Lunn, Arnold

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Catholic convert and apologist, England's leading authority on skiing, b. Madras, India, April 18, 1888; d. London, June 3, 1974. His father was Sir Harry Lunn, who was a Methodist missionary in India, later worked for the Thomas Cook travel agency, and in 1906 formed a successful tour business of his own. His mother was an Irish Protestant devoted to Sinn Fein and Irish independence. In 1908 Lunn founded the Alpine Ski Club and from 1919 was editor of the British Ski Year Book. He introduced the modern slalom course in Muerren, Switzerland, in 1922, thus creating the modern Alpine slalom race. For 15 years (192439) he was a member of the executive committee of the Féderation Internationale de Ski (FIS) and later (194649) was chairman of the International Downhill Ski Racing Committee.

In The Swiss and Their Mountains, (1963) Lunn credited a particular experience of an Alpine sunset with awakening in him a sense of the spiritual and the supernatural. Lunn's formal education took place at Harrow and at Balliol College, Oxford. He wrote of his conversion in Now I See (London 1934). His defense of Catholicism usually involved collaboration with a friend, such as Ronald knox, or with friendly foes, such as the Anglican Garith Lean, or the philosopher C. E. M. Joad, or the scientist J. B. S. Haldane. Lunn's books often took the form of debates. In addition to Difficulties (1932, with Ronald Knox), there should be mentioned his Science and the Supernatural (1935, with J. B. S. Haldane), and Christian Counterattack (1969, with Garith Lean). His reputation as a conservative made him especially useful in World War II, when he traveled extensively in Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and the United States as a spokesman for Britain and the defense of Christian civilization against Nazism.

While refusing to become an alarmist after vatican council ii, he was annoyed by some secularist trends, and especially was saddened by events in the United States. He spoke and continued writing against the new morality, e.g., in The New Morality, with G. Lean (rev. ed., London 1967), which he viewed as an accommodation of the Christian code to secularist sensibilities, a preoccupation with social problems, and a general revolt against authority. The real division, as he saw it, was not between liberals and conservatives, but between those who are and those who are not intimidated by dominant fashions of secularism. He refused to tone down differences between various Christian communions but was in favor of a militant ecumenism, in which all would band together to reverse the triumphant advance of secularism. He summed up his approach in an article in the Tablet dated the day before his death by citing Augustine: "Love men, slay errors."

Bibliography: a. lunn, Come What May (Boston 1941). Tablet 221 (1967) 9091, 132133; 224 (1970) 544; 227 (1973) 654; 228 (1974) 527.

[e. j. dillon]