Thomas Howard

Thomas Howard is an English professor (recently retired, after nearly forty years of teaching), who taught at Gordon College and then at St. John’s Seminary. Howard is from a family of prominent evangelicals: his father, Philip, was editor of the Sunday School Times; his brother David Howard was head of the World Evangelical Fellowship; and his sister Elizabeth married the famous missionary Jim Elliot, who was martyred by the Auca Indians in Ecuador.

Some of his books include:

  • 1988 – Evangelical Is Not Enough
  • 1994 – Lead, Kindly Light: My Journey to Rome
  • 1997 – On Being Catholic
  • 2006 – Dove Descending: A Journey Into T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets

The foreword, by Fr. George William Rutler, to that last book is online at Ignatius Press and begins:

T.S. Eliot was the quintessential modern poet by being the last modern poet. The ability to speak of the modern in the past tense exposes a nervous tension in the concept of the modern as “the only now”. Modernity’s isolation from time past and future evaporated anthropological radicalism by its superficiality and made banality an enterprise. I am aware of no other age that was so self-conscious: the Greeks did not think of themselves as classical, nor did the Scholastics think of themselves as highly medieval. But modern people justified everything they did by calling it modern. The end of the modern age was not like the end of any other age, for the essence of modernity was that it was not supposed to end: and so while other ages contribute their echoes to the development of culture, the modern age erased itself by succumbing to the future. Like John the Baptist, who was the greatest of the prophets by being the last of them, so was Eliot the most blatant voice of modernism by ending it when he wrote the Four Quartets. What comes next is yet to be grasped, but the vague and properly vacuous term “postmodern” means that the only substance of modernity, its unsurpassibility, was a phantom.

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