Tuesday, March 28, 2023

What education?

"The modern man says, ‘Neither in religion nor morality, my friend, lie the hopes of the race, but in education,’" according to G. K. Chesterton.  He is on to something but then, again, he usually was and is -- for his wisdom remains ever relevant in our changing world.  Nothing has changed so much as education -- what it is, what it teaches, how it teaches, you name it.  It has all changed and is still changing.

I wish I could say that Christian colleges and universities have fared better amid the changes, the stops and starts, the dead ends and detours, and the ups and downs of it all.  I wish I could say it but I am more and more convinced that the fine line between a Christian college and a secular one long ago disappeared.  The numbers of distinctly Christian institutions of higher learning declines as those with a heritage or legacy seem intent upon surrendering everything of their once clear Christian identity for the sake of survival.  I am not convinced that survival requires such abdication but it seems most schools do.

Many of those institutions, dare I say most, who insist to their churches that they provide an overtly Christian education are instead merely providing one with some Christian flavor and a nuanced taste at that.  It seems universal for such institutions to claim that they produce leaders but it is also nearly universal that they no longer form such leaders with a distinct Christian moral character.  The curriculum long ago had to be modified to make sure it passed muster for the accrediting agencies, was marketable, and was more or less consistent with the educational standards of secular universities.  It is not a secret but neither is it one that we regularly say out loud.  The chapels on such campuses are testaments to when the Word of God stood along side textbooks and the students and faculty shared a common faith, with common values, for a common purpose.  Is it still that way?

Education has become one of the most important gods of the pantheon of the modern mind but what constitutes education is no longer a definition to which we can all agree.  It is not merely a matter of marketability and the prospect of finding a job at the end of the long dark tunnel of classes, tests, and student loans.  The battle before us goes to the very core and center of who we are, why we are here, and what virtue is.  The alphabet soup of degrees behind the name once stood for something but now they have become the minimum requirements for entrance to just about any career and especially one that has nothing to do with your major.

We no longer expect our schools to produce people of good character, good intellect, and good purpose.  In fact, we worry that the good folks we send to them will come out having their character, intellect, and vocation removed and in their places an enlightened understanding that almost certainly disdains the past, questions the faith, and is willing to tear down the present to get to a future.  We send young men and women with faith to places that say they will honor that faith but then seem to delight in tearing apart the very fabric of what it means to believe.  Conviction has been replaced by question and truth has been dismantled into something week, adaptable, emotional, and experiential.  And this is true of schools with Christian identities, pasts, and associations almost as much as it is true of any schools.

If we wanted to rip the faith from the hearts and minds of our children, we could have just as easily done it without also burdening them with crippling student debt.  It is as if we have gotten to the point where we feel no choice but to pay the so-called professionals to undo what we parents spent 18 years doing.  This is true without doubt of the secular schools but it is also increasingly true of those who claim to be Christian.  Just look at the curriculums, the reading materials, and the power of students to demand they be taught what they want.  It is more than enough to scare you.

In the end, it might simply be easier to surrender our existing institutions to create new ones without the burden of having to live on the fine line between some Christianity and none.  At least then we might be free to use what resources we have to establish schools who will not compromise with the values of the world and who will not tear down the faith we parents worked so hard to plant.  Anyway, that is what I am thinking today....


Carl Vehse said...

"In the end, it might simply be easier to surrender our existing institutions to create new ones without the burden of having to live on the fine line between some Christianity and none."

Sadly, the Concordia universities are pretty much wide open to the woketardian Marxists and their D.I.E. indoctrination centers:

https://www.cuw.edu/about/offices/multicultural-en gagement/index.html
https://www.cuaa.edu/about/offices/multicultural-e ngagement/index.html
https://www.cuchicago.edu/concordia-experience/stu dent-services/multicultural-student-engagement/
https://www.cune.edu/concordia-difference/about-co ncordia/acts-2-commission
(The Concordia University-Nebraska's Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity is now called the "Acts 2 Commission".)

Rather than surrender these schools to the leftists, those still under LCMS control should just be closed.

jdwalker said...

This also reminds me of so many conversations of what to do about a church that is dying, either in terms of a dwindling congregation that can't afford their building or as a result of schism over this same point (i.e., staying faithful to the Word or conforming to the World). While I can to some extent agree with and sympathize with those that argue we should not simply abandon our inheritance and should fight for what is ours, I also feel it sometimes comes to be a sentimental attachment to the things that also shall pass. We may be poorer (financially) or feel defeated, but coming to terms with that may free us to focus on building for the next generation rather than fighting the last/current generation. It's a tough call to make, but being good stewards of what we have may also mean not throwing good money after bad and good efforts after bad where even if successful the result will often be an institution that is worse off than one that could have been built anew in its places. We are at a time where all of us, individually and corporately, need to make difficult choices.