Read Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child by Anthony M. Esolen Online


How to raise children who can sit with a good book and read? Who are moved by beauty? Who delight in innocence? Who have no compulsions - who don't have to buy the latest this or that vanity? Who are not bound to the instant urge, wherever it may be found?Thoughtful parents everywhere ask such questions but struggle to find answers. But now, in this eagerly anticipated folHow to raise children who can sit with a good book and read? Who are moved by beauty? Who delight in innocence? Who have no compulsions - who don't have to buy the latest this or that vanity? Who are not bound to the instant urge, wherever it may be found?Thoughtful parents everywhere ask such questions but struggle to find answers. But now, in this eagerly anticipated follow-up to his acclaimed book Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, Anthony Esolen shows the way.Although freedom has become a byword of our age, Esolen shows why the common understanding of freedom - as a permission slip to do as you please - is narrow, misleading ... and dangerous. He draws on great thinkers of the Western tradition, from Aristotle and Cicero to Dante and Shakespeare to John Adams and C.S. Lewis, to remind us what human freedom truly means.Life Under Compulsion shows why our children are not free at all but in fact are becoming slaves to compulsions. Some compulsions come from without: government mandates that determine what children are taught, and even what they can eat in school. Others come from within: the itches that must be scratched, the passions by which children (like the rest of us) can be mastered.Common Core, smartphones, video games, sex ed, travel teams, Twitter, politicians, popular music, advertising, a world with more genders than there are flavours of ice cream - these and many other aspects of contemporary life come under Esolen's sweeping gaze in Life Under Compulsion.This elegantly written book restores lost wisdom about education, parenting, literature, music, art, philosophy, and leisure. It also restates the importance of concepts so often dismissed today: truth, beauty, goodness, love, faith, and virtue. But above all else, it reminds us of a fundamental truth: that a child is a human being. Countercultural in the best sense of term, Life Under Compulsion is an indispensable guide for any parent who wants to help a child remove the shackles and enjoy a truly free, and full, life....

Title : Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781610170949
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 222 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child Reviews

  • Steven Wedgeworth
    2019-06-03 01:00

    I really enjoyed this book, as Esolen continues themes already sketched out by folks like Chesterton, Lewis, Wendell Berry, and many "paleo-cons" on the dehumanizing effects of the modern liberal-progressive way of looking at the world. By this description, I do not mean the far left or radical progressives, but rather the ordinary and normal technocratic egalitarian pragmaticism that most everyone assumes about life. Esolen points us back to a classical vision of "freedom," goodness, and a rich life. The book's subtitle and cover image are misleading. I bought the book thinking that it would be something of a parenting manual. I expected it to be a heady parenting manual, but still, I thought it would have something to say about *how* to teach a child. It does not. That marketing approach sits confused and uneven throughout the book. This book is instead an socio-philosophical contrast between a classical humanistic philosophy and modern times, what Esolen dubs "life under compulsion." His thesis is that having been promised unfettered freedom, we are actually constantly compelled to follow base urges, conform to consumptive market forces, and to live isolated lives that do not afford us the necessary conditions for true freedom. We do what we do because we don't see any way to do anything else. The criticisms are the best parts of this book, and it is certainly a combative book. But it's written with that sort of dry erudite wit that one would expect of the crustier English prof. In one chapter, Esolen subjects President Obama's first inaugural speech to a devastating literary critique. The book is less strong when it comes to positive proposals. It does say to read great books, have kids, build a home, and go to church. That's good. But it doesn't get into the specifics of why those things are so hard these days-- no real discussion of job restrictions, city planning, travel, etc. As such, this book is definitely a form of preaching to the choir. But it's good preaching.

  • Corey
    2019-05-31 18:42

    This book makes me want to sing. And that's significant, because I don't sing.

  • Amy
    2019-06-17 17:39

    Contrary to the title, this book is not just for parents, but for anyone interested in restoring sanity and grace to her life, especially if she is a little too cozy with facebook or twitter. I love a book that challenges me to think about things in a different way, to see things as I had not seen them before--in this case, all the compulsions that crowd my life, and what they might be doing to interfere with my freedom (for the opposite of compulsion is freedom). So many good things to think about in here. Plus Esolen quotes Jacques Maritain, which earns him an extra star from this philosophy major. He weaves references to literature, art, and even the "Twilight Zone" into his writing, and I am glad to have ideas for more authors to read (like Sigrid Undset--how have I missed her?). In the end, one is left with hope, and gratitude.

