Redeeming the Time by Russell Kirk, 321 pages
This is a collection of essays, adapted from a series of lectures delivered by Kirk at the Heritage Foundation between 1980 and 1994, covering topics ranging from education to the death penalty to The Life of Samuel Johnson to the differences between conservatives and libertarians. Throughout, Kirk maintains the presence of three distinct "imaginations" - the moral, the idyllic, and the diabolic. The first must be encouraged and the second opposed lest the third triumph. The moral imagination, however, cannot be taught - it must be planted, nurtured, grown. Virtue develops by admiration and imitation. Kirk argues that virtue is worth preserving, because only virtue can connect us with what is real, lest the gods of the copybook headings with terror and slaughter return.
If some of the occasions for these essays are now lost in that remote age of twenty years ago, the concerns expressed are perpetually relevant. If the world has moved on, he reminds us that what is lost can be found anew, by those who look past what is new. Above all, this is Kirk's parting reminder to "say not the struggle naught availeth", that "it is not inevitable that we submit ourselves to a social life-in-death of boring uniformity and equality. It is not inevitable that we indulge all our appetites to fatigued satiety. It is not inevitable that we reduce our schooling to the lowest common denominator. It is not inevitable that obsession with creature comforts should sweep away belief in a transcendent order. It is not inevitable that the computer should supplant the poet."