December 30, apart from being the only ferial day in the Christmas Octave, is also the birthday of British writer Rudyard Kipling. It might behard to think of him as part of the patrimony, given his political contention with Chesterton and Belloc, his Freemasonry, and his decidedly broad churchmanship. But against this might be set his deep love of England’s history – including her Catholic history (his “Puck of Pook’s Hill” really needs to be read in tandem with Belloc’s “Four Men“). In many ways, his muddled apprehension of things spiritual is reflective of the English character itself. But also reflective of that character was the beauty – and occasional truth – he was able to draw out of it. Certainly, Christmas was a recurring theme in his work; usually about its celebration far from home or in unpleasant curcumstances, reminding his readers that for all that, the feast was worth celebrating – a message that resonates in the modern world, with its mobility and frenzied melancholy. So, as we look at an apparently declining American Empire, do his words in “Recessional” resound through the years:
As fitting for us, 120 years after it was written. Despite his many detractors in and out of academia, Kipling still has legions of fans (of whom this writer is certainly one) – and a most unlikely place of tribute with sundry mementoes on display right here in Southern California!