SANCTITY OF LIFE SATURDAY Book Review: ‘The Race To Save Our Century’ Blog author: ehilton Monday, September 29, 2014 By Elise Hilton

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Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

Dr. Francis Schaeffer: Whatever Happened to the Human Race Episode 1 ABORTION

Dr. Francis schaeffer – The flow of Materialism(from Part 4 of Whatever happened to human race?)

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical flow of Truth & History (intro)

Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of History & Truth (1)

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of Truth & History (part 2)

Francis Schaeffer noted “If there are no absolutes by which to judge society, then society is absolute.” This is very similar to what I heard John Zmirak say on American Family Radio on 10-28-14. Here is a review of his latest book.

Book Review: ‘The Race To Save Our Century’
Blog author: ehilton
Monday, September 29, 2014
By Elise Hilton

RaceSaveCentury-finalforrealthistimeWe are only 14 years into this century, and things are grim…but not hopeless. That’s the message of the book, The Race to Save Our Century: Five Principles to Promote Peace, Freedom and a Culture of Life. The book is a collaboration between Jason Scott Jones and John Zmirak. Jones is a human-rights activist and filmmaker (his works include Bella and Crescendo.) Zmirak is a prolific author, known best for his theologically accurate but tongue-in-cheek books on Catholicism, such as The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism: A Faithful, Fun-Loving Look at Catholic Dogmas, Doctrines, and Schmoctrines.

The Race to Save Our Century is a slim volume, but not a quick read. There is much to mull over here. With chapters like “Total War” and “Utopian Collectivism,” it’s best to take this book slowly. You don’t want to miss any of the good stuff.

The 20th century, by any account, was a bloody mess, and the authors of this book don’t want us to repeat the terrible mistakes humanity visited upon itself in that 100 years. What do they propose?

Part of their prescription for what ails us is to closely examine our mistakes. That is: look at evil from the inside. They point to the likes of Solzhenitsyn and C. S. Lewis as guides. “Like an autopsy,” the authors say, “it’s an ugly but sometimes necessary work.” Therefore, they dig into the dirt of racism, collectivism, distributism, hedonism. What makes these ideologies evil? Why must we reject them? And even more important, are we humans capable of sustaining goodness?

Can we be good? When we are faced with the grave temptation to cooperate with evil, to “go along to get along,” rather than speak out and take a risk, how will subhumanism help us?…The only effective answer to the banality of evil is a thriving, vigorous, spirited sense of what is good. Mankind is good, and it is good that he flourishes in freedom and dignity, even if sometimes he suffers.

The second part of the book then takes up what we must do in order to bolster this good. We must base all that we do on the radical ideal that each human being is precious, unique, valuable and made in God’s image and likeness. To proceed without this basis is foolhardy at best, deadly at worst. We must recognize a transcendent moral order, a law etched in the heart of man, that gives us a “firm anchor” rather than warm fuzzy platitudes.

Only such a code, carved in stone with the chisel of rigorous reasoning, will serve to restrain selfish interests and ideological passions and preserve the dignity of the human person.

The authors go on to explain both the essence and the need for subsidiarity and solidarity, ideas familiar to those who know Catholic social teaching. Subsidiarity is the remedy for totalitarianism, which is government run amok, invading all aspects of an individual’s life. Truth is trampled and “rights” are granted and taken away by government, not by God. Subsidiarity allows for the people to form their own associations of their own free will, solve issues on a personal and local level, and not be restricted by the “blunt force of the state.”

Solidarity, say the authors, is the simple and timeless act of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is the “debt of respect” we owe each person, because we recognize their unique nature, made in the image and likeness of God.

Finally, the authors state that we need a “humane economy,” as envisioned by Wilhelm Röpke:

The word “humane” conveys what we mean, both in its literal meaning and in the connotations of kindness that it carries: man’s dignity demands an economic system that provides for his needs, enables his efforts, and takes account of both his self-centered drives and his fundamentally social nature.

In the book’s final chapter, Jones and Zmirak ask, “How did we get here?” That is, how did we find ourselves mired in this subhuman, post-Christian, hostile and often deadly world? Bluntly: we created it. We humans have spent much of the past 100 years telling ourselves the age-old lie that we know better than God, we have a better plan for humanity, faith is archaic and unnecessary and reliance on God passé. We ate the apple.

Again, this is a short book, but heavy on both ideas and ideals. The authors kindly add suggested reading at the end of each chapter; a necessary feature, as they tackle big issues in a short space. However, the book stands on its own as both history lesson and sound warning: we are in danger of repeating the bloody century that preceded this one. We are both at fault and in control. Jones and Zmirak make sense of chaos, “cruelty and smallness of soul” and raise the call for loyalty, decency and courage.

