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Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Rod Dreher writes this at “Out of Academia’s Ashes.”  He’s writing about Professor Anthony Esolen, who’s been a guest on this show.  I think I’m going to invite Professor Esolen back on the show and talk a little bit about his book now that it’s out.  This pertains to what we’re talking about, the end of Western civ.  Check out today’s transcript for the rest….

Begin Mike Church Show Transcript

Mike:  Rod Dreher writes this at “Out of Academia’s Ashes.”  He’s writing about Professor Anthony Esolen, who’s been a guest on this show.  I think I’m going to invite Professor Esolen back on the show and talk a little bit about his book now that it’s out.  This pertains to what we’re talking about, the end of Western civ.


In the introduction to Out Of The Ashes, his hell-raising book about the collapse of American culture (especially academia), Prof. Anthony Esolen writes, “The ancients had memory.”

He goes on to detail our decline and fall. But this is not merely a lamentation. Esolen writes:

[quoted material]

So we need to clear out the garbage, admit our errors, and rebuild. That requires humility, patience, and determination. But nothing else will do. When your only choices are repentance or oblivion, you repent. It is time to get to work, and that is what this book is about. [Mike: Here’s an excerpt that Dreher has lifted, I guess from probably an Amazon Kindle edition of the book. This is what Professor Esolen, again who has been a guest on this show – you can download the podcast of Professor Esolen’s appearance, I think it was back in January, at  I’ll try to find it for you to make it easier.]

[quoted material]

The old mottoes [of the Ivy League colleges] assumed the existence of God, the moral law, and the beauty of pursuing truth. It is beyond the scope of my essay here to argue the unity of the transcendentals, though I do assert that even a skeptic must find it powerfully suggestive to notice that the secularization of the colleges has been accompanied by a contemptuous denial of the very existence of beauty and by lassitude in the search for truth except as regards that narrow range of truths that can be reduced to the residue of a test tube or expressed in a neat mathematical equation. When you say that what is considered “good” is merely what the politically powerful call good for their own purposes, or that what is considered “beautiful” is merely the result of subrational neurological tics and spasms, you do not merely put obstacles in the path of the young mind. You kill the search for truth in the egg. If there is no truth to be learned from reading Homer, then why bother, except as an archaeological curiosity? If the lesson to be learned from Virgil is the same as that to be learned from the slogans of our time, why spend so much money and time struggling with the Aeneid? What is the point? And indeed professors and students now agree: there is not much of a point. If beauty is reducible to neural promptings, why bother to erect that scaffolding in the Sistine Chapel and lie on your back for months on end, with the paint dripping into your hair and eyes, yourself never farther than one moment of forgetfulness from falling to your death?

[end reading]

Mike:  Of course, he’s talking about Michelangelo painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  What would be the point of painting it today?  Would anyone go there and cast eyes upon it and go, “Wow, that’s beautiful”?  Or would they say, [mocking] “That’s an old, worn-out, hackneyed religion.  Who needs that?”  I suggest the latter, and that’s what he’s lamenting here.


[quoted material]

Walter Pater wrote that all art aspires to the condition of music. We might apply his words to the contemporary university and say that all knowledge aspires to the condition of an empirical experiment and its quantified results. That is what people now assume. Pater might have been correct in his assessment about art; I won’t argue the matter here. But it is certainly not true that the methods for acquiring knowledge of the anatomy of a toad apply also to acquiring knowledge of things that are not toads, as, for one example, what is good and evil.

This is not to say, though, that the colleges have abandoned moral considerations utterly. Relativism is an unstable equilibrium—imagine a pyramid upside down, placed delicately upon its apex. It might make you break out into a cold sweat to stand in its shade. The question is not whether some moral vision will prevail, but which moral vision. The colleges are thus committed to a moral inversion.

[end reading]

Mike:  Folks, that’s what we see today, which is why in the public embrace of all things homosexual, that is an out and out rejection of the order of nature and, therefore, of the creator of the order of nature, of Almighty God.  That’s why it’s always been taboo.  That’s why it’s always been a subject that even some of the barbarian civilizations knew they had to avoid.  What are we doing?  We’re not just not avoiding it, we boast and brag and pridefully embrace it.  Think of the terminology, “gay pride.”  Let’s translate that.  Unnatural pride, pride in a state of nature that is not natural.  If we agree that there is a God, then who or what entity is that an affront to?  I’m telling you out there in the asteroid belt, God keeps nudging asteroids and going: Oh yeah?  Watch this.  He sends them as fly-bys going: I’m warning you clowns, I’m warning you idiots that I nearly wiped out your entire race with a flood once before.  I’ll do it again.  I told you I wouldn’t flood you.  I didn’t say I wouldn’t burn you.  Continuing on with Professor Esolen:


[quoted material]

The colleges are thus committed to a moral inversion. High and noble virtues, especially those that require moral courage, are mocked: gallantry in wartime, sexual purity, scrupulous honesty and plain dealing, piety, and the willingness to subject your thoughts, experiences, and most treasured beliefs to the searching scrutiny of reason. What is valued then? [Mike: This is what we see on college campuses, on television, and reflected back in nearly every form of entertainment media. Here’s how Professor Esolen characterizes it.] Debauchery, perversion, contempt for your supposedly benighted ancestors, lazy agnosticism, easy and costless pacifism, political maneuvering, and an enforcement of a new orthodoxy that in denying rational analysis seeks to render itself immune to criticism. You sink yourself in debt to discover that your sons and daughters have been severed from their faith, their morals, and their reason. [Mike: He’s talking about sinking yourself in debt by sending the kids off to these schools.] Whorehouses and mental wards would be much cheaper. They might well be healthier, too.

[end reading]

End Mike Church Show Transcript

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