Saving Leonardo and Modern Man From Himself

dual mindHave you read Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals & Meaning by Nancy Pearcey, B & H Publishing Group, Copyright 2010?  

It has been a while, 2010 actually, since I read this Christian-perspective-of-culture concordance. A certain blog post triggered a memory redux of Saving Leonardo.

The Christian author Nancy Pearcey writes about the dualism behind modern man’s worldview.  Her book informs us as to how secularism emerged to be a prominent worldview. She also tells us how she sees that worldview affecting us, destroying our culture.  Her desire in writing this book is to make every Christian knowledgeable and aware, prepared to take on the current secular worldview:

“A worldview approach enables Christians to move beyond merely denouncing social ills such as abortion, which can sound harsh, angry and judgmental.  And, it equips them to demonstrate positively that biblical wisdom leads to a just and humane society.  Protests and placards are not enough.  To be strategically effective in protecting human dignity, we need to get behind the slogans and uncover the secular worldviews that shape people’s thinking.”

For starters there is this curious quote at the front of the book and the only reference to book’s title reference, Leonard da Vinci, that I could find aside from a section titled “Da Vinici versus Degas” (regrettably, there is no index at the back of the book):

Leonardo da Vinci

Hence the anguish and the innermost tragedy of this universal man, divided between his irreconcilable worlds.

(Giovanni Gentile, Leonardo’s Thought)

I’m not sure why Pearcey chose Giovanni Gentile’s quote to provide the “Forward” for her book about modern man’s dualistic thinking.  Giovanni Gentile was known at one time as the official philosopher of Fascism in Italy.  His theories contained rejection of individualism, acceptance of collectivism, with the state as the ultimate location of authority and loyalty to which the individual found in the conception of individuality no meaning outside the state (which in turn justified totalitarianism). Wow! In essence Giovanni Gentile didn’t believe a person could have a thought of his own apart from the state. 

In any case, as a student of art, music, literature and science as well as some philosophy and a good bit of theology and being something of a Leonardo da Vinci/Sherlock Holmes type that I am, this book, found on a table in a local book store, caught my eye.

Nancy Pearcey studied under Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. She begins her book by referring to a simile Schaeffer used to describe modern manShe writes:

“Using the metaphor of a building, he (Schaeffer) warned that truth had been split into two stories.  The lower story consists of scientific facts, which are held to be empirically testable and universally valid. The upper story includes things like morality, theology, and aesthetics, which are now regarded as subjective and culturally relative. Essentially the upper story became a convenient dumping ground for anything that the empiricist world view did not recognize as real.  Schaeffer used a simple graphic, which we can adapt like this:

The two-story concept of truth

Values

Private, subjective, relative

Facts

Public, objective, universal

This dichotomy has grown so pervasive that most people do not even recognize they hold it.  It has become part of the cultural air we breathe. Consider two prominent examples:

Martin Luther King Jr. ~ “Science deal mainly with facts; religion deals with mainly values.”

Albert Einstein ~ “Science yields facts but not “value judgments”; religion expresses values but cannot “speak of facts.””

As you are well aware by the verbal sparks flying everywhere around us, the dichotomy within our own honed thinking as it engages with others with their hardened dichotomy is like steel striking a flint rock. Truly, the fact/value split has inflicted great damage to our culture.  It clearly affects the worlds of politics, education, religion and societal norms such as marriage.  Saving Leonardo is a good place to begin your research into how we as a culture came to be this way.

Saving Leonardo gives the reader an overview of the history behind modern man’s fact/value split (shown above as the “lower story” and the “upper story.”).  The book presents the two basic worldviews that are prevalent today: Continental and Analytic. These two streams are manifested throughout today’s culture via art, music, literature, movies, politics, education, law, sexual mores, societal institutions and pop culture.

