By Editorial Staff
Published April 6, 2008
By Lee Grady
The anti-intellectuals have struck again. This time, they’re after the control of the basic freshman curriculum.
Most colleges in America today require some type of general introductory course in Literature and Philosophy. These courses offer a required reading list of truly “Great Books” that represent our cultural heritage and give a simple understanding of the progress of civilization. Students are typically given ample doses of the ancient philosophers, the Bible, Shakespeare, Dante, Milton, and Locke … progressing all the way to the great defenders of American democracy like Hamilton and Jefferson.
But if a certain radical element in our universities continues to have their way, the great books will be shelved forever. The freshman curriculum is now being viewed as a political tool that some radical professors would like to use in a subtle revolutionary campaign.
At Stanford University last year, 500 students and professors – joined by presidential candidate Jesse Jackson – gathered to protest a freshman course on Western literature and philosophy. Chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Western culture’s got to go,” these activists were calling for a new curriculum which emphasizes non-European cultures and works by “women, minorities, and people of color.”
Some educators at Stanford, along with their colleagues on other campuses which are facing similar controversies, say that our Western cultural heritage is too white, too European, and too male. They say it’s time for democratic equality on the required reading list, and would like to replace Shakespeare with Confucius, Longfellow with the feminist poets, and the Bible with the Bhagavad-Gita and African tribal music. In short, they want to uproot Western traditions, and replace them with a myriad of ethnic diversities which they feel will appear less prejudiced and more open-minded.
The Problem with Relativism
University of Chicago professor Allan Bloom pointed out in his best-selling book The Closing of the American Mind that students in this country are being intellectually maimed by relativism in our classrooms. Because we have rejected moral absolutes, the curriculum has no central reference point to revolve around, and no foundation on which to rest. College-level courses have become a confusing blur because no one really knows what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s good and what’s bad.
That’s the main reason why we see a movement to strike the study of Western culture from the curriculum. After all, who says Western society has ever contributed anything good to mankind? And if it did, who really knows how we could pick a “great books” list? Who knows what “great” really means anyway? What’s great to me may not be so great to the next guy. And who says the Bible is worth studying? Who says the poetry of the ancient Mayans isn’t just as worthy of our attention? Or the novels of Richard Wright or D.H. Lawrence or James Joyce?
When you eliminate moral values and absolute principles of right and wrong, then you are left with lots of questions and no answers. There is no more room for great books, great ideas, or great men, because there is no longer a means to measure greatness. In terms of the college literature course, that means that the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and Paradise Lost have no meaning or value for us today.
The Spirit of Marxism at Work
There’s more involved in this curriculum controversy than the natural conclusions of relativism, however. At the core of this argument is a desire on the part of some educators to tear down everything that the West stands for.
Although Marxists talk a great deal about the positive goals of their world mission – to rebuild or reconstruct society – we have yet to see anything positive happen after a Marxist revolution. The very nature of Marxism is destructive: it produces poverty, genocide, and economic collapse … and then institutes a slave state on top of the rubble.
The motivating force at work in Marx, Lenin, and Engels was hatred and the desire to destroy: hatred of the family, hatred of private property, hatred of wealth, hatred of individual reward. These men had no plan or program for rebuilding what they wanted to tear down. Their revolution was not redemptive, simply vindictive. This is because hatred cannot produce anything positive. Evil cannot beget good.
The anti-intellectuals in our academic community who are challenging the curriculum requirements at Stanford and other universities are being motivated by this same Marxist doctrine. They cannot allow the Bible, the plays of Shakespeare, the essays of Hamilton, or the poems of Longfellow to be read in the classroom because they hate the values that these writings convey. They hate biblical morality (the strongest single influence in Western culture), the concepts of freedom and democracy, and all the other contributions of Western history that have built free and prosperous nations.
The whole goal of the new Marxist, anti-Western curriculum is to remove today’s student from the values of our forefathers. They want to uproot an entire generation of young people from their entrenchment in the “narrow-minded” Western ideas of morality, property, and individual freedom under God. Then, when the operation is complete, they can interject their new, revolutionary ideas.
I am not saying that Western traditions are perfect, by any means. We are a flawed civilization with plenty of problems that were passed down from the Greeks to the Romans to the English to the Americans. But what we should be doing is looking at the positive contributions of Western society – which for the most part were all shaped by Christian ideas. How can our students ever learn to appreciate individual freedom, private property rights, the republican form of government, or representation, if they never learn where the ideas originated, or how great men worked and even gave their lives to secure them?
It’s time we challenged these anti-West critics. I agree with Herbert London, a dean at New York University, who recently expressed his concern about the Stanford incident: “If there is anything the academy needs at the moment,” he wrote, “it is a debunking of the debunkers. We need scholars who can affirm the best in our tradition, without fearing to discuss its flaws. We need teachers who can rediscover the substantive value of Western civilization without apologies to a brand of special pleaders standing on a soap box of gender, class, and race.“1
It is indeed ironic that these academicians – some of them with sincere intentions, perhaps – say that their battle is against prejudice. In the final judgment, it is obvious that they are the true bookburners.
1 Herbert London, “The Debunkers Need to Be Debunked,” Campus Report, January 1988, p. 8.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Education
Your comments are welcome!
Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
$49.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!
Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification
In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.
By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).
$7.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion
This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.
Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.
“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan
Running time: 85 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?
Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?
Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?
These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)