call to Canada, a nation that was losing its unique identity and becoming a vassal state of American culture -- sliding into the hegemony of liberalism that spans from far right to far left in the culture wars south of the border. In part, the lament achieved its goal in triggering a resurgence of Canadian nationalism, but its echo needs to be heard again, more now than ever.
Ron Dart, Canada's leading active Grant scholar, has written a booklet revisiting these themes, entitled Lament for a Nation: Then and Now (American Anglican Press, 2015). In a series of insightful essays, Dart explores the relevance of Grant's urgent message for us today. These essays include:
  • George Grant: Lament for a Nation and Red Toryism
  • Lament for a Nation: A Jeremiad for our time.
  • Allen Ginsberg and George Grant: Howl and Lament for a Nation
  • Sheila Grant and Lament for a Nation
Dart's little booklet displays his usual genius for synthesizing and applying Grant's work in political philosophy within his larger worldview of the primacy of the Good vis-a-vis our delusions of freedom as autonomous willfulness (a la Nietzsche). Canadian readers who have not picked up Grant's Lament would benefit in acquiring it along with this helpful guide. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review of Pamela McCarroll's 'Waiting at the Foot of the Cross' by Ron Dart

Pamela R. McCarroll, 
Waiting at the Foot of the Cross: Toward a Theology of Hope for Today
Foreword by Douglas John Hall 
Pickwick Publications 2014 

There has been, unfortunately so, a way of doing Christian theology that is more about success, glory and victory than of the cross. The theology of glory tradition, when delinked from the theology of the cross, too often panders to a politics of power—such a Eusebian like position genuflects to empires that embody and incarnate various forms of ruthless and subtle domination and mastery of the other (human and non-human).

There has emerged, gratefully so, two significant Canadian philosophical theologians, in the latter half of the 20th century, that have dared to differ with the dominance of the triumphalist theology of glory ideology: George Grant and Douglas John Hall. Both men have made it abundantly clear that the dishonest tradition of the theology of glory distorts the depths of the suffering and vulnerable Christ: the God-Man of the Cross. The sheer beauty and rigorous probes of Pam McCarroll’s PHD thesis turned compelling read book is the way she accurately and accessibly renders the thinking of George Grant and Douglas John Hall transparent and window clear to the attentive reader---there is, in short, nothing opaque about this translucent and limpid book.

Waiting at the Foot of the Cross is about both the inner discipline of waiting and doing so at the foot of the cross—I never easy to attentively wait in such a graphic and raw place of gruesome suffering. Waiting at the Foot of the Cross is deftly divided into eight readable and incisive chapters: 1) Hope at the End of Hope, 2) Luther’s Theology of the Cross and Theological Method, 3) Grant’s Method of the Cross, 4) Hall’s Method of the Cross, 5) Theology of the Cross and Contextuality, 6) Grant on Mastery and the Possibility of Hope, 7) Hall on Mastery and the Possibility of Hope and 8) Toward a Theology and Practice of Hope.

The contribution and burnished gold nature of this book is the way Pam McCarroll has brought together the wide ranging nature of both Grant and Hall’s way of doing philosophy and theology---she has, wisely so, highlighted how both men are fine pointers and guides into a notion of hope that wards off a Pollyanna optimism and a form of realism that often turns cynical and skeptical. Grant and Hall have certainly looked into the heart of darkness and their way of attentive waiting to the message and meaning of the cross illuminates much in the pseudo-light yet deepening darkness of modern liberal progressivism.

The fact that Grant and Hall are Canadians makes this book a must read. Many Canadians are dutiful colonials—they constantly look elsewhere for the important thinkers and activists. The USA and England are often seen as the great and good places, polaris stars of sorts that guide woe begotten and disoriented Canadians.  The fact that George Grant and Douglas John Hall emerge from within the Canadian context speaks much about the richness and depth of the Canadian philosophical and theological tradition, a prophetic and countercultural tradition in many ways.

The “Foreword” by Douglas John Hall is worth many an ample reread. Hall makes clear that, in many ways, Grant was his teacher and guide, and the coup de foudre theology of Hall is a mature unpacking of the philosophical coup de grace of Grant’s undressing of liberalism in all its various forms and guises, chameleon like changes of colour to suit situation and context.

Waiting at the Foot of the Cross is an imperative read and should be on the bookshelves of all those interested and committed to the best of theology in its most mature form. Pam McCarroll should be lauded for her committed sleuth work to unearthing the mother lode of thought of Grant and Hall, enucleating their affinities and articulating their relevance for us in these early decades of the 21st century—do read and inwardly digest this clear diamond of a book—the faith journey cannot but be enriched and deepened by the path provided. 

Ron Dart                            

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sheila Grant and 'Lament for a Nation' - Ron Dart

Sheila Grant and Lament for a Nation

George Grant always claimed that Lament for a Nation had been misunderstood.

— Sheila Grant“Afterword,” Lament for a Nation

Lament for a Nation has been called “a masterpiece of political meditation” (Peter Emberley) and it “encapsulated the difference between the Tory vision for Canada and the continentalist, mechanistic, commercialist view” (Segal). There can be no doubt that this compact political missive summed up much about Canadian politics, political theory, philosophy and theology—it has, sadly so, been misread by ideologues that shrink Grant’s grander vision of thought and action to their tribal agendas.

Sheila Grant, after George had died (and significantly encouraged by William Christian—one of the finest Grant scholars), wrote an “Afterword” to Lament for a Nation—the “Afterword” is a must read for those keen and committed to a fuller understanding of the meaning and significance of Lament for a Nation.  I was fortunate to meet with Sheila Grant a few times (both at the Grant home on Walnut Street in Halifax and when she visited her daughters in Vancouver on the West Coast of Canada) and we, also, had a lengthy correspondence when she was alive (plus some fine phone conversations)—we talked much about her journey with her husband, George Grant, and the multiple misunderstandings of Lament—Sheila’s “Afterword” succinctly articulated many of her legitimate concerns.