 

T h e Age of Personal Peace and Afflunce

I. By the Early 1960s People Were Bombarded From Every Side by Modern Man’s Humanistic Thought

II. Modern Form of Humanistic Thought Leads to Pessimism

Regarding a Meaning for Life and for Fixed Values

A. General acceptance of selfish values (personal peace and affluence) accompanied rejection of Christian consensus.

1. Personal peace means: I want to be left alone, and I don’t care what happens to the man across the street or across the world. I want my own life-style to be undisturbed regardless of what it will mean — even to my own children and grandchildren.

2. Affluence means things, things, things, always more things — and success is seen as an abundance of things.

B. Students wish to escape meaninglessness of much of adult society.

1. Watershed was Berkeley in 1964.

2. Drug Taking as an ideology: “turning on” the world.

3. Free Speech Movement on Sproul Plaza.

a) At first neither Left nor Right.

b) Soon became the New Left.

(1) Followed Marcuse.

(2) Paris riots.

4. Student analysis of problem was right, but solution wrong.

5. Woodstock, Altamont, and the end of innocence.

6. Drug taking survives the death of ideology but as an escape.

7. Demise of New Left: radical bombings.

8. Apathy supreme. The young accept values of the older generation: their own idea of personal peace and affluence, even though adopting a different life-style.

C. Marxism and Maoism as pseudo-ideals.

1. Vogue for idealistic communism which is another form of leap into the area of non-reason.

2. Solzhenitsyn: violence and expediency as norms of communism.

3. Communist repression in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

4. Communism has neither philosophic nor historic base for freedom. There is no base for “Communism with a human face.”

5. Utopian Marxism steals its talk of human dignity from Christianity.

6. But when it comes to power, the desire of majority has no meaning.

7. Two streams of communism.

a) Those who hold it as an idealistic leap.

b) Old-line communists who hold orthodox communist ideology and bureaucratic structure as it exists in Russia.

8. Many in West might accept communism if it seemed to give peace and affluence.

III. Legal and Political Results of Attempted Human Autonomy

A. Relativistic law.

1. Base for nonarbitrary law gone; only inertia allows a few principles to survive.

2. Holmes and sociological (variable) law.

3. Sociological law comes from failure of natural law (see evolution of existential from rationalistic theology).

4. Courts are now generating law.

5. Medical, legal, and historical arbitrariness of Supreme Court ruling on abortion and current abortion practice.

B. Sociological law opens door to racism, abrogation of freedoms,  euthanasia, and so on.

IV. Social Alternatives After Death of Christian Consensus

A. Hedonism? But might is right when pleasures conflict.

B. Without external absolute, majority vote is absolute. But this justifies a Hitler.

V. Conclusion

A. If there is no absolute by which to judge society, then society is absolute.

B. Humanist thinking—making the individual and mankind the center of all things (autonomous) — has led to death in our culture and in our political life.

Note: Social alternatives after the death of Christian consensus are continued in Episode Ten.

Questions

1. What was the basic cause of campus unrest in the sixties? What has happened to the campus scene since, and why?

2. What elements — in the life and thought of the communist and noncommunist world alike — suggest a possible base for world agreement?

3. “To prophesy doom about Western society is premature. We are, like all others who have lived in times of great change, too close to the details to see the broader picture. One thing we do know:

Society has always gone on, and the most wonderful epochs have followed the greatest depressions. To suggest that our day is the exception says more about our headache than it does about our head.” Debate.

4. As Dr. Schaeffer shows, many apparently isolated events and options gain new meaning when seen in the context of the whole. How far does your own involvement in business, law, financing, and so on reveal an acquiescence to current values?

Key Events and Persons

Oliver Wendell Holmes: 1841-1935

Herbert Marcuse: 1898-1979

Alexander Solzhenitsyn: 1917-

Hungarian Revolution: 1956

Free Speech Movement: 1964

Czechoslovakian repression: 1968

Woodstock and Altamont: 1969

Radical bombings: 1970

Supreme Court abortion ruling: 1973

Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago: 1973-74

Further Study

Keeping one’s eyes and ears open is the most useful study project: the prevalence of pornographic films and books, more and more suggestive advertising and TV shows, and signs of arbitrary absolutes.

The following books will repay careful reading, and Solzhenitsyn, though long and horrifying, should not be skipped.

Os Guinness, The Dust of Death (1973).

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago: Parts I-II (1973), Parts III-IV (1974).

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