Nearer, My God

Nearer, My God

An Autobiography of Faith

Book - 1997
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World-famous social and political commentator William F. Buckley, Jr., turns his attention to a more personal subject in this reflective, poignant, and searching exploration of his faith, continuing the debate he began 43 years ago in his provocative and intelligent work, God and Man at Yale.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, 1997.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780385478182
0385478186
Characteristics: xx, 313 p. ; 24 cm.

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dennismmiller
Sep 14, 2016

William F Buckley Jr was one of the most prominent American political commentators of the latter half of the twentieth century, with an output including over fifty books, a magazine (National Review), and a TV program that ran for over thirty years (Firing Line). For those who pay attention to such things, it could not have been a surprise that he was also a man of strong religious convictions (his first book was entitled God and Man at Yale, after all).

Nearer, My God is a combination of a personal spiritual autobiography and a more general examination of the author's Catholic faith. After a brief account of his childhood, the primary section of the book begins with a chapter devoted to the history of Buckley's friendship with Arnold Lunn, and with Lunn's pre-conversion exchange of letters concerning common objections to Catholicism with Msgr Ronald Knox (also a convert). Buckley then draws upon other eloquent Catholics of his acquaintance - men like Fr Richard Neuhaus, Russell Kirk, and Fr George Rutler - to whom the author submitted a questionnaire on issues facing the Church today. Notably, and unlike Buckley himself, all these men are converts (he laments the lack of foresight that led to the exclusion of Malcolm Muggeridge and Clare Booth Luce). Later chapters reflect on his friendships with Muggeridge and L Brent Bozell, Jr (both, again, converts). Perhaps tellingly, despite this being an autobiography, there is little here of a personal nature until the final chapter, focused on his relationship with his mother (which admittedly is genuinely touching).

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