Ian Hunter

Ian Hunter

Ian Hunter is Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Law at Western University in London, Ont.

Born in Australia in 1897, Frank Sheed’s father was a Scottish Presbyterian, his mother an Irish Catholic. Fortunately for the Church, and for English literature, his mother won out and, at 16, Frank declared himself Catholic and never looked back.

One unanticipated consequence of the election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States has been the rediscovery of a seminal novel first published in 1949. According to The New York Times, George Orwell’s 1984 is being reprinted around the world and is at the top of bestseller lists.

Before a colleague mentioned the name of Cardinal Robert Sarah I had not heard of him. At the age of 34, the Guinea-born Sarah was made Archbishop of Conakry by Pope John Paul II. He was still a bambino (according to Pope Benedict XVI) when he was elevated to cardinal in 2010. 

A future historian (on the generous assumption that there are any) might plausibly contend that the first salvo of the “culture wars” was fired in January 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court released its Roe v. Wade abortion decision. He might also conclude that the same Court’s June 2015 decision declaring gay marriage to be a constitutionally protected right represented a final victory.

When we lose the great hymns of our past we lose an irrecoverable legacy. Alas as much as we hear “Lord of the Dance” at Mass, such happy-clappy tunes will provide little solace amidst a dark night of the soul.

Now that I am under no professional obligation to read court decisions, I generally avoid them. The turgid prose, the unctuous self-regard and the complacent sense of judicial superiority I find unpleasant and soporific.

Long before today’s clamorous atheists (Christopher Hitchens, God is not Good; Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion; Sam Harris, The End of Faith, etc.) began filling bookshelves and public airwaves, there was one name that was synonymous, at least in England, with public atheism. That name was Antony Flew.

Is it just by coincidence that at the beginning and the end of the Bible there appears a rainbow?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor executed by the Nazis in the dying days of the Second World War, has been recognized (perhaps by Protestant more than Catholic theologians) as one of the leading Christian thinkers of the 20th century. He was that, but he was much more: visionary, prophet, spy and martyr. 

How vividly I can still hear them — as though it were recently — the raucous cries resounding across university campuses in the 1960s and early ’70s: “Hey ho, hey ho, Western civ has got to go.” 

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