Monday, June 20, 2005

The Academic's Point of View...

Those of you who have read my blog know that I am sorely remiss in my efforts to post frequently. I regret this, but such is the nature of blogging.

Finally, I hope to complete my series on Academic Freedom and why I find myself horribly lost in an almost untenable position.

Those of you who need a refresher, please read this (

You will find my general overview on the problem on academic freedom and my summary of David Horowitz's perspective.

Today, I would like to write a bit about the radical/academic perspective. I know that not all academics are radicals. I use this generalization merely to simplify my argument and avoid bogging down in particulars.

These views are my experiences with a few individuals and those whose writing I have read in various magazines and online. Take this presentation with a large grain of salt.

People opposing Horowitz seem to hold one or more of these positions:

1. The purpose of education is always to challenge the status quo/canon.
-to some degree, I agree. I think that education must incorporate the establishment of critical thinking abilities.

2. The instructor/professor/academic has the right and obligation to abide by some form of liberal iconoclasm.
-Indeed, it would seem that there are relatively few outlets for the voiceless to be given voices than the academy.

3. Iconoclasm, therefore, represents critical thought, and anyone who supports any aspect of the status quo/canon hold the potential betrayal of "progress" and is not educated.
-This is where I begin to have problems. It seems that this perspective leaves the academic community open to fall victim to a tendency to throw the baby out with the bath water. More on this later.

4. Any method necessary can and should be employed against those who resist the progress of the "right" or "tolerant" perspectives.
-Clearly, not everyone who opposed Horowitz believes this, but it has been argued to me that any concession that any academic has behaved inappropriately in the classroom or through their research represents a personal failure.

Therefore, the image of the academics' desire for institutions of learn quickly become as problematic as Horowitz's desire for lecture halls filled with quiet students absorbing "objective knowledge".

It seems that the desired state would allow anyone who is hired by an educational institution to have free reign to express themselves in any way they thought suitable for the education of the students as they see fit.

Is it wrong for professors to expect the right to show how historically almost every field of intellectual knowledge has been shaped by oppressive regimes of power?

Obviously not, but by the same token, we cannot say that every result of an oppressive regime is worthless. Or more importantly, we cannot say that those who have benefited from such regimes hold complete complicity with the instutitions and individuals who shaped and maintained oppression.

This is not quite as clear as i wanted to make it. So please, don't come after me. I hope to clarify it in my next post where I present my opinion on what to do and why.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Yay! Finally! and a short thought on parents...

I just got word, all, that my prof has finally figured out how to access my blog and graded it. I know that my posting has probably eliminated any readers that I might have had, but I got an "A"!

So I will begin posting more regularly after my month-long forced hiatus.

For today's post, I want to share part of a conversation that some of my friends and I just started having about the challenges of enacting and speaking a new perspective of Christianity.

My friend, Brad, wrote:
>And yeah, those few days w/ my parents, while largely enjoyable, also
>reminded us of the sorts of issues that will need to be confronted if
>we're going to establish a healthy relationship w/ them. Most of you
>know that my relationship w/ my parents has never been great, and has
>often been strained. The problem is that my values won't let me just
>ignore them - nor, I suppose, wld that allow me to be an emotionally
>whole person.

And I responded:

I am very glad that you have shared this with us.

Jenna and I just spent basically two weeks with my parents: first, we were helping them install a new
hardwood floor in their kitchen, and second, we hitched a ride with them to my cousin's wedding over
Memorial Day weekend. It was such a struggle all the time.My dad wants to have these phil and theo.
debates with us kids so that he feels that he is doing his duty as a spiritual leader of the family, but his
definitions and understandings of things stretches things so thin.

You all know that I have never been the most subtle person to argue with, and my dad and I got into a
heated debate about the role of Paul's epistles in the canon. I have personally been growing more and more
dubious about why Paul's writings are any more "divinely inspired" than any other Christian thinker, read
Lewis, Chesterton, Ellul, etc, and this obviously worried my father a great deal.

He and I would begin to get in this cyclical arguments that went no where. When I would cut off the
argument and say something like, "This is getting us no where. We are speaking about different things, and I
don't think you are really getting what I am trying to say," then he would get mad that I was backing out of
the argument because I was beaten. This would make me mad, and then my mother would start thinking
that we hated our parents. She would cry and ask, "Why are you SO cynical?" This made the many long car
rides VERY uncomfortable. Especially since my dad's idea of an apology is a statement of the obvious,
"There's a cow. Hm...aluminum fabrication. That would be an interesting job."

Any tips would be welcome.

This holds true for anyone out there reading this. Advice is needed.

On one hand, I could just keep my mouth shut and smile and nod and then go do my own thing, but that just seems dishonest in so many ways.

In the coming days, I am going to finish my diatribe on David Horowitz and also talk about some of the movies that I have seen recently. Now that I am out of class, I can talk about a broader range of issues.