Friday, January 15, 2016

George Grant and Robert Crouse: Prophetic Tories - by Ron Dart

Robert D. Crouse represents that paradigm of those catholic of scholars, whose investigations of the Christian tradition have consistently shown courageous sensitivity to its complex origins and trajectories from late antiquity to our present.  
- Robert Dodaro (OCA) Instituto Patristico Augustinanum Divine Creation in Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Thought: Essays Presented to the Rev’d Dr. Robert Crouse (2007)  
George Grant has been called Canada’s greatest political philosopher. To this day, his work continues to stimulate, challenge, and inspire Canadians to think more deeply about matters of social justice and individual responsibility.

- Athens and Jerusalem: George Grant’s Theology, Philosophy, and Politics (2006)                                   

I. Introduction                              

Crouse_robertThere can be little doubt that George Grant (1918-1988) and Robert Crouse (1930-2011), for different reasons, were two of the most significant Canadian Anglican intellectuals of the latter half of 20th and first decade of the 21st century. Grant was a public intellectual in a way Crouse never was, but Crouse had a depth to him (in his many probes into the Patristic-Medieval ethos) that Grant did not. Grant challenged the ideological nature of liberal modernity at a philosophical and political level in a way Crouse never did, but Crouse, in a detailed and meticulous manner, articulated and enucleated the complex nature of the Patristic-Medieval vision in a way Grant did not. Both men were deeply concerned about the passing away of a more classical vision of the soul, church and society and both attempted to retrieve the discarded image. Crouse was much more of an Anglican churchman than Grant, but Grant engaged the larger public square in a way Crouse never did.

I have been fortunate, over the last few decades, to do in depth work on George Grant and I have many a letter from Sheila Grant (George’s wife) on life at Dalhousie-King’s (where George began and ended his academic life). I also have many a letter from Robert Crouse, many a fond memory of visits with Robert (some fine photos also) when in Nova Scotia or when Robert visited the West Coast (Robert bunked in at our home). My interest, therefore, in the Anglican life and writings of George Grant and Robert Crouse is both of some academic interest but also of a personal nature. Hopefully, this essay will embody and reflect both these approaches.