Tag Archives: Higher Education

In Praise of Ignorance

What does it mean to be an educated person? I posted an introductory essay on this topic in June, 2022. I promised to continue this theme, but more pressing issues distracted me. I concluded that…

Acquiring an education is a self-conscious process of learning the inner workings and interrelationships of the major sectors of the society within which we live—economy, politics, art, literature, law, science, technology, ethics, and religion.

I want to continue exploring the idea of education, focusing today on one mark of an educated person, intellectual responsibility.

Learning and Ignorance

I have been an educator for half of my life and most of the other half I was studying to become one. I have read more books than I can count; and I have written a few. I still feel ignorant! Hence, in this essay I want to address the place of ignorance in intellectual life.

I have found it a rule that the more we learn the more we become aware of our ignorance. The deeper we probe a topic the more we realize its connections with other areas of knowledge. And those areas are connected to still others. At some point it dawns on us that the web of mutually conditioning connections spreads out infinitely in all directions. Not only must we admit that we do not know how far our ignorance extends, we must also acknowledge that things we do not know could affect the meaning of the things we believe. That is to say, becoming aware of the extent of our ignorance casts doubt on what seemed certain.

The Skeptic

Let me differentiate what I am saying from thoroughgoing skepticism—the thesis that we know nothing at all. Suppose I gain by close inspection some empirical knowledge of a certain mountain peak. I learn about its resident animals, plants, and many of its physical features. These facts will not change no matter how much I learn later about the rest of the mountain and its setting in its mountain range. These facts would remain the same even if we mapped its entire setting on earth, in the history of geology and biology, in the solar system, in the galaxy, etc. But coming to know this extended web of connections would expand our understanding of the origin, history, function, and significance of this mountain peak. Gaining such information would not convince us that our previous knowledge was erroneous, but it would show its incompleteness.

I believe we could apply this same procedure to almost any assertion of fact or truth whether philosophical, theological, historical, or scientific: that God exists, murder is immoral, the American Civil War ended in 1865, or that knowledge can best be defined as true, justified belief. If a belief is true, no new information can make it false. But new information can deepen our understanding or expand the meaning of a belief.

What does this exercise have to do with being an educated person? An intellectually responsible person knows enough about an area of study to be able to give good reasons why gaining further knowledge about that area and its connections with other areas will not falsify the knowledge they have gained so far. At the same time, however, educated people are aware of their ignorance of other related facts and truths that could deepen and expand their current understanding. Unlike the skeptic, the educated person’s awareness of their ignorance is hard won and productive of further knowledge.

The Dogmatist

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the skeptic is the dogmatist. Dogmatists identify their isolated beliefs with absolute truths, that is, truths whose meaning is fully and unambiguously present in the very words of the assertions. Dogmatists are not open to modification, deepening, and expansion of their beliefs by pursuing additional information. Like the skeptical attitude, the dogmatic mentality is not productive of further knowledge.

Neither the skeptic nor the dogmatist measures up to the ideal of intellectual responsibility. Educated people should know enough about the wider context of their beliefs to defend them against total denials but also be aware enough of their ignorance to learn from their opponents. The attitude of which I am speaking combines intellectual confidence with intellectual humility in a way productive of continued learning.


Dogmatists fear that admitting the least smidgen of incompleteness in their beliefs will plunge them into complete relativism and skepticism. Skeptics dread making commitments for fear that they will be disappointed. Both lack the Christian virtue of hope. Hope embraces unwaveringly the truth it knows, believing that it is only a taste of what is to come. Hope unites confidence and openness in a way productive of joy. Both dogmatists and skeptics are miserable.

What Does It Mean To Be An Educated Person?

What does it mean to be an educated person? This question assumes that becoming an educated person is a valuable goal. Also presupposed is the fact that people are not born educated but must achieve this state through a process of learning. What, then, does one need to learn and how may one become an educated person?

Perhaps the first thing on which to get clear is that one does not need to know everything to be considered an educated person. To begin with, human beings cannot know everything. Much about nature, human history, and culture is not known by anyone or has been forgotten. Future human beings may discover and invent many things hardly imaginable today. Additionally, there is too much knowledge available even now for any one person to master in a lifetime.

