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That new Russell Kirk biography features extended descriptions of the thought of Irving Babbitt, Paul Elmer More, Albert Jay Nock, and Isabel Paterson (four figures who greatly influenced Kirk). I'm only part way through the first one (Babbitt), greatly enjoying it, and really looking forward to the description about Nock.


In the West, as Babbitt saw it, St. Francis of Assisi came closest to living a Buddhist life, though Francis, of course, had no contact with the East. But in his nearness to a Buddhist life St. Francis was unique. According to Babbitt, the West had created a dreadful world, “a world of frenzied producers” and a “world of frenzied consumers.”

I'd never thought of St. Francis as a Buddhist, probably because GKC excoriated the idea, pointing out the saint is always looking, pointed, outward, often excitedly so, whereas the eastern mystic is pointed inward. Still, I appreciate the humanist Babbitt's apparent attempt to understand the great saint.