Magazine article The Christian Century

Grace in the Center

Magazine article The Christian Century

Grace in the Center

Article excerpt

TIM GOEGLEIN, special assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison, was recently caught plagiarizing Dartmouth veteran Jeffrey Hart. At issue was a Hart editorial that included a quotation from Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, miscopied by Goeglein as Eugene Rosenstock-Hussey. While the administration wants to forget Goeglein, let me thank him for bringing to remembrance Eugen R.-H. I want to seize the opportunity to answer the New Yorker's punning question, "Rosenstock-Huessy, who is he?"--asked after W. H. Auden put more of the German scholar's aphorisms into the Viking Book of Aphorisms than he did quotations from Voltaire.

Berlin-born in 1888 to a wealthy Jewish family, a casual baptizee at age 14, Eugen Rosenstock first earned a doctorate in law, then married Margrit Huessy and, Swissstyle, hyphenated his name. (I used to quote him so often in talks that I was counseled to cut down references; repeating his long name took too much lecture time.) The scholar saw frontline action in World War I, and corresponded with his friend Franz Rosenzweig, the foremost Jewish philosopher of the century. In 1923 he acquired a doctorate in philosophy, then taught legal history at the University of Breslau.

He helped invent modern work camps such as Camp William James, a haven for conscientious objectors in New England during World War II. Anti-Nazi, he resigned from the university in 1933 and a year later was teaching at Harvard, where he was regularly criticized for sounding too Christian. He taught at Dartmouth for a score of years. After retiring, he continued writing in Norwich, Vermont.

I was influenced enough by him to write a now forgotten book on his theme Respondeo etsi mutabor, "I Respond Although I Will Be Changed." The motto would be on my coat-of-arms if I had one. …

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