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  • Whatever Happened to Tradition?

  • History, Belonging and the Future of the West
  • By: Tim Stanley
  • Narrated by: Tim Stanley
  • Length: 8 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (58 ratings)

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Summary

Bloomsbury presents Whatever Happened to Tradition? by Tim Stanley, read by Tim Stanley.

The West feels lost. Brexit, Trump, the coronavirus: we hurtle from one crisis to another, lacking definition, terrified that our best days are behind us. The central argument of this book is that we can only face the future with hope if we have a proper sense of tradition - political, social and religious. We ignore our past at our peril. The problem, argues Tim Stanley, is that the Western tradition is anti-tradition, that we have a habit of discarding old ways and old knowledge, leaving us uncertain how to act or, even, of who we really are.

In this wide-ranging book, we see how tradition can be both beautiful and useful, from the deserts of Australia to the court of 19th-century Japan. Some of the concepts defended here are highly controversial in the modern West: authority, nostalgia, rejection of self and the hunt for spiritual transcendence. We’ll even meet a tribe who dress up their dead relatives and invite them to tea.

Stanley illustrates how apparently eccentric yet universal principles can nurture the individual from birth to death, plugging them into the wider community and creating a bond between generations. He also demonstrates that tradition, far from being pretentious or rigid, survives through clever adaptation, that it can be surprisingly egalitarian.

The good news, he argues, is that it can also be rebuilt. It’s been done before. The process is fraught with danger, but the ultimate prize of rediscovering tradition is self-knowledge and freedom.

©2021 Tim Stanley (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

What listeners say about Whatever Happened to Tradition?

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Enjoyable and thought provoking

This book was surprisingly engaging. It is well written and captures the readers interest quickly and hold it throughout. One might not anticipate it, given the subject matter of tradition and cultural change in the West, but it is also often quite light hearted and occasionally down-right funny.

It is slightly patchy, some chapters are stronger than others. He is on rather weak ground when discussing the monarchy and using this as an example of the positive role of tradition in society but much stronger when on subject areas which are obviously his strong points. His chapters on faith and religion are very strong and, as an agnostic, I found these aspects of the book the most illuminating and thought provoking.

This is not a calumny about the West having lost its heritage and tradition and falling into decay. Rather it is a serious exploration of the role of tradition, and regard for the past and societal authority, in society and what we may lose if we jettison all of these safeguards in a culture which increasingly lauds iconoclasm and taboo busting.

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Interesting commentary on faith and politics

I enjoyed this book - I share the narrator's faith position and wanted to hear an intelligent voice address current debates on identity politics, tradition, and nationhood. I didn't always agree with the opinions expressed, but I found the book richly researched and generally balanced. I'd like to see Stanley's views more broadly represented in the popular press so we can reflect on difficult topics through debate. But the performance is not good: I really don't understand why authors insist on reading their own books. A trained reader would have been so much better.

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What a senselesss read !

This was just first class bashing and pushing of leftism....a very hard read to find some meaningful nuggets....it was self torture!

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  • AAW
  • 11-01-22

Time well spent with a fascinating author

I thoroughly enjoyed this- a wealth of insight and anecdote, read in the author’s voice. I especially enjoyed the subtle distinctions he made in reading quotes by a wide range of personalities. A quote from Cardinal Newman was closely followed by a quote from Tolstoy, and each was clearly delineated without exaggeration.

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  • Andrew
  • 29-11-21

Very good survey of a tricky subject

I thought this book was interesting and insightful. Occasionally the author’s evident desire to be accessible and plain-speaking led to (what I felt were) slight oversimplifications or glibness, but overall I found the book well worth the read.