Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning

Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning

by Nancy Pearcey
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B&H Publishing Group
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Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning

Is secularism a positive force in the modern world? Or does it lead to fragmentation and disintegration? In Saving Leonardo, best-selling award-winning author Nancy Pearcey (Total Truth, coauthor How Now Shall We Live?) makes a compelling case that secularism is destructive and dehumanizing.

Pearcey depicts the revolutionary thinkers and artists, the ideas and events, leading step by step to the unleashing of secular worldviews that undermine human dignity and liberty. She crafts a fresh approach that exposes the real-world impact of ideas in philosophy, science, art, literature, and film—voices that surround us in the classroom, in the movie theater, and in our living rooms.

A former agnostic, Pearcey offers a persuasive case for historic Christianity as a holistic and humane alternative. She equips readers to counter the life-denying worldviews that are radically restructuring society and pervading our daily lives. Whether you are a devoted Christian, determined secularist, or don't know quite where you stand, reading Saving Leonardo will unsettle established views and topple ideological idols. Includes more than 100 art reproductions and illustrations that bring the book's themes to life.

Praise for Saving Leonardo:

"A feast for the mind and for the eye. Nancy Pearcey not only is a trustworthy guide for a nuanced discussion on the relationship between culture and the gospel, but she is a gifted teacher as well . . . Saving Leonardo is a rare, precious gift to the churches and universities alike."

Makoto Fujimura, artist and author of Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture

"Nancy Pearcey has done it again and better than ever. She has taken the complex sophistication of the best cultural analysis and laid it out for any person to grasp, enjoy and use to live out their daily lives honoring Christ. An astounding accomplishment!"

James W. Sire, author of The Universe Next Door

"G. K. Chesterton said 'the danger when Men stop believing in God is not that they'll believe in nothing; but that they will believe in anything.' Nancy Pearcey understands where believing in anything leads and in this book she reveals where a secular philosophy is taking us. A balanced, fair, and impacting work!"

Cal Thomas, syndicated and USA Today columnist

"Nancy Pearcey helps a new generation of evangelicals to understand the worldview challenges we now face and to develop an intelligent and articulate Christian understanding . . . Saving Leonardo should be put in the hands of all those who should always be ready to give an answer—and that means all of us."

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Nancy Pearcey is an intellectual prophet in our day and one of Evangelicalism's foremost cultural observers. Saving Leonardo is a tour de force. In it, Pearcey provides a penetrating analysis of the nature of contemporary secularism, a helpful exposition of how we got to the present situation, and a well-crafted strategy for changing the situation. This is her best effort yet . . . a must read."

J. P. Moreland, distinguished professor of Philosophy, Biola University and author of The God Question

"Nancy Pearcey is unsurpassed in the current generation of Christian thinkers . . . The magic continues with this book. Pearcey's virtues as a writer and thinker are once again fully evident in the range of material that she has mastered, the encyclopedic collection of data that she presents, and the analytic rigor with which she separates truth from error in worldviews. She is a prophetic voice for contemporary Christians."

Leland Ryken, Clyde S. Kilby professor of English, Wheaton College

"Brilliant . . . The book brings complex, abstract ideas down-to-earth — or rather, down-to-life. . . . Saving Leonardo bridges the gaps between the arts and the sciences, the theoretical and the practical. The book not only argues for the unity of Christian truth but exemplifies that unity and shows it in action."

Gene Edward Veith, provost, Patrick Henry College

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781433669279
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/01/2010
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.10(d)

