Category Archives: Book Reviews

From “Home-Alone America” to “Primal Screams”: in 15 Years or Less

George Dunlap, August 29, 2019: I have followed Mary Eberstadt’s writings for several years. First starting with her book Adam and Eve after the Pill. She is a Catholic writer with great depth and passion. Her understanding of human nature and God have helped me understand our “Fallen Nature” and our need for Redemption. I trust if you take the time and patience you too will find Mary’s work a blessing.

Mary Eberstadt Wednesday, August 28, 2019

This week, Templeton Press is releasing my new book, Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics. Because the Faith and Reason Institute is my happy professional home, I’d like to set aside standard book promo, and instead share with TCT’s readers some of the backstory for this new volume.

Seen one way, the work leading up to this book began with a wisecrack. In the 1980s, right after graduating from college with majors in philosophy and government, I was hired as an assistant editor at The Public Interest magazine in New York. Its fabled editor was Irving Kristol, a formidable intellectual and wit with a first-rate, small-“c,” catholic mind. (He was also something of an imp – as his self-description of “neo-orthodox, non-observant Jew” might suggest.)

One day, as we were all sitting in the tiny smoke-filled office on East 53rd Street, Irving looked up from his newspaper and remarked, “One of the funniest things about the twentieth century is that if you were to read all of its documents and ask which one was the most prophetic about the world to come, it would be Humanae Vitae.”

The thought was unexpected and contrarian, as Irving’s bon mots usually were. The staff, myself included, duly laughed. But that heretical notion stuck. This was the first time I remember thinking that there might be something to the argument that the sexual revolution was upending the world – and that it wasn’t only the Catholic Church that could see it.

That small epiphany would go on to play a part in some of my work. My first book, Home-Alone America (2004), looked at the record of rising post-revolutionary damage in places that sociologists and others had been measuring for years – mainly, the ravaged home and its attendant problems, especially among children.

Adam and Eve after the Pill (2012) widened the lens to examine the revolution’s apparent effects on men, women, and the change in mores. Both books invoked evidence from across the cultural spectrum, including literature, popular culture, sociology, and first-hand reports from therapists and others on the front lines. These books also documented disturbing trends that would not become common knowledge until recently, such as rising rates of psychiatric trouble among the young.

The growing empirical record was greatly at odds with the dominant cultural insistence on the purported benefits of post-1960s liberation. How the West Really Lost God (2013) took the next logical step of examining the relationship between the new sexual order and the churches. Secularization, it concluded, has been widely misunderstood. It is not inevitable. History shows instead that religiosity waxes and wanes over time. It is as robust – or as weak – as the force through which it is largely transmitted: the family.

My new book, Primal Screams, is a capstone of sorts to these previous efforts. It examines the legacy of post-1960s change at one more macrocosmic level: politics. Primal Screams argues in part that the signature political movement of our time – identity politics – is rooted in the post-revolutionary erasure of self, brought on by the shrinkage and implosion of the family.

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How Catholic Art Saved the Faith –

The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art
by Elizabeth Lev

by: George Dunlap, May 1, 2019 – With the burning of Notre-Dame de Paris, we see that our Catholic art has been taken for granted, as is the case with anything we are use to living with, we forget the art in the history of this beautiful Church and all its art within the Church. Some may call Notre-Dame a museum, and many will call it a most holy Cathedral. If it takes a museum to bring the lost back to our faith, then so be it. Our Lord leads us all to the Father. I enjoyed the interview on EWTN between Raymond Arroyo and Elizabeth Lev as they talk about Catholic Art and its beauty.

Conversation between Eric Metaxes and Peter Kreeft Author, Symbol or Substance.

By George Dunlap, May 6, 2019. This conversation between Eric Metaxes and Peter Kreeft, Author, Symbol or Substance, on the Eric Metaxes Radio Show, is about the book Symbol or Substance, just released, a possible dialog between. C. S. Lewis, Billy Graham, and Tolkien. It is more than an explanation of what transubstantiation is; it’s a more refined explanation in a dialog form, of the different understandings of what truly (a Catholic truth…) transubstantiation represents in the House of God at the alter. This you tube conversation is more that a conversation about a book, it’s a conversation about why we as Catholics are truly unique in our faith, yet as Christians we all are Blessed in Jesus Christ.

Peter Kreeft with Eric Metaxes

The Idol of Our Age: A User’s Guide to the End Times?

The Idol of Our Age: A User’s Guide to the End Times?

 

By John Zmirak Published on January 30, 2019

A few days ago, I wrote about the Antichrist. No, I don’t name any names. I’ve zero confidence that I’m so spiritually savvy I could spot him, even were he actually walking the earth.

But I’ve read enough to know what we should look for. Right now I’m finishing a powerful, brilliant book by Daniel Mahoney called The Idol of Our Age. In it, he argues that the liberal, secular “Religion of Humanity” is serving as a kind of Antichrist. That’s not just because it’s luring people overtly away from Christianity, as its inventor, August Comte, hoped it would. Even more, it’s because that soft, suburban creed is infecting the actual churches, transforming them from within. It’s The Invasion of the Body of Snatchers, Mahoney shows. But the Body in question is Christ’s.

The “New Jesus”

The Religion of Humanity doesn’t repulse us with its cruelty, as Mein Kampf does (or should). It doesn’t make the blood run hot with resentment and hunger for power, like The Communist Manifesto. It doesn’t even feed our vanity and isolation, like Atlas Shrugged.

This new, desiccated Jesus is not the God-man. He’s something much more like Nietzsche’s “Last Man,” a simpering, judgmental weakling. Like one of the cardboard villains out of an Ayn Rand novel.

