24 December 2014

Dissecting the News and Christian Anti-Intellectualism

I find it interesting that some conservatives are unable to grasp the issues behind the recent racial upheaval. I've seen some are posting stories of white teenagers being killed by black men and then criticising the media for not covering these stories.

Murders happen every day and no doubt more than a few are racially motivated. That's a sad fact.

But the issue in Ferguson, Cleveland and Staten Island have to do with police officers, men who represent and are meant to enforce the law... due process... killing suspects in an unwarranted fashion. The issue is that if we live in a society regulated by law and these law enforcers are unnecessarily killing (or judicially executing) people without due process...that's a concern.

And then if they're behaving this way due to racial motivations...

That's an even larger concern.

All murders, even all deaths are to some degree tragic and in no way do I mean to suggest the death of white teenagers doesn't matter.

But it is surprising how many ingest the news, some even heavily imbibe it and yet fail to contextualize. This represents the real failure of our education system and the news media.

My wife even more than me is struck by the fact that college students do not seem to have the same academic burden of her generation. Granted, she attended a fairly serious Christian college. She was the valedictorian of her high school class... granted a small town school... but had always done well. She also did well in college but had to work very hard just to get decent grades.

Presently we're observing relations and acquaintances that have college aged children. We are struck by the fact that their children are largely irresponsible, lazy and negligent when it comes to study habits, intellectually unimpressive and yet these kids are pulling in straight-A's in university.

Something is amiss.

There does seem to be a difference when it comes to private colleges. We know of a few who are attending these and their experience seems more traditional. These kids are working hard, putting in the hours and still struggling to get B's, while the kids at the state colleges are partying and bored and breezing through the curriculum.

Of course the cost differentials are considerable.

But all of this must be considered when we look at the state of thinking within the culture and the aims and ability of the news media when it comes to information dissemination. This coupled with the lack of ability to assimilate and integrate the news... means we as a society are caught in a vicious cycle.

While education cannot be equated with wisdom or ethical integrity, there's something to learning the ability to contextualize, recognize fallacies, and weigh issues.

That said, education can also poison the mind, fill it with assumptions and corrupt judgment and morality. There are dangers on all fronts... for both the intellectual and the ignorant.

As Christians we cannot embrace anti-intellectualism, but our Scripture-informed intellectualism is of a different quality. We contextualize differently, or ought to. We judge things not according to the cultural norms and assumptions, nationalist commitments or cultural identity. But we constantly seek the renewal of our minds and in so doing (obviously understanding this to be a work of the Spirit) we can hopefully arrive at some better ways of thinking and thus form better conclusions, contexts and hopefully attain some wisdom.

I'm not seeing a great deal of this at present and it is upsetting to me to see how many foolish things are being promoted by Christians and the thinkers they admire. I am increasingly concerned that Christians are not only failing to derive and apply Spiritual wisdom concerning contemporary events, but they are falling short of even the pagans and their demonstrably flawed analysis and ethics. If the Lost are able to grasp more in terms of knowledge and context and if their necessarily flawed wisdom is exceeding that of the Church and closer to the Truth... then something is terribly amiss.

I'm afraid it can only be Divine Judgment.