Friday, February 13, 2009

Review: How To Win the Culture War

A Christian Battle Plan for a Society in Crisis
by Peter Kreeft
Inter-Varsity Press, 2002, softcover, 120 pages

We are at war. No, not Iraq or Afghanistan. I'm talking about a much longer, more profoundly dangerous war. One whose victims number not in the thousands but in the millions. It is the war between the culture of Life and the culture of Death, also known as the Culture War.

That is the war this book is about.

I first read this book when it came out several uears ago; I re-read it a few weeks ago, and realized that I have matured as a Christian in the intervening period. The answers that struck me as not practical back then, I now realize to be eminently so. Grounded as they are in ultimate realities, they are far more real -- and practical -- than any tome chock-full of "TO DO" lists.

As Dr. Kreeft says in the Introduction,
"To win any war, ... the nine most necessary things to know are the following:
  1. that you are at war
  2. who your enemy is
  3. what kind of war you are in
  4. what the basic principle of this kind of war is
  5. what the enemy's strategy is
  6. where the main battlefield is
  7. what weapon will defeat the enemy
  8. how to acquire this weapon
  9. why you will win
This book is Kreeft's attempt to provide us with at least this information. In writing it, he does not pull any punches. He readily admits that some will be offended. Yet, if this is so, it is because some are not willing to accept the truth. It may not warm our hearts to hear that our culture is dying, but knowing the truth is a vital first step to overcoming the culture of death.

We live in a time of confusion, in which basics realities are disregard and many seem to have simply given up exercising their power of reason and handing their minds over to whoever entertains them best. For example, consider who are the real enemies in the culture war. No, it's not liberals, or secularists, or Moslems, or indeed any group of human beings. Stumped? The book reminds us that, as the catechisms say, the real enemies are sin and the devil.

Again, what of the enemy's strategy? It is brilliant in its simplicity: attack the foundations of society -- the family, life, and reason. In two impressive chapters, we see the connection between all the attacks, and learn the methods, thereby also learning how to counter them. Specifically, he shows how the sexual revolution was the primary route to our cultural demise and remains the primary battlefield. Indeed, he argues that "we cannot win the culture war unless we win the sex war, because sex has become the effective religion of our culture." Pope John Paul II's theology of the body can help us mount the counter-revolution.

I enjoyed Kreeft's use of satirical wit to skewer many a foolish notion, and indeed to show us just how ridiculous are some of the ideas we take for granted. This little book should go a long way to clearing away the accumulated errors and replacing them with good, healthy dose of Truth.

If you are interested in defeating the culture of death and building a culture of life, I highly recommend this book.

A shorter, earlier version of this essay with only 3 main points may be found in the EWTN library.

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