Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saving Leonardo by Nancy Pearcey

Pearcey points out a crucial turning point in the American mind, when values became subjective. Politicians used to be seen as the selfless guardians of the public good. But if there is no understood public good, politicians are now self-serving promoting policies that benefit themselves.
Secular forces have “exerted a destructive impact in every area of life,” Pearcey says. (3) She reveals secular ideas in science, philosophy, ethics, the arts and humanities. She helps the reader recognize the concepts and know how to resist them. She looks at the historical development, the events, thinkers, and artists who led the way to the current worldview. She also shows that the only hope lies is a worldview originating from the Creator.
Part One of her book looks at international secularism and how it sets the stage for imposing political control.
As a result of the scientific revolution, knowledge was seen as the product of science, derived from senses. “As a result, moral statements were no longer considered truths at all, but merely expressions of emotion.” (24) The only form of “correctness” is political correctness. Since there are no moral truths for appeal, political and legal measures are used to coerce people to this “correctness.” “The loss of objectivity in moral thought does not lead to liberation. It leads to oppression.” (41) “It's time for the church to regroup, rethink, and recast its strategy for social and political engagement. Christians must learn to engage the secular worldviews that drive the public debate.” (69)
Part Two traces the historical rise of secularism, looking at the paths of the Enlightenment and the Romantic movement, as they run side by side in modern history. This includes reviews of art and literature and their impact on culture. “Learning to interpret the arts can be a powerful strategy for understanding the monolithic secularism that is spreading around the globe today.” (75) “If to day's Christians hope to be proactive, they must acquire artistic literacy. Only then will they get ahead of the cultural curve and learn how to speak God's truth anew to each generation.” (132) Pearcey does an excellent job of explaining modern, abstract art (and music). I now understand the thought behind its origin. She does the same with contemporary film, revealing the messages the originators intended to convey.
She writes, “Because humans are created in God's image and live in God's world, at some point every nonbiblical worldview will fail the practical test. Adherents will not be able to apply it consistently in practice – because it does not fit who they really are, Instead they will find themselves living as though a biblical view of human nature were true – because that is who they really are.” (152)
She ends her book with a vision as to how each individual can become a culture shaping individual. Noting the recent popularity of Bach in Japan, she encourages Christians to create the same kind of Christian influence today. “Where is the music and art that expresses biblical truths so eloquently that it invites people to embark on a search for God?” (268) Reminding us that we are to be salt and light, “The only way to drive out bad culture is with good culture.” (268) Churches must again be places nurturing artists.

This book is not easy reading. Assimilating the heady concepts takes time and concentration. This book would be a great basis for an adult or high school Sunday School class and would be a good resource for those homeschooling.

B&H Publishing Group, 281 pages.

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