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Posted December 20, 2010

Book: Malcolm Muggeridge: Time and Eternity: Uncollected Writings
Edited by Nicholas Flynn
Orbis. Maryknoll, NY. 2010. Pp. 237

Time and Eternity gathers together for the first time some of the most brilliant and most controversial journalism of the twentieth century.

Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990) was one of the English-speaking world’s most fascinating literary figures. His writing dazzles with its prophetic insight, courage and wit. He was the first writer to reveal the true nature of Stalin’s regime when in 1933 he exposed the terror famine in the Ukraine — “one of the most monstrous crimes in history, so terrible that people in the future will scarcely believe it ever happened.” Four decades later, Muggeridge was to make the work of Mother Teresa of Calcutta – who contributed a Foreword to this book during the initial stages of its research — known all over the world.

This enthralling collection of Muggeridge’s journalism, arranged chronologically, reveals the astonishing range and steadiness of his gaze. Muggeridge seems to have been present at the great turning points of the last century and to have known, and seen through, the pretensions of many of its protagonists.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Today, it must be admitted, worship in any traditional shape or style is out of fashion; churches and chapels and temples and mosques are alike emptying, and the priestly function has largely passed to mind-mending psychiatrists, body-mending doctors, and society-mending ideologues and miscellaneous entages [French for enrages]. Indeed, worship itself has in many instances taken a leaf out of the books of these latter-day priests, producing a bizarre amalgam of their jargon and the noises of contemporary entertainment. The aspiring worshipper is all too often offered the melancholy alternatives of muted matins or evensong in the company of the tiny residue of the faithful, and what amounts to Jesus-orientated discotheques.

In this modernizing process, whether in the most August Roman Catholic congregations or the most wayward and obscure of Little Bethels, the same principle would seem to be at work — to make worship as like as possible to everyday life, in its language, its exhortations, its music and its petitions. Whereas the great cathedrals and other monuments to Christendom’s two thousand years were designed to express the awe and wonder and joy of men audaciously reaching up to God, and the corresponding thankfulness that God should have deigned to become incarnate and reach down to them, the present tendency is, as it were, to look God straight in the eye and address him accordingly. It is as though the sansculottes [poor French peasant revolutionaries] had taken over in Heaven, deposing God the father, transforming the Son into Jesus Egalite [equality], and incorporating the Holy Ghost in twanged electronic pieties.

How amazed an Anthony Trollope [one of the most respected and notable British novelists] would be today at what passes for worship in many an ancient Anglican edifice! No more ‘Dearly beloved brethren, I pray and beseech you, as many as are here present. . . ‘Rather, God is urged to redress the terms in favor of the underdeveloped countries, or to ensure that the Security Council comes out strongly in favor of majority rule in Rhodesia.

Such petitions, as it seems to me, imply a naively partisan attitude scarcely becoming in a deity who has for aeons past been watching over the affairs of the universe He created.

Table of Contents:

1. The collectivisation of the Ukraine

2. The soul of Bolshevism

3. The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

4. Nazi terror

5. The phoney war

6. Letters from America

7. Fellow travelers

8. Heroes of their time: Bertrand Russell and D.H. Lawrence

9. Dayspring from on high

10. Two writers: Somerset Maugham and Leonard Woolf

11. The prophet of sex

12. Eight books

13. ‘In the beginning was the Word’

14. Lie in the camera’s eye

15. Russia revisited

16. Solzhenitsyn reconsidered

17. The law of love and the law of violence

18. Letters to Kitty

19. The Holy Land

20. The gospel of Jesus Egalite

21. On the side of life

22. ‘Feed my sheep’

23. Finding faith

24. Time and eternity