Washington Irving, Cultural Continuity, and Iconoclasm

First Things magazine — a magazine and blogging site which calls itself the “Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life” — has a really thoughtful piece on Washington Irving, and how Americans would do well not only to re-embrace the man, but to learn from the lessons he taught us:

Washington Irving is of particular importance, especially now that so many of those who howled at the specter of a systemically evil nation are silent at the election of Barack Obama. What will many faculties do, now that their view has been thus radically altered or at least thrown into question? The culture of iconoclasm can only endure so long as one wants to smash an icon. Once one reveres the icon, an inevitable conservatism sets in—there is a natural desire to preserve memories and eventually even the traditions and institutions recognized as having been virtuous.

Intrigued?  You should be.  You can get the rest of it right here.  And my thanks to Eric Seddon at First Things for his column — and for the very kind tip of the hat in the first paragraph.  I’m delighted to be considered one of the “saner minds.”

2 responses to “Washington Irving, Cultural Continuity, and Iconoclasm

  1. Hurray for reclaiming the 19th century! I’ve got my ascot and my handlebar mustache – let’s go play some whist!


  2. Josephine Damian

    Five years ago a hurricane flattened my town and bitch-slapped us all back to the 19 century.

    Just wasn’t as much fun as I thought, not without Washington Irving.