Sadness Regarding Academia

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English: Old Well at the University of North C...

English: Old Well at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been out of town in Tennessee, my home state, and am back in North Carolina–only to discover that my library books checked out from UNC Libraries could not be renewed because of fines. I drove to Chapel Hill, paid the fines, returned some books, and renewed and checked out more. As I walked the sparsely populated summer school campus, I felt a twinge of sadness at the current state of the academy. Academia is my job and my vocation. I enjoy working in an academic setting, teaching, reading, writing, wandering through libraries, walking around lovely campuses. At its best, the academy teaches the great traditions of Western Civilization as well as introducing students to other civilizations after they better understand out own. Great philosophy, literature, and art are introduced to students. They can also learn science, mathematics, and various technical skills. Ideally, a college or university campus should be a Mecca of learning, free-spirited discussion, and developing the wisdom to use learned knowledge in a prudent way.

Ideals are never actuality, especially in a fallen world. I remember the summer after my senior year in high school, naively thinking that college would be an intellectual community with students like those who used to appear on the GE College Bowl. Alas, that was not the case for the most part. There were serious students, but most were wanting a degree and that was it. They were not interested in learning about the high points of civilized life. It is no surprise to me, looking back to those days in the early 1980s, that the children of those students now have similar attitudes–or worse. Yet there are students who, in spite of themselves, learn something, and that is a joy to any teacher.

The saddest aspect of the current academy is its radicalization by left wing, Neo-Marxist ideas. Along with such comes speech codes, an anti-Christian bias, and a refusal to entertain alternative points of view.. What used to be a venue for knowledge has become, in most places, a soapbox for left wing propaganda. The days when the Agrarians could survive in the academy are long gone. Robert Penn Warren and John Crowe Ransom would probably pass muster–perhaps even Allen Tate. I doubt that Andrew Lytle or Donald Davidson would be hired. I do not think any of them would be hired today at Vanderbilt University where they once wielded such influence. I could name other academic conservatives from the past who would have difficulty in today’s academy, but that would be superfluous–and it is a pathetic fact that such would be superfluous. For once I would like to see a college or university that believes in teaching the classic works of Western Civilization. St. Thomas Aquinas College in California does, but it is by far a rare exception to the rule.

I hope in the future that there will be good alternatives to the academy–private tutorials in Greek and/or Latin classics or in great works in philosophy, for example. That is most likely a pipe dream. I hope that one day academics wake up that their current course often does more harm that good, creating clones instead of wise thinkers.

Defending Marriage: The North Carolina Marriage Protection Amendment

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Topographic map of North Carolina

Just because the suicide of Western Culture has weakened the institution of marriage does not mean that Americans can do nothing to stop its decline. Advocates of same sex marriage have been aggressive in promoting their goal of the legal acceptance of same sex marriage by all states. Such a view of marriage is a radical break from all previous human cultures–for good reason. Although the ideal is not often reached in real life, a marriage between a man and a woman is the best way to bring children into the world and rear them. Multiple studies by sociologists and psychologists, no friends of traditional institutions, have shown this to be the case. Only a man and a woman can make a baby through the act of sexual intercourse. Attempts by same sex couples to rear children occur either by adoption or by a woman offering an egg as a surrogate for one of the partner’s sperm (in the case of male same-sex couples; in the case of female same sex couples, one of the partners would offer her egg and donated sperm would fertilize it). Such practices go against the fundamental ends of human families and human societies to bring the next generation into the world in a way consistent with human biology. Supporters of same sex marriage ignore biology, as if human beings could be separated from their bodies, or as if maleness and femaleness is somehow not part of one’s personal identity. Even apart from same-sex marriage, homosexuality is unnatural in orientation and morally wrong in practice. To fully embrace homosexual practice in the context of marriage is a violation of natural law so severe that it can only bring irreparable harm to society. The decline of marriage in Western Culture, its separation, in the public mind, from bearing children, and later from permission for sexual intercourse, has produced a society that is promiscuous (why be married when you can enjoy sex before marriage without worrying about having children) and one in which marriage is considered to be only a legal contract instead of a sacred vow. Same sex marriage would put the nail in the coffin’s head of marriage in any meaningful sense–and with activist judges threatening state laws, defining marriage as between a man and a woman via state law alone is inadequate. Moves to pass state constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman are welcome, giving the people as a whole the chance to save what is left of traditional marriage.

As part of the North Carolina Primary on May 8, the voters of North Carolina will decide whether to pass the “Marriage Protection Amendment” to the state constitution that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. I strongly support this amendment and encourage the citizens of North Carolina to vote in its favor. If it passes and opponents go judge shopping to find a liberal federal judge to try to throw out the amendment, this would make it clear that the judge is attempting to thwart the will of the people, . It would also allow appeals up the federal court system so that eventually the sovereign right of the people of a state to define marriage might, hopefully, be affirmed. At the very least, this amendment grants the voters of North Carolina the opportunity to do their small but vital part in defending a sacred institution and in slowing America’s attempt at cultural and moral suicide.