Cover image for Nearer, my God : an autobiography of faith
Nearer, my God : an autobiography of faith
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, [1997]

Physical Description:
xx, 313 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
St. John's, Beaumont -- Growing up -- Where does one learn about the Christian God? -- On the evolution of Christian doctrine -- The never-ending debate, the "difficulties" of Arnold Lunn -- Disruptions and achievements of Vatican II -- In search of advisers: my forum of converts -- The Crucifixion examined, and imagined -- Experiencing Lourdes -- Difficulties: the love of God, the love of Man -- The eyes of Hollywood -- Concerning women as priests, divorce, birth control, remarriage -- On knowing Malcolm Muggeridge -- The godfather, church and state, sin, and the question of a national culture -- On the uniqueness of Christ -- On the special blessings, and problems, of Catholics -- The ordination of Michael Bozell -- Aloïse Stiner Buckley: an epilogue.
Buckley, "tells us the story of his life as a Catholic Christian."


Material Type
Shelf Number
Item Notes

On Order



World-famous social and political commentator William F. Buckley, Jr., turns his attention to a more personal subject in this reflective, poignant, and searching exploration of his faith, continuing the debate he began 43 years ago in his provocative and intelligent work, God and Man at Yale.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Buckley's account of a 1930s and '40s Catholic childhood spent at English boarding school‘and of a family life spent traveling Europe, living in huge homes peopled with butlers and beloved tutors‘will not whistle up similar memories for most Catholics of his, or any other, generation. Though the book includes autobiographical sections, this is less an autobiography than a collection of the author's opinions about things Catholic. Buckley and several prominent Catholic converts he consulted give the reader an informative and entertaining earful on everything from post-Vatican II liturgy‘which Buckley finds aesthetically and theologically inferior to the old Latin Mass‘to such current Catholic hot-button issues as the ordination of women and the use of contraceptives. An appendix presents a summary of the status of religious observances at a number of exclusive private secondary schools. This is a book by an author who eschews the merely trendy and speaks his own mind. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

This eloquent spiritual ``autobiography'' is, disappointingly, almost entirely about people other than Buckley, and about theology rather than faith. Buckley, erstwhile leader of the political right (founder and editor of the National Review) has departed from his usual subjects here. (Refreshingly, he humbly admits that this book took five years to write and that he was dissatisfied with the finished product, feeling that it lacked the fervor and narrative vigor usually associated with spiritual memoirs.) The book begins wonderfully: Buckley recounts his Catholic childhood in England and America, describing his devout parents, his privileged life of tutors, travels, and boarding schools. With his customary humor, he offers a teenager's view of Jesuit education; he also reveals a tender side, recounting his early prayers for his beloved mother's health (somewhat precarious after bearing 11 children). Yet the tenor of this chapter is in no way sustained throughout the book, which becomes an argumentative debate about the great issues of the Catholic Church. Even here, Buckley does not reveal much of himself, choosing instead to recount the intellectual struggles of adult friends who converted to Catholicism, among them Malcolm Muggeridge, Clare Boothe Luce, and Richard John Neuhaus. Buckley calls these pundits ``the forum,'' and he solicits their advice about many of the great theological debates: theodicy, the meaning of the crucifixion, papal infallibility (``the forum is divided on the issue of contraception,'' he tells us). Even the chapter entitled ``Experiencing Lourdes'' is primarily a detached observer's discussion of the site's history and the Church's lengthy process for authenticating miracles. One of the few hints we get about Buckley's own position is his restrained comment that ``the spiritual tonic is felt'' by pilgrims at Lourdes. But despite the aloofness, Buckley remains, as ever, a witty and controversial commentator. Readers looking for meaty discussions of Catholic doctrine could do a lot worse. (1 b&w illustration, not seen)

Booklist Review

More than once, Buckley says this is a personal book, by which he does not really mean an autobiography, although it has autobiographical parts. Indeed, the most autobiographical chapters--the first and second, on his education in religious schools and his army service as a VD educator in Spanish--are the most engaging ones. The succeeding chapters caper from topic to topic in no necessary order, indicating perhaps what Buckley means by personal: that this is not a straightforward narrative or argument but instead a loose compilation of writings about matters relevant to why he is a faithful Catholic. Some chapters consider theological matters. Some relate personal experiences with faith, such as a pilgrimage to Lourdes. Some are about persons whose faith has especially impressed him, such as the late British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge and Michael Bozell, Buckley's nephew, whose ordination as a Benedictine priest he reports. Some broach the religious dimensions of the social and political controversies that are his usual stock-in-trade, as in a chapter on the influence of Hollywood. Some of the best are colloquies with five friends who are Catholic converts about matters of doctrine and practice. All will please Buckleyphiles seeking insight into what most deeply motivates the dean of American conservatism. --Ray Olson