Pearcey uses the following descriptive dichotomies to describe our evolved mindsets:

Facts/Values
Box of Things/ box of the mind
Machine/ghost (Descartes)
Nature/Freedom (Kant)
Formalism/expressionism
Mind (autonomous self)/body (biochemical machine) or in toto, the Liberal view of the human being
Imaginative truth (art)/rational truth (deterministic world of science)

In discussing the Continental worldview Pearcey notes that there are the schools of idealism, Marxism, phenomenology, existentialism, postmodernism and deconstructionism.

The Analytic worldview stream, she says, holds empiricism, rationalism, materialism, naturalism, logical positivism and linguistic analysis.

In comparing the two worldviews John Stuart Mill is quoted: “the antagonism already separating the two traditions: The lower story, with its materialism, “is accused of making men beasts” while the upper story, with its irrationalism, is accused of making men lunatics.”

Pearcey notes that culture has reflected the dueling mindsets since their inception during the age of Enlightenment. Artists, composers, writers, dramatists and producers have portrayed the philosophies of their day through their art. Saving Leonardo gives prominent examples of those creative forces that have either mirrored the prevailing thought or who have worked to oppose it.

In brief, you will encounter Hemingway, London, Huxley, Hegel, Duchamp, Picasso, Kandinsky, Darwin, Nihilism, Abstract expressionism, Christian realism, John Cage and a host of others – philosophers, painters, composers and writers who influenced culture from where they stood in the house: the upper story or the lower story.

As an example of the constant interplay between dueling mindsets, the split in thinking, as shown below, shows how those of the Romantic period tried to view their ‘art’ as separate and above the newly arrived scientific fact proposed by Darwinism:

The Romantics’ two-story of truth

Imaginative truth

Creative World (Art)

Rational truth

Deterministic world (Science)

Within a Christian worldview there is no need whatsoever to divide man’s thinking into separate spheres such as spiritual fact versus science or materialism.  A Christian man or woman who is whole is a romantic-rationalist.  One very good example of such a person would be the Christian apologist and fantasy writer C.S. Lewis. Lewis, as revealed by his writing and talks, had integrated the upper and lower stories.

 Pearcey, in the section C.S. Lewis: We Can’t All Be Right, quotes Lewis:

“The Christian and the Materialist hold different views about the universe.  They can’t be both right.  The one who is wrong will act in a way which simply doesn’t fit the real universe.”

(Little wonder that homosexuality is given credence in our culture.)

Saving Leonardo is good starting point for further research.  It will certainly pique your interest when the dots start to connect to form our deformed culture right before your eyes.

End thoughts:  Unlike Pearcey I do not have an issue with modern music or with modern art.  I find them both to be revealing and stimulating each in their own way. 

Jazz is not mentioned in this book, as best I can recall.  This is a shame. I hear jazz as a very human and creative outlet within our world. I find it rather strange that the author never mentions the spontaneity, sonority and musical improvisation of jazz. I love Bach and Shostakovich and Henryk Górecki. But I also listen to Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk and Wynton Marsalis.

I also listen to the Blues:  Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, et al. My tastes in music, art and literature run eclectic.

I certainly don’t agree with the author that art has to have unifying narrative to be of value.  One of the earliest painters I connected with was Jackson Pollack.  I remember seeing a painting of his in a Life magazine article and then later at the Art Institute in Chicago. This was a time back in my junior high school days. 

Jackson’s drip paintings reminded me of a brain’s neural network being charged with emotion. Perhaps, his paintings are a one-nanosecond glimpse of a much larger narrative. In any case, art is something you can take or leave as you see fit based on your own life narrative.

There will be places in the book where you will take issue with her opinions, just I did (see below).  This is good.  Find out why you agree or disagree with her. I urge you to become knowledgeable about the current world view encircling you by reading this book. Form your own Christian-romantic-rationalist worldview to withstand secularism’s pressures.

Nancy Peacey pushes for there to be narrative and a teleological basis to paintings, music and literature.  Again, I disagree about the need for narratives.

