Book Review: How To Win The Culture War

How To Win The Culture War:  A Christian Battle Plan For A Society In Crisis, by Peter Kreeft

This is the first book by the author I have read (it will not be the last) and it has some similarities with a few other books on the culture war that I have fondly read and reviewed [1].  The author is clearly someone who has read a lot of books relating to religion and culture, and is considered as a notable Catholic philosopher.  This is evident in the book by his desire to build a wide coalition of traditionalists against the forces of social decadence.  He spends a great deal of time in this book reminding the reader who the real enemy is–specifically Satan and his demonic forces, rather than the people with whom we may be at odds, like social liberals, Muslims, and others.  While I cannot say I agreed with everything in the book, and the book as a whole struck me as more postmillennially optimistic than I am personally, it was a feel-good book if you enjoy reading material that relates to our troubled cultural situation in the United States.  The author does not appear to think greatly about divine judgment, but rather about historical judgment, and comes to the same conclusion that barring a moral restoration our civilization is doomed.

This book does not wear out its welcome at just over 100 pages.  Within this efficiently written work are nine short chapters.  After an introduction, the author reminds the reader (if he or she is not aware) of the fact that we are at war culturally speaking.  Most readers will not need the reminder.  After this comes the identity of the enemy on a spiritual level.  The author then writes about true and false spiritual warfare.  The author then discusses Colson’s law, and intriguing reminder that either cops or conscience is needed to police the wanton desires and natural chaos of unredeemed man.  After that the author, somewhat weirdly, copies C.S. Lewis and tries to give Satan a set piece speech discussing his plans for the millennium, which apparently do not involve being bound and restrained in the bottomless pit.  The author then discusses the fiercest battle in the cultural wars–namely sex wars–and discusses what makes these battles so ferocious with a slightly modified and unpleasant dialogue with a gay activist.  The book then ends on three optimistic chapters that look at the secret weapon that will win the war (saints–the author apparently does not expect the return of Jesus Christ in a premillennial fashion), gives some “basic training” on how to be a saint, and gives an optimsitic discussion of why we must win.  The author assumes, probably accurately, that the reader will be among the “we.”

There is a lot that is amusing and witty about the book.  Kreeft is, in general, a congenial sort of philosopher of the sort that would be enjoyable to talk to at a dinner table over good food.  This is not to say that the book is perfect.  Although the book is short and does not overstay its welcome, at the same time there are abrupt shifts in tone.  It is as if Kreeft was a fan of the writings of C.S. Lewis (as I am [2]) but did not separate the various types of work within Lewis’ oeuvre.  There are bits of essays like “God In The Dock” or “Men Without Chests” here, but more than a little bit of the “Screwtape Letters” as well.  It is an awkward fit at times, and the dialogue sections lack a bit of authenticity since the writer is, quite literally at times, playing the devil’s advocate.  I am sure this book was fun to write, but as a reader I would have really preferred it had the author been consistent in tone and a bit more serious-minded than he shows himself to be here.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/12/05/book-review-rules-for-conservative-radicals/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/11/21/book-review-can-god-bless-america/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/02/27/book-review-the-way-of-the-dragon-or-the-way-of-the-lamb/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/04/24/book-review-going-red/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/04/02/book-review-solutions-2016/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/05/book-review-you-will-be-made-to-care/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/tag/c-s-lewis/

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About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christianity, History and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Book Review: How To Win The Culture War

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Letters To An Atheist | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Philosophy Of Jesus | Edge Induced Cohesion

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