Contours of Culture
Recognition of Disconnection
by Ken Myers
Second only to C. S. Lewis, the writer from whom I have learned the most about the spirit of our age is Wendell Berry. One central lesson I have learned from Lewis concerns the typical modern denial of the meaningful order embedded in reality. Lewis used the term "subjectivism" to describe the assumption that we are the makers of values, not the discoverers of them. Subjectivism (thoroughly dismantled in The Abolition of Man) was, for Lewis, a fundamental and seminal disorder of modern culture, "the disease that will certainly end our species (and, in my view, damn our souls) if it is not crushed."
Subjectivism is an intellectual error the effects of which are evident in countless cultural institutions. It is a failure to account properly for the relationship between the transcendent and the immanent, between permanent things and the concrete stuff of human experience.
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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