Dr. Ron Reflects: The Degeneration of American Culture

Dr. Ron Reflects plans

Worldview. Everybody has one. It is simply the way we conceive of (or perceive) the world around us. Life choices are almost exclusively derived from this foundational element of our own personal philosophy of life. For a Christian, there exist two categories of worldviews from which to choose — Jesus’ worldview … and all the rest.

I was raised under the purvey of Christ’s way of looking at the world, and have attempted to adhere to His teachings (in varying degrees) throughout the many years of my life. Over the past twenty-three years, in particularly, I have come to realize that the Bible (and more importantly the information it contains), is the best, most accurate place to find the necessary truth for living a meaningful life.

As an avid reader in my younger years, and then even more so as a university professor, the number of books that I have scanned, read, or gleaned from would run in the multiple hundreds. Each of these writings provided a partial picture of what I needed to know, but it was the Bible itself that captured my heart, and provided me with the knowledge that most completely answered my greatest questions.


Books are important. They communicate information and help us learn more effectively. A great deal of copy has been published in recent years discussing the cultural condition of the United States, including the implications of where we are — and the resulting direction we may still be collectively heading. A book of particular interest to me is titled, The Sensate Culture, by Harold Brown (1996), which traces the roots of our cultural disintegration to the abandonment of spiritual dimension. He builds upon the earlier work of Russian expatriate and scholar, Pitirim Sorokin who wrote The Crisis of Our Age in 1941. What he has to say provides a greater understanding of contemporary American society —explaining how we came to be mired in such foul cultural sludge.

Three stages of decline in the development of a culture are identified by Brown; 1) The Ideational, which sees spiritual knowledge as virtually the only “truth” worthy of the name. God and the divine world are the highest and truest realities; 2) The Idealistic, which represents a compromise between the Ideational and Sensate, leaning toward the Ideational. While it rates spiritual truth and values above all others, it also appreciates the realities and values of the sensory world; and 3) The Sensate, which is the exact opposite of The Ideational. It is interested only in those things, usually material in nature, that appeal to or affect the senses. Naturalism, materialism, positivism, nihilism — all of these sort of “isms” are related consequences derived from a devotion to this Sensate paradigm.


The United States has moved from The Ideational, to The Idealistic, and to The Sensate in its brief history. Brown sees western culture, of which we are a part, as being a late, degenerate Sensate culture. One only has to look within the pages of the Bible for parallel examples, and a glimpse of what the future could hold for us as a result. The height of folly we have collectively attained is no simple matter to overcome. It will require a great deal of wisdom to turn from it. Thankfully, there is One who is able (and willing) to help.

“…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

About Ron Marionneaux, PhD 27 Articles
Dr. Marionneaux is the author of our "Dr. Ron Reflects" column. He is a long-time college professor and church elder whose hard fought experience and insight are an invaluable asset for understanding the world in which we live.