Reviewed by: Daniel F. Patterson
Date posted: 12/11/2011
Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning, by Nancy Pearcey. Published by B&H Publishing Group, 2010. Hardback, 336 pages, list price $26.99. Reviewed by OP pastor Daniel F. Patterson.
"Every time we read a book or watch a movie, we enter into an imaginative expression of the artist's worldview" (p. 8). This is the wake-up call that Nancy Pearcey issues in her newest book. In Saving Leonardo, she walks the reader through the various "isms" of the modern age (relativism, scientific determinism, new age spiritualism, etc.), showing the devastating impact they have had on the minds and morals of people.
Saving Leonard is detailed in its analysis of the secular worldviews that impact Christians today. Pearcey not only identifies these worldviews, but also gives the reader insight into their "family tree." Beginning with the Greeks, the reader is treated to an insightful analysis of how various worldviews are related to one another, either as competing worldviews or as developments of earlier worldviews. One frustration with the book here needs to be registered, but it is not with the content. Saving Leonardo has no subject index. With all the isms being addressed, sometimes in complex relationship with one another, a subject index is desperately needed. Unless one is using an e-reader, like a Kindle, one will have to page through the book to find what one is looking for.
Saving Leonardo is devastating in its critique of secular worldviews. Pearcey exposes the self-defeating nature of secular worldviews and shows how they are dehumanizing because they absolutize (and therefore idolize) one aspect of God's creation. Christianity, she then affirms, is the worldview that accounts for the truths that secular worldviews cannot. Christianity is rational, Pearcey argues, and it alone among all the worldviews is a life-valuing system. Her answer to the dehumanizing effect of secular worldviews is to remoralize culture with artists, musicians, and authors who can "create humane and healthy alternatives that speak deeply to the human condition." She then goes on to use the language of "redeeming" the culture—which, unfortunately, makes many ill at ease and even uncertain as to exactly what she means. Perhaps a second edition of this book could flesh such language out, so as to clear up any confusion that this sort of terminology creates. With this said, Pearcey does an admirable job of exposing the folly of unbelieving worldviews and pointing her readers to the Christian faith as providing a rational answer to the ultimate questions with which so many struggle.
Saving Leonardo is delightful in its layout. Because secular worldviews sprout legs and walk into art studios, science books, works of literature, and movie theaters, Pearcey provides her readers with over one hundred images that illustrate how they have been influenced.
If you are interested in a penetrating analysis of the folly of secular worldviews and the danger they present, pick up Saving Leonardo. You won't be disappointed.