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Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
SarahDixonYoung More than 1 year ago
I was assaulted in a literature class while in college. It wasn’t the violent or sexual assault that all-too-often happens to college students. Instead, it was the sly, mental assault of secularism that undid my cultural Christian worldview completely. At the University, Literary Theory posed as a course that would examine “techniques of analysis, theories of interpretation, and application of critical approaches to selected works.” We learned several theories of interpretation in that course: feminist theory, Marxist theory, deconstruction theory, postmodern theory, queer theory, and psychoanalytic theory. For example, during the class, one assignment applied queer theory to Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn.” During several class periods, we had to listen to lecture about the homosexual themes that were evident in the classic. (In case you haven’t read it, those themes are NOT evident.) I found myself sinking down in my chair, condemning myself as a know-nothing, and covering my ears to lectures that confused and repulsed me. Even though I knew something was amiss, I was not equipped to name or fix it. Actually, I was able to write papers that earned “A” grades and that were distributed to other students as prime examples of how to apply literary theory. Externally, I was indoctrinated, while internally, my conscience raged. I recently read Nancy Pearcey’s “Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, & Meaning.” In its pages, Pearcey not only clearly defines and examines secular worldviews, she also equips Christians with truth solutions to counter secularism and produce distinctly Christian works of art. She revealed to me all that I objected to in my literary theory class: In modern literary theory, “Readers were free to assign their own meanings to the text,” Pearcey writes, “Deconstructionists hailed this as liberating, because it freed literary texts from any fixed or stable meaning.” And she countered that concept by explaining the Christian position: “…human beings, created in God’s image, are genuine authors of their own works. If you want to know what a text means, you ask the author.” Seems like common sense! The more I read of “Saving Leonardo,” the more I realized the potential for Christians to reclaim the parts of our culture, and even the parts of ourselves, that have been lost to secularism. Following the progression of both the Enlightenment and Romanticism through time, Pearcey shows how the secular philosophic concepts of our time such as postmodernism and deconstruction came about. By pointing out flaws in logic, Pearcey challenges these pervasive viewpoints and gives specific examples of how they evidenced themselves in art, music, literature, and popular culture. Now, if you’ve never studied art, philosophy, or worldview, don’t be alarmed. Pearcey addresses these cerebral subjects in a way that anyone can understand. Most of the book is based on a simple idea: dualism. Pearcey explains: “Using the metaphor of a building, [Francis Schaeffer] warned that truth had been split into two stories. The lower story consists of scientific facts, which are held to be empirically testable and universally valid. The upper story includes things like morality, theology, and aesthetics, which are now regarded as subjective and culturally relative.” This division of truth has filtered down through time into every aspect of our society. Pearcey addresses political systems, geometry, physics, art, philosophy, international relations, and movies to show that when we divide truth like this, we leave behind a Biblical worldview. One example she shares is the division between biology (the facts) and gender (psychological identity). When we separate the biology from the gender, we “alienate people from their own bodies, treating physical anatomy as having no intrinsic dignity or significance.” In contrast, “A genuinely biblical view honors and respects our biological identity as part of who we are as whole persons.” As Christians, we can see how just this one example of the division of truth has invaded every aspect of society and caused harm to individuals, families, and society as a whole. Pearcey traces the history of secularism as a philosophy and gives specific examples of how it played out in societies all over the world. Her analysis helped me to understand the secularist assault I had experienced in college and in society ever after. Now, instead of turning a deaf ear, a consenting exterior, or even a raised fist, I feel that I can process and comprehend my own culture and peers. In the final third of the book, Pearcey challenges Christians to take up the challenge to produce works of art and culture that proceed from the Christian worldview which presents truth as a unified whole. “Christians must go beyond criticizing the degradation of American culture, roll up their sleeves, and get to work on positive solutions,” she writes, “The only way to drive out bad culture is with good culture. After all, Jesus called his disciples to be salt and light.” In presenting examples of applying a Biblical worldview to our culture, Pearcey inspires healing and purpose in those of us who have been scarred and bereft of meaning by a secular environment. She sounds a clarion call for all Christians to take an active part in preserving truth through the art
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TheFalcon More than 1 year ago
Nancy did a great job rehashing Francis Schaeffer's themes into one book. However, like Schaeffer's works, and many other worldview writers, she did not present an alternative biblical worldview to counter the secular worldview. Francis Schaeffer wrote the book "How Shall We Then Live" which presented a great history of how we got where we are, but he never presented a biblical alternative to derive the particulars of a biblical worldview. What we need at this time is an analysis of how we can get out of this moral mess we are in as a nation. Our churches have been compromised, we are losing our kids to the secular culture and the government has been taken over by secularists and progressive Marxists. However, what I hear from many Christian leaders is "not to worry" since we are going to be "raptured" any second now. No wonder the kids reject Americanized Christianity in its current form. It makes Jesus and his church out to be losers against the omnipotent Satan and the anti-Christ. Jesus was apparently deluded when he commanded us to "disciple the nations." Did he not know that prophecy teaches (according to La Haye) that we are going to lose? And since we are going to lose to the all powerful Satan - why bother trying to redeem the culture? As dispensationalist D. L. Moody used to say regarding cultural redemption, "Don't bother polishing brass on a sinking ship!" In other words, we are destined to lose, so don't try to change things. In fact, some leaders teach the rapture is so close that we do not even have time to disciple our own people, much less the nations of the world. The only problem with this belief is that it is open rebellion to what Jesus commanded us to do. We are commanded to disciple the nations in spite of what the future looks like. I suggest that people actually investigate the historical origins of the dispensational theology that has neutered the evangelical churches. They need to understand how it has undermined the covenant theology upon which this nation was built. They should then investigate the covenant Reformed theology which fueled the Reformation and led to the establishment of our nation (Read "The Legacy of John Calvin: His Influence on the Modern World" and "Who Are We" - by Samuel Huntington). I really appreciated Nancy's analysis of current church leadership and its misguided emphasis on the Superstars. Pastors are supposed to serve the sheep, not use them to further their fame and celebrity status. While the arts are an important aspect of culture, it is only one aspect. We lack a holistic worldview that addresses all areas of life. Calvin's work came closest to establishing the intellectual framework for a holistic biblical worldview.