Steve Turley is the first to tell you he’s a pessimist.
“I tend to think the worst of things,” Steve says.
The problem is, he can’t help but be optimistic these days when he looks objectively at our culture.
And culture is one of Steve’s specialties. His blog and videos at TurleyTalks.com “help Christians understand current events in light of conservative trends so they can flourish in their personal and professional lives.”
He’s also an educator—of students and other educators. He lectures on classical education while promoting the Christian embrace of truth, goodness, and beauty as he teaches theology and aesthetics. His teaching takes place at Tall Oaks Classical School in New Castle, Delaware, and Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania.
Steve’s an author as well, with books like Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness and Beauty; A Match Made in Heaven: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Win the Battle over Marriage; and the forthcoming The Rise of Health Care Sharing Ministries, which discusses advancements in health care freedom.
But it’s while studying cultural trends that he finds himself admitting that, although our Western culture, especially that of the United States, is trying to “export fruit from a rotten root” through secularism and globalism, there’s a reaction against the export.
“What you’re seeing is this mass backlash among populations that don’t want this tainted fruit anymore,” he says. “They’re turning back to nation, culture, tradition, ethnicity, land, language. Even here in the United States, some fascinating things are going on in terms of the revitalization of the traditional family, traditional gender norms, pro-life issues.”
No, he says, the news media aren’t reporting these things. Instead, they’re “celebrating one pathology and perversion after another.”
But, Steve points out, demographer Eric Kaufmann, in his book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth, says that conservative Christians are procreating faster than secularists, who are decreasing in numbers due to anti-family values.
“There’s the possibility that conservative Christians will actually be in the majority in the United States in just a couple of decades,” Steve says.
“I’m inclined toward pessimism, I promise you, but the data actually suggests a very bright future for conservative Christianity even in the midst of secularism becoming more and more intense, because the root has rotted out.”
Rather than dance a jig on secularism’s grave, though, Steve has been busy for more than a decade focusing on education as a way to “draw people in to what they will find eventually becomes a tremendous emphasis on all things true, good and beautiful.”
He started down this road of cultural and theological mash-up when he was studying classical guitar at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He converted to Christianity in 1994 largely because of Campus Crusade for Christ, then started a concert ministry “playing classical guitar for the glory of God.”
It was then that he “fell in love with theology,” but fell out of love with touring as he and his wife, Akiko, had their first child.
“That’s when touring became torturous,” he says.
After prayer about the situation, Steve landed in classical education.
“I loved it so much because I was able to bring a theological aesthetic into the classroom,” he says.
Classical ed and theological aesthetics mesh well because of what Steve calls “two verticals”: “redeeming the senses and awakening the moral imagination.”
“Simply put, redeeming the senses involves redirecting and retraining the senses away from the carnal and the sensual and toward the eternally true, good, and beautiful,” he says. “In the context of Christ’s redemption of the world, the purpose of good literature and art and music and poetry and drama and dance and the like is to sanctify our senses. That’s what makes good art good and beautiful and wonderful.” The “moral imagination” refers to “integrating our intellectual and our moral and our emotional capacities in such a way so that the imagination doesn’t just think, it feels, it experiences. That’s why we read so many stories of great literature and recite poetry and Scripture and the like, to feed the imagination with truth, goodness, and beauty.”
Once Steve found himself in classical education, he began to pursue his doctorate in theology.
“That’s when I started discovering the interrelationship among religion, politics, and culture,” he says.
One of the results is TurleyTalks.com.
“From the top down, we analyze today’s headlines in terms of nationalist and populist and traditionalist trends that are shaping the politics, really, of the future all over the world,” Steve says. “From the bottom up, we discover, explore, and revitalize emerging cultural trends that celebrate the true and the beautiful so as to enrich our lives and enable our faith to socially and culturally flourish.
“This is where we discover classical education and tapping into the best educational options out there for our children. This is where we discover health care sharing ministries. We explore pro-life trends that are sweeping across the nation. We look at conservative Christian trends in music and movies and sports. Turley Talks is about giving you the information and resources you need to be able to tap into the reawakening of Christian civilization both here and around the world for a flourishing personal and professional life.”