Remembering Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990)

November 14, 2012

Today marks the anniversary of Malcolm Muggeridge’s death on November 14, 1990. Biographer Richard Ingrams says of him, “Once a hard-drinking philanderer and the iconoclastic editor of Punch, famed for its attacks on Churchill and the Royal Family, he became in later years “St. Mugg,” the very voice of orthodoxy. At the University of Waterloo, John North wrote: “During the first half of the twentieth century, he moved easily among the renowned: politicians, scientists, academics, churchmen, and socialites.” When asked at what point in his life he believed in Jesus Christ, Muggeridge responded, “It’s a question I often get asked, but I can’t answer it. For me there has never been a moment when I would say at that point I believed. It’s been much more like the journey of Bunyan’s Pilgrim.”

“I think the most wonderful sentence ever penned is in the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel, ‘In the beginning was the Word…’ What a marvelous sentence that is. How tremendous are its implications. ‘In the beginning was the Word…’ It had to be the Word. It couldn’t be, for instance, ‘In the beginning was video tape…’ ‘In the beginning was celluloid…’ or ‘In the beginning was a microphone…’ – none of that. In the beginning was the Word, and one of the things that appalls me and saddens me about the world today is the condition of words. Words can be polluted even more dramatically and drastically than rivers and land and sea. There has been a terrible destruction of words in our time.”

“The coming of Jesus into the world is the most stupendous event in human history.”

“God has mercifully made the fantasies – the pursuit of power, of sensual satisfaction, of money, of learning, of celebrity, of happiness – so preposterously unrewarding that we are forced to turn to him for help and for mercy. We seek wealth and find we’ve accumulated worthless pieces of paper. We seek security and find we’ve acquired the means to blow ourselves and our little earth to smithereens. We seek carnal indulgence only to find ourselves involved in the prevailing erotomania. Looking for freedom, we infallibly fall into the servitude of self-gratification or, collectively, of a Gulag Archipelago.”

“If this Christian revelation is true, then it must be true for all times and in all circumstances.”

“Reading Pascal after Balzac (which I did) is like breathing mountain air after an evening in a night club. That lucidity! Oh, if I could capture it.”

“When Bonhoeffer heard in prison that the plot of July 1944 had failed, he realized that Hitler, having miraculously survived the assassination attempt, would be merciless in liquidating the conspirators. Now he knew that, in human terms, their cause was lost. God had overruled their earthly purpose, and nothing remained for him but to come to terms, once and for all, with the Cross. In the plot’s failure lay his triumph, as in losing his life he would gain it.”

“May I be guided to eternity with my senses unclouded, my mind unafraid, and my soul full of love.”

“I want to live as far as possible now outside my body, so that when I come to leave it, which will be soon, the departure will be easy. No possessions to regret, no keys to hand over, no agonized partings. Just to go – like leaving a furnished lodging, rented by the week, where one had been temporarily housed. That is all I want my body to be to me now.”

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