Contemporary world issues

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First published around 1987 and updated and republished several times this book is certain to provoke reactions of some kind from every reader.  Some will be shocked and some offended.  Basically, these chapters examine the lives, and to a much lesser degree, the ideas, of certain people regarded as the great intellectuals of the past two hundred years or so.  That their ideas have influenced society is undeniable, as is the fact that they have become the apparent voice of reason that has led to the permissive, hedonistic and violent society that pertains in general today.  Beginning with Rousseau and proceeding through chapters about Shelley, Marx, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, Jean Paul Sartre with shorter sections on Lillian Hellman, Cyril Connelly, Norman Mailer and Kenneth Tynan, Johnston exposes the moral unfitness of these people to act as the high priests of knowledge who had the right to counsel society as to the way it was to live its life.  If two thirds of what he brings to light about the personal lives of these people is to be believed the result can only be that we are appalled that they presumed to ingratiate themselves into such prominence and were accepted so readily.  Should such people be the guides and mentors of mankind?  Their attitude to truth was suspect in almost every particular.  They did not evaluate evidence honestly, twisted things to their own advantage and always set their ideas above human beings.  Johnston regards this as one of the key marks of a secular intellectual, to them; people are entirely secondary to the tyranny of their ideas and counsels.  It is amazing to read the record of the way these men and women treated their own families, friends and colleagues; it is horrifying to contemplate.  The development of the ideas, the connections between these unfolding doctrines many of which have become the accepted orthodoxies of our day is clearly delineated here and the result of their acceptance in western society in the late twentieth and into the twenty first is visible for all to see.  Beware the committees of intellectuals and their power to create climates of opinion.  As Christian people we must bear in mind their opportunism and their raging self-importance and discern their power to manipulate and shape whole swathes of the populace.  These intellectual gurus are enemies of the good of man and certainly of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Last modified: May 14, 2012

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