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)].