20th Century

It has been said the 20th century was like no other. Certainly, it can appear that way—war was more prevalent and far more destructive, technological advances were breathtaking and rapid, the general standard of living increased many times overin the developed world, and postmodernism rose to prominence in the wake of a shattered Modernist dream of progressive enlightenment and human actualization.

On closer inspection, however, these are pretty superficial changes. War only seemed more prevalent and destructive because the earth's population was exponentially larger; technological advances didn't develop overnight, and many of them were simply improvements on old ideas; the standard of living increased, but not for everyone and usually at ahigh cost; postmodernism was simply a new incarnation of anti-Christian philosophy.

There really is nothing new under the sun, and that is perhaps the most important lesson of the century that included everything from the War to End All Wars, to the New Deal, the New Society,and the SexualRevolution.Humans will always be devoted to selfishness, pride, andhavoc; the 20th century seemed to have more than its fair share of those things simply because there were so manymore people than at any time previous.

Everything seemed to take on a more global scale in the last century. The First World War (1914-1918) was primarily aEuropean affair (Japanand the U.S. were the only non-European combatant nations), but itseffects were felt on every continent. This was even more trueduring World War II (1939-1945), when fighting actually took place on every continent (it was limited in North America and Australia, but it happened) and the war claimed 57 million lives worldwide,including both soldiersand civilians.

In between the wars came the Great Depression, an economic upheaval originating in the United States butaffecting the whole world. This came on the heels of the Roaring Twenties, a morally chaotic periodthat gave birth to jazz, made marijuana popular,and laid the foundations of the so-called Sexual Revolution of the 1960s.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented a series of government-subsidied programs to revitalize the economy collectivelyknown as the New Deal, which many blame for introducing socialist doctrine into the U.S.A. Socialism was a great fear as Communism (seen as socialism's necessary next step) was not-too-slowly taking over Eastern Europe and moving into Asia.

It wasn't the New Deal that ended the economic crisis, though. World War II was the catalyst that upped production, necessitated a more muscular economy, and led the Western world out of its stupor and into technological advancement and monetary affluence. Incidentally, this very fact led to an intense debate between free market economists like F.A. Hayek (whose libertarian ideas are enjoying a resurgence currently) and the interventionist ideals of John Maynard Keynes and his ilk.

After the Second World War, everything seemed slightly off-kilter. Whole armies of civilian soldiers were released back to their countries of origin, and after the carnage they'd seen it was hardly surprising they spent the next decade forgetting about it, and amassing as much material wealth and comfort as was humanly possible.

Those areas most affected by the war had longer memories, of course. The work of rebuilding took a long time, and the scars of Nazi Holocaust and Japanese scorched-earth were visible for too long (some of them are still there). In response, people embraced a raw form of humanism, a hedonistic humanism built around postmodern amibiguity nevertheless shadowed by constant threat of nuclear war and annihilation.

Postmodernism is essentially the denial of modernist trust in human reason, and the assumption that nothing can be actually known coupled with a disbelief in absolutes of any kind. Technically, the term originally referred to art and architecture, but quickly spread to literature, then philosophy, and finally to the broader society. It's the attitude that motivated the '60s hippie movement, the deconstruction of morality, and the emphasis on pluralism as a positive force.

It's in this confusing atmosphere that we find ourselves now. Modernism had proclaimed the gospel of human progress: that, given enough education and liberty, mankind would eventually reach a highly evolved state of near- or total-perfection. The violence of the 20th century, including both World Wars, the Vietnam War, and countless genocides (Russia, China, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, etc.) largely put an end to such a vision.

Christians understand that God controls all things, but without such an orienting assumption it's easy to see how unbelievers would latch onto something like postmodernism, that essentially denies individual culpability and blames social constructs for the world's problems instead. Our job is to counter this essential despair and capitulation with the Good News of Christ's redemption, no matter how out of control and terrifying the world is or seems.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.

Did you find this review helpful?

