Those who know more on Bradburys bio can fill us in on the question of his religion, but at the least, he was a writer making a sane and conservative use of our longingly imaginative leaps into the future. A stark contrast to the now-forlorn future-faith of folks like rock critic Simon Reynolds, discussed in the Songbook post below. So do read the excerpt from Russell Kirks discussion of Bradbury in Enemies of Permanent Things , now available on the great site Imaginative Conservative (hat-tip, Powerline). Here are a few highlights.
Yet the Martians become aware of this apparent conflict between science and faith, had refused to destroy themselves by a corrosive materialism. “They quit trying too hard to destroy every-thing, to humble everything.” With the Martians, science and religion enriched one another, “The men of Mars realized that in order to survive they would have to forgo asking that one question any longer: Why live? Life was its own answer. Life was the propagation of more life and the living of as good a life as possible.” They knew that “science is no more than art’s investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle,” . . .
So it will not do to treat of Ray Bradbury, despite his abhorrence of much in the modern world . . . as if he were a prophet of the coming doom. For no recent writer is more buoyed up by the ebullient spirit of youth, and none more popular with intelligent young readers. Probably no one ever has written so understandingly of twelve- and thirteen-year-old boys as Bradbury does repeatedly, particularly in Dandelion Wine , with its prosaic-romantic setting of Waukegan, Illinois (Bradbury’s birthplace) and a thousand other American towns about 1928. Perpetual youth, and therefore perpetual hope, defy in Bradbury’s pages the fatigue of this century and the ambitions of exploiting scientism.
Every one of us, Bradbury says in a letter to me, has “a private keep somewhere in the upper part of the head where, front time to time, of midnights, the beast can be heard raving. To control that, to the end of life, to stay contemplative, sane, good-humored, is our entire work, in the midst of cities that tempt us to inhumanity, and passions that threaten to drive through the skin with invisible spikes.”
That man may replenish the universe, for the greater glory of God, Bradbury would have man fling himself to the most distant worlds. But this is an ambition far different from the arrogance of Wells and his kind . . .
(Kirk concludes by going to C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, basically making Bradbury an honorary Inkling. I wonder what Inkling champions, such as my friend David OHara, co-author of this fine book on mythopoetic literature , would make of that idea.)
Lewis writes that he never fully understood this denunciation of “escape,” this hatred of mythopoetic literature, “till my friend Professor Tolkien asked me the very simple question, ‘What class of men would you expect to be most preoccupied with, and most hostile to, the idea of escape?’ and gave the obvious answer: jailers. But there is perhaps this truth behind it: that those who brood much on the remote past or future, or stare long at the night sky, are less likely than others to be ardent or orthodox partisans.”