Thomas Howard, R.I.P.

A very good friend of Touchstone from its earliest days, Thomas Howard died on October 15, 2020, at 85. He exemplified evangelically minded churchmen of his generation in his love for Christ, devotion to the Scriptures, and concern for the unity of serious Christians. He embraced and encouraged "mere Christians" and his books were read appreciatively by Catholics and Evangelicals.

Born in Philadelphia to Evangelical missionary parents, he was nurtured at home by daily Bible reading, prayers, hymns, and godly discipline. He graduated from Wheaton College (Illinois), completed his doctoral dissertation on the novels of Charles Williams, and was an expert on C. S. Lewis and T. S. Eliot.

He taught literature at Gordon College until 1985, when he joined the Roman Catholic Church after 25 years as an Episcopalian. For the next fourteen years, he taught at St. John's Seminary. No triumphalist, he maintained the greatest appreciation for his Evangelical heritage and returned to Wheaton for a semester in the mid-90s as a visiting professor.

A gifted writer, his prose was colorful, energetic, and full of grace and wit. Among his many books are Christ the Tiger; Evangelical Is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament; Chance or the Dance? A Critique of Modern Secularism; On Being Catholic; Narnia & Beyond; and Lead Kindly Light.

I and other Touchstone editors were privileged to meet him in many settings over the years, including at our 2004 conference, where he was a speaker. We always enjoyed and greatly appreciated his engaging and gracious conversation.

He wrote for Touchstone on numerous occasions from 1991 to 2012. Two of his most popular essays, "Recognizing the Church" and "Brideshead Revisited Revisited," were selected for publication in Creed & Culture, a collection of Touchstone's best essays from its first ten years.

  He will be missed, yet his quiet influence on more readers than he realized continues to bear much fruit. In his first Touchstone article, a short memoir about the late Malcolm Muggeridge, Howard concluded: "We who were the beneficiaries of Muggeridge's humor and wisdom can only rejoice that he has reached the goal he sought for so long." The same may now be said of Thomas Howard. May his memory be eternal.

James M. Kushiner is the Executive Editor of Touchstone.

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