1,020 Items found

10,000 Days of Thunder
by Philip Caputo
1st edition from Atheneum
for 5th-10th grade
Location: B01-26C
$24.95
1918: the Year of Victories
by Martin Matrix Evans
from Capella
for 9th-Adult
Location: B01-23C
$6.00 (1 in stock)
1963 Civil Rights March
Events That Shaped America
by Sabrina Crewe, Scott Ingram
from Gareth Stevens Publishing
for 4th-6th grade
Location: B01-27A
$6.00 (1 in stock)
20 Plays for U. S. History Classes
by Dean R. Bowman
Revised from Walch Publishing
for 7th-9th grade
Location: ART-03B
$24.99
20th Century Day by Day
by Sharon Lucas
from DK Publishing
for 7th-Adult
Location: B01-20C
$20.00 (1 in stock)
20th Century in America Lap-Pak
from Home School in the Woods
for 3rd-8th grade
Location: B01-03B
$22.95
20th Century Wars
by Robert W. Smith
for 5th-12th grade
Location: B01-22A
$7.00 (1 in stock)
20th Century: Post-1945
by Sarah Halliwell
from Steck-Vaughn Company
for 7th-10th grade
Location: B01-20C
$5.00 (1 in stock)
882 1/2 Amazing Answers to Your Questions About the Titanic
by Hugh Brewster, Laurie Coulter
from Scholastic Inc.
for 4th-7th grade
Location: B01-22D
$5.00 (1 in stock)
Across America on an Emigrant Train
by Jim Murphy
from Sandpiper Books
for 5th-8th grade
Location: B01-22B
$10.95
Ada Blackjack
by Jennifer Niven
1st edition from Hyperion/Madison Press
for 10th-Adult
Location: A12-01A
$9.50 (1 in stock)
Adèle & Simon in America
by Barbara McClintock
1st edition from Farrar, Straus and Giroux
for Kindergarten-3rd grade
Location: CPB-03
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Adolf Hitler
by Lewis Parker
1st edition from Blackbirch Press
for 4th-6th grade
Location: A12-01A
$5.00 (2 in stock)
Adventures of Theodore Roosevelt
by Theodore Roosevelt
from National Geographic
for 9th-Adult
Location: A12-01A
$16.00
Adventurous Life of Winston Churchill
by Geoffrey Bocca
from Julian Messner
for 5th-8th grade
Location: A12-01A
$12.00 (1 in stock)
After the Dancing Days
by Margaret I. Rostkowski
from HarperTrophy
for 7th-9th grade
Location: A05-01A
$5.99 $4.00 (2 in stock)
After the War
by Carol Matas
from Simon Pulse
Historical Fiction for 5th-8th grade
Location: A05-01A
$6.99 $3.50 (1 in stock)
Agatha Christie: An Autobiography
by Agatha Christie
1st edition from Bantam Books
for 11th-Adult
Location: A12-01A
$6.50 (1 in stock)
Air Raid - Pearl Harbor
by Theodore Taylor
from Scholastic Press
for 4th-7th grade
Location: B01-25A
$2.00 (1 in stock)
Air Raid - Pearl Harbor!
by Theodore Taylor
from Harcourt
Historical Non-Fiction for 5th-8th grade
Location: B01-25A
$6.99
Airplanes of the Second World War - Coloring Book
Dover Coloring Books
by Carlo Demand
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-6th grade
Location: A01-DOV
$4.99
Airplanes of World War I - Coloring Book
by Carlo Demand
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-6th grade
Location: A01-DOV
$4.99
Albert Einstein
History's All-Stars
by Marie Hammontree
from Aladdin Paperbacks
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
Location: A12-07C
$6.99
Albert Einstein: Young Thinker
by Marie Hammontree
from Aladdin Paperbacks
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
Location: A12-07C
$4.00 (2 in stock)
All About Aviation
All About Books
by Robert D. Loomis
from Random House
for 3rd-6th grade
Location: B01-23A
$4.00 (1 in stock)
All But My Life
by Gerda Klein
from Hill and Wang
for 7th-12th grade
Location: B01-26A
$6.00 (1 in stock)
All Quiet on the Western Front