  • Stef
    2019-06-10 23:59

    if you read only one book this year, make this IT.

  • Angela Boord
    2019-05-29 17:35

    Anthony Esolen's critique of modern atheistic, state-controlled culture given through the lens of education and how we raise our children can in places be devastating, but I found his tone off-putting at times -- somewhat mocking and condescending. Since I agreed with everything criticism he made, I never put the book down, but I wonder if someone else picked up the book -- someone who needed a little convincing that the current set of liberal cultural givens need examining and ultimately, to be rejected -- would that reader be able to finish the book, or would she simply close it, feeling only insulted? Esolen's conclusions are spot-on for the most part and do not deserve to be watered down. I would unhesitantly recommend the book. But Esolen's tone is the reason I gave 4 and not 5 stars to this book.

  • Laura
    2019-06-07 18:42

    You... probably shouldn't read this book.It almost offended me every once in awhile, and I'm pretty conservative. Esolen is like the Jon Stewart of conservatives. It's that level of snark, only turned against those who live without God, those whom he considers "a commuter at best, or a tourist, or a prisoner" riding on the bus of Evolutionary Progress or The Right Side of History or whatever other contemporary brand of self-assurance might seem to offer purpose and meaning to life without God.And yet, I was continually in awe of Esolen's knowledge of history. I read so few books that appeal to historical precedent with such confidence, and even fewer books where Shakespeare is quoted so casually, so perfectly, and so frequently. Perhaps the best way I can describe Esolen's work is to say that he unplugs all the buzzing machinery of the current age, and you can suddenly hear the quiet hum of crickets again. Esolen is trying to strip away the distractions and get to the simple core of what it means to be alive.I kept wanting to put it down, but I kept picking it back up again, curious to see what he would tackle next with his sometimes clever and sometimes scathing critiques. It was refreshing at times, bracing at others, and downright irritating on occasion, too. If you believe that Conservative is a code word for ignorant, selfish, or uneducated, perhaps Esolen will change your mind? But I think he's probably too bellicose to really speak to anyone who is outside of his fold. (I send my kids to public schools, and he dismisses this as an option in pretty much every chapter, so I'm certainly out.) Read it for curiosity, read it for shock value (which seems obvious given the title), but just don't expect to get many solutions out of him. He's just here to ridicule.

  • Kelly
    2019-06-09 17:46

    Esolen analyzes modern culture in this thought-provoking and sometimes heart-wrenching book, describing what an ideal culture might look like and how far modern culture is from that ideal. A Lewis-like wandering writing style was my only complaint, but otherwise this book is well worth the read.

  • Peter
    2019-06-25 18:58

    This was the first (and still only) book I read in Kindle, which was an interesting experience. Once I figured out how Kindle works - bookmarking, highlighting, the ability to look up words, is was fun. However, I still prefer actually holding the book and making notes and observations as needed. I have become familiar with Esolen over the last few years reading his essays - How the Church Changed the World - in the monthly Magnificat. He has a very fluid style, reminiscent of forms of writing history - using a story to tell history. He is an English professor at Providence College in RI, so that would explain his style of writing. I think it is refreshing and engaging. In this book, he takes on living as a person of faith, with an attachment to traditional culture and learning (permanent things), and how increasingly difficult that is in today's world. That such people feel under increasing pressure to either conform or at least to be quiet - to keep their thinking and reasoning to themselves. Hence the title. For educators and parents, and anyone concerned with the state of our culture, I think this is a worthwhile read.

  • Winston Elliott III
    2019-06-06 16:34

    Anthony Esolen challenges the reader to live a life of true freedom. Many Americans today worship "liberty" as a religion of choice. Esolen encourages the reader to avoid using "freedom/liberty" as abstract "virtue" terms as most do in the modern understanding where these terms are almost universally meant as choice without government compulsion, without the greater responsibility of moral duty. This concept of "liberty/freedom" is in direct contradiction to an understanding of the dignity of the human person. Reading this very fine book will help us to define liberty as including a substantive understanding of the human person as a creature of the Creator. Without that "freedom" is just another utilitarian path to the inferno.Dr. Esolen is a marvelous story teller and illuminates the way that we, and our children, may make to a fuller humanity through literature, art, and a well appreciated re-found leisure. This is a book to aid us as parents and educators as we seek to offer children the love of God found in family and faith. There is Hope in a fallen world, it is to be found in truth, beauty and goodness, the gifts of our Creator. In gratitude, let us pray.