There will be times of narrative and Newtonian Classical Physics and Bach and Norman Rockwell and Shakespeare and Charlotte Brontë where cause and effect and resolution are clearly known.  There will also be times of seeming disarray and unknowns and lack of resolution as in Quantum Physics and the music of György Ligeti, John Cage and Schoenberg and the paintings of Picasso and Jackson Pollock and the poems of Jack Kerouac.  We need both. As creators, though, we are all teleologically dependent whether we like it or not.  Intelligent design is baked into the pottery.

Jackson Pollock No 28

Jackson Pollock – No.28, 1950. Enamel on canvas

 In the final words of the book Pearcey encourages parents to not push their kids into being conservative (keeping things as they are).  Rather, she encourages parents to push for “revolutionary” children.

Like the “Forward” quote source I find this curious. From my reading of Saving Leonardo, there seems to be no direct context given for defining her word “revolutionary”.  Perhaps she means being an ‘out-side-the-box’ artist, composer or writer.  Apparently she hasn’t read Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood.

 *******

Point of contention with the book:

The book is divided into two main parts: The Threat of Global Secularism and Two Paths to Secularism. As a side note I became particularly interested in Chapter Three of the book’s Part One. The title of Chapter Three: Sex, Lies and Secularism.

In this section of Chapter Three “Hooking up, Feeling Down” Pearcey begins “Let’s move to the most contentious sexual issues of our day such as homosexuality, transgenderism and the hook-up culture.” She then goes on to say that having an understanding of the two-story dualism of modern thinking will help the Christian in providing a holistic biblical alternative.

Because of her shotgun approach of scoping transgenderism in the same sights as homosexuality, Pearcey does, I believe, relegate transgenderism to be on par morally with acting out homosexually and one-night stand sexuality. I would state emphatically here that transgenderism by definition is not about acting out sexually. Transgenderism is not equal to homosexuality whether as a sexual issue or a gender issue. It IS about gender identity/gender dysphoria and seeking to become a whole person ~ a romantic rationalist.  Or, to describe it using her term, it’s being “revolutionary.”

Further information about transgenderism:

 The Transgender Moment

A ‘Naturalized’ Woman

The Church and Gender

Other ‘related’ dichotomies: Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” Pirsig’s distinction between the “classical” and the “romantic” view is conceptually analogous to Thomas Sowell’s distinction between the constrained and unconstrained visions in “A Conflict of Visions”

The Tie that Binds Us

Her name is Magda. I sit next to here on the train many nights while traveling home from work. I’ve known her for three years.  She has worked on the same floor of the same engineering company that I do.  Not long ago, though, our CEO moved the financial dept. to the 35th floor.  Magda, part of the financial group moved upstairs and I remained with the engineers. We were no longer able to pass each other in the hallway and talk.

We do however talk on the way home from work.  Over the past three years and many miles of track Magda has told me about her life. In turn she has asked me about my life.  She is usually reserved and business-like in her conversation.   She will ask me direct questions about my kids and my family. I will answer them and then I will ask about her family. There is parity to our conversation: with each question’s answer we become equally knowledgeable about the other. Lately, though, she has asked more probing questions, specific questions regarding my grandparents and their end-of-life care. The reason for this, I believe is that her mother, who recently turned one-hundred, is in need of continual care.

 Magda moved her mother to a senior’s home this past summer.  Prior to this, her mother lived on her own in a condo out east. Magda’s brother, who lived locally, would check in on her regularly. During the time the mother lived alone the mother’s growing frailty combined with regular falls gave the family reason enough to move her to a place where she could be monitored and cared for daily. Their mother now lives not far from our train station and not far from Magda’s home.

 Magda has confided in me about her mother.  She told me that her mother is very cognizant of her surroundings and is able to move about but she continues to fall almost daily.  Each fall is more deeply injurious and the healing process becomes longer. Her circulation is faulty.  Her drawn skin, now blotched purple, bears the bruises of everyday life. A while back the toes on one her feet had to be amputated because there was no longer any circulation to the extremities of her foot. Her mother hadn’t noticed the problem and no one knew until too late.