by Erich Maria Remarque
from Ballantine Books
War/Realistic Fiction for 10th-Adult
Location: ALT-10A
$6.99 $5.00 (1 in stock)
All Through the Ages
by Christine Miller
3rd edition from Nothing New Press
World History Reference for All grades
Location: B02-01A
$19.50 (1 in stock)
All-of-a-Kind Family
by Sydney Taylor
from Yearling
Family Stories for 2nd-6th grade
Location: A09-01A
$6.99 $3.50 (1 in stock)
All-of-a-Kind Family Downtown
All-of-a-Kind Family Series #2
by Sydney Taylor
from Lizzie Skurnick Books
Family Stories for 2nd-6th grade
Location: A09-01A
$12.95
All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown
All-of-a-Kind Family Series #4
by Sydney Taylor
from Lizzie Skurnick Books
Family Stories for 2nd-6th grade
Location: A09-01A
$12.95
Always Remember Me
by Marisabina Russo
from Atheneum
for 3rd-6th grade
Location: B01-26A
$9.50 (1 in stock)
Always to Remember
by Brent Ashabranner
from Scholastic Inc.
for 7th-9th grade
Location: B01-26C
$3.00 (1 in stock)
Amelia
by Siobhán Parkinson
from O'Brien Press
for 4th-8th grade
Location: A09-01A
$4.50 (1 in stock)
Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride
by Pam Munoz Ryan
from Scholastic Inc.
for Kindergarten-3rd grade
Location: B01-23A
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Amelia Earhart - Coloring Book
by Muriel Earhart Morrissey
from Bellerophon Books
for 3rd-7th grade
Location: A12-01A
Amelia Earhart: Young Aviator
Childhood of Famous Americans
by Beatrice Gormley
from Aladdin Paperbacks
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
Location: A12-07C
$6.99
America and Vietnam
by Albert Marrin
from Beautiful Feet Books
Historical Non-Fiction for 7th-10th grade
Location: B01-26C
$13.95 $9.50 (1 in stock)
America at War
by Brian Black
from Scholastic Inc.
for 4th-6th grade
Location: B04-03C
$3.00 (1 in stock)
America's First World War
Landmark #77
by Henry Castor
from Random House
for 5th-9th grade
Location: A10-04D
$12.00 (1 in stock)
America's Longest War
by George C. Herring
2nd edition from McGraw-Hill
for 11th-Adult
Location: B01-26C
$5.00 (1 in stock)
America's Wars - CD
1997 Credenda/Agenda History Conference
by Doug Wilson, Tom Garfield & Steve Wilkins
from Canon Press
for 9th-Adult
Location: C01-01E
$25.00
America: A Photographic History
by James Summerville
1st edition from Mallard Press
for 7th-12th grade
Location: B01-22A
$10.00 (1 in stock)
America: From Gridlock to Deadlock
A Basic History of the United States Volume 6
by Clarence B. Carson
from American Textbook Committee
American History Reference for 9th-Adult
Location: B04-02A
$16.00
American Family of the 1950s - Paper Dolls
by Tom Tierney
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-6th
Location: A01-01B
$6.95
American Family of the 1990s - Paper Dolls
by Tom Tierney
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-5th grade
Location: A01-01B
$5.95
American Heritage Picture history of World War II
by C. L. Sulzberger
from American Heritage Publishing Co.
for 7th-Adult
Location: B01-25A
$15.00 (1 in stock)
American History for Young Students III
by Michelle Miller
from TruthQuest History
History Curriculum for 1st-6th grade
Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks
Location: B04-01A
$29.95
American Locomotives
by Edwin P. Alexander
from Bonanza Books
for 4th-Adult
Location: BSR-14B
$8.00 (1 in stock)
American Milestones: Great Depression & the New Deal
for 3rd-6th grade
Location: B01-24A
$3.00 (1 in stock)
1234567891011121314151617181920...>>