Reading in an Age of Barbarism*
I’m continually struck dumb by the question of the value of reading. It is as if folks have forgotten how we all became participators in an incredible, albeit flawed, experiment known as western civilization. Many will say that civilization is founded upon the myth of violence. I suppose this has to be true in one sense: societies do not emerge independently very often without picking up the proverbial sword.
Nevertheless, I’m beginning to suspect that the foundation of what we now call “civilization” was orchestrated by the written word. So – why should we read? If we don’t, we will go through another revolution. In fact, I think we are in the midst of a great de-centering for western civ, and I am feeling the weight of it all around me. Kids look to Youtubers for direction. Parents ask google for advice on how to raise their kids. And schools are now putting screens in front of children instead of competent instructors.
Truly, not unlike the introduction of the written word, we are in the midst of a cultural revolution. The pixels are taking over. Run for the hills…by picking up a book. Perhaps God will raise up intellectual St. Benedicts to overwhelm a disheveled future with grace, hope, love, and the birth of a new civilization, tired of the tribalism that is so prevalent in our time.
*Barbarism is not “Savagery,” rather, it is the notion that groupthink and groups should be defended, even at cost to the truth.