 Magda is married. Her husband is a retired orthopedic surgeon/medical school professor who likes to winter in Florida at one of their vacation homes.  Magda, when on vacation from work, flies down to be with him.  Right now, though, Magda has been in town helping her mother convalesce until her brother comes to town to replace her for a spell. Every night she drives the couple’s Jaguar over to the senior care home.

 We rode the train together again last night.  Magda, sitting in the seat in front of me, turned around to me as she has the past several weeks to talk. Magda was wondering how others deal people have dealt with someone who is advanced in age, still independent in mind and spirit and yet too fragile to take care of themselves.  She asked about my grandparents.

 I told her that one set of grandparents died early in my life.  My mother’s father, Simon, died before I could meet him. There is a picture of him, my mother, my father and me.  I know him through the lens of someone else’s eyes.  My mother’s mother came to live with us when I was about eight years old.  Svea was eighty-five years old and becoming more feeble every day.  Because she was from Sweden she was not always easy for us as kids to understand – her talk and her ways were strange to us.  My parent’s cared for her until she became too ill.  She was then moved to a hospital where she died not long afterward.  I remember this first great sadness and loss in my life.  Grandma was living with us and now she was gone forever.  I missed her greatly when she died.  Her bedroom was empty, her spirit gone. What remained throughout our house were the delicate lace doilies she had created.

 My father’s parents lived well into their eighties.  They sold their single family home and moved into a senior’s condo residence.  There, safe in an easy to move about environment, they knew friends who had made the same move. It was a small community of elderly people, Dutch people, who regularly met in the cafeteria to talk about their kids, their grandkids and their great-grand kids.

 My grandmother, Zena, was the first of these grandparents to die.  My grandfather was never quite the same after that.  He couldn’t function without Zena.  They had been married for over sixty five years.  Eventually, my grandfather was moved to a smaller condo in the same group of buildings. There, he deteriorated rapidly.

 By this time in his life, much of my grandfather’s family was out of state.  From what I could tell, my father was the most caring of his children.  He went out of his way to care for my grandfather.  My dad, who lived out of state with my mother, asked me to look in on my grandfather. Because I still lived in the area I would visit him on a regular basis. I would sit and talk with him.  When I left him I brought his laundry home with me to wash and then returned it on my next visit. With each reoccurring visit, though, there seemed to be less of my grandfather. In conversation, his mind fumbled for words.  In the interludes of silence, his spirit was with my grandmother.

My grandfather died about a year after my grandmother.  They found him on the floor of his condo. The cords of death loosely wrapped around him, tripping him up.

 I shared all of this with Magda.

 The difficulties of caring for an elderly parent who is rapidly deteriorating can grow exponentially.  Each detail of the elderly person’s life becomes a major life issue:  simple movement, daily exercise, eating proper food, taking medications, the continuous care funding, the provision of emotional support and so much more.  The life support system of a concerned family becomes critical to the care of the person facing their mortality.

 Last night, Magda related to me all of the things involved with her mother on a daily basis. Magda visits her mom once a day.  She drives over after work and spends time with her, walking her through the hallways. There was a night recently, Magda told me, that there was small church service going on the community room of the care center.  Magda asked her mother if she wanted to go to the service but her mother refused, saying, “It’s only a church service.”

At this point in our conversation, we were both standing and waiting for the train to pull into our station.  The hour long sometimes jolting ride is hard on the legs and back.  Neither of us can sit that long. After talking briefly about the church service, Magda changed the subject and asked me about the books that I had been reading.  She said it looked as though I was studying for something.

 I pulled the book back out of my bag:  The Rage Against God by Peter Hitchens.  I explained that Peter is the brother of well known atheist Christopher Hitchens. Christopher is an English-American journalist, author and columnist.  His writing can be found in Vanity Fair, The Atlantic and other publications.  Peter, his brother, is a British journalist and author as well.  Peter is a Christian.  The recently published The Rage Against God describes his return to faith in Jesus Christ.

 I explained further that I was reading this book and the other book I carried with me because I wanted to give these books to my two elder sons.  I wanted to know what Peter gave as his reasons to return to faith. The other book I carried and read was Nancy Pearcey’s Saving Leonardo:  A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals & Meaning.

