In Praise of Books, One in Particular

I have read some remarkable books over my lifetime. Like other serious readers, I have a list of writers and books to which I return again and again. Some names on my list of enduring favorite literary writers are known to many: Flannery O’Connor, Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Cormac McCarthy, Hawthorne, Melville, Eudora Welty, and Faulkner. There are others on my list of enduring favorites, but I return to these writers’ wells of wisdom again and again.

The same is true when I study history. There are scholars who write books too important to neglect if you are a thoughtful person. Carl Trueman, once again, has written a book that merits close reading and examination. Pictured above, it is a 2020 publication. In short, it examines how modern man arrived where he is. Where is he, exactly? Well, he’s a therapeutic, psychological, confused, ‘feely’, emotive, self-referential mess.

Most honest people acknowledge the West is amidst a massive cultural sea-change. The hangover from postmodernism has left a world reeling where logic is out but victimhood is in. Character is out but intersectionality is in. Male and female are out but alleged ‘non-binaries’ are in. We’re in a post-Christian, post-logical, post-coherence world.

And Trueman explores the antecedent thinkers who enabled it: Foucault, Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, Rousseau, Wordsworth, Darwin, Shelley, Blake, and more. Relying heavily upon paradigms proposed by thinkers Philip Rieff, Charles Taylor, and Alasdair MacIntyre, Trueman wrestles with their models of explaining how we got into such a mess.

If you do not have a background in theology, philosophy, history, or ideas, don’t be scared off. Trueman’s writing is so clear, so compelling, so well-documented and explained, you will not get lost. He will hold your attention. This book is that good. Read it. Think about the challenges he raises. And think about his call for the redeemed community to once again act with courage, clarity, and conviction.

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