  • Emily
    2019-06-04 00:37

    I don't think words can express how good or how profound this book is...but if it can be expressed in words, Anthony Esolen is the person who could do it satisfactorily. He has a knack for solidifying thoughts I didn't quite realize I was already thinking. I suppose that's what happens when truth is spoken. It seems to be instantly recognizable for what it is.I recommend this book to everyone.

  • Jlnpeacock
    2019-05-31 19:47

    The book is excellent in analyzing the problems that face us today and cause our children, as well as ourselves, to be less that what we can and should be. Read the book and explore the ways in which to broaden your child's world and help them to become a fuller and richer created being.

  • Aimee
    2019-06-26 23:03

    Every parent needs to read this one!!

  • Ed Lang
    2019-06-10 16:53

    A masterpiece.

  • Scott Kennedy
    2019-06-01 00:48

    In the introduction, Esolen explains his purpose: “I believe we are bringing our children up not for the freedom we enjoy but for the compulsions we suffer. Some of those compulsions we even mistake for freedom, so that the more of them we win, the more tightly we bind ourselves, body and soul.”Freedom according to Esolen is what Aquinas defined as not doing what one pleases, but realizing the fulfilment of your natural and created being, without impediments. Man’s nature should drive him toward love and truth. This is freedom; freedom for, not freedom from. Pinocchio is most the puppet and not a real boy when he goes his own way in heedlessness and folly!Esolen identifies that compulsions that enslave our children come from without and within. From without examples include government mandates determining what children are to be taught, how they are taught, and what they are allowed to eat in schools. Examples of from within compulsion are seen in the way we must respond to our cell phone buzzing, we must buy this latest vanity and so on. In his chapter on the school, Esolen makes the point that school is not for teaching children but for socializing children. This is striking, because one of the most common questions asked of people like my wife and I about homeschooling, is “How do you make sure your children are socialized?” The stupid thing is, what how do we think people were socialized before there was free public education – by their families and communities of course! He also investigate the way we are forgetting how to think, and talks about Newspeak (see Orwell’s 1984). Thus, writes Esolen,“You must think yourself into believing that there is a developing child in Sally’s womb, because Sally wants it, but only a parasitic blob in Sandy’s womb, because Sandy does not. Indeed, you must believe that it can alter its being at the whim of the mother, from child to blob or from blob to child, depending upon her state of mind at the moment. You must believe that what is obviously human is not human, and what is obviously alive is not alive. You must call things by improper names: birth control instead of birth prevention, clinic instead of abattoir. The blaring propaganda of the radio and the television screen assists you in this slow intellectual suicide.”As in his other books, Esolen will probably offend feminists and modernists who do not see the immense value of a woman making a home. And at this point I have to share a classic quote that Esolen introduced in his chapter on work.“Millions of women rose up, said G.K. Chesterton, to declare that they would no longer be dictated to, and promptly became stenographers.”Of women in work, he writes,“In other words, you are free if you must show up at a certain place at a certain time, to do a certain well-defined and usually narrow thing, for a certain salary, or else be fired. You are not free if you are Ruth’s grandmother in the home, ordering her days as she sees fit, sometimes washing and cooking, sometimes painting, making clothing for her children, teaching them songs, telling them stories while weaving, and doing those things out of love. You are free if you push papers for a boss for nine hours a day or scrape the plaque from the teeth of strangers with bad breath. You are not free if you take the time to write enchanting letters. You are free if you deliver other people’s letters in a mailbag.”On the family he writes,“Now if the father cannot provide for his children, and if his countrymen are not willing to support him in his need, then the mother must earn a wage. Against her natural inclination she must leave the child….A merciful society would see to it that that happened as infrequently as possible by encouraging the formation of stable families, with fathers strongly committed to their wives and their children. We should want the father in the family so that the mother can be with the infant. We want the real freedom that the family brings.”Regarding the new trend to outsource child care to ‘professionals’ he writes,“This is a new thing in the history of the world: that children should spend most of their waking hours among people who do not love them and who, after a little time has passed, will not remember their names. I am not blaming the people who run the centers, just as I do not blame people who forget the names of the dogs they have housed in their kennels. I am blaming the very idea of the thing.”I can hear the objection,“But these centers are necessary if the mother, or in some cases the father is to go to work. If they are necessary, they are necessary evils. But most of the clients do not view them as such. They are seen as liberating the parent, for work, from the child. And that is a strange liberty indeed. It is a headlong race away from love, and peace, and the only real world there is. And it is paid for by subjecting the small child to clockwork and impersonality. Time to get up, time to eat, time to go to the center, time to nap, time for playing in the playground under strict supervision, time for everything but simply to be?”Regarding evil, Esolen writes, we are to tolerate much, forgive all, and condone nothing. We have to tolerate much sin, because we ourselves are sinners. Pretending perfection is hypocritical. No society can be perfect. Jesus tells us to forgive all sin done against us. Finally, we should never condone evil. We are commanded to be holy as our Father is holy. In the chapter entitled Giving In, Esolen quotes Romano Guardini who spoke of the era of ‘mass man’. In this era the individual is submerged beneath the masses, and man has no real culture, home and no aim, but what he is given through mass education, entertainment and politics. Paul Elmer More writes of this kind of situation,“The world is not contradicted with impunity, and he who sets himself against the world’s belief will have need of all a man’s endurance and all a man’s strength…[He] will find himself subjected to an intellectual isolation and contempt almost as terrible as the penalties of the inquisition, and quite as effective in producing a silent conformity. If a man doubts this, let him try, and learn. Submission to the philosophy of change is the real effeminacy; it is the virile part to react.”I think this is where we are at now. It’s time for Christians and those who care to stand against the madness of our modern world that is destroying our families and ultimately our culture.

