Out of the Ashes: Anthony Esolen’s Clarion Call to Restore Culture, Faith, and Sanity
by Michael Bradley, Public Discourse:
[…] “I shall decry the decay of civilization,” Esolen announces at the outset of his newest book, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture. And decry he most certainly does. His diagnosis of American culture is almost shocking in its candor—“pungent,” as the book’s dust jacket describes Esolen—but it is all the more sound for that.
The form of Esolen’s criticism fits its content. Chapter One, subtitled “The Restoration of Truth-Telling,” inaugurates a book-length, withering critique of the web of lies pulsating at the heart of American culture. This web is spun and maintained by the “mass” institutions: media, business, entertainment, and government. The most impressive obstacle to restoration of culture is the persistent insistence that unreality is real: that boys can be girls, that men and women are the same, that the unborn child is not a person, that divorce is okay for ourselves and the kids, that literature (especially poetry) and culture are fungible subjects of inquiry, and so on. And we aren’t simply mistaken about such things, according to Esolen. “Children lie to hide the bad things they have done,” he says. “So does everyone else.”