In my last post for Good Letters, I took minor issue with a point my friend and mentor Gregory Wolfe made about the relative prominence of Christian public intellectuals around the middle of the last century.
Wolfe named, as examples of such prominence, Jacques Maritain, Etienne Gilson, Allen Tate, T.S. Eliot, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Paul Tillich. It is, by any account, a damn impressive list of intellectual heavy-hitters. But I claimed that Wolfe’s nostalgia-tinged look at the days of past glory might be obscuring the way in which those same figures bear responsibility for the fading of Christian—or any other religious— voices from the American public sphere.
In a comment to that post, Mr. Wolfe noted that I’d misread his main argument and that, “The point I was making was not nostalgic, but factual. It was a statement about the way religious public intellectuals of the mid-20th century moved freely within (and were welcomed into) the public square.” [Read more…]