April 12, 2024 Editor

The Scholar-Gipsy

Thrownness, Memoricide & The Great Tradition

Pictured here is a two-volume set, The Scholar-Gipsy: Thrownness, Memoricide & The Great Tradition, I recently published on Amazon and Kindle, in honour of Ron Dart, whose articles are sprinkled here and there on my website.

From my write-up on Amazon:

Upon Dr. Ron Dart’s retirement in 2023 from a long teaching career at the University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford BC, Canada, friends suggested doing a Festschrift in his honour — not uncommon for a retiring academic. Ron wanted something different though: a “Liber Amicorum” — A Book of Friends. So, as if to a Banquet, we asked him to send out the invitations. But in this case, it was a potluck, with the guests providing all the main courses. And what a feast! Thus was this two-volume work born: a veritable smorgasbord of delectables for heart, mind, and soul.

In it readers will find, interwoven with the overarching grand theme of friendship — a lost art in our pathologically individualistic Western world — reflections on art, poetry, politics, Christianity, justice, peace, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hermann Hesse, The Beats, Simone Weil, George Grant, George Herbert, German Pietism, Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, Evelyn Underhill, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Islam, T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, Jonathan Swift, liberalism/conservativism, High/Red Tories of North America, The Great Tradition, mountaineering, Ancient Greek Wisdom, Israel-Palestine tragedy, environmentalism, pedagogy, mentoring, the apophatic and cataphatic ways of knowing God, contemplation, theology, philosophy, modernity/post-modernity, etc. — all themes in Dr. Dart’s voluminous writings (over 40 books), academic courses, and more!

Ron explains further:

I have entitled this reflection “The Scholar-Gipsy” for the simple reason that many a decade ago when doing a class in Victorian Prose, I was held and addressed by Matthew Arnold’s longer poem of the same name. I have many an affinity with the “scholar-gipsy” and have never wavered in my attraction to this evocative poem — so a portal and doorway into my soul. Quietly and meditatively, I sit with “The Scholar-Gipsy.”

May we the readers do so as well with this in our hands/on the screen, and ultimately in our souls. A hearty welcome to the Banquet!

Matthew Steem and I both wrote Forewords. Mine follows:

Foreword — Wayne Northey (Editor)

Having just completed a second copy-edit of this publication (the first was done by Matthew Steem who did the initial heavy lifting), I feel profoundly moved. The idea of this collection of essays/tributes began as a more academic Festschrift. But it quickly morphed into a Liber Amicorum — Book of Friends, the why explained below by Ron, and what a roster of friends we meet!

Matthew Steem presents his piece as unapologetically bona fide “hagiography,”[1] of the kind he and all were warned against — and as it were dares us to differ. Not I!

Robert Ellsberg of Orbis Books has published several books on saints. In one he writes of the authentic kind:

But in the end they were not called saints because of the way they died, or because of their visions or wondrous deeds, but because of their extraordinary capacity for love and goodness, which reminded others of the love of God.[2]

Yes, Virginia, there really is. . . valid hagiography! This volume is delightful witness to that! Another of Ellsberg’s books is: Blessed Among Us: Day by Day with Saintly Witnesses. Ron Samuel Dart is such a “blessed one,” who like his middle namesake said long since, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And like Isaiah, he can also recount, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!

Ron in these pages is depicted as: teacher, mentor, sage, abba, prophet, guide, groundbreaking scholar, Renaissance Man, and more. Almost every contributor pointed to one other portrayal, however: he is a shepherd—a shepherd extraordinaire!

I could go on. But the reader is instead invited to do that, and to take joy in Ron’s exemplary pastoral servanthood—“saintly” in the best way—then “go and do likewise.” (Jesus).

“In the end,” states somewhere a character of prolific/brilliant Catholic novelist Andrew Greeley, “we all want to be saints.” A next best thing is certainly friendship with one, and we all variously say here that we are truly blessed to know Ron. Ron’s life, lovely shards from which are prismatically refracted in this tome, makes me, makes hopefully us all—contributors and readers of this Liber Amicorum—want to become, well, saintlier. Amen.

[1] A hagiography. . . is a biography of a saint. . . However, when referring to modern, non-ecclesiastical works, the term hagiography is often used today as a pejorative reference to biographies and histories whose authors are perceived to be uncritical or excessively reverential toward their subject. — Wikipedia.

[2] The Saints’ Guide to Happiness: Everyday Wisdom from the Lives and Love of the Saints, New York: North Point Press, 2005.

Views: 59


Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.