What do you do when an entire civilization is crumbling around you? You do everything. This is a book about how to get started.
Providence College professor Anthony Esolen, blunt and prophetic, makes the case that the decay of Western civilization is alarmingly advanced. Our sickly, sub-pagan state resembles a bombed-out city.
We have to assess the damage, but merely lamenting it does no good. There is work to be done.
The first step is the restoration of truth. America’s most powerful institutionsincluding the governmentare mass producers of deceit. We have to recognize the lies and clear our minds of cant.
Our culture produces only the drab or the garish. We must restore beautyin art, architecture, music, and worship.
There are two things wrong with our schoolseverything our children don’t learn in them, and everything they do learn. Public schools are beyond reform; we have to start over.
Our universities are as bad as our schools. A few can be saved, but for the most part, we must build new ones. In fact, this is already being done. We have to support these efforts as if our children’s souls depended on it.
Repudiating the Sexual Revolution, that prodigious engine of misery, requires more than zipping up. The modern world has made itself ignorant about sexin particular that there are two of them and they’re profoundly different. We must restore manhood and womanhood.
In our servile economy, we raise bureaucrats not craftsmen. We must rediscover how to make things that are beautiful and lastingthe products of human work. And we must dispense with the rent-seekers”the proliferating middlemen whose own work contributes nothing.
We have turned sports into a job for our children. Instead of playing we work out.” A genuine civilization is based on celebration. We must restore play to human life, seeing all the other days of the week in light of the Sabbath.
The gigantic scale of government has made us a nation of idiots,” incapable of attending to public affairs and the common good. We must insist that the Constitution is not whatever judges say it is, complying with but not obeying their edicts while we reclaim our freedom of religion one outdoor procession, one public lecture, one parish picnic at a time.
We must love this world, but we have here no abiding city. The great division is between those who place all their hope in the present life and those who know that we are pilgrims. There is no retreat, but take couragewe have our map. Let us begin.
Anthony Esolen is a professor of English at Providence College and a senior editor of Touchstone magazine. He is the editor and translator of several epic poems, including the three volumes of Dante's Divine Comedy. His published works include Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child (2015) and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (2008). He lives in Rhode Island with his wife, Debra, and his two children.
Reading Anthony Esolen is a bit like a ride on your favorite roller coaster. Out of
the Ashes is an astonishing combination of energy, humor, insight, and exceptional
erudition, topped off by a vivid personal style and a special gift for tweaking the
nose of secularist nonsense-peddlers. If you’re looking for a guide to our current
cultural predicament (and how to fix it), one that’s sobering and invigorating at
the same time, start with this book.”
CHARLES J. CHAPUT, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia
Anthony Esolen is one of our nation’s best writers because he’s one of our best
thinkers. Out of the Ashes is vintage Esolen: eloquent, bold, insightful, profound.”
RYAN T. ANDERSON, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation,
and author of Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious
Our culture suffers from many debilitating diseases. Anthony Esolen’s voice is a
much-needed tonic. Here’s hoping America heeds his counsel.”
R. R. RENO, editor of First Things and author of Resurrecting the Idea of a
Out of the Ashes is a full-throated, stout-hearted call to armssoul-stirring,
uncompromising, and irresistible.”
ROD DREHER, author of The Benedict Option