Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Posthumous Buckley Feud

A few weeks ago I was shocked to hear of Christopher Buckley's endorsement of Barack Obama. How could conservative such as Buckley back Obama, let alone the conservative son of William F Buckley?!?! Pardon my sounding psycho-Freudian in this, but I think it has everything to do with his relationship with his father, as detailed in this article.

Following his father's death the younger Buckley was both grieved and relieved. While had lost his father, he also was freed from the explicit and implicit burden placed upon him by his father. Said simply,"It’s also awful. I miss him every day. But I can now write about things I was not terribly comfortable writing about." Buckley described his relationship with his father as "complicated" and resembled a subtle competition between father and son. The more famous Christopher became, the more negative the elder Buckley became of his son.

Despite this newfound freedom, Buckley still suggests that his father would have endorsed Obama as well, claiming that his father endorsed several liberal Democrats for high office, including Joseph Liberman. I can't help but wonder if Buckley the younger is appealing to his dead father for others' sake, or to reassure himself. Is he truely free from the ghost of his father?

All this goes to show the inherent tension in the father-son relationship. The father wants to be respected and admired by his son. The son desperately wants the approval of his father.

Christianity uniquely knows God as our Father. In doing so it means that, unlike Buckley the elder, God is one unwaveringly approves of his children, no matter how far the apple falls from the tree. Put another way "all the promises of God find their Yes in Christ Jesus (II Cor. 1:20)." We do no need to win God our Father's approval or love. He gives it freely to all his children.

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