James A. Patrick

Essays on Modernity and the Permanent Things from Tradition

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Praise for Essays on Modernity

These essays, like their author, are classics, because Dr. Patrick, like C.S Lewis, is a dinosaur: a gentleman (both gentle and manly, understanding and strong, like a medieval knight), and therefore a trenchant critic of our times’ sophisticated barbarianism and “soft totalitarianism.” If I believed in reincarnation I would call him Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Walker Percy, and Malcolm Muggeridge rolled into one.

Peter Kreeft Professor of Philosophy at Boston College

The art of the essay, like the art of poetry, is sadly and tragically neglected in our trite and trivialized world. It is, therefore, a blessing on our beleaguered culture that Dr. Patrick’s essays have now been published in this single volume. These nuggets of wisdom, gleaned from a life of engagement with the perennial wisdom of the permanent things, have the power to educate and edify anyone fortunate enough and wise enough to read them.

Joseph Pearce Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College in Nashville

In these winsome essays, the ripe fruit of pondering tradition and the Permanent Things, Dr. James Patrick uncovers surprising truths in figures as different as George W. Bush, Thomas More and Alfred the Great. He reminds forgetful Americans that “Memory matters” and “The empire of the United States is an unavoidable work of Providence.”

E. Christian Kopff Associate Director, Honors Program, University of Colorado Boulder

I would, with no hesitation, include these essays in any collection of the great English language Conservative essayists, from Edmund Burke to Russell Kirk.

Thomas Howard Catholic Author

Great teachers are rare, and James Patrick is one of those rare ones. Dr. Patrick reminds us of the indispensable features of a good society--one rooted in Christian principles. Unfortunately, as Dr. Patrick notes, “Christianity as the organizing principe of society is finished” and in its place is a form of “religious atheism.” Theses essays guide us back to building our lives on the foundational principles of Christianity. Essays on Modernity by James Patrick reminds us as to what truly are the first things. I highly recommend reading this fine collection of essays

Tom Pauken former Reagan official

There is something of the erudite scholar, something of the Oxford don, something of the man of deep Christian faith and prayer and something of the wise man in all the Dr. Patrick writes. His Essays flow from a good life planted in the deep center of the Church and Western Civilization. And his style reflects his substance. In the best of the English prose tradition, Dr. Patrick writes in that old elegant spacious language that discloses and inspires an intellectual love of the good, a delight in learning, and an enlargement of the imagination and heart

Stephen Shivone Assistant Professor of Literature at Belmont Abbey College

As our faith is caricatured, as our moral conscience is scorned even by our government, we need, as part of our new evangelization of the world, a survival strategy.  This is what Dr. Patrick has given us: he counsels us to remain with Christ, to stand by the household, the family, to welcome children in love, and above all to have hope, and to expect the “unexpected good.”

Walter Redmond Professor of Philosophy and Religion

Interview with the Author

Read the Preface

These essays were published by the College of Saint Thomas More in Tradition between 1998 and 2011 and were a continuation of the Institute Papers, the first number of which appeared in 1986. Visibly the College of Saint Thomas More was a community of undergraduates and tutors, but its mission was supported by a larger group of benefactors and occasional participants whose generosity made its corporate life possible year after year. Both the Institute Papers and Tradition were aimed at engaging this wider audience, and especially our benefactors, in matters of cultural and intellectual significance.

The phrase “permanent things” occurred in a broadcast talk T. S. Eliot gave in 1937 which was published in The Listener and appended to his Idea of a Christian Society in 1939. “Conservatism is too often conservation of the wrong things; liberalism a relaxation of discipline; revolution a denial of the permanent things.” The phrase was then popularized by Russell Kirk in his Enemies of the Permanent Things in 1993. Essays on Modernity and the Permanent Things was the subtitle of Tradition during the years of its publication.

If these essays share a theme it is the critical relation between an idea or ideal that belongs to the intellectual patrimony of Christendom and modernity, that nexus of cultural pathologies which while it offers unbounded technical progress involves the unwary and unguarded in spiritual desolation. Ours is an age of revolution which was incipient in the fall of Lucifer, prophesied by the Renaissance and Enlightenment, and perfected in the series of wars between the motley crew committed to the defense of Eliot’s permanent things, broadly the flawed, humane, Christian tradition, and the apostles of modernity, that succession inaugurated by Ockham and perfected in his contemporary auxiliaries, Richard Rorty and Peter Singer.

The essays that comprise this volume are eclectic, touching on matters theological, literary, political, and cultural. The topics were generated partly by events, partly by my own interests, but most significantly by the topics important in the College, in which there was an on-going conversation based in the books and ideas that formed the curriculum. Occasionally these essays touch on current events, and in one or two cases may have been outrun by them.

James Patrick, Epiphany 2015

About the Author

Dr. James PatrickJames Patrick is a theologian, teacher, and sometime apologist. He received his doctorate in theology from Trinity College in Toronto and taught and served in administrative positions at the University of Tennessee and the University of Dallas before founding in 1981 the College of Saint Thomas More in Fort Worth, Texas. His writings include Architecture in Tennessee: 1768–1897 (1981), The Magdalen Metaphysicals: Idealism and Orthodoxy at Oxford, 1900–1945 (1984), The Beginning of Collegiate Education West of the Appalachians (2007), and Andrew of Bethsaida and the Johannine Circle (2013). Most recently he was author of the biographical chapter, “The Oxford Man,” in the new edition of R. G. Collingwood’s Autobiography. His forthcoming works include All Things New: The Making of the Christian Mind from Pentecost to the Age of Charlemagne and Be a Teacher, Richard.

James A. Patrick Essays on Modernity And the Permanent Things from Tradition

These nuggets of wisdom, gleaned from a life of engagement with the perennial wisdom of the permanent things, have the power to educate and edify anyone fortunate enough and wise enough to read them.

Joseph Pearce Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College in Nashville