The educated person of fifth-century B.C. Greece or eighth-century Persia would not be considered educated for life in twenty-first century America or France. Your ability to negotiate life in rural America won’t sustain you in New York City. Nor could the New Yorker make it on the farm. These examples hint at the nature of education and the basis of its value. Education is a process of gaining at least the minimum of knowledge and skills needed to thrive in a particular society and age.

I think it is helpful to distinguish between acquisition of technical skills—brick laying, cooking, farm animal care, or welding—and acquisition of social skills, the so-called “liberal arts.” In our society we don’t consider a person “educated” simply because they are skilled at husbandry or car repair. We reserve the label “educated” for a person who possesses the knowledge and skills that enable them to engage fully and gracefully in all sectors of the dominant society in which they live. Of course we need to understand our subculture as well, but we don’t need a formal education to achieve this goal. We acquire this knowledge in the same way we pick up our local dialect.

(Note: Acquiring “cultural competence” is all the rage in education circles these days. It seems to mean learning about other people’s subcultures–especially “marginalized” cultures–when what is needed is for everyone to learn how to live in the national/international culture.)

Usually, then, acquiring an education is a self-conscious process of learning the inner workings and interrelationships of the major sectors of the society within which we live—economy, politics, art, literature, law, science, technology, ethics, and religion. Since each of these institutions has come to be what it is today over a long period of time, study of their history is an essential part of understanding their present constitutions. Communicating effectively and gracefully with people from different places and backgrounds is an essential social skill. Reading, writing, and speaking well are, therefore, essential marks of an educated person. And no one can learn to write well or speak well without reading examples of well written literature.

The process of education requires some institutionalization: libraries, schools, presses, and publishers. The reason for this is simple: the knowledge and skills needed for education has been produced over centuries by millions of people living at great distances from each other and speaking different languages. This knowledge must be collected, winnowed, concentrated, and, for the last 2500 years, usually written in books. Becoming an educated person is a process of assimilating the knowledge and skills discovered and developed by many other human beings. Becoming an educated person is a social affair, a process of socialization or even humanization.

As a cautionary note, something has gone terribly wrong if education itself becomes a narrow subculture that so alienates students from the major institutions of society that they cannot skillfully and gracefully live within them.

Questions for future essays: What does it take to be an educator? What does it mean to be a theologically educated person? What does it take to be a teacher of theology?

What A Year This Has Been!

What a year this has been! Of course you don’t need me to tell you about the pandemic of politics or the politics of the pandemic! You’ve had to endure both. But I would like to share some thoughts from this year’s reading, writing, and experience.

As the year began I was putting the finishing touches on my book, The New Adam: What the Early Church Can Teach Evangelicals (and Liberals) About the Atonement. On May 31, after 5 ½ years of research and writing, I turned over my final draft to Cascade Press. I will tell you more about that book when it is published in early 2021. A day later, on my birthday (June 1), I began a blog series on Rethinking Church. That 30-essay series continued through the summer, and in the fall I revised and edited it into a little book, which will be published in early 2021 as Rethinking Church: A Guide for the Perplexed and Disillusioned (Keledei Publications).

As far as reading goes, I’ve continued my project of reading or re-reading some of the great authors of the past. Let me say a word about that project. Long ago I gave up the illusion that I (or anyone else) can keep up with all the books published in the area of theology. According to Cascade’s marketing questionnaire, “4,000 books enter the US market daily.” That is 1,460,000 a year! How many focus on religion and theology, I don’t know, but I suspect it’s in the tens if not hundreds of thousands. Given the impossibility of reading even one percent of them, I decided to be very selective. I read books I need to read for my research and writing. And as I said earlier, I read the greats. In the past year, I read or reread most of the well-known works of Immanuel Kant as well as The Kant Dictionary. I’m impressed with Kant’s critique of realism, that is, the idea that the ordered and meaningful world we know through our senses is identical to the world as it is in itself. There is no way we can know that; it’s an assumption based on the notion that our knowing powers and the world in itself are made for each other. In my thinking, confidence in this assumption requires something like the Creator of heaven and earth, that is, a universal and creative mind that embraces our minds and all things. I read some of Hegel’s works and The Hegel Dictionary. I should say, rather, I tried to read Hegel! If we agree with Hegel that everything actual is also rational, we would also be forced to agree with him that the world and its history would make perfect logical sense to the absolute Mind. What tempts me in this idea is that I believe that to God the Creator everything is transparent and clear, because God created everything. There is no obscurity. But I cannot follow Hegel in denying divine transcendence and thinking that the absolute Mind is in process of becoming self-conscious as our minds.

