From A Fifteenth-Century School Book, c. 1500 As soon as I am come into the school, this fellow goes to make water and he goes out to the common draft. Some after another asks if he may go drink. Another calls upon me that he may go home. These and other such lies my schoolboys give for excuse that they may be out of the way.
(source: Internet History Sourcebooks Project)
In less than a year, he apologized. He understood my career choice. His daughter had come home for the holidays, transformed. The vibrant, joyful Christian girl who’d left for school had returned sullen and depressed. She hated her family’s values, she resented her parents, and she was obviously drinking too much. The school had stripped down her value system — all in the name of “critical thinking” — and replaced it with angry groupthink. Life and hope were replaced with fear and loathing. A social-justice warrior was born.
(source: Higher-Education Reform)
Today, the Gospel Coalition releases a free ebook that takes a look back at James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World five years later. I offer an ambitious essay both praising and critiquing the book:
This book is a unique and astonishing gift to the church. In spite of several tragic flaws that urgently need correction—we’ll get to those later—the book as a whole is not just brilliant but incredibly timely. It came at just the moment when the church most needed it.
I argue that Hunter has “awoken us from our dogmatic slumbers,” particularly from the assumption that to have a moral and coherent culture is something that is natural for human beings. It is not natural; it is supernatural.
We have become too comfortable in the world we are trying to change. We have lost the sense that a strong and moral culture is a miracle. In the presence of this miracle, we should be struck dumb with awe and wonder. In its absence, we should be humble and not demand it as an entitlement, any more than we demand as an entitlement the power to walk on water or raise the dead.
As always, your thoughts, comments, arguments, encouragements, dissents, rotten tomatoes, plaudits and withering scorn are all very welcome!
But as the book shows, there is only one real charge that Hildebrand’s colleagues could raise against her: that she defended the objectivity of truth. And in that effort, she tells us, she always began with the greatest thinkers who did not know Christ: Plato and Aristotle.
This stance nearly cost Hildebrand her job. Repeatedly, the department gave open tenure-track positions to less-qualified applicants who were more sympathetic to the department’s prevailing orthodoxies.
Sorry posting has been light. New job and moving house.
As compensation, please accept the following awesomeness: UC-Santa Barbara has digitized and uploaded for free use the content of 10,000 wax cylinders, which is how they made recordings before the phonograph. They’ve got pop hits, opera, vaudeville, public speeches and even people’s weird home recordings.
It’s the 19th century internet!