A Tribute to R. J. Rushdoony
My Recollections of a Great Man
The first time I saw R. J. Rushdoony was at an Amway convention in Columbus, Ohio, in 1979. I was never a participant at any level in Amway, but had read some of Rushdoony's works, so a few of us early Ohio Recons crashed the convention to hear him. He spoke eloquently and boldly to a nominal (at best) Christian audience on the authority of God's law, and our American Christian roots.
Years later, our small NE Ohio church brought him to the area to speak several times.
As I reflect on my fondest memories of this great man, two instances stand out.
After my dear friend Andrew Sandlin was called to Chalcedon from his pastorate at the church I attended, I suggested that Chalcedon needed a web page. Andrew agreed, and began the process of "greasing the skids" of the venerable old technophobe. In June, 1995 the Ohio Reconstruction Society invited Rushdoony to speak in the Cleveland area. The time was finally right to approach him about a web site. I decided to give him a tour of the Internet. I managed to reserve a morning of his time to take him with me to my office at Rockwell Automation in order to demonstrate to him the power and possibilities of the Internet. I had a workstation set up in an unused office, and excitedly explained to him the wonders of the Internet and what the worldwide web offered. We sat in front of the workstation and I began a tour of various web sites that I thought would interest him. All the time, I was explaining how easy it would be for Chalcedon to put information "out there" for access, including the Chalcedon Report.
After about 15 minutes of browsing, I looked over to ask him a question and he was sound asleep! As it was, he was suffering at the time with his recurring illness, and was quite tired by all the traveling and speaking. Shortly after this trip, he greatly reduced his travel time.
In spite of the seeming failure of the demonstration, he did give the okay to proceed with the web page, and www.chalcedon.edu went live shortly thereafter.
The second incident was the last time I saw Rushdoony. It was a couple of days after his 80th birthday celebration, which I attended. I was staying with Andrew, and we were returning a car that we had borrowed for the trip from Vallecito to San Jose. The Rushdoony home is an "L" shaped ranch at the top of a hill, with the parking area near the inside of the "L." The front door is also on the inside of the "L," and the main living area where Rush did most of his reading faced this parking area. It was dark, but not too late, and we had just parked the car after dropping it off. As we walked towards the door to let him know we had returned the vehicle, we both stopped and quietly observed the touching scene. Rush was seated in a comfortable armchair under the glow of a floor lamp just inside the picture window that faced us. He was reading A Comprehensive Faith the festschrift that was presented as a surprise to him at the birthday gathering earlier. That was a precious moment that many of us shared, as he beamed with joy with the entire crowd applauding him.
Tonight, however, his face was the picture of concentration, leaning forward so the light would catch the pages, softly illuminated, looking more like a statue of the consummate reader than an old man cherishing a good read. He was obviously enjoying the book greatly. The serenity of the whole scene was surreal, and we tarried a couple of minutes, soaking it in before knocking on the door.
Although I would have loved to have spent more time with him, I am very thankful to have known him at all. My last memory of him "in his glory," having received the due respect of his students and disciples, continuing in his constant quest for wisdom, is very fitting.
Truly, may he rest in peace in the bosom of our God and Father.