Van Til Tool

Using the Van Til Perspective as the tool to discover what life means and how it ought to be lived.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Well, hey, everyone!

I had an interesting experience last week. I met a man who is calling for the "Reconstruction" of America but who says he never heard of Rushdoony! His name is Steve Penley. I received an autographed copy of his book and wrote the review which you will see below, which will be published soon in the Southside Arts Agenda, a weekly electronic newsletter covering the arts scene in the counties south of Atlanta, GA.



Steve Penley Celebrates America

A Review of

Steve Penley The Reconstruction of America (Mercer Univ. Press, 2008)
128 pp $45.00 ISBN-10: 0881461393 ISBN-13: 978-0881461398

Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz

One of America's greatest artists, whose paintings are sold all over the country, lives right here on the Southside -- Steve Penley of Carrollton. The best way to get acquainted with Penley's art is by means of the book under review here, which contains many of his paintings, accompanied by his own brief comments on their significance, written in his own handwriting either on each painting or to the left of, right of, above, or below the painting. These comments are either hard-hitting, thought-provoking, encouraging or humorous -- or some combination thereof -- and are so well written that they are as memorable as the paintings themselves. In short, we have here in this book a fusion of visual art with literary art, i.e. Penley is as good a writer as he is a painter.

The theme of Penley's book and paintings is the celebration of America. His goal and purpose is indicated in the title of his book -- The reconstruction of America. In our time there have been numerous criticisms of America -- unfortunately, many of them justified. In order to know how to appropriately respond to these criticisms we need to know and appreciate America's greatness so that we will see our task as working to restore that greatness when deviations from it have occurred. There have been many learned treatises dealing with this subject, such as those by Newt Gingrich, who wrote a plaudit which appears on the book's rear jacket, but I have never seen anything so far produced which is like Penley's book. It is in a class by itself.

Penley celebrates not only what we would expect -- the greatness of America's founding fathers and her civic institutions, inventors, scientists, artists, economic achievements, etc. -- but he also applauds (with equal skill) America's pop culture: football, hamburgers, Cokes, Elvis, et alia. To illustrate what I mean, turn to the page with the painting of the whopper of a burger accompanied by the whopper of a panegyric so skillfully done that there is no way a cardiologist could come along and object to the burger's cholesterol without sounding like a wet blanket! He even uses artistic terminology here, referring to these things as the icons of America's popular culture! So there is fun here as well as serious stuff.

Since we Americans are such a diverse lot and are such individualists, not everyone will respond to the book in the same way. We can hope that one result will be more Americans having a deeper appreciation of the greatness of our country along with a desire to maintain its greatness and to restore its greatness when it is in danger of being lost.

For the reasons noted here, Penley is definitely an artist with whom you should become acquainted and this book is a good way to start.