I read several books critiquing metaphysical materialism and advocating idealism or panpsychism, that is, the idea that every fragment of the actual world possess an element of consciousness or soul. There are lots of them out there. I am sympathetic with their critiques of materialism–Materialism makes absolutely no sense to me–but their alternative explanations trail off into fanciful speculation and reified metaphor. Since I cannot read all the original works of the great authors, I began reading the 2,200-page, two volume Great Ideas Syntopicon in the Great Books of the Western World series. I read articles on Matter, Duty, Eternity, Necessity and Contingency, Nature, Principle, One and Many, Education, Democracy, Change, Cause, Being, and others. I came across many familiar names, Plato, Parmenides, Aristotle, Aquinas, Boethius, Augustine, Locke, Spinoza, Descartes, Hume, and so many more. Also, I read Gregory Nazianzus’s oration to the First Council of Constantinople in which he resigned as Patriarch of Constantinople. I will tell you more about Gregory and his oration at a later date.

As part of my professional obligations as a faculty member on a University faculty, I read three books I would not have chosen to read otherwise. As everyone knows, the long, hot summer of 2020 effectively began on May 25 with the death of George Floyd while being restrained by a Minneapolis police officer. Exacerbated by the already tense atmosphere produced by the pandemic and the presidential campaign, cities erupted in months of protest. Every celebrity, news personality, politician, business, and educational institution felt the need to condemn racism and police misconduct. In view of the discussions, commissions, faculty deliberations, and debates in which I needed to participate as a faculty member, I read Kindi, How To Be An Antiracist, Jennings, After Whiteness, and Pluckrose and Lindsey, Cynical Theories. In a future post I will give you my analysis and theological response to these three books.

Christian Colleges and Universities: Can They be Academically Sound?

In my previous letter I addressed the issue of what makes a college Christian. It is now time to tackle the issue of what makes a Christian institution a college.

A Christian College?

There many kinds of institutions and associations that call themselves Christian: Churches, legal societies, charitable organizations, mission societies, adoption agencies, and hundreds of others. And each of these associations can legitimately designate itself “Christian” as long as it confesses and lives by the faith set forth in the New Testament. Each group also claims to be an institution of a certain sort that does the kind of work appropriate to its type. What would you think of a charitable organization that never helped anyone in need, or an adoption agency that never placed a child with loving parents, or a legal society that focused exclusively on raising chickens?

In the same way, Christian colleges must do the essential work that colleges exist to do, or they should cease calling themselves colleges. But here we face our first difficulty. There is no authoritative blueprint defining the nature and work of a college. Nor does any accrediting body or government agency have an intrinsic right to create such a blueprint. What we have instead of such an authority is a history of associations that called themselves “colleges.” As educational endeavors, colleges organize themselves as societies of teachers and students whose purpose for coming together is Advanced learning, which involves coming to understand the best intellectual achievements a society has to offer. This core meaning remains constant throughout all the changes within the history of higher education. Hence a Christian college, if it wishes to identify itself with this history, must at minimum constitute itself as an association of teachers and students whose purpose is higher or advanced learning.

What Counts as Advanced Learning?

Tradition Dependence

What, then, counts as advanced learning? Again we face a difficulty not often acknowledged. There is no unchanging and authoritative blueprint that determines what should be taught in institutions of advanced learning. Every society teaches its young what it judges to be the best wisdom, securest knowledge, and most useful skills. No society would teach its children what it knows to be foolish, erroneous, and useless. But judgment about what is true and useful differs from society to society and from age to age. What counted as advanced learning in Ancient Greece differs from that in fifth-century Rome, thirteenth-century Paris, nineteenth-century Berlin, or twenty-first century Los Angeles.

No society is monolithic in its understanding of what is wise, good, true, and useful. Certainly not contemporary American society! From the beginning, American society has been composed of many competing traditions with differing views on the nature of education in general and of advanced learning in particular. Historically, the pluralism in American higher education has mirrored regional, philosophical, political, and denominational differences. Educational traditions compete with each other for dominance. Ideally, a tradition would support its claim to superiority with rational arguments designed to persuade. However, those seeking power rarely limit themselves to rational persuasion.

