OPINIONSrnExperiencing Civilizationrnby Brian Robertsonrn”The great difficulty in education is to get experience out of ideas.”rn— George SantayanarnPoetic Knowledge:rnThe Recovery of Educationrnby James S. TaylorrnAlbany. State University of New YorkrnPress; 211pp., $59.50rnThe Restoration of Christian Culturernby John SeniorrnFort Collins, Colorado: Roman CatholicrnBooks; 244 pp., $19.95rnWhen The Restoration of ChristianrnCulture was first published inrn1983, the Integrated Humanities Program,rnfounded by John Senior and hisrnfellow University of Kansas professorsrnDennis B. Quinn and Franklyn C.rnNelick, had just had its funding withdrawnrnby the university’s administrators,rnin spite of having been a minor sensationrnin more traditionalist academic circlesrnsince its founding in 1971. While IHPrnwas known for its unorthodox attempts torntransmit the cultural heritage of Christendomrnto students by means of directrnexperience rather than bookish study,rnthe burden of Senior’s book was that thernconcept of education by osmosis, in thernexperiential mode, is hardly “unorthodox.”rnRather it has a long and dignifiedrntradition dating from the ancients, and itrnis precisely the loss of that tradition inrnmodern academia that accounts for thernsterility of higher education in America.rnThe republication of The Restoration ofrnChristian Culture and the release of arnnew stiidy firmly in the IHP tradition entitledrnPoetic Knowledge: The Recovery ofrnEducation by James S. Taylor make thisrnBrian Robertson writes from Washington,rnB.C.rna good time to examine the current staternand futiire prospects of IHP’s educationalrntheory.rnWhile part of transmitting the Westernrntradition is a matter of education, thernproject depends largely on the pre-existencernof a cultural context promoting anrninherent feeling for Western modes ofrnthought and contemplation. The Restorationrnof Christian Culture described arnrevitalized Christendom and set forth arnprogram for achieving it. Rereading Senior’srnbook today, those in sympathy withrnhis goals should be sobered by the recognitionrnthat we are considerably furtherrnfrom his ideal of a Christian culture thanrnwe were when the book was first publishedrn15 years ago.rnSenior rightiy saw the home as the primaryrntransmitter of the traditions, mores,rnand customs of Christendom. Contraryrnto this is the passive, ersatz “culture” ofrnmass entertainment, the goal of which isrnto stimulate the senses and appetites ofrn”cultural consumers” with a prepackagedrn”product.” When this anti-culturernpredominates, the result is the deadeningrnof the imaginative faculties as well asrnthe destruction of the contemplativernsense necessary to all rational himian activity.rnToday, with domestic life weakenedrnfurther by the continuing flight ofrnmarried mothers to the workplace, therndominance of the entertainment culturernis greater than ever before.rnWhile not a Luddite, Senior seesrnclearly the inherent destructiveness ofrntechnological developments such as television,rnwhich militate against the homernenvironment, replacing it with an illusoryrnsense of community and purposefulrnaction. “Technology,” he writes, “mustrnbe regeared to the proper dimensions ofrnthe human good—and not the other wayrnaround.” Here one finds an echo ofrnPope John Paul IPs repeated insistencernthat all systems and institutions mustrnhave as their end to serve man, who canrnnever be relegated to the status of meansrnto some greater end, be it cultural, intellectual,rneconomic, or technological.rnTaylor’s book is focused more exclusivelyrnon restoring the culture by thoroughlyrnreforming our idea of what constitutesrneducation. Its thesis is that anyrnsuccessful attempt at passing on the culturalrnheritage of Western Christianrncivilization in an academic setting mustrnbe based on a personal love for, andrnappreciation of, Western culture by thernstudent himself Wliile laborious studyrninvolving textbooks, footnotes, memorizationrnof facts, and the ability to regurgitaternthose facts in formal exam settingsrnmay be necessary at a certain, more spe-rn26/CHRONICLESrnrnrn