I Get Email

January 16, 2009

Got this gem in my old school email address (which forwards to my GMail). My favorite parts in italics–also note the the misspelling of Ezekiel and Random Capitalization. I knew their was some crazy stuff in Branson, but this tops it all. Enjoy:

Are You Looking To Understand The Times, Be Equipped and Encouraged?

Then You Must Attend The Sixth Annual Branson Worldview Weekend Family Reunion

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http://www.worldviewweekendfamilyreunion.com

Click here to order a free, full-color magazine on this event:
http://www.worldviewweekend.com/digest.shtml

Priority, upfront seating deadline is February 23

Because we are living in troubling and uncertain times, we have assembled a line up of speakers for the specific purpose of assisting our attendees to understand the times in light of the Word of God.

Topics will include:
*Six worldviews that rule the word
*Eight specific ways to think more Biblically on the major issues of our day
*Understanding why the Middle East is the epicenter and how it will impact each of us
*What does the Bible say about events now unfolding and yet to unfold in Iran, China, Russia, Syria and Iraq?
*What will be America’s role in the last days if any?
*Fifty Biblical Reasons Why Jesus Christ Could Return Soon
*How Does God Judge a Nation and How Are Christian to Respond?
*Understanding America’s Financial Crisis Through History and the Lens of a Biblical Worldview
*Understanding the relevancy of Ezeikel 38 and 39
*What does the future hold for the U.S., Israel and the people of the Muslim world?
*What are the threats we face and how ought followers of Jesus Christ live in light of dramatic and dangerous geopolitical and religious trends?
*Music by pianist, soloist and modern day psalmist, Marty Goetz

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Dream Job?

January 14, 2009

Sometimes I think I’m happy to have graduated because I spent ten semesters as an undergrad and it’s just nice to have a job and an income, that my college experience wasn’t that atypical. Then I read stuff like this that makes me remember how being there really sucked.


Stanley Fish, Wrong Again

May 26, 2008

I generally don’t agree with Mr. Fish much.

Today is no exception.

Fish writes about the University of Colorado at Boulder, which is proposing to create a “Chair in Conservative Thought and Policy.” Fish then quotes a local newspaper which says the University is going to bring in high-profile conservatives. While these are similarly worded, it should be noted that a program to teach conservative thought and another to hire conservatives could be very different things.

But how left-leaning is the University and its environment?

How then does it lean left? The answer appears a little further down in the story when it is reported that emeritus professor Ed Rozek surveyed the Boulder faculty and found that out of 825, only 23 were registered Republicans.

Stanley Fish then goes on to basically say that good professors don’t let their politics into the classroom, so it doesn’t matter whether the instructors are liberal or not. Bullshit.

I just spent five years in an institution where almost all of the professors are conservatives–politically, socially, and theologically. On all three of those points the personal views of my professors inevitably affected what was taught and how it was taught. This has not always been a negative–I think there is great educational benefit to being educated in an environment where you are profoundly uncomfortable, though the social benefit is less stellar.

I imagine that my experience somewhat resembles that of a conservative student at a left-leaning institution of higher education. One interesting difference is that at Christian U, where I went to school, many of the professors and students vociferously decry the left-leaning nature of state schools and the lack of freedom of thought. This is of course ironic because they have chosen to teach at an institution that redresses that balance by creating an educational environment that is even less balanced.

Of course, there were instructors at my school who didn’t fit the mold politically (some), socially (a few more possibly?) and maybe theologically. Of course, those who were out-of-the-box theologically were only so in narrow terms, as my school required a specific Church membership for all its faculty, so anyone holding too diverse of views would have to be lying to themselves or to Christian U to teach there. To be fair, the professors and administrators with the largest number of differences with the institutional status quo tended to be the best teachers inside and outside the classroom. I think that’s in part because the type of person who chooses to teach at an institution where their view is in the minority likely has a lot of moral and intellectual integrity.

I think it is as important for a university dominated by liberal faculty to encourage the hiring of conservatives and the teaching of conservative thought as it is for places like where I went to school to diversify their points of view. Stanley Fish is dead wrong in thinking that one can keep one’s biases from showing through in your teaching.

For a more intelligent perspective on the issue, check out some writings by Dr. Burke at Swarthmore:

They’re motivated to groupthink by the institutional organization of academic life. The same forces that help academics to produce knowledge and scholarship are the forces which produce unwholesome close-mindedness and inbred self-satisfied attitudes. These forces would act on conservatives as well were we to magically remove the current professoriate and replace them with registered Republicans. They do act already on academics who operate in disciplines where certain kinds of political conservatism are more orthodox, or in institutional contexts, like religious universities, where conservative values are expressly connected to institutional missions.

