The Death of Christian Culture
Author: John Senior
Table of Contents
1. What Is Christian Culture?
2. The Perennial Heresy
3. Eastward Ho! Hum
4. The Real Absence
5. The Emperor's New Literature
6. Be Ye Therefore Perfect
7. To Each His Own
8. The Risk of Certainty
9. The Emperor of Ice Cream
10. Dark Night of the Church
11. Black but Beautiful
First published in 1978, this hard-hitting exposition discusses the root causes of how and why Christian
culture is dying. It investigates literature, culture, history, and religion in an attempt to show that
education is increasingly about bureaucratic training and less about scholarly truth. A warning that
cultural and artistic treasures of classical and Christian civilizations must be preserved, this provocative
analysis diagnoses a cultural and societal malaise facing modern Western societies.
On May 21, 1972, Laszlo Toth, an Australian geologist
of Hungarian birth attacked Michelangelo’s sculpture of
the Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. As he raced at the statue with a hammer in his raised arm he
proclaimed, “I am Jesus Christ – risen from the dead.” When he had finished his assault on the marble,
he had broken off the Virgin’s arm at the elbow, taken a large piece off one of her eyelids and shattered
her nose. No
charges were ever brought against him, for, as horrified as the world claimed to be, the authorities were
convinced only a madman would commit such an act. He spent two years in an Italian psychiatric
hospital and then was released and deported to Melbourne, Australia, where he is believed to reside to
this day.This single act contains within it all of the madness of recent centuries – a belief by man that he
has become God, an assertion of the
primacy of the individual will, a burning anger at the glories of the past and the beautiful art that embodies
them, an attempt to remove the Blessed Virgin and Mother from her central place in God’s plan for man’s
redemption, a lack of respect for the sacred sanctuary, and an assumption of innocence toward all the
destroyers. Ironically, had not the same Holy Basilica recently seen the working of the Second Vatican
Council and the institution of a new man-made, committeeconstructed
worship service? More than one individual seems to have
wielded hammers against the glories of the Catholic Church’s traditions as well as against her essential
God-given liturgy of sacrifice and worship.The destruction of Christian culture has been ongoing for
centuries and the Laszlo Toths have been too numerous and too highly praised to deserve enumeration or
name. The exhilaration of destruction has blown the barque of mankind down the river of pride to the falls
of oblivion for decade after decade. Few voices have raised objections
or tried to alert the passengers to the roar of destruction awaiting the vessel. Those who have will one day
be appropriately honored; one name on that short list will be Dr. John Senior – a Catholic man in an age
of apostasy and a great teacher in a time of arrogant ignorance.Most of his years of teaching were spent
at the University of Kansas, where he had helped found the remarkable Integrated Humanities program.
Over the years as he and his colleagues planted simple truth into the ground of darkness, the program
became a seedbed for wisdom, conversion and vocations; in fact, its very great success meant its
demise, for the prince of this world whose hour had come could hardly allow such a program to prosper
for long and no modern university could possibly permit its students to be educated by a great teacher.
The usual allies, envy and ignorance and hate, brought the program low. Those fortunate enough to have
studied under Dr. Senior continue to make their contributions in the world and thus his work goes on.For
the remainder of us not fortunate to be present at the University of Kansas during those golden years, we
are fortunate enough to be able to study at his feet in these latter days. The Death of Christian Culture,
originally published in 1978, has been out of print too long. It is more current than any book enjoying the
benefits of a place on this week’s best seller lists. This is only possible because the book is filled with
Dr. Senior’s observations; and these observations and insights are great truths that continue to offer
insights into the dead world in which we live.
John Senior holds his doctorate from Columbia University and was a professor of English, comparative
literature, and classics and the founder of the Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas.
He was dedicated to preserving Catholic orthodoxy.
"A beautifully written Jeremiad on the decay of Western intellectual and spiritual culture."
"Anyone seriously interested in understanding what underlies the contemporary demise of the West
should buy it, read it, and digest the many gems of wisdom it contains."
"Reminds us of Western civilization's treasury of wisdom, its perennial philosophy and great literature."
"Profound yet profoundly readable, this book is brilliantly revealing of both the causes and effects of
modernity's cultural crisis."
"Senior was the Catholic Socrates of the 20th century."
"I knew John Senior for some 50 years. No one had the same success in defending and bringing others
to the Catholic faith."
"A true prophet."
"John Senior was a great teacher and poet . . . In the middle of this dark night of secular society, Senior
sees the Morning Star."
"An honest, although disturbing, diagnosis."