By Joel Hess –
This past weekend Michigan State University was assaulted by the mind of George Will. Or so some would say. Despite a petition signed by nearly 40,000 people and a number of protesters, George Will gave the commencement address at the December graduation ceremony. What was Will’s crime? Well he offered a frank discussion about sexual assault and the so called progressive college culture that ironically promotes it and is shocked by it. Fortunately and quite surprisingly the university president didn’t give in to nincompoops. Unlike the leaders of Columbia’s law school, who allowed students to put off their exams if they felt traumatized by the recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson and New York.
If these children can’t handle the stress of reading the news, how will these future lawyers handle the stress of defending their client in the next Ferguson case!? They probably will ask the judge to put the trial off for a week because it’s just too much right now.
Anyone who has ever shared a hot rum toddy with an intelligent person has seen this coming for decades. Prophets like GK Chesterton to Allan Bloom have precisely predicted this evil age. Our universities are no longer places for higher learning, but only places for learning how to get high. The closing of the American… scratch that! The American mind is now closed!
Many of our colleges and universities are creating very weak minded citizens who can’t handle frank discussions of anything. First of all, popular academia has taught her students that they have a right not to be offended ever. Nothing should disrupt their, as Will says in his Nazi-sexist-satanic column, ‘entitlement to serenity.’ You will never learn anything if you are not willing to be offended, and even lose your serenity!
Secondly, the university is supposed to be the perfect place for debate! Yet more and more often debate has become a bad word even in these supposed intellectual environments! With no consensus or clear evidence supporting their beliefs, issues regarding gender, evolution, abortion are now off limits as if the debate has been settled long ago. Even if this were true, even if these issues are believed to be closed, what is so frightful about opening up old decisions, premises, assumptions, etc.!? I thought that was what avant garde thinkers do? Why does there seem to be more frank multi-sided discussions on hot issues going on at Christian universities than so called neutral secular schools?
I propose one reason for our public universities inability to get its hands intellectually dirty; they no longer exist to educate! They perform more as factories, not environments for the pursuit of truth. They exists to make monkeys to put round pegs in round holes, whether that job will be in engineering or education, graphic design or hotel restaurant management (yeah, that’s a degree). Even the liberal arts have been reduced to providing a person to cordially greet a customer. Everything is judged by its usefulness. Will that make me more money? Will that skill help me do my job faster? Etc. The students aren’t there to vigorously debate issues! So don’t bother them with conflict. Instead, provide them with a serene and sterile environment so they may lay many eggs using as little energy as possible.
Many churches have gone the way of the university as well, forgetting their purpose to make disciples. Instead they act, if not nakedly confess that their job is to make workers. What you do is more important than what you believe, therefore debate about doctrine can be seen as a hindrance to performance. Therefore many churches desire to create a sterile and serene environment. No one will be offended, disturbed, shocked, so their hens can make many ordinary average size eggs. The Roman Catholic system actually twists grace to be just that – God helps you to do good works!
Christ died and rose not so we can be more effective workers, but so we may have peace and joy, even life! The Church is not a coaching clinic to help people be useful busy bees, but it is the organism through which God gives this Life! This life is from knowing the Truth – truth that shoves us out of our false serenity yet raises us up into His eternal reality!
Unlike the universities, Christians should not be afraid of conflict or debate. Because we are not protecting some fragile constructed reality, but stand upon eternal truths that can be questioned, engaged, mocked, spat upon and even crucified. For He is risen.