Monday, December 11, 2017

American Education for Anarchy

Thursday, December 1, 2011, 0:00
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“Anarchy” can be understood as meaning disorder, confusion, without control, or  lawlessness.  In respect to “education” and “anarchy” one is regarded with utmost positive regard, while the other is usually frowned upon.  When we speak of anarchy, we usually don’t begin to think of education, for these areas almost seem like an oxymoron, opposed in meaning.  Nevertheless, as the American public education system has increasingly sought to subtract the Judeo-Christian influences, there is an increasing spirit of anarchy sweeping the land, beginning in the 1960’s after Bible reading and prayer were removed from the public schools.

Our society is increasingly seeing the breakdown in families, our youth sinking into destructive life styles, and a general lack of purpose and direction in the lives of masses in our society.  The Occupy movements, that are sweeping our land show this discontent and suggest a display of anarchy. In a November 17, 2011 article in Godfather Politics, it is suggested that these protests are the result of our socialistic education system, inspired by the philosophy of John Dewey.  A common thread that seems inherent to this movement is that they want the government to take care of everybody. It is bed of discontent that foments anarchy.

The American education philosopher John Dewey advocated replacing the Judeo-Christian values in American schools by a “socialistic naturalism without God, without Christ, without religion, without immortality.  Every single strain in it, from the influences of (the philosopher) Hegel to the inspiration of Darwin, finds its place within his system”, observed Geoffrey O’Connell in his work, Naturalist in American Education, (p. 137,  New York: Benziger Brothers, 1938. )  Dewey died in 1952, but his thinking lives on in American public education, as Progressivism.

In interpreting Dewey’s understanding of God from his work, A Common Faith, (pp. 42-43. New Haven: Yale University Press.)  Allen Hardon observed that for Dewey:  “God does not exist except as the projection of our imagination of those non-objective ideas which guide our human conduct.  While the idea of God is not real, therefore, since it is created by fantasy, it is not illusory because it has served the purpose of idealizing our hopes and desires.”  (Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J. Reprinted from the Catholic Review, Sept.1952.)  So God for Dewey was but a useful illusion for those who needed it!

Hardon went on to observe that Dewey “…goes out of his way to oppose what he calls the suicide of reason and human effort which consists in revelation and the belief in divine grace to supplement the weakness of man.”   Man is quite capable himself to attain all the knowledge that he needs and achieve all the ambitions he desires. If there must be faith, let it be men’s faith in each other and in their mutual co-operation.”  ( Common Faith, p.24)  This would be the movement toward humanism.

Man, according to Dewey, possesses no soul or mind in the traditional sense of these terms.  A spiritual vital principle is rejected because “…the independently existing soul restricts and degrades individuality, making of it a separate thing outside the of the full flow of things, alien to things experienced and consequently in mechanical or miraculous relations to them.”  (John Dewey, The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy, p, 268, New York” Henry Holt and Co., 1910).   Dewey in his autobiography in the last sentence epitomized his life as he wrote:  “For forty years spent in wandering in wilderness like that of the present is not a sad fate—unless one attempts to make himself believe that the wilderness is after all the promised land.”  (Dewey, “The Philosopher-in-the-Making,” Saturday Review of Literature, XXXII, Oct. 22, 1949.

Dewey along with a dozen leading Americans in 1933 signed and published the so-called “Human Manifesto.” Of particular interest is item six that says: “In the place of old attitudes involved in worship and prayer, the humanist finds his religious emotions expressed in the heightened sense of personal life and in a co-operative effort to promote social well-being.” (A Humanist Manifesto, published as a separate statement under the auspices of the American Humanist Association, Salt Lake City, 1933.)  It is interesting, however, that the humanists dogmatically stultify what does not fit into their worldview, while seeming to be proclaiming liberty for all.

A Newsweek poll (April 6, 2009) reveals that although most Americans are still holding on to their faith and describing themselves as Christians, fewer believe religion can answer today’s problems. According to the poll of 1,003 adults, sixty percent of American adults say religion is very important in their lives and seventy-eight percent say prayer is an important part of their daily lives. However, less than half (forty-eight percent) believe religion can answer all or most of today’s problems. The percentage is the lowest number Newsweek has recorded since it began polling Americans on that issue in 1957 (when eighty-two percent believed religion could answer the problems of that time).

In respect to religious affiliation, the percentage of Roman Catholics in the United States has continued to grow and remained steady at about one in four since 1990, while the percentage of other Christians has plummeted from 60 percent to 50 percent. (CNN Survey-2010).    Much of this I feel is because of the fact that many Catholic children have access to Catholic schools.  The church membership for Protestant Christianity peaked in 50s when Bible reading and prayer were part of public schooling in the U.S., but it has it has gone down since then.  The education of the youth is important in respect to their spiritual understanding of life. Sound teaching is the product of a sound faith beneath it.

