Friday, February 6, 2009

The 10 Books That Screwed Up the World

One of my favorite professors in undergrad was Dr. Benjamin Wiker. He is, in my mind, a great leader of young men and women, for many reasons. Firstly, he's extremely amiable. Very few people are agreeable to all. Wiker is one of those few. Secondly, he's incredibly intelligent, and during many a seminar discussing Spencer or Aquinas, Virgil or Plutarch, he could pierce through the conversation with a pointed question that would immediately and correctly guide the course of a misdirected discussion. One can only do this with a thorough understanding of the text. Thirdly, he genuinely cares about the moral and intellectual development of his students, and this is probably his most rare trait, given today's rampant atheism and intellectual pride in academia. Last, but certainly not least, he has a fantastic sense of humor, laying down great pun after great pun. It was truly a sad day for Thomas Aquinas College when he left for other, more barren fields to plow.

No, this is not a eulogy for Dr. Wiker. He's still alive and well. But I'm compelled to write about him because I JUST READ A POST OVER AT SALVO by the post-Darwinian warrior Denyse O'Leary, about a book Dr. Wiker has recently written: 10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn't Help. Learning that Mrs. O'Leary is a fan of Dr. Wiker makes me an even bigger fan of both.

Trust me when I say that Dr. Wiker writes like he leads a seminar: unpresuming but unrelenting, humble but confident, funny but quite serious.

While, without a thorough grounding in political theory beginning with Aristotle and carried through de Toqueville, it may be a little difficult to see all the reasons why Marx & Engels' Manifesto screwed up our world, but Dr. Wiker will quite simply explain, in the language of common sense and without pre-fabricated vocabulary, why it is so. And so it will be with his dissection of the other evil books of Western Civilization, whether their subject is natural philosophy, scientific method, psychoanalysis, or political theory.

If you are still requiring a little push to drop the whopping Twenty Bucks on the book, I recall a line from Dorothy Sayer's FANTASTIC ESSAY (Seriously. Print this out and read it) entitled "The Lost Tools of Learning":
"We who were scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armored tanks with rifles, are not scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world to fight massed propaganda with a smattering of "subjects"; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotized by the arts of the spell binder, we have the impudence to be astonished"
So please, pick up a copy now. Read it. Learn from it. Absorb it. Share it. Then go read the original texts yourself. That is how we will destroy the beast that has become intellectual apathy rampant in American society.

You owe me a beer, Ben.
Actually, I owe a good deal of my intellectual life, and a great deal of my sense of wonder, to you.

1 comment:

The Nicely Family said...

I read another of Dr. Wikers books, written with Scott Hahn, refuting the "new atheistim" of Dawkins. I can attest that his writing is just as you describe.

I didn't realize that Dr. Wiker was both a local and formative to you. Based on his writing, I see why he was.

I'll add his book to my list in the hope that it will help partially offset my poor, but very marketable, public education.