Irving Howe claims that if Christ gave his Sermon on the Mount next week, among other routine reactions would be that “Dwight Macdonald would write that while ‘Mr. Christ makes some telling points’ they suffer from syntactical confusion and ‘a woolly pretentious style’.”

This is singularly inept buffoonery, since the Sermon on the Mount is notably clear and simple, at least as rendered in the King James version, to which I have paid public homage on several occasions. But there is this much point to it, which some of your contributors might ponder: that were the Sermon woolly and pretentious in style, that would indeed be my reaction, and I should be right, since in that case the Sermon would not be the great moral message it is but a botch, and not only in style. Great ideas can only be expressed in a great style. There is no such thing as a clear message delivered in confused language; the message is the style and the style is the message. Selah!

Speaking of style, I note that Mr. Howe has been converted to Christianity, since he refers to Christ as “He.” (To me, he’s “he.”) This shows what discoveries can be made if one pays attention to style. And, on Mr. Howe’s part, what an admirably subtle way of breaking the news!

Dwight Macdonald