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on June 21, 2001
Blamires' concluding words tell the whole story, "The sea of faith is being contaminated by the great oil slick of media innuendo, insult and misrepresentation. A vast campaign is needed to clean up the mess." Just like beach contamination requires an organized army of volunteers to clean up. Christians need an army of voices who will say, "The emperor has no clothes!"
The world believes it's clothed in the splendor of human achievement and progress. We need to speak up and point out how our culture stands naked and ought to feel ashamed. Blamires points out just how far the post-Christian mind has gone.
Particularly poignant are some of the later chapters on 'Freedom of Expression,''Back-to-Nature,' and 'Denigration of Christians.' When Blamires reveals the mindset of critics who laud the hedonistic lifestyle of Oscar Wilde, and decry Gerard Manley Hopkins' foray into the Jesuits, he provides a stark picture of post-Christian values.
J.I. Packer, in the forward, likens Blamire's book to Chesterton's writing. Certain aspects do make the work seem like a later-day _Orthodoxy_, but Blamires lacks the biting sarcasm and the interesting quips that Chesterton pulled off in his critique of Western Civilization at the turn of the previous century. Still, his examples and stories weave a compelling contrast between post-Christian thought and the Christian mind that hold the reader's attention and make for a quick read.
The single weakness appeared to be his chapter on 'Economic Freedom.' He began to dig into issues behind commercialism, but did not continue to dig and left the reader at the surface level wishing he had scratched his thinking down a few more levels through the scrabble and into the stratigraphy below. Michael Novak tackles these economic issues at a deeper level whereas Blamires seems to have overlooked some obvious possibilities. He pretty much resigned us to being slaves to Madison Avenue but failed to consider that we can take a page out of the Amish book and ignore modern media altogether. He did not offer the consideration that Christians buy generic, unadvertised products or form cooperatives and manufacture and sell products that he decries as inflating costs through mindless, post-Christian advertising. He also ignores the possibility of increasing consequences for theft at the end of this chapter.
Despite the one chapter, the book is well worth acquiring and contemplating. You cannot go wrong by an expenditure of time on this work. If anything, it may be the deciding factor in mustering the courage to stand up and tell others, "The emperor has no clothes!"
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on July 25, 2001
I know that if Blamires were to read this, he would want to accuse me of having a "post-Christian" mind, but I finished this book with a sense of discomfort and was not convinced that he wrote a book that was effective in analyzing our Western culture. Its not that I don't sympathize greatly with his points; indeed, the attack on the concept of family, the moral decay of society, etc. are discouraging at best and even frightening.
Nonetheless, Blamires style, instead of coming off as a "wise uncle" as J.I. Packer says, he sounds like a grumpy old man. Amidst some adequate attacks on the post-christain mind, Blamires fondly recalls the Victorian era, mourns the lack of using the King James Bible and the awful "pop-music" that pervades worship in the church today. To him, these are "given by God to English speaking people". Indeed, I am often frustrated by the desire to "modernize" music merely for the sake of attracting youth. But his simplification of what is happening here is far from accurate. This is by no means the sole reason why, for example, some music is made to sound more modern. Did he ever consider that the hymns he loves so dearly (again, as do I) were derived from "popular" tunes of the day? Moreover, some were based on the tunes of bar-songs, but given religious music! Moreover, those who started the writing of the King James Bible at the time were doing something very new and avant garde, precisely for the point of appealing to people who could not read the originals or Latin. As a Reformer, does he no know that his beliefs come from a host of "rebellious" thinkers who turned the theological world upside-down? Again, this is not to say that change for its own purpose is worthwhile; at the same time, change in itself is not always based on some "post-Christian plot" that Blamires so often makes it seem in this writing.
Aside from his anecdotal meandering and lack of point (I did not understand his point in the "Compassion" chapter, for example) the final issue I have with this book is that it is profoundly centred on morality without hardly mentioning the name of Christ! Moreover, few biblical passages are referred to; instead, it comes off sounding like a yearning for "the old times" or, as Blamires refers to it so often, "the times of our grandparents." Let us not forget that, for many of us, the times of our grandparents were the times of the First and/or Second World Wars. Things are not as clear as Blamires contends. Indeed, Tash is not Aslan, but Queen Victoria was no Aslan either.
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on March 6, 2001
Blamires attacks the word abuse which our Post-modern culture uses as a main weapon to deconstruct and decompose the Judeo-Christian world of the past.
Using the family, rights, morality, values, new over old, etc., he masterfully brings our attention and focus back to where it should be: not idly passing over quickly words. Slow down, stop and ponder what is being said.
This book aids in helping us do this. His views on advertising and insurance in the "economic freedom" section are naive. Advertising can not be charged as he tries with adding to the cost of items, rather it keeps products and service costs down. Consider a Christian congregation as but one small example: say that on the average, each member contributes $500/per year, and the average life membership is ten years. Thus, the average contributions the congregation receives per member is 10 years X $500, or $5,000. So, let's say that for one year the congregation spends $2,500 on advertising, and they know for fact that as a result of that effort, one new member was received, who subsequently brought four of the family members into active membership as well that year. Thus, the $2,500 brought in revenue of (using averages) 5 members X $500/year X 10 years, or total average contributions of $25,000. All of this, $25,000 for an expenditure of $2,500. And any marketing executive will tell you the exposure value is there too, and some of it will stretch out for years. Thus, to say simply that each members of the congregation had to pay for $2,500 using some forumula of Number of members divided by Advertising Budget, is non-sense.
Apply this to consumer/industrial markets, and you will find that advertising brings customers/producers together, thus spreading some significant costs over larger customer base, thus reducting cost per unit. Take away advertising, cost per unit will go up. It's supply and demand, which Blamires doesn't seem to consider at all.
His insurance argument about robbers increasing theft is bogus. I would assume insurance industry experts could easily refute his argument, since the drug crisis causes much theft, not the fact that insurance coverage allows thieves some peace of mind that their victims will be covered.
Otherwise, I enjoyed this read and found ample advice. On this same theme of abuse of words, see on pro-life "Who Broke the Baby?" and more profound survey of post-modern mindset, the excellent primer: Postmodern Times by Gene Veith.
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on June 20, 2000
Blamires parses what he calls the post-christian mind, the voice of the popular media, and examines the pieces to show that it is fundamentally antagonistic to the Christian point of view. He flips through newspapers and popular magazines and finds these anti-Christian trends and assumptions as the common prevailing theme. This book is great in that it gives one a more attentive ear when being exposed to pop journalism as well as gives insight into what your neighbor most likely believes, whether she knows it or not.
Blamires does a wonderful job of showing that the battle of a worldview is often in the definition of a word. He examines how words definitions have changed to format the post chritstian mind. The subject matter is contemporary(a downfall of his now somewhat dated although profoundly excellent book The Christian Mind) and his writing is compelling while not losing it's humor. I prefer The Christian Mind because it's aim is more applicable, showing how we should think rather than the destructive pattern of the thoughts of popular journalism. In this way I feel that Blamires falls into crankism, but on the whole I find this book invaluable.
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