It is a curious fact that the artist who produced the most compelling and accessible vision of Christian humanism in the twentieth century was a multiply-married, luxury-loving, alcoholic atheist by the name of Robert Bolt. It is worth noting that he came to this choice of lifestyle after a strict Methodist upbringing. And I might add that not long after throwing off his Methodist faith, he became a card-carrying member of the Communist party. I am not sure what conclusion to draw from these facts.
But on a more serious note, I can say with a straight face that Bolt not only remained obsessed by Christianity his whole life, but also continued to think Christianly to the end of his days. He was what might be called a “flying buttress”—someone who remains resolutely outside the church, but who does a great deal to prop it up. In the divine economy, I suspect that there is a mansion in heaven for tortured Augustinian souls like that of Mr. Bolt, and perhaps in God’s mercy it has room service.
I’ve been leafing through Wolfe’s book again, as well as one by Daniel Ritchie. Recently, I revisited many of G.K. Chesterton’s essays, and I even held on to a collection of C.S. Lewis’s books rather than sell them as I originally intended. I enjoy the irony of me, an Epicurean, seeking out Christian writers as a refreshing, interesting alternative to the tiresome fundamentalist preachers of Diversity and Inclusion™️, but it’s a funny old world we live in. As Wolfe says earlier in the book, we can learn well from artists and thinkers who ask the right questions even if we disagree with their answers. That’s how it is for me — nine-tenths agreement is good enough. If Communism, a Christian heresy, can have fellow travelers, why not Christianity itself? Anyway, I appreciate the thought that there might be celestial lodgings reserved for us buttresses, but if I couldn’t be an ornamental hermit in heaven as well, I’d respectfully hand back my ticket.