Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Death of Christian Culture And The Restoration of Christian Culture

Press Release from IHS Press

An exclusive republication of two crucial works on modern civilization by one of the most insightful literary and social critics of our time.

When it was first published in 1978, the Death of Christian Culture was long awaited and sold out quickly. It is a hard-hitting and scholarly tour de force, dealing with the root causes of how and why Christian culture is dying. Its method is the in-depth but always provocative and engaging study of literature, culture, history, and religion. Its aim is to alert citizens of Western civilization of what we stand to loose as education ceases to be about teaching the truth and more and more about merely bureaucratic training and ticket-punching. Its value is the warning it provides to concerned people everywhere that the cultural, literary, artistic, and social treasures of classical and Christian civilization must be preserved and lived, lest they be lost forever.

The Restoration of Christian Culture is a sequel of sorts to its companion, the Death. When it was first published in 1983, it was even more eagerly awaited and sold even more quickly, owing to the rapidly spreading fame of its predecessor. Restoration has been compared to a series of sermons – like spiritual reading that one comes back to again and again – but on topics social, cultural, and political. Picking up where Death leaves off, the Restoration continues to sound the alarm regarding the continuing extinction of the cultural patrimony of ancient Greece, Rome, medieval Europe, and the early modern period of Western civilization, owing to the pervasive bureaucratization, mechanization, and standardization of the increasingly materialistic lives of those living in the “first world.” Moving beyond mere criticism, however, the “sermons” in Restoration offer challenging and provocative ideas for recapturing and again living, truly and deeply, the cultural traditions bequeathed to the West and to the world by its giants of classical and Christian history. Bringing the wisdom of Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, to note just a few, into touch with the social, political, and personal life of modern citizens of Western civilization – to make us not just heirs, but fellow citizens of a common culture – is the aim of Restoration. Along with its companion, it has changed, comforted, inspired, and converted countless souls.

Most impressive among John Senior’s numerous credentials as a cultural historian, literary critic, and scholar and practitioner of education is his experience as founder and leader of the University of Kansas Integrated Humanities Program, which he developed and ran with two colleagues at the University. The program was a four-semester course for freshmen and sophomores that combined the best of the Socratic method with the “great books” approach to education, while it was neither of those things alone. Its controversial aim was to convince students that there is a truth, and that the truth is worth knowing; its controversial method was the cultivation of “poetic knowledge,” through real-life immersion in reading, memorization, and discussion of the classics of Western thought, art, and literature. Its controversial outcome was hundreds of conversions to Catholicism. This experience, more than any other, provided fruit for the keen insight and sometimes shocking observations presented in Senior’s books.

IHS Press is pleased to offer these two important works in high-quality paperback editions. Each features a short foreword by Andrew Senior, curator of his father’s work, and a new introduction by David Allen White, Ph.D., Professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, and a world-renowned scholar of Shakespeare and Western literature. For a limited time (through March 2008) the books will be available as a two-volume set, for the heavily discounted price of $29.95, and available separately for prepublication sale at the special price of $17.95.

DR. JOHN SENIOR was born in 1923 in Stamford, Conn. and grew up on rural Long Island, New York. He obtained his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. at Columbia University. He was a professor of English, Comparative Literature, and Classics whose career spanned the latter half of the twentieth century, teaching at Bard College, Hofstra College, Cornell University, the University of Wyoming, and the University of Kansas. He converted to Catholicism in the late 1950s. While at the University of Kansas he founded the controversial Integrated Humanities Program with his colleagues Dennis Quinn and Frank Nelick. Towards the end of his life he became widely known and respected among the pioneers of the movement seeking to preserve Catholic orthodoxy in opposition to the trend of dilution that he believed characterized much of the development of Catholicism after the Second Vatican Council. He knew and counted as friends men such as Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Walter Matt, Michael Davies, Fr. Harry Marchosky, Fr. Vincent Miceli, Fr. Urban Snyder, Dr. William Marra, and Hamish Fraser. He died on April 8, 1999.

ANDREW SENIOR was born in New York City in the borough of Manhattan. He now lives in Manhattan, Kan., which calls itself the Little Apple. He studied under his father and his colleagues Frank Nelick and Dennis Quinn in the 1970s in the controversial Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas, from where he holds degrees (B.A. and M.A.) in Classics. He also did post-graduate study in Rome, at the Angelicum, the Gregorianum, and the Salesianum. He has worked as a Diocesan Director of Religious Education under the late Bishop David Maloney in the Diocese of Wichita, as a producer, director, and editor in television, and as a professor of Latin, English, History, and Philosophy. He currently teaches at St. Mary’s College, in St. Mary’s, KS.

DR. DAVID ALLEN WHITE graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1971. He earned his M.A. from the University of Wisconsin and his Ph.D. from Indiana University. He has taught at Temple University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; he is currently a Professor of English at the United States Naval Academy, where he has taught for 26 years. He edited Shakespeare A to Z, a Shakespeare encyclopedia, and is the author of The Mouth of the Lion and The Horn of the Unicorn. He does a monthly Shakespeare commentary with Hugh Hewitt (KRLA, Los Angeles; nationally syndicated on the Salem Radio Network).

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