This article originally appeared in the November / December 1997 issue of Books & Culture, a Christianity Today sister publication.

Buried in the middle of this interview with William F. Buckley, Jr., is an extraordinary statement. Buckley, who has given hundreds of addresses on college and university campuses, remarks that "I've never been invited in my life to give a college speech or a seminar about which the subject of religion was discussed. It's like a subtle sequestration that religion is something that you do on your own, and it's disruptive to bring it up."

That datum, which at first strikes the reader as incredible, confirms the diagnosis offered in George Marsden's The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief and Stephen Carter's The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion. But it also says something about Buckley himself. As an editor, columnist, TV host, novelist, and the pre-eminent spokesman for conservatism in his generation, Buckley has never made a secret of his strong Christian faith, yet he confesses to a temperamental reticence. "I am not trained in the devotional mode, nor disposed to it," he writes—nor, one might add, the evangelical mode.

That is precisely what makes his new book, Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith (Doubleday, 313 pp.; $24.95), unique: Here, for the first time, Buckley writes at length about his faith, about some of the principal obstacles to Christian belief (despite self-deprecating comments concerning his lack of theological training, he displays considerable powers as an apologist), and about the distinctive experience of a Roman Catholic in the twentieth century.

In September, Michael ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueEvangelism, Iranian Style
Evangelism, Iranian Style Subscriber Access Only
Amid persecution and a travel ban, Iran’s youth want community and transformation from within.
RecommendedA Local Preacher and a Jailhouse Jesus Freak Brought Me to Faith in Prison
A Local Preacher and a Jailhouse Jesus Freak Brought Me to Faith in Prison
I was sentenced to life for a murder I didn't commit. But God didn't forget me.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
Buckley on Belief
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

February 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.