By Ivan Squall
Published April 3, 2008
Straight Shooting by John Silber, Harper Perennial: Division of Harper-Collins Publishers. Paperback: $10.95
John Silber’s national bestseller Straight Shooting proves that not all philosophers have forgotten how to speak in layman’s terms about the real challenges confronting our nation in the 1990s. In fact, if he didn’t tell you he was a philosopher, you might have thought he was an ordinary academic like you, struggling to discover effective solutions to the myriad problems facing society today. If you’re worried that Dean Silber might shoot straight over your head with a lofty treatise intended to instruct doctoral candidates in the ethereal ways of abstract philosophy, you can relax.
Silber speaks in a practical, relevant, and no-holds-barred manner to most of the key problems plaguing 20th century America. While many of his shots only hit the edge of the target, he offers sobering diagnoses and often radical prescriptions well worth considering. Even where he misses completely, his arguments are compelling and are not easily dismissed. Though often wide of the mark, his solutions reveal substantially correct principles which only lack proper application. And with so many of our academic and public policy marksmen shooting with ideological blindfolds on, even Silber’s most errant efforts seem relatively accurate by comparison.
Crime, drugs, alienation, promiscuity and poverty at home, coupled with a declining ability to effectively compete abroad; these are the well-known symptoms of the deterioration of our society. As President of Boston University, Silber not surprisingly believes that education is the primary cure for what ails us.
Loud cries of opposition are soon heard, however, when the content of Dr. Silber’s proposed curriculum is detailed. In addition to the 3 R’s, it seems our maverick metaphysician believes that such antiquated concepts such as morality, integrity, humility, character and self-discipline are desperately needed in our classrooms from nursery to post-doc. The immoral, the untrustworthy, the arrogant, the weak-willed and the libertine are all outraged.
Silber posits that “on many moral and social issues we can observe laws of natural sequence as predictable and as certain as any to be found in the natural sciences.” In other words, we are all bound by the reality of moral cause and effect, just as we are bound by gravity. What a man sows, he will also reap. Obey and be blessed; or assert your “autonomy” and deal with the predictable consequences. Effective education must clearly illustrate “the essential role of virtue in the attainment of happiness,” as well as the stark truth that “the degenerate society consumed in pleasure-seeking will not survive.” The wages of sin is death.
Education, of course, is not wholly or even principally the jurisdiction of the public schools, but at least equally the responsibility of families and churches. Unfortunately, many parents have abandoned their educational duties. Schools have attempted to fill in for delinquent parents, but this can have dangerous repercussions if leftist pedagogues are allowed to reprogram children with their vision of the new socialist/humanist morality so prevalent among the educational ‘elite’ who write textbooks and run teacher’s colleges.
Silber declares: “It is essential that (schools) not undermine the serious moral teaching that takes place in sound families. Along with the rejection of false values, it is the task of the school system to support the principles we learn from sound families, and from religion …” Dr. Silber is obviously not trying to get himself nominated as man of the year by the ACLU.
Silber’s support of traditional moral values and his numerous recognitions of religion’s vital role in the betterment of our lives, place him on the radical fringe of society’s educational, political, and media elites. However, given the placement of these elites on the distant leftward fringes of the social/moral/political spectrum of our nation, this probably means that John Silber is safely situated somewhere in the center, next to Joe and Jane average-American. That’s a long way from Jesse Jackson, Mike Dukakis, Mario Cuomo and most of the rest of Silber’s compatriots at the top of the Democratic Party, but it is not too far away from the average voter, whether Democratic, Independent, or Republican.
Straight Shooting has taken aim at a lot of cherished preconceptions concerning the priorities that a free people must pursue if they wish to maintain their freedom. This is a watershed book full of specific, practical solutions to the most daunting social ills confronting our nation. It will challenge any individual who dares to pick it up, and any institution that is willing to consider creative new applications of timeless principles and proven policies.
I would suspect that both major political parties will be carefully scrutinizing John Silber’s platform for national renewal, and that sizeable portions of his thinking will be incorporated into their party platforms for the 1992 presidential elections. If so, the political process and the nation as a whole stand to benefit handsomely. Nice shot, John!
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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.
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“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
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“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
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That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!
Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.
Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.
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“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
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