The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Get Educated...Get a Life

Get religion, get smart. According to a study conducted at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University, young people who practice and are committed to their faith perform at a higher level academically than those who are less religious.


llana Horwitz
Ilana Horwitz, the doctoral candidate who conducted the study, interviewed almost 2,500 public schools students aged 13-17 placing them into five categories based on the depth of their religious life. She named the categories from most to least religious as follows: abiders, adapters, assenters, avoiders and atheists. (It seems she has a preference for "a" words.) Her study concluded that the more religious had a significantly higher grade point average than the less religious. For example, the "abiders" -- described by Horwitz as those who attend religious services, pray on a regular basis, feel close to God, and emphasize the role of faith in their daily lives -- earned an average GPA of 3.22. In contrast the "avoiders" -- those who believe God exists but avoid religious involvement in their lives -- earned an average GPA of 2.93.



Horwitz attributes the difference to two key factors: conscientiousness and cooperation. She went on to conclude that "church attendance and doing well in school require commitment, diligence, and routine...The ritual practice of rising and going to church or mass, and so forth – whether compelled by one’s own faith or one’s parents’ demands – commits a youth to a practice and routine, a skill that translates into tools needed for academic success.”

It seems, then, an active religious faith can make a difference in both this life and the next. Get religion and get smart; or you can follow the road most taken and...

Get a relativistic education. I was taught, in both school and at home, that if I knew little or nothing about a subject, I should remain quiet for fear of revealing my ignorance and sounding like a complete fool. When it comes to all those important, earth-shaking topics, I've tried to follow this advice, although those who know me well might disagree.

Usually, though, if I'm interested in a subject, I read about it, study it, and relying on my common sense, listen to the arguments of more knowledgeable people. Only then do I feel comfortable to form an opinion. Even then I'm ready to change that opinion as I learn more about the subject and the motives of those making the arguments. The sought-after end is always the truth.

Apparently, in a world dominated by relativistic thinking, comprehending the truth is no longer the desired goal. How can it be, when your truth and my truth and their truth, all very different from one another, all become acceptable? The true relativist accepts all of these "truths" as valid because no knowledge, no beliefs, are truly objective; all is subjective. Indeed, he rejects the very idea of objective truth and, like Pontius Pilate, can turn to the Source of Truth itself and sneer those words, "What is truth?" Remarkably, he can do so without any embarrassment whatsoever.

Today, however, political correctness has led to a strange, illogical twisting of relativism. Now only some "truths" are acceptable. Those that support the ideological left are fine regardless of their relationship to objective reality. Any other truth must be attacked and discarded. The lie, then, becomes a truth if it furthers the desired ideological ends. This is why so many of our politicians and their elitist fellow travelers can knowingly tell obvious lies and not be taken to task by a media driven by the same ideology. As Lenin is reported to have said: "A lie told often enough becomes the truth."

I encountered a beautiful example of this a few months ago. Supposedly intelligent college students didn't hesitate to offer their opinion on the president's State of the Union speech several days before he delivered it. Assuming he had already delivered the speech, they willingly aired their opinions of what he supposedly said. What fun to listen to their comments on the content of a speech as if they had actually listened to it. In other words, they lied, but that's okay because their lies support the ideology. They have been so completely indoctrinated that their opinions before and after the speech would be virtually identical. This is what ideology does. It brainwashes. Don't confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up. Or, perhaps more accurately, the ideology has captured my mind and dictated my thoughts.

Here's a video of these NYU students:


Uncovering and highlighting the ignorance of those claiming to be educated would be great fun were it not so sad.
Lenin and Hitler: Little Difference
Should you visit a college campus and have the bad fortune to experience an up close and personal encounter with a violent leftist of the Antifa movement, just ask him to define fascism, the ideology he claims to oppose. Ask him to describe the kinds of policies fascist governments have historically imposed on their populations. Ask him to do the same for communism and communist governments. The answers (or lack thereof) will amaze. Indeed, there is little difference between Antifa activists and the true fascists they condemn -- just as there was little difference between the tactics of Hitler's Nazis and Stalin's Marxists. Truth, understanding, and knowledge are of no importance. Only the ideology counts. It results, of course, in the enslavement of the ignorant, the very "useful idiots" the ideologues call on to do their dirty work.
Ben Garrison Cartoon
Yes, indeed, there's an element of slavery here. Too many have become so complacent in their ideological servitude that they are unable to think. I fear it has begun to affect the nation as a whole. As Americans we probably enjoy more physical comforts than those living elsewhere and yet at the same time we are losing our mental freedom. Even more strange is the infantization of college students who must be protected from any thoughts that might possibly disturb them.
Protect me...please, please protect me

Of course, far too many colleges and universities encourage all this by eliminating required, foundational courses in history, philosophy, literature, and the development of civilization. In 1962, as a freshman at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, I was required to take a course in logic. (I still have both the textbook and workbook, to which I have referred many times over the years.) I suspect very few college students could even define "logic" today. And I still fall back on what I learned that same freshman year in the legendary Carroll Quigley's course on the Evolution of Civilizations. Professor Quigley was the kind of liberal that no longer exists, one who would graciously listen to other points of view and engage in the give and take of good argument. 

Carroll Quigley
Without an understanding of the human condition -- the knowledge offered by the foundational studies mentioned above -- no person is truly educated. But even where such courses continue to be taught, their content is too often distorted by the prevailing leftist ideology. Argument and open discussion of contrary views -- the means to seek out the truth -- are not just discouraged but even prohibited.

Yes, it's a sad truth that most college graduates today depart these institutions woefully uneducated. Some have acquired the basic technical skills demanded by a chosen career field and go on to accept entry-level positions in industry, government, education, or health care. But they have been trained rather than educated. No doubt many will succeed as the world measures success, but are they prepared to answer, or even ask, life's great questions?

Others, having focused on politically correct areas of study, graduate with few marketable skills and find themselves working at what are essentially unskilled jobs and living in mom's basement.

Mom's Basement Ain't So Bad
Still others choose to enter professions that require the increasingly specialized knowledge and skills taught in  graduate schools. Brandishing advanced degrees and professional success they are viewed as experts to whom the world should listen. In truth, their expertise and knowledge are often so specialized, so narrow, that they are less likely to offer the answers so many seek.

A young person today must make a choice. If the goal is wealth and worldly success, and nothing more, then by all means do what must be done to attend one of the elite institutions. Accept the indoctrination and be prepared to live a narrow, meaningless life.

I've already, probably too often, offered my opinion on the quality of higher education at most colleges and universities. To the young person of faith, I offer the following advice. First, listen to St. Paul and what he told the Philippians:
I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus [Ph 3:14].
In other words, don't sweat the small stuff, and that includes how you earn your living in today's world. Focus instead on the eternal "prize of God's upward calling." Be a person of faith, one who sees beyond this life to eternity.

My most recent advice to the average high school student is to learn a useful trade, the kind that will always be in demand, or enlist in one of the military services, while at the same time pursuing higher education online. And then read. Read and re-read the works of those whose thoughts formed humanity's great civilizations. 

That advice hasn't changed. 
A Marine in Afghanistan - Learning About Life
Life, in fact, is the best educator. And I really believe that the average 20-year-old Marine with combat experience in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere has a deeper understanding of the human condition and the state of the world than most recent college graduates. 

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