• Blueprint for Victory

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    to Win the Culture War: A Christian Battle Plan for a Society in
    by Peter Kreeft, InterVarsity Press, $11.00, 120 pages, paperback

    won't ruin your experience of reading this terrific new book by
    Peter Kreeft if I give away his answer of how we will win the culture
    war. It won't ruin it, because the answer is hard. We will win the
    war through saints who live the faith.

    that's where the hard point comes in. We're supposed to be
    the saints, or the saints-in-the-making, or those striving after
    sanctity. But are we? Are we willing to pay the price, to accept
    that "condition of complete simplicity/Costing not less than/Everything,"
    as T. S. Eliot put it?

    cites a "wonderful and terrifying" passage from William
    Law's A
    Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life
    . "If you will
    look into your own heart in utter honesty, you must admit that there
    is one and only one reason why you are not, even now, as saintly
    as the primitive Christians: you do not wholly want to be."

    we stand convicted — of a personal failing; and failing also to
    be the leaven in Western Culture that Catholics must be.

    says his new book is "loud and crude, and I'm not sorry. For
    it is written on a battlefield, in the heat of battle. It is written
    for soldiers or potential soldiers, enlistees. It is therefore not
    a carefully researched, beautifully nuanced, politely academic argument.
    It is not a sweet violin; it is an ugly blaring trumpet. On a battlefield,
    a trumpet works better than a violin." Salutary sentiments
    all — for they underline other reasons why Christians are weak in
    the world. Common human failings undo us: prissiness, a failure
    to make common cause with the imperfect, and a lamentable human
    trope of preferring to be the critic (a form of egocentric individualism)
    rather than the partisan or the producer or the actor.

    book is brilliantly shot through with wit and insight. Consider
    this: "America does not know the difference between sex and
    money. It treats sex like money because it treats sex as a medium
    of exchange, and it treats money like sex because it expects its
    money to get pregnant and reproduce."

    is also a clever reporter, tracking down a speech of Satan's that
    puts the Devil on the record on all sorts of issues, highlighting
    his strategy for conquering the world. Among Satan's choice observations
    is one on the "Feminists" who "demand ordination
    to the priesthood — guess why? For u2018empowerment.' I kid you not.
    That's what they say. I wonder when they'll start demanding martyrdom
    for u2018empowerment.'"

    the bankruptcy of "liberal" Christianity ever been better
    captured than this?

    consider this peroration of Satan's, which could likely be repeated
    in slightly different form as the personal credo of most of your
    neighbors: "the very essence of hell's philosophy [is] absolute
    relativism. This was the philosophy behind my original glorious
    rebellion against the Enemy, when I refused to let him define
    reality or truth or goodness for me."

    is the friend of self-actualization, personal empowerment, and self-esteem.
    In fact, there are probably seminars on how to be more like him
    at your local church.

    has found man's weak point: sex. As he says, "They don't deny
    objective truth when it comes to sticks and stones…. They don't
    defend rape or pillage or slavery or oppression or theft or nuclear
    war or embezzlement or racism — or even smoking! But they defend
    divorce and fornication and masturbation and contraception and abortion
    and sodomy and bestiality and bisexuality and cross-dressing. u2018Anything
    goes' is their morality if and only if it has anything to do with
    sex." As Kreeft himself points out, sex has become the focal
    point of Western culture's dominant alternative religion to authentic
    Christianity. That's why Chesterton predicted that the "madness
    of tomorrow is not in Moscow but in Manhattan."

    book is short — delightfully short, enlightening and entertaining.
    And it is a call to action — one that America's Catholic bishops
    should read with particular care. Without addressing them directly,
    Kreeft nevertheless puts his finger on the fundamental misunderstanding
    about God that has led far too many bishops, as God's shepherds
    on earth, to so gruesomely fail their flocks.

    is a lover, not a warrior, right? No, God is a lover who is a warrior.
    The question fails to understand what love is — what the love that
    God is, is. Love is at war with hate and betrayal and selfishness
    and all love's enemies. Love fights. Ask any parent. Yuppie love,
    like puppy love, may be merely u2018compassion,' but mother love and
    father love is war."

    need more warriors with bishops' mitres and clerical collars. But
    the war is not for them alone. It is time to arm ourselves for the
    battle — for this is our war, and Peter Kreeft has done us the tremendous
    service of showing us how we can — and how we will — win it.

    20, 2002

    W. Crocker III [send him
    ] is the author of the newly published Triumph:
    The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church, A 2,000-Year History

    (Random House). His
    prize-winning novel, The
    Old Limey
    , has just been reissued in paperback.

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