Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Quote of the Day

I just started reading Mark Noll's The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind because I heard it was a pretty good book, and the topic just interested me in general. I'm just about finishing up the first chapter and so far Noll paints a pretty bleak picture (though I think in a large measure an accurate one) of the state of evangelicalism and the bitter fruits that we are now reaping from its anti-intellectualistic tendencies. Noll describes his book as a "historic footnote" in support of the words of an Lebanese diplomat, scholar, and Eastern Orthodox Christian who was invited to Wheaton College in 1980 for the opening of the Billy Graham Center. This diplomat (Charles Malik) relayed some important words which I think is worth quoting here in full:

The greatest danger besetting American Evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind as to its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough. This cannot take place apart from profound immersion for a period of years in the history of thought and the spirit. People are in a hurry to get out of the university and start earning money or serving the church or preaching the Gospel. They have no idea of the infinite value of spending years of leisure in conversing with the greatest minds and souls of the past, and thereby ripening and sharpening and enlarging their powers of thinking. The result is that the arena of creative thinking is abdicated and vacated to the enemy. Who among the evangelicals can stand up to the great secular or naturalistic or atheistic scholars on their own terms of scholarship and research? Who among the evangelical scholars is quoted as a normative source by the greatest secular authorities on history or philosophy or psychology or sociology or politics? Does your mode of thinking have the slightest chance of becoming the dominant mode of thinking in the great universities of Europe and America which stamp your entire civilization with their own spirit and ideas?
It will take a different spirit altogether to overcome this great danger of anti-intellectualism.... Even if you start now on a crash program in this and other domains, it will be a century at least before you catch up with the Harvards and Tübingens and the Sorbonnes, and think of where these universities will be then! For the sake of greater effectiveness in witnessing to Jesus Christ Himself, as well as for their own sakes, the Evangelicals cannot afford to keep on living on the periphery of responsible intellectual existence."

With thirty some years since Malik's wise words, I still wonder just how much (or little?) evangelicals have progressed (or digressed) in this regard. Having spent most of my education at great secular institutions, I personally can't say that things have changed at all since then... What do you think? Has evangelicalism shed its shell of anti-intellectualism? Are there scholars who are beginning to contribute to the wide-range of disciplines at our universities?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Stay-at-home Dads

I read something earlier today that shows that the concept of "stay-at-home dads" is not such a novel thing:

Just as the Egyptians have a climate peculiar to themselves, and their river is different in its nature from all other rivers, so, too, have they instituted customs and laws contrary for the most part to those of the rest of mankind. Among them, the women buy and sell (ἀγοράζουσι καὶ καπηλεύουσι), the men stay at home and weave; and whereas in weaving all others push the woof upwards, the Egyptians push it downwards.
-- Herodotus, Histories, 2.35.2

I suppose maybe Herodotus was trying to exaggerate the fact that Egyptians do things "backwards", especially given the fact that even the Nile River seemed to flow "backwards" (South to North) in their eyes. Nonetheless, it appears that stay-at-home dads wasn't an invention of the 20th century.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Welcome to the blogosphere

I would like to give a shout-out to my fellow Dukie and friend, Ross Jahnke to the blogosphere. He's just about finished with his Th.M at Duke Divinity School and I've enjoyed the numerous conversations we've had this past year (and sad that him and his wife will be moving away so soon!). He just started a new blog here, called Ross Jahnke: sharing half-baked reflections from a Christian life. A modest blog title for a very smart fellow! Please drop by his blog and say hello if you get a chance!