The Bible gives in Titus 2:1-10 the teaching of how to communicate the behavior that goes with sound teaching. It sets a pattern in the practical domain to where people are “not so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good,” but where they are both heavenly minded and of earthly good. Notice here that the focus is on “sound teaching.”  First there is instruction to older men to be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in the faith, in love, and in endurance. Secondly there is instruction for older and younger women to be holy and teach what is good to their children and not to be slanders and not enslaved to strong drink. The young women are as well to love their husbands and children, and to be  in subjection (not enslaved) to their husbands. The younger men are to have “self-control, integrity, and dignity.” This focus would not only positively affect individuals, but society as well.

The philosophy in American public education for the past fifty years has been to remove the Judeo-Christian values and worldviews away from public education or to just sidetrack it into a category of world religions to where it was to be seen as just being in the category of opinion only.  This has caused a void created by the American education system, as it has sought to indoctrinate the objective facts while neglecting the spiritual and moral underpinnings needed to rightly understand these facts.

I use the category of “Judeo-Christian” in this article, and there is a distinction that needs to being made between Judeo-Christian values and being born again as a Christian. Being born again is an awakening to the subjective awareness of God, where “Judeo-Christian” is an objective understanding of a certain worldview. They aren’t the same.  But the Jewish moral and spiritual and the Christian values harmonize so far as the cultural accord, where other religions, like Islam do not. The categorization is not to equate the two religions, but to show that they maintain much the same worldview and overall values.

American democracy has worked because Judeo-Christian values have been an underpinning from which to work.  Dewey felt that democracy is a method of organizing society, which is in keeping with the method of inquiry, not just a form of government, but it is a way of life, an ethical ideal, and a personal commitment. It is a call for individuals to be self-directing to pursue their own goals and projects for the common good together with the individual benefit. But Plato in the Republic felt it was but one step away from tyranny, having within itself the tendency to lead to tyranny and was the worst of all lawful governments, and the best of all lawless ones.”   (Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion.  W.L Reese, Harvester Press, 16 Ship Street, Brighton, Sussex, 1980, p. 122,123). Dewey’s concept sounds good, but it lacks a foundation, while Plato’s understanding suggests a strong warning.

The reason that the American democracy has worked beyond Plato’s warning, however, is that underneath has been the Judeo-Christian foundation, and this is suggested by the Declaration of Independence, from the “Laws of Nature” in accord with “Nature’s God,” and “endowed by their Creator.” Here is basic reference to God, understood broadly from the Judeo-Christian heritage and the fact that the laws of our land have basically have evolved from the Ten Commandments.  Our culture did not develop from the Islamic culture or Far Eastern understandings.  Although there were only three Deists among the fifty-six that signed the Declaration, even deism was from the Judeo-Christian background, not some other.

If the American education system continues to slide away from our heritage into the focus that we are but a melting pot for all cultures and worldviews, we can but only witness the wilderness of anarchy spreading across our land. It is a sad picture I don’t want to see.  But are we educating for anarchy in the American public schools and our colleges.

.

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by Joe Renfro, Ed.D., Educational Columnist, Radio Evangelist, Retired Teacher and Pastor, Box 751, Lavonia, Georgia 30553, 706-356-4173, joerenfro@windstream.net

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The American Education for Anarchy

“Anarchy” can be understood as meaning disorder, confusion, without control, or lawlessness. In respect to “education” and “anarchy” one is regarded with utmost positive regard, while the other is usually frowned upon. When we speak of anarchy, we usually don’t begin to think of education, for these areas almost seem like an oxymoron, opposed in meaning. Nevertheless, as the American public education system has increasingly sought to subtract the Judeo-Christian influences, there is an increasing spirit of anarchy sweeping the land, beginning in the 1960’s after Bible reading and prayer were removed from the public schools.

Our society is increasingly seeing the breakdown in families, our youth sinking into destructive life styles, and a general lack of purpose and direction in the lives of masses in our society. The Occupy movements, that are sweeping our land show this discontent and suggest a display of anarchy. In a November 17, 2011 article in Godfather Politics, it is suggested that these protests are the result of our socialistic education system, inspired by the philosophy of John Dewey. A common thread that seems inherent to this movement is that they want the government to take care of everybody. It is bed of discontent that foments anarchy.

