Let’s face it……our society is broken. There I said it. In some ways, we have come so far. Who would have ever thought that computers that once filled entire rooms at minimum we now carry in our pockets. Want your local forecast? You don’t have to wait until the 6 pm news. Just look it up and get up to the date weather conditions. How about breaking world news. Yup…instantaneous delivery. We have this, but at what cost? We live in a soundbite world dominated by fake news that needs proper discernment before reaction. Frankly, all of this has made many of us feel tired and overwhelmed. Oh, how we long for the good old’ days! Deal W. Hudson has the answer to our current crisis (yes, it’s a crisis), and it can be found in his book How to Keep From Losing Your Mind: Educating Yourself Classically to Resist Cultural Indoctrination.
Deal’s answer is quite simple, actually. Indeed, we do need to turn back the hands of time a bit, and he proposes doing so by immersing ourselves in the classics. What do the classics teach us? Several things. First and foremost, they will teach us to slow down. When was the last time you took the time to sit and read a book? Have you ever stopped to consider that when it comes to self-education, we have a world of resources at our fingertips? Many classic books are now available in the public domain and easily accessible via the internet.
The book is divided into three parts. In Part One, Beauty: The Irresistible Canon, Deal lays out what he views the essential classics to be. He rightfully so piggybacks his thoughts off the classic lists of Great Books. Of interest in this chapter was his suggestion that these lists of classics should be expanded to include music and film in part because both have the power to tug at one’s heart and imagination. This part closes with Deal giving direction on how to read, listen, watch, and engage with these various genres of art.
Part Two, Truth: Bad Ideas in Motion, was to me an exceptional part of the book. In these chapters, Deal offers ways in which we can take the nuggets of wisdom contained within the classics and use them as our guideposts to navigate our current culture. Deal mines a plethora of fantastic authors to show us how to confront the misguided notions of our culture effectively. These include Plato, Thoreau, Pope St. John Paul II, Aristotle, and St. Thomas Aquinas, just to name a few. Another key point in this section is how to detach from the soundbite news cycle we are in and learn how to do some critical thinking of our own. A great section that is well worth the read!
Part Three, Goodness: Love Is the Crux, wraps everything up in a nice package. After all, love truly is the answer. It holds the key to forming unified communities that are not about division and hatred but instead learning how to work together towards a common goal of the betterment of humanity. Parental love, friendship, eros, and agape are all covered. Each of the five sections in this part includes a list of books, music, and film that exemplify the facet of love Deal covers.
This book is a treasure. It is a wonderful companion to “The Great Books” and Deal does a great job expanding the idea into music and film. How to Keep From Losing Your Mind is precisely the book we need in our troubled times. We live in a society that has quite frankly lost its moral compass. Many of us are frustrated and don’t know where to turn or how to refute what is being pushed as the new norm. Take this book and use it as the guide it was meant to be. Embark upon the path of classically educating yourself with the many resource Deal reveals to readers within the pages of his book and the massive bibliography in the back. You are never too old to start learning. Why not start today?