Post-modern man, homeless almost by definition, cannot understand nostalgia. If he is a progressive, dreaming of a utopia to come, he dismisses it contemptuously, eager to bury a past he despises. If he is a reactionary, he sentimentalizes it, dreaming of a lost golden age.
In this profound reflection, Anthony Esolen explores the true meaning of nostalgia and its place in the human heart. Drawing on the great works of Western literature from the Odyssey to Flannery O'Connor, he traces the development of this fundamental longing from the pagan's desire for his earthly home, which most famously inspired Odysseys' heroic return to Ithaca, to its transformation under Christianity. The doctrine of the fall of man forestalls sentimental traditionalism by insisting that there has been no Eden since Eden. And the revelation of heaven as our true and final home, directing man's longing to the next world, paradoxically strengthens and ennobles the pilgrim's devotion to his home in this world.
In our own day, Christian nostalgia stands in frank opposition to the secular usurpation of this longing. Looking for a city that does not exist, the progressive treats original sin, which afflicts everyone, as mere political error, which afflicts only his opponents. To him, history is a long tale of misery with nothing to teach us. Despising his fathers, he lives in a world without piety. Only the future, which no one can know, is real to him. It is an idol that justifies all manner of evil and folly.
Nostalgia rightly understood is not an invitation to repeat the sins of the past or to repudiate what experience and reflection have taught us, but to hear the call of sanity and sweetness again. Perhaps we will shake our heads as if awaking from a bad and feverish dream and, coming to ourselves, resolve, like the Prodigal, to "arise and go to my father's house."
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Introduction: Man, Far from Home vii
Chapter 1 Man in Time 1
Chapter 2 Man in Place 27
Chapter 3 Lost among the Ruins 45
Chapter 4 The Static Idol of Change 69
Chapter 5 Lost Innocence 95
Chapter 6 More Than Small Change 131
Chapter 7 Back to the Family 173
Chapter 8 O Grave, Where Is Thy Victory? 197
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Home is where you belong Nostalgia – Going Home in a Homeless World by Anthony Esolen will fill you will nostalgia. Nostalgia is a longing to go home, a longing for former happy times. He makes several important points. One is a call for educators to teach cultural literacy so that students can learn the treasures of their cultural heritage – the best of what was said and written in Western Civilization. The author points out that not only do most adults fail to read great books, most of them do not know that there are great books. A second point is that God made us for Himself, and our true eternal home is in heaven, so we all need to know how to get to heaven. Christianity is the way to heaven. We cannot be human without love. Home is where you belong, because that’s where you are needed. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43 is cited and explained as a lesson on true love. Another insight is that the phrase “identity politics” is a strange contradiction in terms, since that ideology has no real identity and no polity. Identity politics is divisive, and a house divided cannot stand. The two manifest failures of our time are covered, which are the promised renewal of the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council and the sexual and feminist revolutions. Though the sexual and feminist revolutions have had good aspects, such as enabling women to obtain better jobs and more respect, the sexual and feminist revolutions have also had devastating effects on the family. The Catholic Church is a true friend for women. This is an excellent book on the problem of the homeless, which is a far greater problem that is generally realized.