2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shows its age, but still a strong critique of western thought and culture
The value of this critique is perhaps best noted in the key ideas that spring from it and seem to provide explanatory power for much of the modern condition. The "upper story/lower story" dichotomy of values is just as strong today as ever. We can also see that Schaeffer's indictment of the impoverished modern values of "personal peace and affluence" is applicable today...
Published on Oct. 18 2010 by Rodge
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking --but it only goes so far.
Previous reviewers have called this a wonderful book, Schaeffer's best, and a book with a Christian agenda. Their ratings vary from best to worst. This reader thinks they are all correct. Schaeffer does present us with an effective sketch of Western Culture from Plato to the 1960's. He does provide an interesting framework within which to understand the ebbs and flows...
Published on July 18 2001 by Todd C. Truffin
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow,
This has to be one of the best books on this subject available thus far. It's *very* easy to understand, and it's not long or drawn out. Basically Schaeffer divides man and his view on the world into two categories; belief in an infinite God vs. humanism (belief in the absence of an infinite deity). The first creates a solid basis for morales, ethics and right and wrong. Man has *meaning* and a *purpose* in the world, something to hold on to and develop a strong sense of direction from. The latter induces that the world is of random chance (the big bang theory) and that man is nothing more than a machine. Morales are subjective to each person, a personal decision. There is no base for right or wrong, or good or evil. Man loses his sense of direction and ultimately, he falls. Schaeffer also provides a deep analysis of how science, in it's infancy, was based on the belief of and infinite God and how the early scientists were almost all Christian, like Newton. He describes the failure of the humanistic scientist back then and it's defeat against the Christian science and it's transition into the vice-versa of modern day. A fantastic read!
3.0 out of 5 stars Let us consider a case in point....,
....such as the "reader from California," for those of you considering a first-time purchase of a Schaeffer book. If you bring up a list of Schaeffer's books for sale on Amazon, you will see that at least three or four of his books have been reviewed by a certain induhvidual "from California" who claims to be intelligent and informed. Schaeffer probably isn't the best theologian of the 20th century, but do not let this reader's sad reviews dissuade you from a purchase. This "Californian" hated the first one, the second one, the third one, etc. Yet, what kind of intelligent life form wastes so much time on such apparently valueless work and such apparently clueless friends? Perhaps someone with a penchant for lies, or--in the unlikely event that he actually read the books he claims to have read--an unhealthy streak of masochism. Again, pay no attention. You might find Schaeffer convincing, you might not. You will not, however, find him reviewing things he has not studied at all.
Please, Senor California, e-mail me and tell me where you've published your own stunning analysis of western history: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you haven't published, don't e-mail me. I've got no time to waste.
5.0 out of 5 stars A compact history of western culture.,
In this intriguing, thought-provoking, interesting work, Schaeffer analyzes the rise of Western culture (after the fall of Rome) and why the current society seems in such disaray. Schaeffer's thesis is bascially this: that the reason the world in which we live is in such chaos is because we no longer have a moral and ethical foundation to build upon. In as much detail as possible (that roughly 260 pages allows) Schaffer illustrates that it was because of the Judeo-Christian value-foundation of Western civilization that the rise of Western culture occurred and that it is because of the forsaking of that value base that has brought about a decline in our current civilization. Schaeffer examines everything from philosophy to history to literature to music to cinema to support his point. Though not all may agree with what Schaeffer writes, this book is full of useful information, is quite thought-provoking, and provides some great reading.
1.0 out of 5 stars Intellectual Foundation of the Modern Christian Right,
By A Customer
The reader from Texas has this absolutely correct.
One cannot understand current Conservative defense of privilege, property, and patriarchy without reference to this author.
This guy rivals Joseph Cambell with an all-inclusive unified vision of culture where everything has meaning: (Before the Calvinist Reformation = Bad; Calvinist Reformation = Good; After the Calvinist Reformation = Bad; 20th Century = Excremental, particularly art, music, literature, film, political thought, sexual expression, etc. etc...)
