Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. "Do We Need Religion or Religious Institutions?"

Released 2008


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Taped on September 6, 1980This show suffers from comparison with ["How Does One Find Faith?" #S432], but by any other standard it is a wonderful exploration of modern man and his discontents--starting with the fact that Muggeridge, although a leading Christian apologist, was unchurched. Muggeridge: "I've, believe it or not, longed to be a Catholic. . . . I've longed for it as though it were the most marvelous thing. . . .The truth is, I think, that I take a very pessimistic view of the Catholic Church, despite the very brilliant pope you've now got. It seems to me that it's dropping to pieces, and of course it had a severe blow after the Vatican Council. Therefore, I would be joining something of which I was enormously critical, and this isn't really an honorable thing to do." Buckley: "That's never bothered you before." Muggeridge: "I've never contemplated anything so serious as joining a church. I mean, even if you were to turn to mundane things--joining a club--if you were to join it quite confident that you were going to challenge all its rules and have rows with all its members, it would be rather a foolish step to take." Buckley: "Well, I'm, to put it lightly, stupefied that you would make a decision whether or not to extend your loyalty to an institution based on the behavior of some of its communicants. I can't imagine any time in history when anybody would have become a Catholic if he had been so easily put off." (Muggeridge and his wife, Kitty, eventually submitted to Rome, in 1984.)moreless

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