March 8, 2011

Book Review - How Should We Then Live? by Francis A. Schaeffer

I was assigned to read this book for the senior seminar of my degree program at Hannibal-LaGrange University in Hannibal, Missouri. Even though this was assigned reading, I had been wanting to read it for some time.
In this book, Francis Schaeffer i charts the rise of western culture in the Greek city-states and the Rome through the middle ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, up to the mid-seventies and the beginnings of our current post-modern age. In this treatise he shows that all of the freedoms that we love and cherish here in the West were founded on Christian principles and, now that our culture is largely abandoning their Christian heritage, our culture is in decline.
One of the most eye-opening quotes in the book is on page 227:
“Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire(1776-1788) said that the following fie attributes marked Rome at its end: first, a mounting love of show and luxury (that is, affluence); second, a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor (this could be among countries in the family of nations as well as in a single nation); third, an obsession with sex, fourth, freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, and enthusiasms pretending to be creativity; fifth, an increased desire to live off the state. It all sounds so familiar. We have come a long road since our first chapter, and we are back in Rome.”
In other words, all the things that once marked Rome in its decline, now mark our culture.

What I Liked:
This book really opened my eyes to how all of the intellectual movements over the last 2,000 years are linked together. I especially appreciated how Schaeffer showed how the various philosophical movements were linked to the various artistic movements, and how these, in turn, effected society. There is much more that could be said here, but this must suffice for now.

What I Didn't Like:
Nothing to put here.

My Rating:
5 out of 5

iRecognized internationally for his work in Christianity and culture, Francs A. Schaeffer authored more than twenty books, which have been translated into many languages and have sold millions worldwide. Schaeffer passed away in 1984, but his influence and legacy continue worldwide. - taken from the back cover.

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