In Soft Garments: A Collection of Oxford Conferences (Ronald Knox)

“In what Msgr. Knox calls the ‘4 a.m.’ mood, a sense of futility creeps in, a suspicion that the Christian system does not really hang together, that there are flaws in the logic . . . that there are too many unresolved contradictions. To this mood with its temptation to despair, Msgr. Knox talks with unfailing kindness . . . Those who have left their formal education far behind them will find huge solace in reading and re-reading this book. It should be at every bedside, ready to be opened at 4 a.m.” ~ Evelyn Waugh


When the Holy See gave a general permission for Catholics to matriculate at Oxford and Cambridge, the stipulation was made that lectures should be provided for them, to safeguard their faith against the influence of an uncongenial atmosphere. During the years between 1926 and 1938, when I was chaplain at Oxford, I delivered a good many of these myself; and I have collected some of them in this book, in the hope that they may suggest useful lines of thought to a wider (though I hope not much more learned) audience. In particular, I suppose that the subjects here discussed are such as figure, not infrequently, in the programme of the Catholic Evidence Guild. It will be seen, from a glance at the title page, that this book does not represent a complete course in any branch of apologetics. But I have tried to deal, unprofessionally, with some of the hesitations that most naturally occur to us Catholics, when we compare our intellectual commitments with the current thought of the present day. I have only altered the text where it contained topical allusions which might baffle the uninitiated reader. If I have not gone further, by removing traces of colloquialism and undignified illustrations here and there, it is because I dare to hope some of those who listened to the original utterances will come across the book (in circumstances how strangely remote from the past!), and refresh themselves, as they turn over its pages, with the memory of familiar things.

Aldenham, 1941.

ESSAY I: “The Cross-word of Creation”

ESSAY II: “‘Mind And ‘Matter'”

ESSAY III: “If God Exists”


Author: Ruminator

Roman Catholic priest of the Ordinariate. Selections or essays from others, with or without comment, is not necessarily an endorsement.

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