We do not need an innovation to solve the complex problems of modern society. We simply need to, like the Prodigal Son, turn around and head home. In fact, as I have written previously, we need “a return to permanence, a fixedness on objective reality, and the formation of citizens who seek to conform their souls to that objective reality.” The Fall of Man was an innovation. The Fall was a new way, “to be like God, knowing good and evil.” The Fall was a rejection of the old way, an obedience to the hierarchy of essences in objectivity: man as image bearer reflecting God, not being God.
In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis writes a stinging critique of the modern mind. The academic elites or, as Lewis calls them, ‘the conditioners,’ produce habits of living and learning derived from seemingly settled philosophical and theological conclusions. Of course, many of the conditioners’ settled conclusions are, in fact, quite unsettled and painfully unsettling upon further scrutiny.
“Knowledge is power” is a quote often attributed to Francis Bacon, and its sentiment is responsible for much of the dissolution of our modern souls.
When I teach The Lord of the Rings, some students will inevitably tell me that they do not like fantasy because “it’s not the real world.” It took me a while to realize that, to them, the ‘real world’ is a disenchanted one. This is of no fault of their own. We swim in a disenchanted cultural current. I too was educated and formed to believe the disenchanted idea of the real world. As philosopher Charles Taylor notes in A Secular Age, our modern epoch is an era of disenchantment.
Every parent I know is intimately familiar with the barrage of questions we receive from our children. This past summer our family spent a week at a beautiful lake in the mountains of North Carolina. My wife, a high school literature teacher, and I, a religious studies teacher, planned to use our peaceful vacation as an opportunity to read and prepare for the school year ahead. We have three beautiful children, a nine, seven, and five-year-old.