Mylon Patton Mr. William Hutchinson Honors Bible IV 10 December 2017 An Academic Review of Why You Think the Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home Sunshine, Glenn S. Why You Think the Way You Do: the Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home. Zondervan, 2009. Why You Think the Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home, written by Dr. Glenn S. Sunshine, serves a purpose of shining a light on the similarities of civilization of old and civilization of new. Beginning with ancient Roman civilization, Dr. Sunshine attempts to educate his audience on the worldview, philosophy, and the important historical events that dominated each time period. Further, Dr. Sunshine ties in the analysis on history with an analysis on how religion played a part in each time period. With the structure of Why You Think the Way You Do, Dr. Sunshine’s audience is clearly able to see how Christianity had spread, been repressed, and is now in danger. Furthermore, the book serves a purpose of equipping the reader to face, what Dr. Sunshine believes, is the threat of postmodernism on Christianity. Dr. Glenn S. Sunshine received his B.A. in Linguistics from Michigan State University in 1980. He received his M.A in Church History from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1985, and another M.A. in 1987. He also earned his Ph.D. in Renaissance/Reformation History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1992. He has published many books and articles, and also serves as a Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University (“Glenn Sunshine”) His decorated background serves to establish his credibility to his audience. In the preliminary chapter of the book, Dr. Glenn S. Sunshine provides a definition for “worldview” that will be used throughout the book. Dr. Sunshine states: “A worldview is the framework you see to interpret the world and your place in it” (Sunshine 13). We use our respective worldviews to answer questions regarding metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Dr. Sunshine contends that the knowledge of worldviews carries major implications. While one may claim to hold a worldview, his and her actions may prove otherwise. In addition, in order to understand a culture or period of time, it is necessary to understand their worldview. Without knowledge of a worldview, a person is not equipped to understand themselves or history. Dr. Sunshine concludes by providing a framework for the remainder of his book. In particular, states that he will begin his analysis with the Roman Empire, a civilization he says begins the emergence of Christianity’s impact on culture. Dr. Sunshine, in the first chapter of his book, does a very effective job of lying the groundwork for what is to come in the book. The term “worldview” will turn out to be tohe focal point for the remainder of the book, and without an explanation as to what a worldview was, or how Dr. Sunshine would be using the term throughout his book, his analysis would be incomplete. “What is a Worldview and Why Should I Care?” Is a much-needed prologue of sorts to a critique of history. In the second chapter of “Why You Think the Way You Do,” Dr. Sunshine delves into an analysis on the worldview of the Roman Empire. He begins by setting the scene of the time period. While plentiful advancements were made, culturally, artistically, and architecturally, Dr. Sunshine contends that “there was a dark side to Rome as well” (19). He unveils the lesser picture of Rome – one of slavery, brutality, immorality, and treatment of man as both animal and machine. Using the background knowledge of the era, Dr. Sunshine names the dominant, worldview in that culture: Neoplatonism. This worldview, in addition to the pagan religion many Romans had during the time, help to explain, Dr. Sunshine contends, the society and culture of the Roman Empire. Paganism, connected to nature, focused on “keeping the gods happy so they did not destroy the people and – for the more benign gods – to encourage them to help the people by blessing the natural world” (21). This acknowledgement of a higher power extended to most aspects of the people’s lives: from the household, to agriculture, to the battlefield. While all of the pagan religions were different in any ways, they all shared a common inherent focus on nature, which came from Neoplatonism. In regards to the Neoplatonic take on religion, Dr. Sunshine analyzes many of the major points: Plato made the observation that we cannot judge anything to be better or worse than anything else without an absolute standard against which we can measure the two. Every time we make a comparison, we are comparing the particulars to the universal, the form or archetype or ideal, in the world of ideas, which gives us the absolute we use to make the comparison… The nonplatonic God is impersonal and does nothing on the basis of its will or desires, because it has none. Instead, by the virtue of its existence, the One casts shadows (called emanations), and these shadows cast other shadows … until finally we end with inert matter (dirt) at the end of a great hierarchy or chain of being (27) With the short summary of the Neoplatonic religion, Dr. Sunshine proceeds to explain how this worldview played a role in society. The value of human life, in regards to abortion, infanticide, and slavery, could all be directed back to the Neoplatonic religion. In addition, society’s view on men, specifically as machine and cogs of the economy, was an idea implemented by the elites, so they could enjoy a life filled with luxury and beauty (32). Dr. Sunshine concludes this chapter by discussing the implications this worldview had on Rome, and setting the scene for the emergence of Christianity. Perhaps the strongest element of Dr. Sunshine’s second chapter is his description of the Neoplatonic Religion. While the chapter could have been a bit stronger if the analysis of this term was placed before the analysis of the Roman Empire, it is still a strong, well researched topic. The in-depth description of the religion makes the Roman society’s choice to make religion an aspect of much of their lives a clear one. “The Worldview of Ancient Rome” was perhaps the heaviest chapter of the book content-wise, but a clear and concise one nonetheless. Chapters 4 through 6 of Why You Think the Way You Do are centered around a crumbling of a powerhouse and the rise and fall of the Medieval Worldview. The merging of the Christian, Roman, and Germanic worldviews fostered the emergence of the Medieval worldview. A combination