To see where this slippery slope leads, one need only check in with Francis Schaeffer's son, Frank Schaeffer, who edits a journal called "The Christian Activist" which openly advocates Orthodox Theocracy - sort of a Christian Taliban.
It appears Frank Schaeffer has honestly examined the logical conclusions of his father's presuppositions...
1.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable incompetence and discredit,
By A Customer
Reading such a book containing that many historical and philosophical mistakes is appalling. And seeing that all these Christian reviewers give such high marks to such a compilation of mistakes says much about their poor discernment capacities. And these guys want us to believe they have the truth? I admit that some Christian authors produce academic or otherwise serious books, but what should I think when I see that Christian readers cannot discern (among their own books) the good ones from the awful piece of drivel such as this present book? I agree with the reviewer below (name: Klebanoff, Dec. 1998; whom I understand is an atheist like me): this book is worthless, save your money. Read instead Drange's nonbelief. And I will not recommend the books by better, serious Christian thinkers, that's their problem, they have to know themselves their more acceptable, serious books.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Intellectual Foundation of the Modern Christian Right,
If you want to understand the terms of the culture war, and why so many people are dedicated to restoring Christian values in our society, read this book. Schaeffer explains his world view in terms of a divinely inspired Bible, it's truths, and why they are true. There's more, too. Even for the skeptic, this book provides an excellent background (used as supporting evidence) in Western culture, arts, philosophy, music, and architecture from the Roman Empire days until present. Schaeffer, in his 40 years of study and skepicism himself found the truth of the Bible and God's revelation alive in just about all mankind does. An excellent book. An excellent reference. Schaeffer is in the same league as C.S. Lewis and "Mere Christianity".
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life Changing Book,
Not many people know that there was a 10 episode film series with the same title, and that there is a paper back study guide that compliments this book. I first read this book 22 years ago when I was trying to figure out why the world was going to hell in a handbasket. It answered a lot of my questions and made me ask more questions. I rate this as one of the 10 most important books I've read in my lifetime, and I'm getting to be an old lady now. I'm getting ready to read it again because I feel it has a new relevance for our time in light of the persecution of Christianity in the public arena. I also bring to your attention his book, A Christian Manifesto. If you seek true wisdom born of knowledge, this is your book!
2.0 out of 5 stars If only reality were so simple...,
By A Customer
I was drawn to Francis Schaeffer because of his reputation as a "scholarly" apologist, and I came away from this book impressed with the scope of his knowledge. Unfortunately, Mr. Schaeffer's considerable erudition is misused, and the book is essentially a series of bald assertions, questionable generalizations, and gross oversimplifications. (His caricature of Aldous Huxley borders on the slanderous.) Mr. Shaeffer is not analyzing history; he is filtering it to find support for his predetermined conclusions. Sympathetic readers might find his arguments compelling; I found them appallingly specious.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,
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This review is from: How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Paperback)
There are few books that age well. With few exceptions 'How Should We Then Live' is as relevant today as when it was written at the tail end of the seventies beginning of the eighties.
For anyone looking for an overlay of Christian Church history over particularly western world history, this book is a must read. Intelligently written, thoroughly researched and accessible to the man in the street. It leaves the reader with an overview of world events, and how secular humanism has usurped the Church's place out from under the foundations of the western world view.
5.0 out of 5 stars "As a man thinketh, so is he.",
Schaeffer's analysis of a world which chooses to deny theexistence of a supreme Creator is dead on. Furthermore, the facts of history bear out Schaeffer's most poignant assertion--men tend to live according to their presuppositions whether or not they realize they are doing so. Man's pessimism in a world which he believes to have been created by time plus chance alone follows from his denial of the Christian worldview. Nonetheless, humanist man still struggles to sow meaning from a meaningless foundation. Schaeffer shows with compassion and honesty that Christianity is the cure for a hurting world.
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How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture by Francis A. Schaeffer (Paperback - Feb. 15 2005)
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