 I told Magda that my eldest son describes himself as an atheist.  He told me this one day in the car.  He did not want to be baptized. He did not want anything to do with the church or Jesus.  He was almost eighteen at the time.

 I made it clear to Magda that I wanted to lead my sons to Jesus Christ.  With a puzzled look she said, “That will be hard.” Then she asked, “Do you think people still believe such things?” I asked her, “You mean, believe in atheism?” “No, “she answered, “do you think people still believe that Jesus saves people from theirs sins and all that?” I told her, “I absolutely believe that to be true. There is no doubt in my mind.”

 The mention of the senior’s church service by Magda was the first time in three years that she has said anything close to matters of faith. I understood from our many conversations that Magda was a self-made independent woman who reads the New York Times.  Her worldview was completely secular.  She told me that she hadn’t been to church in years. I quietly realized that the book I was reading about Peter Hitchen’s life prior to faith in Christ was parallel to much of the secular worldview Magda espoused.

 Our conversation continued as we walked out of the train towards the parking lot.  She told me that she thought it was funny that a young person would be leading a church service at an old folk’s home and that he was excitedly talking about people being saved from their sins.  It seemed completely absurd to her.

 All I could do at this point was smile and tell her that as a teenager I also went to these senior homes with a man from our church every other Saturday morning.  The man, elderly himself, would speak for a short time about Jesus Christ and I would play hymns on my trumpet. I told Magda that trumpets were good instruments for the elderly.  They had no problem hearing me play. This made her smile.

 As we began to part ways looking for our cars she said, “Well, have a nice weekend.” 

 I reached over, touched her arm and said, “Have a Merry Christmas, Magda.” 

 We would see each other again next year. God willing.

How Shall I Then Live?

I have just finished reading Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals & Meaning by Nancy Pearcey, B & H Publishing Group, Copyright 2010.

As a student of art, music and literature, as well as, some philosophy and a good bit of theology, this book jumped off the shelf and caught my attention. Saving Leonardo gives the reader an overview look at the history of modern man’s fact/value split (known as the “lower story” and the “upper story” in her book) and helps us to understand the two basic worldviews that are prevalent today: Continental and Analytic. These two streams are manifested throughout today’s art, music, literature, politics and pop culture.

Pearcey uses the following dichotomies to describe our evolved mindsets:

Facts/Values
Box of Things/ box of the mind
Machine/ghost (Descartes)
Nature/Freedom (Kant)
Formalism/expressionism
Mind (autonomous self)/body (biochemical machine) – in toto, the Liberal view of the human being
Imaginative truth (art)/rational truth (deterministic world of science)

In the Continental worldview, she notes, there are the schools of idealism, marxism, phenomenology, existentialism, postmodernism and deconstructionsism. The Analytic worldview stream holds empiricism, rationalism, materialism, naturalism, logical positivism and linguistic analysis. She quotes John Stuart Mill in talking about “the antagonism already separating the two traditions: The lower story, with its materialism, “is accused of making men beasts” while the upper story, with its irrationalism, is accused of making men lunatics.””.

Culture has reflected the dueling mindsets along the way. Artists, composers and writers have portrayed the philosophies of the day through their art. Saving Leonardo gives prominent examples of artists who have either mirrored the prevailing thought or who have worked to oppose it.

The book is divided into two main parts: The Threat of Global Secularism and Two Paths to Secularism. As a trans-gendered woman I became particularly interested in Chapter Three of the book’s Part One. The title of Chapter Three: Sex, Lies and Secularism.

