June 26, 2012

Anti-intellectualism, evangelicals and the American mind

Two posts the other day caught my eye.  The first was this from Fred Clark on how professors in evangelical schools often have to lie to their students.  I remember as a teen a discussion about seminary.  One person noted that those who went to seminary expecting to get their beliefs rubber-stamped were in for a big surprise.  But I then watched as conservatives within the SBC went to rather extreme efforts to make sure that was no longer true.  And this is what Fred observes.  Intellectual inquiry has been banished, because for conservatives, intellectual inquiry and curiosity are bad things.

This, along with the emphasis on female submission started my exodus from the church.

But it isn't just the church that struggles with anti-intellectualism.  Americans, as Richard Hofstadter noted, have always struggled with this distrust of the academy and the intellectual life.  But in recent years, that has taken a different tack toward seeing education as just another market-driven problem.  I see it all the time with college students who see their tuition as payment for a degree, or, in my class, payment for a grade.  Not access to learning.  Just that letter grade and the ultimate degree.

But they aren't alone.  Conservatives everywhere have decided that education should be run as a part of a free market economy.  Cheaper to just use people like me to educate, and push everything to the online environment or for-profit education.  Chris Hayes has a really good discussion here.

I would have liked to see more discussion on the role the university itself has played here, but that will come.  I would also like to see more discussion of the role that education has played in research and social mobility.  But conservatives don't seem to value either.


Monk-in-Training said...

I have a friend, who was a Southern Baptist Pastor, then his natural curiosity took him to scholarly journals, and Biblical Criticism. He is now barely even a Christian, and recently at lunch agreed with me, that the Evangelical method of teaching Biblical inerrancy was poison to his faith and that of many others.

Lord in Your mercy...

leighton said...

Second link appears to be broken.

Lies helped drive me away from faith; lies for Jesus are simply lies. But another factor was the huge number of believers whose top social priority is making peace with liars and those who sympathize with liars in order to preserve the facade of unity within the Church. I have no interest in dealing with a community that has no interest in those outside its walls.

Streak said...

Fixed the link. Thanks, Leighton.

"lies for Jesus are simply lies." Well said.

Monk-in-Training said...

"lies for Jesus are simply lies."

A wonderful way of stating a very sad truth.

Leighton, I am totally going to share this, how may I attribute it to you?

leighton said...

That's very kind. You don't need to attribute it, but if you feel obligated to, you can mention me either by first name or "a friend on Streak's blog."