The Secular Progressive Tradition

In a story too long and complicated to tell here, the secular progressive tradition of academia, about which I wrote in my letter to American academia, gained dominance over other traditions through a variety of means: championing the latest natural science, allying itself with industry and government, and riding a wave of progressive social and moral thought. It presents itself to the public as the standard that defines the meaning of advanced learning. It considers traditional Catholic, denominational, evangelical, and other conservative colleges unenlightened and culturally backward; lately, one even hears Christian colleges referred to as breeding grounds for racism, colonialism, homophobia, and other moral evils. See George Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief, for insight into this story.

The Christian Tradition of Advanced Learning

Despite its arrogant claims, the secular progressive tradition of academia possesses no divine right to set standards for advanced learning. Reason is not its exclusive possession. Its ever-changing vision of what is wise, good, true, and useful can be contested. Hence Christian colleges and universities need not accept its definition of what makes a college academically sound as a pattern to emulate. No external authority has the right to dictate what a college should teach and how.

In fact, Orthodox Christians contest secular progressive academia’s vision of what is wise, good, true, and useful. We understand God, creation, human nature, the human condition, human destiny, and morality, and a thousand other things very differently. We do not share the same vision of human good or of what constitutes a good human being. To love God above all things is the most profound of human obligations. In contrast, idolatry, that is, worshiping anything other than God, is the most profound abandonment of duty and the wellspring of manifold evil (Rom 1:18-32).

For us, the events of the cross and resurrection of Jesus are the most significant events in human history. Because we believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, we also believe that Jesus Christ reveals the true nature, identity, and destiny of humanity (Rom 8:29; 1 John 3:2). Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15). He is the Lord and only Savior. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He is “power of God and wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24). In Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3). Orthodox Christians do not believe that an education that omits or rejects these truths and this vision of human life can provide a foundation for a good life. For us, much of what American academia considers wise, good, true, and useful we consider foolish, bad, false, and useless. In view of the wisdom revealed in Christ, we confidently apply to our own age Paul’s rhetorical jabs given to the “wise” of his age:

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe (1 Cor 1:20-21).

And this is our rationale for creating and maintaining Christian colleges.

An Open Letter to Christian Colleges and Universities (Part One)

About My “Harsh” Letter

As you know, recently I wrote a letter to American academia. Some readers thought it was too harsh and sweeping. Others took it personally. And still others thought my criticisms were aimed at Christian as well as secular higher education. Allow me, then, to correct those misperceptions. As to its harshness, I do not think I can satisfy those who thought it was too harsh. I thought about softening it somewhat, but I decided not to do so lest its impact be lessened. Concerning its target, the letter was aimed at the dominant culture of academia, not at any one person within it. Many wonderful professors, administrators, and staff—some of them sincere Christians—work within this system. They care about students and value reason. My criticisms were directed not at them but at the system that, regardless of the beliefs of any individual, harbors irrational bias against orthodox Christianity and lives in dread of a right-wing takeover. I described it as systemic animus, and I stand by that assessment.

Nor did I have you in mind. You do not fit the pattern of the dominant academic culture. Indeed, your only reason for existence is to protest against that culture and provide a clear alternative. But now I am writing to you. I want to warn you, encourage you, and, yes, advise you about how to guard your identity as a light in darkness.

A Little History

There is so much to say! We go back a long time, and you predate me by hundreds of years. I would love to rehearse your entire history from Colonial America to today. We could learn so much from that story. I will indulge myself, however, with only a few historical observations. Nearly every college founded in the United States between 1636 (Harvard) and 1900 was begun by a Christian denomination. They did not need to call themselves “Christian” because all the colleges were Christian in some sense. However, between 1875 and 1925 many American Colleges began to call themselves “nonsectarian,” meaning generic or cultural, as opposed to confessional Christianity. The case of Johns Hopkins University is instructive. America’s first research university, founded in 1876, JHU labeled itself “nonsectarian” from the beginning. Toward the end of his founding address, the University’s first president Daniel Coit Gilman turned to the Board of Trustees and addressed them in these words:

Before concluding, I repeat in public the assent which I have privately made to your official overtures. In speaking of your freedom from sectarian and political control, you expressed to me a hope that this foundation should be pervaded by the spirit of an enlightened Christianity… I now as then express my cordial and entire concurrence.” https://www.jhu.edu/about/history/gilman-address/.

