‘An Immortal Contract’
— and a Challenge?

Now a conservative is a person who sees human society as an immortal contract between God and man, and between the generations that are dead, and the generation that is living now, and the generations which are yet to be born. — Russell Kirk, 1957

KirkThe quote above is taken from a post entitled “No Conservatism Without a Religious Foundation” on The Imaginative Conservative (TIC) website. The post itself is an excerpt, but stands neatly as its own essay or column, reminding us that, “A society which denies religious truth lacks faith, charity, justice and any sanction for its acts.” It also calls to mind salvation history: we are a chosen people, whose covenant with God stands even today…and we should act accordingly.

I share it because it articulates, in a nutshell, so many of the topics and values we discuss as a group, and because once again, I am reminded of how poorly equipped I am to make a stand on behalf of faith in the public square. I need to be better read on these topics, and I need to read for understanding (study) rather than reading to have finished the book. I retain so little of what I take in these days, but I’m working on that, as well.

Here’s a good place to start: TIC’s “Ten Books That Shaped America’s Conservative Renaissance.” I am somewhat embarrassed to say I am vaguely aware of four of the ten of these books and can say with confidence I’ve heard of two of them. I own just one of them and have yet to read it. It may be time for a reading challenge amongst members of the Junto — X books in Y  weeks or months. You pick your own list, so your list can reflect your personal interests, studies, or agenda, and post briefly on each one as you complete it.

A friend of this group at another blog did this once, years ago. He is still completing that challenge, but over the course of a summer, he read more great books than in his entire college career. Any takers?


  1. Meddlesome says:

    Challenge accepted, Timshel. Are you thinking we should have some accountability? That is to say, should it be revealed what books we intend to read and when we desire to have them completed? Since you issued the challenge, I’ll follow your lead on how I live up to it.

    Thanks for the idea–I have been letting my intellectual reading slip lately.

    • Timshel says:

      Excellent! Hopefully there will be other takers, too.

      I think we should share our list and the timeframe in order to foster encouragement and accountability. I don’t think the number of books or timeframe has to match, however — we all have different responsibilities and priorities for our free time.

      My tentative list (in no particular order) includes:

      The Sword of Imagination by Russell Kirk (his memoirs– started)
      The Idea of a University by John Henry Cardinal Newman (started)
      Small Is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher (started)
      Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
      Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
      The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk
      Ideas Have Consequences by Richard Weaver
      Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke
      Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
      The Federalist Papers by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay
      Up From Liberalism or God and Man at Yale by William F. Buckley
      The Crisis of Civilization or The Servile State by Hillaire Belloc
      The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams
      The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin (never had to read the book; only exceprts)
      Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky

      It needs to be shorter, and I’d love advice from those of you who have read some of these books. And I have no proposed timeline at this point. 12 in 12 months? Not sure I can swing that — especially since I’d like to continue spiritual and fiction reading (and writing!), too.

      I need better coffee…

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