Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Decent Drapery of Life

This book is no longer available because a new edition of it is currently under publication with Wipf and Stock publishers. It will be available again in 2012.

Below are some answers to common questions about the work.

In a Nut-shell, what is the book about?

The Decent Drapery of Life attempts to defend Biblical morality by showing the consequences of the alternative. While this is nothing new in itself, I have tried to approach the problem from an original angle. Rather than simply lamenting how bad things have become in our society, I try to show that the results of the sexual revolution have actually been antithetic to its own goals.

Starting at the time of the ‘Enlightenment’ and working my way through to the present day, I observe that a consequence of rejecting the Biblical worldview has been to rob men and women of the ability to properly enjoy themselves as God intended. The reductionism of gender and sexuality wrought by the materialistic worldview has created a new network of secular taboos.

The result is that gender has been neutralized and the spice has been taken out of life. As my argument unfolds, I try to make it clear that the Biblical approach is not simply the ethical option: it is also the most sexy. The alternatives to Biblical morality, which our society has been desperately trying to make work, not only fail to achieve their own goals, but are ultimately boring by comparison.

Why do you think this book is important?

My hope is that The Decent Drapery of Life will help the church at a time when chastity is ‘in’ but coherent thinking about chastity is at an all time low. Many Christian young people think that as long as you don’t have sex before marriage then you are keeping to the Biblical sex ethic. That is ethics by subtraction, which leaves a moral vacuum that makes the young person a prime target for sexual temptation.

My approach. on the other hand, is to try to show that purity is not a matter of negation, but of affirmation. Against those who maintain that Biblical standards of purity and integrity represent a repressive or a pessimistic view of sexuality, I try to show that the shoe is actually on the other foot.

In the long run, I argue that Biblical morality is the truly erotic option.

What market is the book aimed at?

I wrote it for teenagers to help them think in fresh ways about old truths. Every chapter ends with questions for reflection and a list of materials for further reading. It is designed so it can be used in a group setting, either in a homeschool or classical Christian school, although the book can equally be read straight through on one’s own. It may also be particularly useful for Christian youth groups to read and discuss together.

Why did you choose this topic to write about?

Well, it wasn't like I just sat down one day and said to myself, "What ho, I think I'll write a book about the Enlightenment's effect on gender and sexual morality." The book really came about more as a gradual evolution from a number of other factors in my life.

What were those factors?

The first factor was that in 2001 I spent a year studying the Enlightenment period as part of my degree in Western Civ. That period of history intrigued and fascinated me, as it still does today. I have been particularly keen to understand the influence that the European Enlightenment exercized over our own culture and the part it played in shaping some of our basic assumptions about the world.

At the same time that I was studying the enlightenment, I was also researching for my book The Way of a Man With a Maid: A Response to the Courtship and Betrothal Movements. In order to refute some of the bizare historical claims made by modern advocates of betrothal, it was necessary for me to do research into Jewish marriage customs. In the course of my research I met a rabbi who recomended Wendy Shalit's book A Return To Modesty. I was fascinated by Shalit's contention that promiscuity and prudery are just two sides of the same unerotic coin. At the same time, her book frustrated me because it didn't go deep enough into some of the philosophical questions which necessarily come prior to questions about modesty and morality. I became convinced that the paradigm worldview shifts which occured during the Enlightenment had played directly into the sociological trends which Shalit and so many others were lamenting without necessarily understanding.

These thoughts stayed at the back of my mind during the duration of my time at university. When I graduated in 2004, I was unemployed. So to keep myself busy, I began researching and writing about the Enlightenment, including following some of the threads I have just mentioned. My real goal was to pursue these studies in academic research, and my opportunity came in 2005 when I was accepted into a PhD program at the University of York to research gender and sexuality in 18th century Europe.

When I had to bail out of that for financial reasons, I decided to write up my ideas for a popular rather than a scholarly audience. In particular, I aimed it at my teenagers and some other homeschooled teenagers I was asked to tutor in 2006. I wanted my students to be able to connect the dots between ideas and consequences, and so I gave them lessons and activities with that end in mind. Although I had the first draft already written before I began tutoring them, using it in a school context forced me to rewrite it for clarity and also to make sure it wasn't too academic.

Is there anything that other people can do it help promote the book?

Yes. Because I have self-published the book through a print-on-demand service, I don't have a distribution infrastructure. That means that the only way people will hear about the book is through this blog and word of mouth. To help with the word of mouth part, I have an advert which can be printed and passed out. You can download the advert HERE, but the size is not equal to a piece of paper, so if you want to print it, let me know and I will email you a copy.

Can you provide a chapter by chapter outline of the book?
Chapter 1: Ideas Have Consequences

This chapter looks at the fact that philosophies shape cultural development. In this chapter I also introduce the topic to be pursued in the book, which is the effect that the Enlightenment period has had on Western conceptions of sexual morality and gender.

Chapter 2: Man-Centered or God Centered?

This chapter looks at the 18th century Enlightenment, with particular attention given to the worldviews of materialism and determinism. The chapter also explores the role that various thinkers played in introducing a paradigm shift from a God-centered worldview to a man-centered worldview.

Chapter 3: Materialism Marginalizes God

This chapter considers the effect that the worldviews discussed in the previous chapter had on the concept of a personal God. Particular attention is given to the role that “Newtonian philosophy” played in this process.

Chapter 4: The Quest for Nature

This chapter explores the implication that these ideas had on perceptions of nature. In particular, I explore some of the problems a determinist faces in trying to decide which behavior is “natural.” If man is just a predetermined machine, then anything we decide to do must be “natural” for us.

Chapter 5: Enlightened Sex

This chapter explores some of the implications these philosophical shifts had in the area of sexual morals. In particular, I explore how the Enlightenment’s own “sexual revolution” was a direct outworking of the determinism and materialism of the 18th century.

Chapter 6: Utilitarian Morality

This chapter looks at the way key Enlightenment thinkers were unhappy with the practical implications their ideas began to have in the area of sexual morality. As an alternative, they proposed utilitarian substitutes to Christian morality.

Chapter 7: A Woman is But an Animal

This chapter explores that just as materialism affected people’s view on morality, it also affected their view of gender. A corollary of mankind being deconstructed by the materialist hammer was that our identity as men and women was also smashed. I explore how these problems played out in the ideas of Rousseau and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Chapter 8: The Gender Benders

This chapter explores how these same problems have played out in our own era. Our age is more consistent with the implications of the Enlightenment worldview, and thus it is widely assumed that all non-physical gender differences are mere social constructions. This leads to “androgyny” or the “unisex” movement, whereby the differences between the sexes are neutralized.

Chapter 9: The Disenchanting of Sex

This chapter continues to explore how androgyny has played out in our own era, with particular attention to the reduction of sexuality and modesty.

Chapter 10: Liberated Into Bondage

This chapter looks at the “free love” movement as the final expression of the Enlightenment worldview, while showing that the paradoxical legacy of free love has been to create a society characterized by sexual neurosis and a new code of unnatural sexual taboos.

Chapter 11: The Enlightenment Legacy

This final chapter returns to the debates between Rousseau and Mary Wollstonecraft, emphasizing that the ideas of the latter (which were themselves paradigmatic of the Enlightenment project) have been realized in contemporary approaches to matrimony and sexuality, with the effect that men and women are unable to freely enjoy themselves as God intended.

To receive automatic notification every time new material is added to this blog, send a blank email to phillips7440 [at sign] roadrunner.com with “Blog Me” in the subject heading.
Post a Comment

Buy Essential Oils at Discounted Prices!