Tuesday, January 11, 2011


In (Dis)Orientation, John Zmirak has compiled 14 essays explaining the reigning ideologies (and their devastating effects) of our time. His co-authors are among the best: Elizabeth Scalia from The Anchoress, Fr. Dwight Longnecker, Peter Kreeft, and Jimmy Akin (to name just a few). They write specifically for students (probably ages 17 through 22) as they guide them through a critical evaluation of our culture's popular assumptions and prejudices.

I really enjoyed this one: It was like philosophical candy for my mommy brain. The concepts (which I studied in the original many eons ago) are well-presented. Zmirak cross-references the essays with one another, so you can really begin to grasp the connections between, say, feminism and Marxism, or progressivism and utilitarianism, or hedonism and modernism. Because, as the collection confirms, all errors are in the end the same error.

The book is definitely written for Catholics: Almost every article critiques the culture from a Roman point of view (in fact, Akin writes his essay specifically on anti-Catholicism). This is a perfect Confirmation gift or graduation gift for the young Catholic who is hopelessly naive about the real spiritual and intellectual warfare going on out there. It's also great for parents who blithely send their offspring off to secular (and, let's face it, Catholic) universities. There ain't no room for blithe spirits in the upper echelons of the Western university, but there are ways for students--and their families--to be prepared.

I also found the essays helpful for me: I was surprised how many of these ideological attitudes (such as feminism and utilitarianism) I tend to judge myself on. In my moments of self-assurance, I tend to think I'm pretty immune to our intellectual failings, but in reading the essays I found myself nodding, "Yes, I do unconsciously absorb that attitude." It's good to have a little self-diagnosis once in a while...

Worth the price, worth the time.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company, and the reviewer received a free copy of the text in exchange for her opinion. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Disorientation. The Catholic Company is a great place for Catholic Valentine's Day gifts, too!

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