Only in the Twentieth Century, after the majority of colleges and universities in America had completed the transition from “enlightened Christianity” to complete secularity, did “Christian” colleges begin thinking of themselves as a group in distinction from the secular majority.

What Makes a College “Christian”

I am writing to colleges and universities that wish to be known as “Christian” and market themselves to students, donors, and alumni as such. My first question, then, is this: when you say you are a “Christian” college or university, what do you mean? More importantly, what should you mean?

The Individual “Christian”

I have to ask this question because calling yourself Christian does not make it so for an institution any more than it does for an individual. The New Testament book of Acts reports that “the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch” (Acts 11:26). In the course of history there have been many reasons why people called themselves Christians. But the only reason I will acknowledge as legitimate is that you confess and live by the same faith that the disciples in Antioch held and that Paul, Peter, and John preached: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised from the dead on the third day…” (1 Cor. 15:3-8). Paul says in another place,

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved (Rom 10:9-10).

There is more to say about what it means to be a Christian, but at minimum professing to be a Christian should be a clear sign that you believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior, crucified and raised from the dead. It should also go without saying that you are committing yourself to live according to Jesus’s and his apostles’ teaching.

The “Christian” College

In the same way, for a college or university to designate itself as “Christian” should mean at minimum that it confesses the same faith that believers in Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, and Rome, under the guidance of the apostles, confessed: Jesus is Messiah, Lord, and Savior, crucified and raised from the dead. A Christian college must live out its institutional life under the guidance of this faith. I will not acknowledge as genuinely Christian any college that will not make this confession before the world and conduct its affairs on this basis. There are, of course, differences between the ways Christian colleges and individual Christians live out their faith. Universities do not have hearts with which to believe or mouths with which to confess that Jesus is Lord. As corporate entities, universities exist in and act on the basis their charters, policies, mission statements, codes of conduct, and desired outcomes. In Christian universities, these institutional identifiers must affirm Christian faith clearly at every level, from charter to desired outcomes. Moreover, these commitments mean little unless they are taken seriously in hiring, retention, curriculum, teaching, and student life. Christian colleges must remember that their existence makes sense only as a protest and an alternative to the dominant culture of academia.

To be Continued…

An Open Letter to American Academia

Dear American Academia:

Except for a few years in between schools, you have been my home for my whole life. After age eighteen, I spent thirteen years in college and graduate school. Since receiving my PhD in 1988, I’ve given thirty-two years to teaching in colleges and universities. I’ve been through the tenure process, published several books, participated in national and international professional academic societies, and achieved the rank of full professor at a prestigious university. I think I know you pretty well. And it is from my experience that I write.

A Sense of Self-Importance

I get it, you think you are an important social institution. You present yourself to the larger society as the champion of science, the engine of technological innovation, and the guardian of civilization. You market yourself to potential students as a four-year rite of passage into the professional class. I do not deny that much of what you say is true. My life testifies to that. Becoming a professor was my dream from age eighteen onward, and I am still amazed that the dream came true. I would not accept anything in exchange for what I learned from my teachers and students. I could not have written the books I have authored were I not a professor paid to teach and research. But I am not writing to praise you. Nor do I write to bury you. I write to admonish you and warn those who accept uncritically your rhetoric of self-importance.

Hidden Motives

The inviting narrative created by your public relations offices and published on your websites and in glossy brochures does not tell the whole story. Whatever your value to the common good, you are but one sector within a larger society encompassed by concentric circles of government power. Well hidden among your noble motives lie the most primitive of all drives: instinct for survival, desire for autonomy, and yearning for honor, security, and economic well-being. I could write an essay on each of these motives. But I want to focus on your quest for autonomy.

I believe your desire to become and remain self-determining is the driving force, the systemic ethos, of your behavior.  Autonomy allows you to pursue your self-interest without interference from external factors. It is your most cherished possession, and losing it is your greatest fear. The story is too long to tell here, but you write the history of American higher education as the struggle to free academia from the oppression of what you perceive as its two greatest enemies: right-wing politics and orthodox Christianity. And you tend to combine the two, although they are not natural allies.

