He was helpful in a yet deeper way. Though I do not want to overstate this, I can honestly say that Buckley, and more specifically, his magazine, had a profound effect on me spiritually. When I began reading National Review I was an agnostic, having abandoned the faith of my upbringing. Like many young folks at major secular universities, especially in the hard sciences, I had forsaken the God of Scripture for the idols of evolution, secularism, nihilism, and all the wasteful, destructive idiocy that saturates the tragic insanity of modern academia. I had come to National Review through an interest in politics, but soon discerned that these brilliant writers, whom I respected so much, just happened to be Christians who seamlessly integrated their religion into their politics—faith with reason, Christianity with conservatism. They fit beautifully. This set me on a path to the Christian faith. I will not proclaim that William F. Buckley, Jr. and National Review “saved my soul,” but they no doubt led me in the right direction.
Lastly, on a slightly bitter note, I’m offended—but not surprised—by the conservative outlets who have barely acknowledged Buckley’s death. They are sadly symptomatic of a culture that lives strictly in the here and now, where only something new is deemed newsworthy, and only then for a few minutes. Do these conservatives not know that they stand not only Buckley’s shoulders but in his shadow? He was their forerunner, the voice in the wilderness long before their existence was considered tolerable let alone possible. He never made the mistake of being defined by the moment, which is why he was the quintessential conservative.
William F. Buckley, Jr. and the movement he founded transcended a single news cycle and even a single generation. He stood astride America yelling “stop” for over 50 years. Now, let us pause to honor him with his due respect.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."