Remembering John Lukacs

Remembering John Lukacs

John Lukacs (1924-2019)
Listen to a free lecture from the late John Lukacs.

On Monday, May 6 John Lukacs passed away. He is remembered as a prominent historian and author, most well-known for his biography of Winston Churchill, "Five Days in London." Bill Reimer, Regent Bookstore Manager, shares his memory of John's visit to Vancouver and Regent College:

Back in 1998, John Lukacs paid a memorable visit to Regent. I picked him up at the airport and all he carried with him was a small club bag for a two night stay. Dorcas and I drove him through Stanley Park, tried to see if he wanted dinner at the Tea House, later a French restaurant, but all he wanted was a pub. He spotted Dentry’s on 10th Avenue and it was perfect! A friend of Regent, Dr. George Egerton, got him to deliver a lecture sponsored by the UBC History Department and George described it as being delivered in a classic style; he paced back and forth across the front of the lecture hall speaking without notes. Later in conversation, John talked about writing his “swan song,” but in living to 95 years of age he was to write a good number more! Candidly, over coffee, he spoke of not having Christian colleagues that he could openly talk with about Christian faith. He mentioned that he regarded the Incarnation as the hinge point of history and asked to be sent anything that I came across on the topic. He gave a good lecture at Regent (I chuckle as for years now Wikipedia says that he served as “visiting professor” at Regent College) but the UBC one was the better of the two. You can listen to it here.

John wrote this in his 2013 book, History and the Human Condition:

" …Around us are now symptoms, signs of a new Dark Ages—except that history does not repeat itself.

That is, too—and this goes beyond America—why the deep crisis of Christianity and perhaps especially of the Roman Catholic Church is not soluble through a return to medievalism, or to the Old Mass, or to new catechisms—no matter how the new medieval habits of mind, with their powerful but superficial sureties, may again attract masses of the faithful. The Church, my church, must now reconcile itself to a church of the minority of the truly believing—as it was, of course, in entirely different circumstances and with entirely different prospects after the age of the catacombs eighteen hundred or so years ago. The Church must remain a single, lonely lighthouse of human comprehension, of wisdom, a proponent of love. For God’s (and their own) sake, Christians must steel themselves against temptations of popularity and success, against actors who may become Anti-Christs, kissing babies, blessing believers, announcing they are great champions of prosperity and heroic warriors against evil. Such thoughts have often led me to think about the great division at the second coming of Christ, at the end of the world when Christians will be divided into a large conformist majority and a pitiful, suffering and believing minority, just as were Jews so divided two thousand years ago, at the first coming of Christ. That does not belong here. What may belong here is the despondent cry of a deep-thinking contemporary of ours, the Russian Tatyana Tolstoya, perhaps particularly relevant to the recovering Russian Orthodox now, but alas, too, of so many in the West: 'We have no faith: we’re afraid to believe, because we’re afraid we’ll be deceived.' I think that I am not afraid to believe—perhaps because I am a gambler."

                                                       --John Lukacs, 2013

Here is an article from the National Post: