Malcolm Muggeridge was a British author, journalist, satirist, and later in life Catholic convert and Christian apologist. His father was a prominent Labour Party councilor and, for a brief time, member of parliament. He attended Selhurst Grammar School and Selwyn College at Cambridge University, graduating in 1924 with a degree in natural sciences. He began his career as a teacher in India, later in Egypt, and at various times at the John Ruskin Central School, Croydon, where his father was chairman of the governors. He married, and later began his long journalistic career, first with the Manchester Guardian.
Like so many of his day, he was initially attracted to communism. He and his wife journeyed to Moscow in 1932, where he was to serve as a correspondent with the Manchester Guardian. It did not take long for him to become thoroughly disillusioned with communism, especially after witnessing at first hand the famine in the Ukraine. Later, in 1940, he was to publish a compelling piece of social observation, The Thirties. He was one of the first Western journalists to expose the brutal realities of Soviet totalitarianism (which was to influence his thinking for the rest of his life about the potential inhumanity of government, of human engineering projects of any kind, left or right). He also warned about the menace of Hitler, who espoused a different ideology from communism. He was gradually forming a perspective on the reality of evil, as something that could never be eliminated by any human ideology or governmental program.
Through his early years, his life paralleled that of St. Augustine, moving through years of indulgence, secularism, agnosticism, restlessness, to a slow, dawning awareness of a spiritual reality that had always tugged at him over the years, in India, Egypt, during all his travels, and in his years in the UK. In 1982, after much soul searching, he entered the Catholic Church. Mother Teresa, whom he helped to publicize and make known, had something to do with that, but he had always to some extent been deeply religious, reading the Bible secretly as an adolescent (his father would probably not have approved), and even seriously considered a religious vocation while a student at Cambridge. Dostoevsky was always a favorite author, as well as Pascal, St. Augustine of Hippo, William Blake, Leo Tolstoy, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Søren Kierkegaard, among others.
Muggeridge, like a modern Jeremiah, launched a stream of brilliant prose and spirited lectures against secularism, materialism, and relativism, so characteristic of the modern age, and proposed a solution: a return to God. Liberalism and the welfare state, he began to perceive, were destructive forces that must be addressed in forthright ways. He was witty, controversial, pointed in his societal critiques, and never one to shy away from confronting the negative currents of his day, and in the acerbic way that is his lasting legacy to us today, and for which he is affectionately remembered as St. Mugg.
SEE ALSO: Human Rights; Teresa, Mother
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