In the section Hooking up, Feeling Down Pearcey begins “Let’s move to the most contentious sexual issues of our day such as homosexuality, transgendersism and the hook-up culture.” She then goes on to say that having an understanding of the two-story dualism of modern thinking will help the Christian in providing a holistic biblical alternative. Because of her shotgun approach of scoping trans-gender-ism within the same sights as aberrant sexuality, Pearcey does, I believe, relegate trans-gender-ism to be on par morally with acting out homosexually and one-night stand sexuality. I would state emphatically here that trans-gender-ism is not about acting out sexually. Trans-gender-ism is not homosexuality. It is about gender identity/gender dysphoria. My concern with anyone reading Chapter Three and Pearcey’s own reductionism of the trans-gender-ism issue as being a person with a deluded worldview interlocked with a self-hatred would be that the reader would certainly be misguided and misinformed about trans-gender-ism and gender dysphoria.

To be sure, trans-gendered (TG) people can act out homosexually or bisexually. Certainly, anyone can act out sexually and do it from a broken place in their psyche. Sadly, though, I have witnessed this same type of marginalizing before in the Christian community:  trans-gender-ism aligned with homosexuality . In doing so, Pearcey sites the same article that I have contended with previously. Interestingly, though, she doesn’t mention the mindset behind the 50% divorce rate rampant in the church of Jesus Christ. (There appears to be enough biblical grace for divorcees but not enough grace for the trans-gendered individual who is at odds with their own body.)

Saving Leonardo is an overview of culminating worldviews. Because of this, suffice it to say, I read the rest of the section and the chapter and there is no detailed understanding given about trans-gender-ism, only inferences made about being able to flippantly choose your gender. The assumption here being I guess is that Pearcey is going to tell you what to understand about the issue. These assumptions are revealed in the section titled PoMoSexual Alienation. This section does mention that there are people using a postmodern point of view regarding gender.  These people contend that gender is fluid and changeable, rejecting “the binary male/female system a mere social construction.”

One of the challenges for Christians coming out of this chapter should have been, “you should seek to understand other people’s sexual issues (their world view) but keep your own sexuality pure.” The effect of this kind of mind/body sanctity and wholeness, including an enduring marriage, is a strong testimony to the rest of the world whereas the elitist knowledge of ‘good and evil’, provided in this book, doesn’t go very far with anyone. Also, the word “compassion” is used by Pearcey, but, for all intents and purposes and in practice, it is just an empty word used to cushion talk about “contentious issues” by Christians in the ‘know’.

  As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have provided some identifying ‘sexual’ definitions for the LGBT community that I have witnessed first hand. I made these definitions so that I could talk about differences with the LGBT community. In the community itself the definitions overlap. Definitions, within the community, are secondary or even tertiary issues behind getting people to affirm and codify their behavior as being OK (most recently, the repeal of Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell). The LGBTQ community has changed labels (from homosexual to gay; from homosexuals to community and so on) to massage the message, to make what they are doing more palatable to others. But, they will also use the word “Queer” and other evocative terms when they need to describe their ‘personhood’s’ ‘empowered’ and ‘liberated’ uniqueness.

Some general definitions: trans-sexual men are men who want to appear as women to gain sex with other men. Trans-sexual women want to appear as men to gain sex with other women. I don’t have to give examples here because you have seen this acted out in daily life. Because Saving Leonardo is an overview of the generation of worldviews these sexual distinctions are not noted in Pearcey’s book. Only blanket statements are wielded regarding sexuality/gender issues seemingly to rattle the cages of the Christian chipmunks asleep on the wheel.

I mentioned earlier that transgender people identify themselves by their gender disconnect from their body and not by their sexual preferences. Pearcey does talk about the mind/body brokenness in modern thinking and there is some truth to what she is saying, especially as it relates to the LGBT community, but also, as well to the general public. We are a people who say that bodies can be disposed of (abortion, euthanasia, embryonic research) and can also be used for sordid pleasure (homosexuality, bi-sexuality, trans-sexuality, hook-up sex, etc.) and who augment, plasticize, starve, binge-purge and reinvent our bodies, our looks, to fit a certain desired idolized self-image.

