Out of the AshesAuthor: Anthony Esolen
Publisher: Regnery Publishing
Providence College professor Anthony Esolen, blunt and prophetic, makes the case that the decay of Western civilization is alarmingly advanced. Our sickly, sub-pagan state resembles a bombed-out city.
We have to assess the damage, but merely lamenting it does no good. There is work to be done.
The first step is the restoration of truth. America's most powerful institutions - including the government - are mass producers of deceit. We have to recognize the lies and clear our minds of cant.
Our culture produces only the drab or the garish. We must restore beauty - in art, architecture, music, and worship.
There are two things wrong with our schools - everything our children don't learn in them, and everything they do learn. Public schools are beyond reform; we have to start over.
Our universities are as bad as our schools. A few can be saved, but for the most part, we must build new ones. In fact, this is already being done. We have to support these efforts as if our children's souls depended on it.
Repudiating the Sexual Revolution, that prodigious engine of misery, requires more than zipping up. The modern world has made itself ignorant about sex - in particular that there are two of them and they're profoundly different. We must restore manhood and womanhood.
In our servile economy, we raise bureaucrats not craftsmen. We must rediscover how to make things that are beautiful and lasting - the products of human work. And we must dispense with the "rent-seekers" - the proliferating middlemen whose own work contributes nothing.
We have turned sports into a job for our children. Instead of playing we "work out." A genuine civilization is based on celebration. We must restore play to human life, seeing all the other days of the week in light of the Sabbath.
The gigantic scale of government has made us a nation of "idiots," incapable of attending to public affairs and the common good. We must insist that the Constitution is not whatever judges say it is, complying with but not obeying their edicts while we reclaim our freedom of religion one outdoor procession, one public lecture, one parish picnic at a time.
We must love this world, but we have here no abiding city. The great division is between those who place all their hope in the present life and those who know that we are pilgrims. There is no retreat, but take courage - we have our map. Let us begin.
Anthony M. Esolen is a professor of English at Providence College and translator of classic works, as well as writer for publications including the Claremont Review of Books "Magnificat", "Crisis Magazine", "The Catholic Thing" and Touchstone Magazine, of which he is a senior editor. He has translated Dante's Divine Comedy, Lucretius' On the Nature of Things, and Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered. He used to write a column for the Inside Catholic website.