Andrew Farrant points me to this lovely tribute to James Buchanan from Geoff Brennan and Mike Munger.
Brennan and Munger note the seeming incongruity of one of Buchanan's titles, "The Soul of Classical Liberalism". I hadn't realised the strength of Professor Buchanan's anti-theism; it never really came up when I was at GMU. Geoff Brennan provides the following anecdote:
“It was Ash Wednesday – probably 1978 or 79. I had, in the manner of ‘Episcopalians in good standing’, taken myself to church that morning before work and had been duly signed on the forehead with ashes as a symbol of my mortality: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return!” Although one is technically not supposed to do this, under normal circumstances I would have washed off the ashes before proceeding to work. But on this occasion I went directly to the office from church. Though I intended to visit the bathroom to clean up immediately on my arrival, by the time I got to work I had become pre-occupied with other things and simply forgot. So it was that, when Jim sauntered into my office at around 11, he immediately pointed at me, and the following conversation ensued:VPI was a ridiculously productive place, and a seemingly pretty explosive one. I here linked to a few Tullock tales.
Buchanan: “What’s that on your face?”
Brennan (somewhat absentmindedly): “Oh, that must be my ashes. It’s Ash Wednesday and we get marked with the cross from the ashes of last year’s palms from Palm Sunday”.
Buchanan (instantly furious): “That’s god d**ned gross! That’s the grossest thing I’ve ever seen. You going around displaying your religion like that! I might as well go round indulging in indecent exposure!”4
The situation deteriorated from there. ...
4 This is a somewhat expurgated version of the remark. The original entailed too much anatomical detail to be admissible among this respectable readership!
The whole piece is well worth reading.