Anthony Esolen has a biting style similarly adopted by C. S. Lewis in Screwtape Letters. The premise of his book is to give you a list of 10 premises that will destroy your child's imagination. Of course the book is actually full of bits and pieces of beautiful classical literature and ideas that one would never want their child to read should they want them to mature into a thinking adult! Heaven forbid!
What I think I loved most about this book was that it gave words to me to explain several things I have always inherently felt, but could not articulate. One example is why, oh why, boys don't want to altar serve anymore now that girls are doing it (in a parish that allows both genders the opportunity.) Really, I've always felt it was important for boys to be up on the altar and had even resisted the possibility of having my daughter serve. Upon reading this and sharing it with my husband, we've pulled our daughter from that activity. No spoilers, sorry.
So here is a list. I assure you he offers many ways to counter these methods throughout the book:
- Method 1: Keep Your Children Indoors as Much as Possible (or They Used to Call It "Air")
- Method 2: Never Leave Children to Themselves (or If Only We Had a Committee)
- Method 3: Keep Children Away from Machines and Machinists (or All Unauthorized Personnel Prohibited)
- Method 4: Replace the Fairy Tale with Political Clichés and Fads (or Vote Early and Often)
- Method 5: Cast Aspersions upon the Heroic and Patriotic (or We Are All Traitors Now)
- Method 6: Cut All Heroes Down to Size (or Pottering with the Puny)
- Method 7: Reduce All Talk of Love to Narcissism and Sex (or Insert Tab A into Slot B)
- Method 8: Level Distinctions between Man and Woman (or Spay and Geld)
- Method 9: Distract the Child with the Shallow and Unreal (or The Kingdom of Noise)
- Method 10: Deny the Transcendent (or Fix Above the Heads of Men the Lowest Ceiling of All)
"This book made me want to jump up (very high) and cheer, or run around (very far) and shout warnings. The best way I can think of to save Western culture, next to everyone deciding to become saints, would be for all educators to take this uncommonly commonsensical book to heart. A worthy successor to C. S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man." -- Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy, Boston CollegeI started reading his book on Western Civilization while the kids were sick and LOVE IT. I had no good education in history, so reading this book has been both enlightening and entertaining. I got my copy from the library, but the hubby insisted I buy a copy after reading a few selected sections.
When I get around to reading Dante, it is Esolen's translations I will seek.