  • Josiah
    2019-06-17 16:51

    Despite the title, this book really has nothing to do with child-rearing. It has everything to do with what it means to be human.Esolen has a good way with words and makes a lot of interesting and helpful points in this book. I particularly liked his discussion of how the meaning of the word "rhetoric" has changed over the past century or so, and he also made a lot of good points on what true compulsion actually is. There was a lot of underlining done in this book.That being said, I felt like Esolen fell into the trap of idealized agrarianism that people have been following into since Virgil (and before Virgil as well). Technology and urban life aren't that bad. Agrarian life isn't the romantic, idealized version you're painting. While I read a lot about how technology affects us and certainly agree on the dangers, I felt like Esolen painted with too broad strokes in his bashing of technology and idealization (or perhaps idolization?) of rural life.On a similar train of thought, you kind of need to agree with Esolen's basic points already in order to enjoy this book. While I liked a lot of this, I don't think Esolen would be persuasive to someone who didn't already agree with him since he brushes off objections aside too quickly and is pretty dismissive of alternate viewpoints. If you're not already gung-ho about the classical paradigm and all that entails, this probably isn't the book for you.The book also felt a bit repetitive by the end and could have been shortened by 20% without losing much.Overall, Esolen is really good at painting a beautiful picture of what he believes the ideal life looks like, but not really effective at making a case for it (at least in this book). I enjoyed the parts where I was already in agreement with him since he cast it in a new, appealing light, but where I disagreed with him, it felt like he painted with too-broad strokes and idealized things. Rating: 3.5 Stars (Good).

  • Philip Green
    2019-06-09 19:51

    This book could easily be condensed by hundreads of pages. It is all flowery words and quotations of famous people and little on substance. I agreed with the mains points of the book that I made it too before I quit. But I got tired of slogging through 90 lines about god or some parable to actually get to 5 lines of substance. If written in a consise and clear way this book would be half as long and possibly a good read.

  • Ietrio
    2019-05-29 00:46

    Wow! I usually do not read the marketing junk associated with a book. Sometimes, like in this case, it might be a mistake. This is a fundamentalist book about terrorizing the young. Talking about semantics: compulsion is the word for choice, the same way as freedom is the only freedom a backward individual with imaginary friends can have: the freedom to obey. Scary text. Humanity means the state of a tame pet.