Orthodox Christianity

You are driven by fear and hatred of these two enemies. You see them as sinister forces ever conspiring to bring you back under their control. You fight orthodox Christianity by attacking its truth and goodness and naively embracing almost any ideology, superstition, moral philosophy, or religion that criticizes it. Your reaction is a perfect illustration of the old saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” You consider any enemy of Christianity your ally. In your narrative, orthodox Christianity is anti-scientific, superstitious, imperialistic, historically unfounded, metaphysically absurd, morally oppressive, and, well, just plain evil.

Right-Wing Politics

Right-wing politics plays the second villainous role in your narrative. You interpret every voice on the right as an echo of the National Socialist (NAZI) takeover of the German universities, or of Joseph McCarthy’s attempt to root out communists from the entertainment industry and academia, or of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority. You fear a right-wing takeover to the point of paranoia. And your fear is compounded by the fact that you have no power of your own with which to resist such a takeover. Hence you seek powerful friends to protect you. To fight the Right you made friends with the Left. To escape the eagle’s nest you fled to the bear’s cave. You are like ancient Israel in the Seventh and Sixth Centuries, BC, a weak vassal state set between two giant empires. In fear of Assyria and Babylon, you seek the protection of Egypt. For you must serve one devil or the other. Over a hundred years ago, when the Right and Christian orthodoxy were much stronger than they are today, you decided that the left-wing empire would give you more autonomy that a right-wing master would allow. And you have kept to that policy right up to the present time.

You have adopted another famous saying as your guiding light: “There are no enemies on the left.” To resist the Right, you embrace any and every cause that weakens it. It has been said in jest that the only thing that unites the modern university is the electrical and heating systems. No ideal, no mission, no philosophy, or moral imperative commands the loyalty of all the factions that congregate on your campuses. But I make no joke when I assert that the unity of the modern university is forged by one thing only: hatred of your common enemies, orthodox Christianity and right-wing politics.

Why do you, the modern university, put such emphasis on ethnic, racial, and gender identity and embrace anarchic, disruptive, and violent movements? Why target white privilege and systemic racism so vociferously? Why celebrate transgression of all traditional moral distinctions? It is not because of your love of humanity. It has little to do with a coherent philosophy of human dignity. Are you a champion of the oppressed? Not really. Are you motivated by your commitment to tolerance? I don’t think that is plausible. Do you love justice? No. That’s not it. I know you too well. These causes and movements weaken the Right and Christian orthodoxy. That is the reason you embrace them so fanatically. No enemies on the left! Your autonomy is all that matters to you. And your autonomy is a means to your selfish ends.

The Magic Mirror

Your fear drives you into hatred, suppression, and violence toward your enemies, whom you hate because you think they are bent on your destruction. You suppress speech in the name of free speech! You persecute dissenters in the name of compassion. You do violence in the name of peace. You preach superstition in the name of science. You demand conformity in the name of diversity. You deny truth for the sake of ideology. You exclude in the name of inclusion. If your enemy praises it as a virtue, you condemn it as a vice. And if your enemy condemns it as a vice, you defend it as praiseworthy. You are as closeminded and dogmatic as any “fundamentalist” who ever “thumped a Bible.”

Look in the mirror! The magic mirror of your conscience! There you will see everything you hate in your enemies, down to the last eyelash. Everyone who loves brightens the world in their own distinct way. But all who hate look alike in the shadows they cast.

Let Me Count the Ways

Do I write these harsh things because I hate you? No. You were a second mother to me! I write them because I love you. Or to be precise, I love you for what you could be: a place where friends meet to sharpen each other’s understanding. A symposium in which we explore the meaning of our humanity. A laboratory in which we implore nature to reveal her secrets. A cathedral where everyone worships at the altar of truth and reality. A hall where hypotheses are tested in the furnace of respectful debate. A town square where no one who speaks in the voice of reason is silenced because of what they say. Do not fear that reason is too impotent a power to defend goodness, truth, and beauty against the crude designs of the eagle and the bear. Eventually, reason’s clear, sonorous voice will distinguish itself from the cacophonous babel of party interests.

With much affection and not a little grief,

Ron Highfield