Pearcey writes about gender issues later in the section Bodies Matter. She talks about the Gender (psychological identity and sexual desire)/Biology (physical identity and anatomy) split. She talks about the divorcing of gender and anatomy as a means to denigrating the materiality of the body. She writes, “A genuinely biblical view honors and respects our biological identity. Psalm 139 says God “knits” together our bodies in the womb. Masculine or feminine identity is a gift from God to be enjoyed in gratitude.”

I agree with these words. I believe in a binary gender/sexuality – of male and female as separate and distinct beings. The physical boundaries of gender are represented by the unique anatomical differences of male and female. Psychologically, male/female boundaries are generally more fluid, hence sexuality issues and gender issues can more easily arise resulting in conflict and a resolution or repression of the conflict. Sexual identity may be influenced by environment, social constructs, psychological trauma and/or biology (hormone secretion on the brain in the womb). All of psychology’s assumptions about how gender identity is ultimately derived are just that, assumptions. None of them are verifiable. Psychology does, though, seek to relieve a person’s distress by trying to understand the cause of distress. The biblical wellness scenario: the whole person is a mind and body, one unified whole, either male or female, who is not in distress or despair.

What God has created is good.  He knitted me together in my mother’s womb  – with the gender disconnect.  Because of this and the fact that there is also the work of redemption going on in human history, I made the decision many years ago to make the changes needed to live as a unified whole and as a woman. This was after many hours of ‘rationale’ sessions with counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists and healing prayer. I came to the understanding that I could make the change because God gave me the grace to do so within the framework of a Christian worldview of redemption. I do not embrace a post-modern worldview of gender.

Born in the fifties, I was raised in a Christian home, without psychological trauma or encouragement to be a female, I never heard of a postmodern (PM) view of gender as described by Pearcey in this chapter. Of course, I knew of Woodstock and Warhol but I knew at the same time that I had a strong Christian worldview and also that I was female.

No trans-gendered person I know of, and there are many, had made their changes based on this PM worldview premise that Pearcey describes in her book. Rather, each one at various times has told me that they knew their gender identity when they were a small child. They may have, later on, used the PM gender theorist’s justification of gender fluidity to endorse their change from a secular worldview point. The real genesis of their change, as told to me, was inherent in them from the start of their lives. Generally, when a person writes about something they have no first hand knowledge of, they make assumptions and generalizations based on the loudest proponents banging their drums off in the distance. That is the case with Saving Leonardo, Chapter 3.

In doing so I feel Pearcey blacklists transgender people. Beyond this, I have also heard Nancy Pearcey, during a recent radio interview, mention the same “contentious” connection – trans-gender-ism and homosexuality.  She undoubtedly set some teeth on edge about the subject of trans-gender-ism. I heard her say this on a Saturday morning MBN broadcast program called In the Market with Janet Parshall (I am a former student of the Moody Bible Institute.  Therein lays my interest in the radio program.).   When a person talks in this way they continue to propagate, I believe, a fear of the unknown (gender dysphoria).  And, when people don’t understand something they often will reject it wholesale, out of fear.

Nancy knows, I have no doubt, that Scripture is very definitive about sexual sin whether its homosexual sin or hook-up sin. She also knows that Scripture does not define or mention trans-genderism (TG-ism). Because of this, Pearcey has to make inferences regarding TG-ism. I don’t agree with the inferences she has made in this section, the first being that it is related to a “contentious” sexual “issue” such as homosexuality or hook-up sex.

Here’s something of what compassion for a trans-gendered individual would look like:

1. Understanding that trans-gender-ism is not the same as acting out homosexually. It is not a sexual issue. It is a gender identity issue. (In general, most people are not confused about their gender. Some people are confused about their gender and then, there are a few people who are gender dysphoric.)

2. Understanding that trans-gender-ism (gender dysphoria) is a disconnect between mind and body that usually originates in infancy or early childhood and carries on into adult life. This disconnect may be due to a traumatic childbirth (see Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology), perhaps due to a deep psychological neurosis, perhaps due to a biological imbalance of hormones before birth). In any case, it is a heavy burden to carry. Christians are to bear one another’s burdens.