of a too-big-to-handle nation, corrupt government, and breakdown in all aspects led to the fall of Rome. The leaders of the church were the leaders of the cities. However, in an attempt to pick up the pieces, education was left behind. Consequently, the level of literacy and education in Rome began to collapse. One outlier to the trend of this time was Ireland. The Druids, the leaders and prominent religion, were extremely well educated and helped Ireland to resist Roman rule. Eventually, Ireland as a whole was converted to Christianity, and the educational achievement seen in Ireland permeated throughout Europe. In addition to the saving of the educational system, western civilization began to see a progressive change in legal order, a growth of urban life, and emerging natural philosophies. Platonic Humanism and Scholasticism began to shape the worldview. The economy began to thrive, because of the emergence of thought centered around doing works for the Lor The Medieval economy benefitted from the strong work ethic thanks to the idea of doing everything for the glory of God. Government was established. The society of Europe as a whole began undergoing radical chance, as far as education, science, and the view of man. Chapters seven and eight analyze the advancements coming from radical change. Two big players in the enlightenment, Copernicus and Galileo, are featured in this section. Galileo believed that the Earth went around the Sun. This was not the status quo during the time; the popular belief was heliocentrism. Dr. Sunshine States that this clash between the status quo and a new belief was it was really a clash of personal animosity and stubbornness. Dr. Sunshine discusses the role of religion and this debate, saying that both Galileo and the church used scripture and facts to argue their points. In the same way, Pyrrhonism was a major debate during the time period. While Cartesianism took the path of deduction, Probabilism simply believed that probability was necessary to accept a stance. Dr. Sunshine then moves to the Enlightenment. Sunshine began with an analysis on deism. People in society began to rely on reason, they began straying away from the hold government had on them. This led to many revolutions during the time, specifically in Great Britain. Dr. Sunshine uses John Locke and the Constitution to point out the parallels in the Biblical belief that only godly men should hold office. Dr. Sunshine continues by analyzing the pushback revolutions brought on religion, focusing specifically on the French Revolution. In the final chapters of the well-structured book, however, the biases of Dr. Sunshine clearly begin to reveal themselves. While much of the book takes a more historical and objective stance on many issues, Dr. Sunshine begins to lose creditability on many of the points he previously stated when he jumps to conclusions towards the end. While modernism began to dominate Western Civilization, postmodernism eventually takes over. He states his fears of postmodernism collapsing Christianity. He also attempts to provide a solution to many of the fears that he outlined. Finally, he provides “Trajectories,” or outlooks, for what is to come of Christianity Dr. Glenn Sunshine, based on many of the stances he takes regarding the economy and abortion in particular, seems to align himself with the Evangelical Christian view in politics. While he is very credible as far as his background, attaining a PhD in history, his credibility is often smeared in the book when he chooses to bring his biases into his historical analysis. While, based on the statistics, a small percentage of abortions are done as a result of rape, incest, or danger to the mother, Dr. Sunshine wades into political waters when mentioning Planned Parenthood, a highly controversial organization in politics today. While dr. Sunshine attempts to save face in the following paragraph by relating this to worldviews as a whole, it is clear his biases get in the way at times of his, otherwise, accurate historical analysis (206-207). Dr. Sunshine does an amazing job of organizing the book in a way that is easy to follow. his progression from the Greco-Roman culture, the fall of Roman culture, to the emergence of medieval culture, to the enlightenment, to Modern culture today is historically accurate in a sense that it is not leave any stone unturned. The paragraph structure tends to differ at times, with larger points requiring bigger paragraphs and sections. To his intended audience, dr. Sunshine does a poor job at times of making his vocabulary and structure of sentences easy to read. His wit, perhaps due to his vast education, sometimes gets in the way of the understanding of his intended point. The length of many of the sections in his book is long, but not unnecessarily. In his attempt to give a vast explanation of History, many of the sections needed to be long. However, dr. Sunshine’s take on history, in contrast to a textbook, is more informal and easier to read for his intended audience. Dr. Sunshine does not use many supporting materials throughout his text. there are no footnotes or endnotes, no pictures, and no graphs. Sometimes, dr. Sunshine opted to use charts and tables to summarize the main points and his text. Where dr. Sunshine is strong is his use of the index at the end of the book. With his book covering such a large era of History, the name index and subject index are extremely detailed, allowing the reader to find any major topic in the book. The index was especially helpful when trying to see how big topics, such as the economy, extended into each era of History. I believe Dr. Sunshine clearly accomplished his purpose of educating his audience on the importance of the worldview, different worldviews in history, and Christianity’s role in each worldview. I believe that Why You Think the Way You Do is best suited for an audience of educated Evangelical Christians, due to the viewpoints he takes. Consequently, his book is most likely not to be taught in a secular university setting. Although Dr. Sunshine is clearly a great historian, his political views and overall agenda tend to get in the way at times. Perhaps, a non-biased analysis of different eras of history would be more effective and educating the audience, and because of this, I would not recommend this book. Page Break Works Cited “Glenn Sunshine.” History Department, Central Connecticut State University, www.ccsu.edu/history/faculty/sunshine.html. Sunshine, Glenn S. Why You Think the Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home. Zondervan, 2009.