Instead, it does something far worse. It highjacks the noblest aspiration any person can have: to be more like Jesus. But the Jesus it offers is a patched-together mannequin. It’s a “New Jesus,” like the one Hazel Motes tries to make in Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, out of a mummified ape from a Darwinist diorama.

This new, desiccated Jesus is not the God-man. He’s something much more like Nietzsche’s “Last Man,” a simpering, judgmental weakling. Like one of the cardboard villains out of an Ayn Rand novel.

His claims of His own divinity? The modernist scripture scholars have snipped off all of those. His warnings of Hell and judgment? They go in the dustbin, too. His utter disinterest in politics, and demands for mystical sacraments? No, none of that proves convenient. So that gets carved off too. All that remains of the figure of Christ in the Religion of Humanity? Some phrases from the Sermon on the Mount, and conveniently edited scenes where He offers forgiveness to sinners. (The parts where He warns them to sin no more? They fall to the cutting room floor.)

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The Prophets Who Saw This Coming

Mahoney proves his case from a wide array of intellectual sources:

  • The balanced embrace of American freedom in the light of Natural Law in the works of neglected political philosopher Orestes Brownson. Brownson came to that sober, sane synthesis after plumbing the depths of Utopia as a post-Christian radical. Then discovering it’s really Hell. His work is crucial today since many Christian conservatives are despairing of freedom as toxic “liberalism,” and falling back into fantasies of “throne and altar” theocracy.  Or daydreams of escape.
  • The prophetic fiction and theological writings of Vladimir Solovyov. His “A Short Tale of the Antichrist” predicted that the Church’s greatest enemy wouldn’t be “hard” atheism but “soft” humanitarianism. You know, the creeds that serve as pretexts in the European Union and the United Nations.
  • The deeply perceptive writings of Pope Benedict XVI on the dangers of splitting off Reason from Faith. When you do that, Reason becomes a cold and cruel utilitarian instrument. Faith either hardens into stupid fanaticism, or melts into damp-eyed sentimentality. Of course what we see on the Christian left is a creepy hybrid of both: Gay Jesuits wielding power like old-time inquisitors on behalf of squishy, vapid misguided compassion. 
  • The undisciplined thought of Pope Francis. Despite some flashes of insight mostly borrowed from his predecessors, Francis seems beguiled by the fashionable liberalism of post-Christian elites. Like Theoden bewitched in The Lord of the Rings, he lets the realm he’s ruling crumble and fall to its foes.
  • The novels of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. In his vast, unjustly ignored historical panorama The Red Wheel, Solzhenitsyn shows the deadly price the Russian nation paid for replacing Christian statesmanship with the meandering, self-indulgent religiosity of Tolstoy. Those Christians who could have prevented the catastrophe of Communism were paralyzed by a fear of using force. That was partly because those Christians themselves were tipsy with the prospect of Utopia, the Kingdom of God on earth built by humans. Too late, it always turns out to be instead the Tower of Babel.

The Apocalypse in Narnia

Mahoney’s book is deep and well-researched. But it’s highly readable. I’m finishing it slowly because each chapter sparks so much thought. And entices further reading. I’ve already decided to re-read The Red Wheel for Instance, and dive into Brownson and Solovyov.

If all that sounds too heady for troubled times like these, I’d recommend a starting point. (Though Mahoney doesn’t mention it.) Every one of us, of any age, could benefit by re-reading C.S. Lewis’s own apocalypse, The Last Battle. It paints the end-times in Narnia, complete with an Antichrist that must have tickled Flannery O’Connor’s heart: An ape who wears the skin and claims the authority of Aslan.

The Prayer that Turns the World upside down

The Prayer that Turns the World Upside Down
January 23, 2018

This article is an excerpt from my new book, The Prayer that Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution, which releases today.

We long for revolution. Something within us cries out that the world is horribly broken and must be fixed. For centuries, the word revolution was scarcely heard, buried under ages of oppression. The word itself was feared and speaking it was treason. And then, revolutions seemed to appear almost everywhere.

10 Christmas Stories Every Father Should Read to His Children – Crisis Magazine

10 Christmas Stories Every Father Should Read to His Children – Crisis Magazine

When St. Nick drives his miniature sleigh full of toys drawn by eight tiny reindeer to the snowy housetop, and drops to the sooty hearth below, the paterfamilias is bidden to attend. It is the father who hears “the prancing and pawing of each little hoof,” and springs from his bed to stand witness and …

Source: 10 Christmas Stories Every Father Should Read to His Children – Crisis Magazine

The Reformation 500 years later – 12 Things you need to know, Benjamin Wiker, interviewed by Eric Metaxas

 

 

 

Author Benjamin Wiker, teacher at Franciscan University writes a good book from both the Catholic and Protestant side of the story.  I found this explain how we have more in common with our faiths.  List to the first link with Eric talk with Dr. Wiker.

The remaining 3 are Benjamin WIker personal explanations about his book.

The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment – AlbertMohler.com

Cultural commentary from a Biblical perspective The theorized submission of the Trinity to a human being — or to all human beings — is a theological innovation of the most extreme and dangerous sort.

Source: The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment – AlbertMohler.com

A Portrait of the Portrait Painter – The Catholic Thing

A Portrait of the Painter – By

A Portrait of the Portrait Painter By Fr. Robert P. Imbelli Thursday, September 21, 2017 A foible common to movers and shakers, whether clerical or lay, is a penchant for checking the index of a newly published book to see whether their names appear – and how often. I suspect that George Weigels newest book will provoke a good deal of surreptitious peeking. Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II recounts, in fascinating and insightful detail, the providential encounters that…….

Source: The Catholic Thing