3. TG-ism may or may not be treatable or changeable in this life. The person may not be able to overcome his/her disconnect through counseling and Christian social ‘shock’ therapies (Dobson-esque tough love). In any case, this person has to choose the path to wholeness. The desire for wholeness, I would suggest, is inborn in all humans (the underlying point, I believe, of Saving Leonardo). I chose wholeness and unity of mind and body and spirit and a celibate lifestyle to walk in.

4. Tough love results in an even tougher resolve.

5. Accept the trans-gendered person at face value. Don’t be dismissive of them. (I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a wife whisper to her husband, letting him know that she knows ‘about’ the trans-gendered person. This woman only wants a laugh at the TG person’s expense.) There is no need to create a social leper colony, keeping TG people away from the church. Embrace, not exclusion.

5. A trans-gendered person can have a happy life. Much of what I hear from Christian articles about trans-gender-ism is that trans-gendered people go off into despair and perhaps even become suicidal.  This is not true, at least in my case and for others that I know. 

6.  It should be noted that a gender dysphoric person is not a neat little cataloged item found in a DSM manual or some coordinate on a worldview system map who may be pointed out with a “contentious” disdain.  Rather, gender dysphoria is a person with their own personal dichotomy of mind and body who seeks complete and utter wholeness.

Having said all this, I do not think that trans-gender-ism should be promoted as a life choice by any group. It is a unique and difficult situation that should not be marketed in a gender ‘mall’. On the other hand, though, I do think that when all possible remedial actions have been considered to resolve the TG person’s identity conflict and a resolution is not forthcoming – is not towards a material end as presented by nature, then a material adaptation of nature can be accommodated to match the TG persons understanding and bring about wholeness. In other words, living with a separation of mind and body is not an option for anyone. For a person who is not trans-gendered this would be a difficult concept to understand. Especially since there are trans-sexuals who do play the gender game.

I realize that a Christian rationalist psychologist will say that a trans-gendered person should live with the tension and find ways to ‘deal’ with it. In other words, live out a Jack London novel of man struggling with nature and the beast. You should understand that this tension can be exceedingly unbearable. Trans-gender-ism tension, unlike sexual tension, does not seek to resolve itself in sexual relations with another person or in emotional relationships with another person. It seeks wholeness of being. Trans-gender-ism is not kitsch posing as a woman. That is trans-sexual-ism. There are, of course, varying degrees of Trans-gender-ism. Every person is different.

Finally, I don’t need the pity or compassion as construed at the end of the chapter. The chapter begins with the mention of “contentious issues” and ends with words about having compassion for the trans-gendered person. As usual, the “contentious issues” are spelled out by the ‘Christian’ but, the word “compassion” is rarely fleshed out.

What is fleshed out: I live as a Christian woman with a Christian worldview as a unified whole. I do not hate my body. I never did. I do hate, though, Christian psychological snobbery disguised as ‘knowing’ compassion.

On the whole, I think the book is laudable in its attempt to help Christians understand modern man’s dealing with two combating worldviews, Analytic and Continental. This book gives Christians a place to begin discourse with those who are wishing to find a resolution to the worldview conflicts they are facing daily.  This opening will then enable Christians to reveal the Gospel’s answer of a complete narrative history of redemption and wholeness to those who have lost their way. The path to wholeness is difficult for everyone, even for Leonardo. So, compassion all around.

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Footnote:
 In the final words of the book, Pearcey encourages parents to not push their kids into being conservative (keeping things as they are).  Rather, she encourages parents to push for “revolutionary” children. From my reading of Saving Leonardo, there seems to be no direct context given for defining her words.  Perhaps she means being an ‘out-side-the-box’ artist or composer or a great Christian writer or… ?

I’ll supply my own context: One revolutionary thing that I have done (something outside the box given me) is that I did not conserve (keep things as they are). Instead, I began living as woman to create a unifying whole, a life narrative of redemption, an autobiography of grace bestowed.

Finally, I find it rather strange that the author never mentions the spontaneity, sonority and musical improvisation of jazz.