Making a Christmas list is, or at least should be, a joyful endeavor. It is therefore with a good deal of pleasure that I’ve set about compiling this list for imaginative conservatives. I feel, however, that I should clarify the sort of “conservative” for which this Christmas list is intended. It is for those who are traditionalist in their understanding of culture and subsidiarist in their understanding of politics and economics. It precludes those “conservatives” who support the government’s common core for education through their advocacy of a dumbed-down curriculum to serve the utilitarian needs of commerce. It precludes those “conservatives” who advocate globalism in the name of the free market, or imperialism in the name of “democracy”. It is a list intended for those true conservatives who believe that the traditional family is the highest political authority and that the conservation of the family is the most important job of true conservatism. In short, and in sum, the following list is inspired by a love for tradition and a desire for the restoration of the family through the scouring of the Shire.
Since the scouring of the Shire is so crucial, it will come as no surprise that the first item on my Christmas list is The Lord of the Rings, by which I mean the book by the incomparable Tolkien not the movies by the incorrigible Peter Jackson. Nowhere is the love for tradition and the desire for subsidiarity as all-pervasive as in Tolkien’s masterpiece. And while I’m in the imaginative conservative world of Middle-earth, I would also add anything and everything else by Tolkien to my Christmas list.
As a bibliophile, I am always inclined to place books at the very top of any Christmas list. Two relatively new works of fiction which I would recommend heartily are The Book of Jotham by Arthur Powers and Treason by Dena Hunt. The first of these is a marvelous novella set during the time of Christ, in which the ministry of Jesus is seen and narrated through the eyes of a mentally handicapped man, who is adopted by Christ as one of his disciples. It is, therefore, entitled “the Book of Jotham” because it is a sort of Gospel according to the eponymous character. The way in which St. Mary Magdalene and Judas Iscariot relate with their disabled brother is particularly powerful. It’s a work that never preaches but which will evoke a powerful pro-life response from the reader. The second is an historical novel set in Elizabethan England, which serves as a de facto warning of the dangers of secular fundamentalism and its intolerance towards religious orthodoxy. It is reminiscent of R. H. Benson’s novel, Come Rack! Come Rope!, published a century earlier, a novel that I would also add to my list.
Moving from books to DVDs, I’d add three relatively new movies to the list: For Greater Glory, October Baby and War of the Vendée. The first and third of these document the murderous consequences of secular fundamentalism in twentieth century Mexico and eighteenth century France respectively. October Baby is a wonderful and moving film that delivers a pro-life message with subtlety and finesse.
No Christmas list would be complete without gift suggestions for children.
I am currently reading through The Chronicles of Narnia series with my five-year-old daughter and cannot recommend too highly these timeless classics. I’m not sure what else needs to be said about Lewis’s works of wonder, except to say that no child should be deprived of them. Another essential addition to every child’s library is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and I would also suggest buying the DVD of the 1951 film adaptation, Scrooge, starring the delightful Alastair Sim.
My wife has been working her way through all the children’s books by Laura Ingalls Wilder with our five year old. Their shared enthusiasm for each of the works is enough to convince me that these stories of American life in healthier times are also worthy of a place on any imaginative conservative’s Christmas list.
Having moved imaginatively with the wonder-filled eyes of a child from Narnia and Dickensian London to the American frontier, I’d like to move down-under to modern-day Australia and the many delightful DVDs of the Wiggles. As one who has an unmitigated aversion to almost everything produced today for so-called “modern kids”, I have no hesitation in recommending the Wiggles. Their numerous DVDs produced over the past twenty-years or more are mercifully free of any politically correct agenda and contain nothing but healthy musical entertainment. Furthermore, the Wiggles have no problem in bringing the Christian God into the picture, especially in their Christmas DVDs.
Any self-respecting Christmas list must also include those items that are necessary for the full and rambunctious celebration of the feast of Our Lord’s Nativity. In this respect, I would simply remind all imaginative conservatives to use their imaginations with regard to the food and drink that they purchase this Christmas season. The most powerful vote we have on a daily basis is the vote that we cast every time we spend a dollar. In order to revitalize our local economies, we need to buy locally-produced meat and produce, preferably from locally-owned stores. And, of course, there are now a host of superb microbrewed ales to enjoy in every corner of the United States!
The last item that I’d like to add to this Christmas list for imaginative conservatives is a gift-subscription to the St. Austin Review, or StAR. Those who enjoy The Imaginative Conservative will enjoy the tradition-oriented articles on Christian faith and culture to be found in every issue of this magazine, which I have edited, as a labour of love, since its inception back in 2001. I am aware, of course, that adding my own magazine to a Christmas list is a little self-indulgent but it seems to me that Christmas is a time when self-indulgence should be indulged. At any rate, in the hope that imaginative conservatives will indulge my self-indulgence, I’d like to end with a reminder that Christmas time is when wise men follow the StAR!
Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.