The danger of upholding "the good, the true and the beautiful" in education
In How it Should be Done, Rod Dreher (the Crunchy Con) shares his family's path to education, from homeschooling, to disappointing private schools to the Providence Christian School. It isn't just the academic rigor that attracted the Drehers, but its prohibition against...dare I call it socialization?
A small but telling example: Providence doesn't allow students to discuss TV, movies or popular culture on campus. When I tell parents this, half respond as if I'd disclosed that my child studied at Heinrich Himmler Elementary, and the other half can't believe our good fortune. Providence doesn't require abstinence from these things, but if you're training your child to love the good, the true and the beautiful instead of trash culture, this school is a powerful ally. Dallas Morning News
The main point I got from the editorial, however, has less to do with education and more to do with how conservative Christians should be handling the cultural decline
we so often lament.
Social conservatives have placed far too much hope (and too many financial resources) in politics as an agent of cultural renewal, and far too little in the slow, steady work of building up institutions like Providence. As the agrarian essayist Wendell Berry has written, "our country is not being destroyed by bad politics; it is being destroyed by a bad way of life." Ibid.
It is a point I have made repeatedly. The government is not the solution to our problems. When we as conse
rvatives seek governmental solutions to the issues in our culture, we are no different than the "social engineers" we seek to counteract. The only solution is to change the culture, one soul at a time. That begins with our own hearts, our children's and our neighbors'. It does not begin in Washington. It is our "bad way of life" which has brought about the bad politics we see at every level of government.

But some cannot get past God, even if He is in a private school. Or even in the home.
This [inculcating children with ancient myths] leads rather casually to being able to justify depriving fellow citizens of basic rights in the name of saving marriage and, not very much further down the road of faith over reason, to a willingness to sacrifice themselves in order to kill non-believers, thus assuring themselves a place in heaven. Letters on Points
Actually, I would say that Dreher's piece does the opposite. But we have to be able to rea
d past stereotypes of Christians and read what he actually wrote. That part about placing too much hope in the government for cultural renewal is important. This blind adherence to scientism is a greater threat. It is seeking to deny humans the basic, fundamental right of worship and religious expression because such things do not fit into their view of the world.
"I am against religion," wrote Richard Dawkins, "because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." The damage of the Abrahamic religions is more perverse than that, however, for they deny not only our rightful place within, but also our essential responsibility to all of humankind. Ibid.
Actually, that is not at all true. As Christians, we are taught "Love thy neighbor." And even more:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. Matthew 544
What does scientism teach us about morality? Nothing. It is silent on the issue, because no morality can be empirically proven. It does not belong in the realm of natural science and thus has no place in the philosophy. Interestingly, the whole philosophy has already been tried.
The Russian Pisarev in the 1860's wanted a disappearance of culture and the emergence of a "non-cultural" scientific culture, whose ideal was neither invented nor abstracted but found and left where it alone could be represented--in actual and living phenomena. In the beginning of the next century constructivism in Russia in its early utopian phase was also inspired by scientism. Scientism, Romanticism, and Social Realist Images of Science
The philosophy upheld by Mr. Shuey leads rather casually to being able to justify depriving fellow citizens of basic rights in the name of science and, not very much further down the road of scientism over reason, to a willingness to silence non-believers. Perhaps heaven isn't the goal, but the furthering of a sort of cold rationality is.

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