At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Freeman, Charles. The closing of the Western mind: the rise of faith and the fall of reason. Knopf, $30.00.

Choice: “one of the best books to date on the development of Christianity…Beautifully written and impressively annotated, this is an indispensable read for anyone interested in the roots of Christianity and its implications for our modern worldview. Essential.” Kirkus: “vigorous…lucid, accessible contribution to intellectual history.” Booklist: “impressively erudite” Library Journal: “stimulating…convincing…This book will appeal to the general educated reader. Highly recommended for all libraries.” Publishers Weekly: “fascinating, frustrating and flawed…Freeman fails to show that faith became totally dominant over reason…While Freeman tells a good story, his arguments fail to be convincing.” History Today: “The narrative is clear and fluent, nomenclature is studiously precise, and every judgment is supported by appeal to some authoritative historian or quotation of ancient texts…the theological conflicts of the fourth century are analysed with a subtlety that might serve as a model for professional academics…At the same time, while the errors are few, they are not confined to the innocent misspelling of ‘Libanius’ or the fashionable caricature of Origen as a Platonist who disowned the literal meaning of the scriptures…The atrophy of the western mind between Leo and Aquinas is made to seem all the more acute by the omission of Boethius, Bede, Eriugena and Anselm—a quartet that could probably not be matched by any four pagan writers from the period between Trajan and Theodoric…Freeman seems to subscribe to the erroneous syllogism that since tolerance is rational and paganism was tolerant, paganism itself was rational.”


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