Monday, October 17, 2016

Review of Ron Dart's "North American High Tory Tradition" by Cameron Lesage

The North American High Tory Tradition (2016), by Professor Ron Dart, is an appeal to North Americans to remember an aspect of their collective history that has too often been forgotten, or misunderstood and caricatured. This book is an expansion (seemingly limited to the preface, forward, and introduction) into the American context that was only hinted at earlier in The Red Tory Tradition: Ancient Roots, New Routes (1999), The Canadian High Tory Tradition: Raids on the Unspeakable (2004), and Keepers of the Flame (2012). For it is thanks, in part, to those Loyalists who journeyed to Canada from the burgeoning republic that the Tory touch has survived.

The book itself is divided into five sections. Section I is a plea to Canadians to turn to Canadian thinkers in order to avoid colonialism. Section II is an introduction to the history of Canadian Conservatism. Section III is an introduction to George Grant and his thought. Section IV is a discussion of the Red/High Tory response to liberalism. The final section, Section V discusses the Anglican tradition in the Canadian context, its interactions with Red/High Tories and Eastern Orthodoxy, as well as Grant's engagement with Orthodoxy.

At first glance, this book seems like yet another carbon-copy re-iteration of Dart's Red/High Tory thesis. However, upon engaging the text, one finds that this is not the case. Firstly, the more literary element of High/Red Toryism (Livesay, Fiamengo, Acorn, etc.) has been left out to allow, one would assume, a more focused political and theological discussion.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review of Ron Dart's "The North American High Tory Tradition" - by Barry K. Morris

A Review of Ron Dart’s The North American High Tory Tradition, N.Y.: American Anglican Press, 2016, 337 pages.

By Barry K. Morris, minister with the Longhouse Council of Native Ministry, Vancouver, BC (and author of Hopeful Realism in Urban Ministry, 2016)

Ron Dart’s new book is mammoth in scope and, for one relatively unfamiliar with his governoring “high-ness” theme, daunting to read.  Thankfully, his writing is clear, comprehensive, cogent, at points compassionate, cleverly polemical, and for I, (almost) consistently convincing.

One looks for some hints of familiarity, something and someone gratefully to attach to like a George Grant or a Charles Taylor. On the latter, there is a sensible and rather daring critique of an otherwise hard to dispute political philosopher; few seemed to have challenged Taylor and Dart’s constructive remarks deem Taylor to be unduly wedded to the modernity of the reigning status quo. Doubtlessly, some would quarrel with this. On Grant, there is a whole section III, dedicated to sound explications of what is Dart’s favourite Canadian political and, spiritual thinker. There are another six chapters where Grant is specifically associated and analyzed with others (Stephen Leacock being a favourite, as in 3 chapters and reminiscent of other Dart books like The Eagle and the Ox, 2006). Grant has got to be Dart’s number one nominee for the Canadian if not North American “public intellectual.” No surprise thus that the book’s last sentence ends with “… George Grant has pointed the way to … an ennobling place to live, move, and have our being” (277, cf. 160 “We are in desperate need of more George Grant in Canada at this time of distorted  understanding…May the hard work of Grant bear much counter-culture fruit in the future….”). Mind you, there is in Grant’s spirituality potentially poignant reflections on that sense of the Whole that are omitted in Dart’s book; this still yearns to be explicated [Grant hinted in English-Speaking Justice (1974) and interviews with David Cayley’s George Grant in Conversation (1995)].

Friday, January 15, 2016

George Grant and Robert Crouse: Prophetic Tories - by Ron Dart

Robert D. Crouse represents that paradigm of those catholic of scholars, whose investigations of the Christian tradition have consistently shown courageous sensitivity to its complex origins and trajectories from late antiquity to our present.  
- Robert Dodaro (OCA) Instituto Patristico Augustinanum Divine Creation in Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Thought: Essays Presented to the Rev’d Dr. Robert Crouse (2007)  
George Grant has been called Canada’s greatest political philosopher. To this day, his work continues to stimulate, challenge, and inspire Canadians to think more deeply about matters of social justice and individual responsibility.

- Athens and Jerusalem: George Grant’s Theology, Philosophy, and Politics (2006)                                   

I. Introduction                              

Crouse_robertThere can be little doubt that George Grant (1918-1988) and Robert Crouse (1930-2011), for different reasons, were two of the most significant Canadian Anglican intellectuals of the latter half of 20th and first decade of the 21st century. Grant was a public intellectual in a way Crouse never was, but Crouse had a depth to him (in his many probes into the Patristic-Medieval ethos) that Grant did not. Grant challenged the ideological nature of liberal modernity at a philosophical and political level in a way Crouse never did, but Crouse, in a detailed and meticulous manner, articulated and enucleated the complex nature of the Patristic-Medieval vision in a way Grant did not. Both men were deeply concerned about the passing away of a more classical vision of the soul, church and society and both attempted to retrieve the discarded image. Crouse was much more of an Anglican churchman than Grant, but Grant engaged the larger public square in a way Crouse never did.

I have been fortunate, over the last few decades, to do in depth work on George Grant and I have many a letter from Sheila Grant (George’s wife) on life at Dalhousie-King’s (where George began and ended his academic life). I also have many a letter from Robert Crouse, many a fond memory of visits with Robert (some fine photos also) when in Nova Scotia or when Robert visited the West Coast (Robert bunked in at our home). My interest, therefore, in the Anglican life and writings of George Grant and Robert Crouse is both of some academic interest but also of a personal nature. Hopefully, this essay will embody and reflect both these approaches.