Ted Byfield

People are always dying, and I regret it, although if I had or took a more complete view, of the parts of men that are not strictly biological, I might achieve the “higher complacency.” Ted Byfield is the latest to “pass.” Any who don’t know who he was should bloody well find out. I am somewhat weighted with unnecessary grief.

Searching for some words to remember him, I was surprised to find I had already written them. They were in an email I sent to a friend out west, many years ago. The recipient, Brett Fawcett, quotes it in his own eulogy of this fine man. Allow me to plagiarize myself:

“Mr Byfield seems to me, looking back, as a crank. I mean that as a florid compliment: a beautiful crank, totally sincere, wise in ways ultimately unworldly, & naive in a way almost saintly. From my first sight of him, I adored him, & trusted his judgement to be truly lucid & courageous & informed & independent — all the crank qualities. Also, unmanageable. I am not, & could never become an Eastern Christian, & we argued about that. I realized it suited him, exactly: that he was mentally Byzantine. I don’t mean that in the cheap sense of ‘complex,’ but nearly the opposite. He does not seem ‘logical’ in the Western Christian way. He has an extraordinary ability to take things at face value. His view of Christ is beautiful: almost extra-theological. His view of Islam is (so far as I follow) simple, too. He entirely lacks pretension, & keeps his attention fixed on the obvious, on continuities. He can utterly condemn Islam & its violence without real malice.”