Wednesday, May 20, 2015


ed. by John Zmirak

Why You'll Like This Book:
  • This book can help save you from intellectual destruction. The series of essays ranges from "Sentamentalism" to "Utilitarianism", taking on Hedonists, Relativists, Cynics, and more.
  • There is a great recommended reading list at the end of each essay. More books to read! (In fact, I think this is my favourite aspect of this whole book.)

And Why You Might Not:
  • A bunch of the essays are a bit simplistic and not as nuanced as they could be. The necessary shortness is part of it, of course. But still, many just go over the basics of an opposing point of view, without trying to either add more depth to make it interesting or add other points of view to make it balanced and accurate.

Thoughts: Some notes on some individual essays:
  • I was surprised at how much I didn't actually enjoy Peter Kreeft's essay "Progressivism". I agreed with his central point, but not with a lot of the other things he said, i.e. I think there are a lot of problems with the opposite of Progressivism (such as Conservatism) that he isn't acknowledging.
  • Jimmy Akin's essay "Anti-Catholicism", disappointed me as well in its focus on Protestantism. Not that those errors can't catch you off-guard as well, but there is so much more than that in this modern world. Personally, I almost never come across a strong Protestant form of anti-Catholicism, except in small, concentrated doses in specific places. But in general, the Protestants I've known have thought me a Christian like them, though disagreeing on some major points. It's the secular and atheistic anti-Catholicism that is much more interesting to me, and in my opinion, much more dangerous.
  • "Utilitarianism" by Fr. Dwight Longenecker was one of my favourites, mostly because of the discussion of the historical roots of the problem. It was also laid out in a nice clear way, though a bit simplistic due to the space constraints.
  • "Consumerism" was, surprisingly enough, another one of my favourites. It's not an issue I think about a lot, but I might a bit more now--I found this rather inspiring. The story of the Amish was also really interesting, of the "fake" Amish as well as the amount of leisure and joy the "real" Amish actually had.
  • "Feminism" by Donna Steichen was not nearly a subtle enough take on this issue, in my opinion. Neither were "Multiculturalism" by Robert Spencer or "Modernism" by John Zulhsdorf. Maybe because those are the issues that have captured me, though! Who knows.
  • Mark Shea's, "Americanism", was also one of my favourites. I always enjoy Mark Shea's work, if he's not too angry about something. But when he's calm (i.e. not ranting about stupidity on his blog), he's remarkably clear-headed and balanced in his views. He understand more than perhaps any of the rest of the essayists in this book that disagreeing with one extreme does not mean you have to skip happily over to the opposite extreme.

Grade: 2 1/2 stars

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