And another:

I was and remain surprised at how reluctant many people participating in this discussion are to just say, “Yes, in some disciplines, an identifiable conservative may be treated very poorly”. Most importantly, in most of the humanities there’s a default assumption that everyone around the table more or less broadly can be classed as a liberal, and a certain stunned incredulity when someone departs from that assumption.

I think this is a perfectly good explanation for why institutions like Christian U need to exist in the first place:

Why do conservatives care about the humanities at all? The answer might be that for both the cultural right and left, the humanities or more broadly, mass culture, are an important alibi for explaining their failure to outright win the culture wars of the past twenty years. Rather than asking, “What about our views is just not appealing and may never be appealing to the majority of Americans”, they would prefer to assume that those views would be appealing if not for some partisan interference in the natural course of events. For the cultural right, higher education in general and the academic humanities in particular are the boogeyman of choice, to which I can only suggest that they’re vastly, gigantically overstating the possible influence of those institutions. I think the same thing is thought about mass culture in the other direction. In both cases, there’s a systematic effort here to avoid thinking the unthinkable thought, that maybe, just maybe, the majority of people have thought about your view of things and they just don’t like it, for good and considered reasons.

Of course, there are reasons why one could never admit this to oneself.


The Varsity Sport of the Mind

April 11, 2008

I’m in St. Louis right now, where me and the other members of CU’s “College Bowl” team just checked into our hotel. Next we’ll be heading out to register for the NAQT quiz bowl national tournament. The questions are brutally hard, and the competition is brutally nerdy, so wish us luck.

Reading note: Today I had the pleasure of finishing Woodward and Bernstein’s All the President’s Men, which I’d been meaning to read to learn more about Nixon’s lovely Watergate antics (such a sweet, cuddly man) and now I’m starting in on Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I like having travel time, as its about the only time I’ve been getting to read lately.


The Ultimate Headline?

April 8, 2008

How many times do you get to have a headline in a legitimate newspaper that inclues the words “Nazi,” “Grand Prix,” and “Orgy”?

At least once in a lifetime, evidently.

So it seems Mr. Mosley was secretly videotaped taking part in a sadomachistic orgy with five prostitutes (bet Elliot Spitzer feels like a wimp now!).

Family history has added to the notoriety: Mr. Mosley, 67, is the younger son of Britain’s 1930s fascist leader, Sir Oswald Mosley, and the society beauty Diana Mitford, whose secret wedding in Berlin in October 1936 was held at the home of the Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels and included Hitler as a guest of honor.

Actually, it may be that a lot of the blame for this is on the tabloid (which Mosley is now suing) that set this sting up and claimed it had a Nazi theme.

The Times of London reported Friday that Mr. Mosley would argue in his lawsuit that he spoke German during the sex-and-bondage session because two of the women involved were Germans, not to engage in Nazi role playing.

That might actually be a legitimate reason… It doesn’t sound like there was anything explicitly Nazi going on, but once the press picked up on the theme, the condemnations started rolling in, so I’d guess Mr. Mosley is on his way out of the spotlight very soon. The only way to know for sure would be to evaluate the actual video, and I don’t think either my sanity or Christian U’s rules would permit that.

Best quote of the day comes from The News of the World, the lovely tabloid that broke the story. They described it as “a depraved Nazi sadomasochistic orgy.” Yes, that’s right, it wasn’t just a Nazi sadomasochistic orgy. It was a depraved one.


Thank you, Mr. Registrar (T-Minus 38 Days)

April 2, 2008

registrar registrar's office

There are now only 38 days between today and graduation day. Hurrah! I think I’ll be making intermittent countdown posts chronicling my last days here at Christian U (CU), my school. Because I go to college in my hometown, it’s difficult to separate my childhood and high school years from the time I spent in college, so the whole graduating-and-moving-away thing that I will be experiencing after college is really the first time I’ll have lived anywhere but this small town in Arkansas.

Anyway, as one step on the highway toward a diploma, I recently communicated with the registrar at CU. This is the person who checks to make sure you’ve taken every class you need before you graduate. Thankfully, I evidently took the right classes in my 10 semesters, so I get to graduate “on time” (ha).

I think being a registrar is probably a pretty thankless job. From the university side you’ve got pressure to check everything off and make sure everyone takes exactly what they’re required to take. But whenever you stop a student from graduating because they forgot to take that 1 hour kinesiology activity credit, that’s gotta piss people off.

So here’s to you Mr. Registrar, thanks for letting me out.