Bags of Bran


Aldous Huxley has something to say to you, libertine Christian
July 2, 2014, 1:05 pm
Filed under: Bibliophilia, Destined to get me in trouble

Recently I became a pastor, and even more recently I became the first pastor that several people in the congregation had ever heard endorse Aldous Huxley books. Personally, I’m more surprised at the first than the latter.

Good literature helps us understand those noumenal connections that make humanity what it is. In the case of Huxley’s dystopian Brave New World, good literature helps us understand what humanity will do to itself as it advances in technological discovery. Huxley does not paint a pretty picture of a future bright with learning and harmony: Brave New World is the antithesis of Star Trek in that way. Rather, it is a future of passionless passion and triviality, bounded only by rules that nobody cares enough to break anymore, so engrossed are they with feelies, centrifugal bumblepuppy, soma, and solidarity services.

I could go down through the list of Huxley’s engrossments point-by-point and highlight how each corresponds to a particular vice. I could, from there, show how our culture celebrates analogous things, point-by-point. And I could argue that American Christians are as engrossed with the analogous things as anyone in Huxley’s novel. The Biblical injunction to “Love not the world” found in John’s first epistle simply falls on ears too engrossed to listen, chests too shallow to value, and minds too dulled to comprehend.

Most Christians used to agree that there were certain cultural tags that were legitimate check-boxes for appraising whether someone was a worldling or not. Need we be surprised that these vices are now being furiously recast as virtues? That pastors, because they have Netflix accounts and pump Hollywood into their homes, can no longer see any problem with theater?

This is why I recommend Huxley to people. He shows the inevitable end of Christian Hedonism or any other kind of hedonism in all its de-humanization. Huxley shows you that you’re not going to have as much fun as you think you’re going to have. He also hints that you’re probably going to have to find that out the hard way.

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2 Comments so far
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I read BNW in 2001; it tills the impervious soil of the mind. Also, wouldn’t mind reading you going down the list point-by-point.

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Comment by Tim Emslie

It’s one of those books that will stay in the rotation for me. One summer I and a handful of friends read 1984, Brave New World, and then Amusing Ourselves to Death. Then we got together and were kind of bummed out, as you could probably imagine, because of the list of analogous things that you wouldn’t mind reading about. Postman has already laid the foundation for your list: it might not look the same as mine, which is why I’m reluctant to provide one. Some things are more obvious than others, and some things have hold of us who think we’re at least partially awake in the matter.

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Comment by christopheram




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