  • Katie Fitzgerald
    2019-06-03 19:36

    Anthony Esolen is a conservative Catholic college professor and social commentator whose blog posts and articles about topics such as free speech have been very interesting to me following the 2016 election. In this book (published in 2015), Esolen uses lovely allusions to classic works of literature to build compelling arguments against much of the political correctness, revisionist history, and cultural corruption he observes in the US. He writes beautifully, confidently and passionately about the need for parents to protect their children from the influences of a Godless relativistic culture, and I found myself nodding along as I read, thrilled to have someone articulate so simply what has been bothering me for a long time. Esolen is a brilliant writer and thinker, and whether you have kids or not, this book is worth reading. I've heard that his 2010 bookTen Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child is even better, and I can't wait to read that next!

  • E
    2019-05-30 21:36

    I don't really know how to describe this book except to say that it is fantastic. Esolen is a Christian classicist who understands what to means to truly live as free men. This book is less about parenting, as the subtitle would seem to suggest, and more about what it means to be human. The "ten ways" are actually reflections on ways in which our modern culture has strayed so far from the God-imaging ideal. In education, we force children to think certain ways, the pre-approved, P.C. opinions of the academe that instructed today's teachers. We have made work mindless, an end unto itself. We prod people to pursue their lusts while poo-pooing the restraining freedom of monogamy. We pretend to embrace tolerance but substitute Phariseeism in its place. We believe in something as dumb as the "right side of history"--progress, progress, progress, as least as the ascendants would define it. We downplay the family while giving credence to the strength and opinions of the mob. We shun contemplation and prayer.Throughout Esolen weaves lots of Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, Spenser, Donne, Dickens, and so many more. The book may seem like a "downer," but there are a lot of cobwebs to clear away. As he does so Esolen frees the reader to picture a life in accord with the values that God has assigned it. It is good to be a creature. It is good to resist the temptation to "be like God, knowing good and evil."

  • SiSApis
    2019-06-17 19:48

    Better than _Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child_; largely because Esolen drops the facetious (Screwtape-ian) concept of the earlier work and here shares his thoughts more directly and genuinely. Esolen's thoughts are a pleasure to spend time with; not since Neil Postman has cultural commentary been presented with such excellence of both observation and expression. Although he wobbles here and there (he can't resist an infrequent disparaging remark about climate change, for example), it is a wonder to experience this beautifully-disciplined mind treading the tightrope that the "narrow way" has become in this, our last days. Indeed, as when we watch the accomplished tightrope walker ply her hazardous art, the occasional wobble reminds us that she is only a mere mortal, a person just like us, and raises our appreciation of what she has been able to accomplish, and raises our own estimation, perhaps, regarding what we, too, might accomplish, with courage and dedication. So with Esolen's work. And although the overall content is generally sobering--even deeply sad--it is a comfort at least to know that we are not alone, and to be instructed in what freedom truly consists of in this culture of slavery ("compulsion").

  • Ian
    2019-06-09 18:44

    When coming upon Thoreau's observation that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," there is a certain kind of reader who feels like writing in the margin, "How would you know, fathead?" I admit that if I am not that kind of reader, I am spiritually akin to him, and though I enjoy a good jeremiad as much as the next man I tend to approach them with a certain amount of skepticism. Esolen has written a good jeremiad here, based on the simple truth that the life of virtue is the life of perfect freedom, whereas surrender to vice is always to that extent surrender to compulsion. In exploring that theme in many areas of life, Esolen is often insightful, and sometimes anything but (Do we really need bells in schools? he opines; yes, that's how we know the next subject is beginning); often the tone of the writing is so censorious that it seems to assume a perspective of superhuman superiority not unlike Thoreau's sweeping, godlike judgments. Esolen is better when he is writing about what he loves, often in an elegiac mode.

  • Todd White
    2019-06-25 00:00

    read in small bites, chew slowly and digest.

  • HG
    2019-06-25 00:37

    A book to read and reread for yourself not just your children. "I am writing this book because I believe we are bringing up our children not for the freedom we enjoy but for the compulsions we suffer. Some of those compulsions we even mistake for freedom, so that the more of them we win, the more tightly we bind ourselves body and soul.""It is not so much what the soul possesses as what possesses the soul."

  • Will Dole
    2019-05-30 16:49

    While Esolen occasionally indulges in a "good-old-days"ism that is somewhat tedious and annoying, this is quite occasional, and on the whole this is one of the finest books I have read not only on parenting, but on life in general. A helpful critique of our compulsion, productivity, and technology driven culture.

  • Trace
    2019-06-05 22:43

    I'm thinking that this might be the best book I've read all year - definitely one of the very best!! Not just for parents as the title suggests - but really recommended reading for everyone.