I have always known that I am somewhat irrelevant, but I have had this recently confirmed by another self-proclaimed irrelevant individual, teacher and author Ben House. It did help that I am also a teacher like him, and at least a blog author, not to mention our similar Reformed theological convictions. In an age of pragmatism, irrelevancy is not an appreciated quality. But both Ben House and I believe it is that - a quality. We both hold, along with author and worldview lecturer J. Mark Bertrand, that a Christian liberal arts education underpinned by the humanities best sets up an individual for life and service under the lordship of Christ.
House blogs about books, teaching, history, and his family - but mainly about books. You will never want for reading recommendations, and you are likely to discover tomes you have never heard of but now hanker to explore. As a Southerner, his tastes seem to run mainly to American authors, but because his belief in classical education is so strong, ancient and continental writers also figure into his reading repertoire. Even if you don't read the books he recommends, his musings about the books he reads are bound to educate you about them.
Following a fine introduction by Dr. George Grant of Grantian Florilegium, the opening chapters of House's Punic Wars and Culture Wars (Covenant Media Foundation, 2008), are devoted to advancing House's controlling motif: that God rules history and His kingdom is advancing unchecked through the ages. House makes a compelling case that the tension between mankind's highest achievements (think the art of the Renaissance) and its most horrific moral ebbs (think the Holocaust) can only be satisfactorily explained by Calvinist theology, and best taught to the next generation under the approach promulgated by classical education advocates.
House's second chapter, which bears the same title as the book, uses the Punic Wars in a similar way to Bertrand's use of the sack of Constantinople in chapter 7 of Rethinking Worldview. I want you to read both these books, so I'll let you find out for yourself what I mean.
The final three chapters comprising the opening matter are essentially an apologetic for classical education, but engage the reader by weaving in various historical personages, from Dorothy Sayers and J.R.R. Tolkien to Stonewall Jackson and "That Bully Sandie Pendleton." Again, if you're unclear about Pendleton, read the book.
One minor warning is in order: if you are opposed to the postmillennial viewpoint, you should be aware that House seems to lean in that direction. However, virtually all of his postmillennial utterances are reminiscent of the very concepts being advanced today by those I call “kingdom-bringers” - Christian social justice advocates attempting to “usher in the kingdom” by social and political activity. This is not to be taken as a comment on either postmillennialism or Christian social activism one way or the other, but as a comment on a point of intersection between the two viewpoints.
I'm looking forward to reading and blogging through the rest of the book. If the chapter titles are any indication, it can only get better after what is already an auspicious beginning.
One last word: if you have a choice between watching Gregory House or reading Ben House, make it the real House.
Editor's Note: This book is available from Canon Press, from Amazon.com, from the publisher directly, or from the author himself. Email Ben House at veritas[at]cableone.net. He may even sign the book for you if you ask nicely.