In these book recommendations, we have worked our way back in time to the fourth century. We could spend much more time back there, and it would certainly be to our benefit. However, perhaps it would be best to bounce back to some twentieth century writers who had the insight to know how to apply ancient writers to our era.
And if we are going to do that, perhaps it would be best to begin with a voice in full prophetic mode, firing “words as hard as cannon balls” at the modern West. This is the voice of Richard Weaver in Ideas Have Consequences. When on the first page of his introduction he declares, “There is ground for declaring that modern man has become a moral idiot,” you are well aware of the all out assault that is coming.
Yet this book is no screed. Tutored by his master Plato, as well as by the Southern Agrarians, Weaver provided a learned examination of the forces that threaten the foundation of civilization. He introduced his book in this way:
This is another book about the dissolution of the West. I attempt two things not commonly found in the growing literature of this subject. First, I present an account of that decline based not on analogy but on deduction. It is here the assumption that the world is intelligible and that man is free and that those consequences we are now expiating are the product not of biological or other necessity but of unintelligent choice. Second, I go so far as to propound, if not a whole solution, at least the beginning of one….
In a foreword to a new edition, Weaver described the book as “an intuition of a situation. The intuition is of a world which has lost its center….” In less than two hundred dense pages, Weaver excavated the debris of Western civilization, exposing the dissolution of its metaphysical dream, and attempted to lay a foundation upon which to build for the future.
If you are like me, on every page in the book you will find something to make you pause and ponder. You may have multiple eureka moments. You will want to argue with Weaver at points, but you will not be able to deny that he wrote a prophetic book – a book that gives great insight into the world in which we live. This is a book that you will come back to time and again, and which will grow on you as time passes. Hopefully, it is a book which will make you read the Scripture with new eyes.
Roger Kimball says that Weaver “had a knack for telling people what they didn’t want to hear in such a way that they craved to hear it.” We need to hear Weaver’s ideas in our day, and there is no better place to start than with Ideas Have Consequences.