Four Cultures of the West Reviewed

In Four Cultures of the West, this cultural history, by John W. O’Malley, Distinguished Professor of Church History at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, provides the reader with another interpretive grid for the history of the West. The method of writing is straightforward and iterative and includes examples of real people and real cultural events that gave rise to such an interpretation. I recommend it especially to educators.

The Four Cultures identified include 1) Prophecy and Reform, 2) The Academy and the Professions, 3) Poetry, Rhetoric, and the Common Good, and 4) Art and Performance. As states one back jacket review:

“This sweeping survey of Western cultural history, ought to be required reading for – among others – literary and philosophical [unbelievers]: postmodernists, New Agers, Generation-Xers and college students everywhere. It’s a clear, cogent survey of the cultural roots we all have, willy-nilly, consciously or otherwise…In all this Father O’Malley makes an illuminating guide. His relaxed, agreeable prose (a blend of cultures two and three) should attract a wide spectrum of readers.” – Peter Heinegg, America

In my world teaching classical Christian high school faculty, students and parents, this kind of interpretive help expands the various other grids already in place. It adds much to knowledge as well since the author is a historian and makes use of his specialty, western church history, throughout the work.

Enjoy reading and better teaching and learning will result.

Four Cultures of the West, O’Malley, John W., ISBN 067402103-7