Monday, May 25, 2009

Pray, Then Act

From Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something, pp. 50-51:
Passivity is a plague among Christians. It's not just that we don't do anything; it's that we feel spiritual for not doing anything. We imagine that our inactivity is patience and sensitivity to God's leading. At times it may be; but it's also quite possible we are just lazy. When we hype-spiritualize our decisions, we can veer off into impulsive and foolish decisions. But more likely as Christians we fall into endless patterns of vacillation, indecision, and regret. No doubt, selfish ambition is a danger for Christians, but so is complacency, listless wandering, and passivity that pawns itself off as spirituality. Perhaps our inactivity is not so much waiting on God as it is an expression of the fear of man, the love of the praise of man, and disbelief in God's providence.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dorothy Sayers Deserves a Hearing

Dorothy Sayers wrote a ground-breaking essay on the problems of modern education called “The Lost Tools of Education.” In the essay, she discusses the main problem of modern education and a possible solution. She laments that the solution will never be tried, but it is precisely that solution that Doug Wilson and others have implemented to bring about the Classical Education movement.
Sayers writes that modern education teaches fragmented subjects instead of teaching a child how to think. Every subject comes to a student as a foreign language that he struggles to decode. A student has no ability to integrate new information with what he already knows and no ability to express what he has learned persuasively.
In the essay, Sayers believes the answer to the problems of modern education lies in the trivium, going back to the educational ideas of an earlier age. The trivium has three parts, each of which teaches the child how to think. The Grammar stage (Elementary years) emphasizes memorization and repetition of basic facts and terms so that the child has the basic terms and facts to build upon. The Dialectic stage (Junior High) begins the process of integration, seeing the logical relationships between ideas. Students begin studying logic in order to think and argue in a rational orderly way. The Rhetoric Stage (High School) helps the student learn to present his ideas in a persuasive way.
Sayers argues that when the student has learned how to think, he is well on his way to master any subject easily. Because he has learned how to think, he can more easily see the connections between subjects. Because Christ is at the center, all subjects will necessarily relate to him and to each other. This brings a fragmented education together into a unified whole.
The essay Sayers wrote has become the basis of a new way of learning. Public education has become consensus education, where everyone holds the politically correct opinion and those who don’t are scorned. Classical education gives the student freedom to go wherever the facts take him. And because the world is Christ’s, the student can be sure truth will always fit together.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Dearest Wish

At China One, my fortune cookie predicted today that "your dearest wish will come true." If the cookie had even the slightest power to make its prediction come true, I would be the envy of the world. Untold wealth, friendships with the rich, famous, and powerful, a secret island getaway, world peace: What would be big enough to be properly described as my dearest wish?

Isaiah would call all these desires "other lords" (Isaiah 26:13). There are a thousand things that the world markets as ultimately satisfying, but none of it is true. Isaiah was more mature: "Yes. Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for You; Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts" (Isa. 26:8). The only thing that truly, ultimately, and finally satisfies man is God Himself. My dearest wish will be met when God shows up and I am changed into His likeness.
How blessed I am. My dearest wish coming true doesn't depend on the power of the fortune cookie to make it happen. I have a sure word from God. I will soon see Him. Until then, I move from one glory to another with a desire to reflect His glory and spread His renown. It doesn't get any better than that.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Consensus Education" Fails Our Country

J. Gresham Machen is my hero. In 1920, in testimony before congress, he predicted that a state-controlled education without the competition of private and home education would become "one of the deadliest enemies to liberty that has never been devised." According to Machen, the government's desire to create a Department of Education served an evil purpose. What dangers did he see?

Now that we are a good ways down the road, its easier to look back and see the consequences. A homogenized education reduces competition in the realm of ideas. Students are given a consensus education- they've never met opposing ideas. There is no robust debate and the majority, politically correct position always wins.

Over time, the majority opinion becomes so ingrained that any opposition must appear ignorant or motivated by emotion. Debate is censored to maintain academic integrity. Consider:

  • When ethics are privatized and subjective, objective truth and accountability are narrow-minded

  • Sociology experiments with marriage and while children suffer, the minority voice "stirs up hate"

  • When Keynesian economics is in ascendancy, Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian school are forgotten amid a propensity for ridiculous debt.

  • Design is ridiculed in the face of Darwin.

  • George Washington called religion an indispensable support of society while modern Psychology regards religion as dangerous.

The end of this process is that academia has a vested interest in the consensus opinion. They turn an arrogant gaze toward opposition. Academic freedom means nothing more than freedom to hold the consensus opinion. I can think of no worse end for the university or the minds of its students. Where does education go from here? Activism? Skepticism? Renewal?