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KNIGHT: Tom Landess, R.I.P.
A behind-the-scenes leader among Christian conservatives
His satirical portraits in Southern Partisan of certain Republicans (especially Virginia Sen. John Warner) who betrayed conservatives while courting their support are deadly, laugh-out-loud funny. His serious works exhibit a remarkable mind animated and tempered by his Christian faith and knowledge of the Scriptures.
In 1996, Tom wrote an obituary in Intercollegiate Review for the great agrarian movement scholar Andrew Lytle. Tom noted that other Southern writers, such as Robert Penn Warren, had moved north to Ivy League schools and become famous.
But as for Lytle, Tom wrote, “[He] would remain close to home and continue to hold a conservative view of society and culture, one that broadened with the years and finally became quintessentially Christian. Once he began to see history in terms of its relationship to eternity, he transcended his Agrarian viewpoint without in the least abandoning it. The South and other traditional pockets of culture became for him the remnants not merely of Western civilization, but of a larger and more inclusive Christendom.”
And that’s a major reason Tom moved his family first out of metropolitan Dallas to a rural South Carolina island, and out of Washington to Columbia, S.C. In the Palmetto State, the same modernist winds blow through TVs and iPads, but it still retains Southern grace.
Above all, Tom will be remembered for his devotion to faith and family, his kindness, storytelling, selfless mentoring of young writers and anonymous work for Christian and conservative causes, for which he labored often without compensation. He was a loyal friend and mentor and one of the most decent human beings I have ever encountered or ever will.
His last speech, for the Ciceronian Society at the University of Virginia in March 2011, was a serious yet humorous look at the agrarian movement and the impact of Lytle’s seminal anthology, “I’ll Take My Stand.”
I couldn’t put it better than the master writer, so I’ll let that be the last word, too, about my dear friend Tom Landess.
Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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