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Beyond Tenebrae

Beyond Tenebrae

Christian Humanism in the Twilight of the West

By Bradley J. Birzer

258 pp

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About the Book

Beyond Tenebrae is about Christian humanism in all its breadth and depth, and the persons and groups best embodying it (quite apart from any particular social or political stance) in the last century and a half. Modern readers who sense the greatness of the “Republic of Letters” that commenced with the wisdom of the ancient Greeks and has endured for over two millennia will benefit from being introduced to the great men and women presented in these pages, ranging from lesser-known figures (T.E. Hulme, Canon Bell, Clyde Kilby, Theodore Haecker) to the more famous (Irving Babbitt, Christopher Dawson, Russell Kirk, Alexander Solzhenitsyn). Nor does the author, Bradley Birzer, a keen student of literature and poetry, neglect literary figures with strong humanist motivations, again ranging from the celebrated (Willa Cather, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Flannery O’Connor) to those who are forgotten or controversial (Shirley Jackson, Walter Miller, Margaret Atwood). We are treated as well to vignettes of those who influenced Birzer’s own life as a conservative and a humanist. By an interweaving of philosophical reflections with vivid biographical portraits, a vision emerges of a broad, responsible, humble, self-aware Christian humanism that can be a light shining in the darkness of the postmodern West.


“It’s as if C. S. Lewis and Christopher Dawson were sent by God to touch the mind of Brad Birzer to communicate to the rest of us mere mortals those deeper truths about ourselves of which we constantly need reminding even though they are never quite forgotten.”


Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, Baylor University

“Bradley J. Birzer’s new study gives us in one brief volume a rich account of Christian humanism’s vision and its greatest disciples. May it inspire yet a new generation to become civilized.”


Associate Professor of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions, Villanova University

“In Beyond Tenebrae, Brad Birzer sketches an image of the darkness of the present day—Tenebrae, the dying of the light—but gives us as well a humanist hope for what lies beyond these shadows.”


President, Wyoming Catholic College

“Brad Birzer offers us insight into the wonder, mystery, and power of the individual—ranging from Ray Bradbury to Margaret Atwood to Ronald Reagan. In each, he finds sparks of hope and imagination, ready to set the world on fire, even in these strange times.”


New York Times bestselling co-author of Dune: House Atreides

“In these pages, readers will discover a Republic of Letters of great minds and proud spirits conversing with each other across the ages. They will not be disappointed.”


Research Director, Acton Institute

“This wonderful, wide-ranging, and rollicking guide to Christian humanism is bursting with both profound insights and infectious energy, exactly what we’ve come to expect from the lively mind and trenchant pen of Brad Birzer.”


Editor, Catholic World Report

About the Author

Bradley J. Birzer is Russell Amos Kirk Chair in American Studies and Professor of History, Hillsdale College. Co-founder and senior contributor of The Imaginative Conservative, he is also the author of several critically-acclaimed biographies, including those of Russell Kirk, Christopher Dawson, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Carroll of Carrollton. He is also proudly a member of Tom Woods’s Liberty Classroom. Birzer and his wife, Dedra (also a professional historian), have seven children and divide their time between Michigan and Colorado.

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