The Death of Christian Culture…

Author: Gary Brady
Issue: 25 – May 2008

The Death of Christian Culture…
The Death of Christian
culture & The Restoration of Christian culture
By John Senior

Your great-great grandfather cleared the earth
Your great-grandfather laboured on the earth
Your grandfather turned a profit from the earth
Then your father sold the earth to become a bureaucrat

Now you, my little man, you dont know what to do
In your little 3 room apartment – too expensive and cold in the winter
You want something to call your own
And you dream at night of having your own little piece of earth.

Your great-great grandmother, she had 14 kids
Your great grandmother had about as many
Then your grandmother had three, that was enough for her

Your mom didnt want any, you were an accident
Now you, my little lady, change partners all the time
When you screw up you save yourself by aborting
But there are mornings you awake crying
When you dream in the night of a large table surrounded by little ones.

The lyrics to this surprise hit in Canada for the Quebecois folk band Mes Aieuxand will shock many for their portrayal of the culture of death in which they live today.

Yet the fact that the song continues and ends up suggesting that we forget all about it and dance the night away is a classic example of the narcissism that is rampant amongst many of todays youth, including the Irish. The realisation that something is very wrong indeed is commonplace among the young; the increasing workload and lack of leisure time to enjoy any financial benefits, the lack of accountability of politicians elected, the housing crises and the frightening debt to which the young are expected to chain themselves to, are not completely lost on them. Yet they look around and see no answers to their plight. Does it lay with Fianna Fails shallow political philosophy which appears to be grab what you can while the going is good or perhaps Sinn Feins wrapping of a tri-colour around a failed Marxist ideology may appeal to some, but not many. The young soon grow out of believing in a Socialism which means nothing in practical reality and once married with children often leave behind even the imbibed politically-correct philosophies which always seem to be aligning ones-self with the perpetrators rather than the victims of crime.

Yet the answers are out there, hidden amongst the dusty bookshelves of our Fathers, in those books chucked in skips parked next to the latest convent being renovated to make way for more flats, in the Catholic libraries on sale for one euro to make way for the latest Hans Urs von Balthasar monstrosity. The Faheys, McNabbs, Cahills and dozens of other Irish heroes await fresh converts to the cause of the social teaching of the Church and the awakening that follows.
IHS Books continue to fight the good fight in the reprinting of two such works by someone whose name arguably deserves to be mentioned alongside such men. John Senior, was best known for his outstanding work as leader of the University of Kansas Integrated Humanities Program, which he developed and ran with two colleagues at the University. The programmes aim was to convince students that there is a truth, and that the truth is worth knowing; its controversial method was the cultivation of poetic knowledge, through real-life immersion in reading, memorisation, and discussion of the classics of Western thought, art, and literature. Its controversial outcome was hundreds of conversions to Catholicism.

However Senior is best known for two outstanding books he wrote titled The Death of Christian culture and The Restoration of Christian culture. They have been printed and reprinted on a number of occasions by different publishers, always ending up out of print due to high demand and just when the publishers think that there is no more interest, a new generation of converts to the cause mature and once again there is a thirst for these two gems.

Seniors Thomistic style of writing is enjoyable, often positing a negative view before putting forward a positive, for example on home schooling:

Although there is a certain degree of looking inward that is necessary to families at times, it seems to me that home schooling can lead to a unique danger of looking inward too much in a way that can stir up pettiness and concerns growing way out of proportion with their reality. For our family, home schooling makes it easier to look outward because were doing it as a family and helping our children begin to understand how to live out their faith in charity to others and to begin to see that the Church has the answers to what troubles people in the world. How does one look outward? Sometimes it involves allowing the book-learning to be less-than-perfect in order to spend time on other important things – community involvement, Church activities, works of charity, etc. Many of these will provide opportunities to gain that wonderful thing called Perspective. Another aspect of this is books and movies that make us think and grow – especially those that require some sorting out and making distinctions… together.

These books can in some ways be compared to a series of sermons on topics social, cultural, and political. They sound the alarm regarding the continuing extinction of the cultural patrimony of ancient Greece, Rome, medieval Europe, and the early modern period of Western civilization, owing to the pervasive bureaucratisation, mechanisation, and standardisation of the increasingly materialistic lives of those living in the first world. Moving beyond mere criticism, however, the sermons offer challenging and provocative ideas for recapturing the cultural traditions bequeathed to the West and to the world by its giants of classical and Christian history. The admirable aim of these two books is the bringing of the wisdom of Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, to note just a few, into touch with the social, political and personal life of the modern citizens of Western civilisation.

In his moving introduction to the Restoration volume, Seniors son Andrew remarks:

The printing of this new edition is the cause of great delight and renewed hope that all is not yet lost. The fact that there has been so much interest in and finally a demand for it is itself a sign of the efficacious nature of this work. It is hoped that this book will provide a vision of Christian culture, and light the way for yet another generation.

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