The American education philosopher John Dewey advocated replacing the Judeo-Christian values in American schools by a “socialistic naturalism without God, without Christ, without religion, without immortality. Every single strain in it, from the influences of (the philosopher) Hegel to the inspiration of Darwin, finds its place within his system”, observed Geoffrey O’Connell in his work, Naturalist in American Education, (p. 137, New York: Benziger Brothers, 1938. ) Dewey died in 1952, but his thinking lives on in American public education, as Progressivism.

In interpreting Dewey’s understanding of God from his work, A Common Faith, (pp. 42-43. New Haven: Yale University Press.) Allen Hardon observed that for Dewey: “God does not exist except as the projection of our imagination of those non-objective ideas which guide our human conduct. While the idea of God is not real, therefore, since it is created by fantasy, it is not illusory because it has served the purpose of idealizing our hopes and desires.” (Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J. Reprinted from the Catholic Review, Sept.1952.) So God for Dewey was but a useful illusion for those who needed it!

Hardon went on to observe that Dewey “…goes out of his way to oppose what he calls the suicide of reason and human effort which consists in revelation and the belief in divine grace to supplement the weakness of man.” Man is quite capable himself to attain all the knowledge that he needs and achieve all the ambitions he desires. If there must be faith, let it be men’s faith in each other and in their mutual co-operation.” ( Common Faith, p.24) This would be the movement toward humanism.

Man, according to Dewey, possesses no soul or mind in the traditional sense of these terms. A spiritual vital principle is rejected because “…the independently existing soul restricts and degrades individuality, making of it a separate thing outside the of the full flow of things, alien to things experienced and consequently in mechanical or miraculous relations to them.” (John Dewey, The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy, p, 268, New York” Henry Holt and Co., 1910). Dewey in his autobiography in the last sentence epitomized his life as he wrote: “For forty years spent in wandering in wilderness like that of the present is not a sad fate—unless one attempts to make himself believe that the wilderness is after all the promised land.” (Dewey, “The Philosopher-in-the-Making,” Saturday Review of Literature, XXXII, Oct. 22, 1949)

Dewey along with a dozen leading Americans in 1933 signed and published the so-called “Human Manifesto.” Of particular interest is item six that says: “In the place of old attitudes involved in worship and prayer, the humanist finds his religious emotions expressed in the heightened sense of personal life and in a co-operative effort to promote social well-being.” (A Humanist Manifesto, published as a separate statement under the auspices of the American Humanist Association, Salt Lake City, 1933.) It is interesting, however, that the humanists dogmatically stultify what does not fit into their worldview, while seeming to be proclaiming liberty for all.

A Newsweek poll (April 6, 2009) reveals that although most Americans are still holding on to their faith and describing themselves as Christians, fewer believe religion can answer today’s problems. According to the poll of 1,003 adults, sixty percent of American adults say religion is very important in their lives and seventy-eight percent say prayer is an important part of their daily lives. However, less than half (forty-eight percent) believe religion can answer all or most of today’s problems. The percentage is the lowest number Newsweek has recorded since it began polling Americans on that issue in 1957 (when eighty-two percent believed religion could answer the problems of that time).

In respect to religious affiliation, the percentage of Roman Catholics in the United States has continued to grow and remained steady at about one in four since 1990, while the percentage of other Christians has plummeted from 60 percent to 50 percent. (CNN Survey-2010). Much of this I feel is because of the fact that many Catholic children have access to Catholic schools. The church membership for Protestant Christianity peaked in 50s when Bible reading and prayer were part of public schooling in the U.S., but it has it has gone down since then. The education of the youth is important in respect to their spiritual understanding of life. Sound teaching is the product of a sound faith beneath it.

The Bible gives in Titus 2:1-10 the teaching of how to communicate the behavior that goes with sound teaching. It sets a pattern in the practical domain to where people are “not so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good,” but where they are both heavenly minded and of earthly good. Notice here that the focus is on “sound teaching.” First there is instruction to older men to be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in the faith, in love, and in endurance. Secondly there is instruction for older and younger women to be holy and teach what is good to their children and not to be slanders and not enslaved to strong drink. The young women are as well to love their husbands and children, and to be in subjection (not enslaved) to their husbands. The younger men are to have “self-control, integrity, and dignity.” This focus would not only positively affect individuals, but society as well.

The philosophy in American public education for the past fifty years has been to remove the Judeo-Christian values and worldviews away from public education or to just sidetrack it into a category of world religions to where it was to be seen as just being in the category of opinion only. This has caused a void created by the American education system, as it has sought to indoctrinate the objective facts while neglecting the spiritual and moral underpinnings needed to rightly understand these facts.

I use the category of “Judeo-Christian” in this article, and there is a distinction that needs to being made between Judeo-Christian values and being born again as a Christian. Being born again is an awakening to the subjective awareness of God, where “Judeo-Christian” is an objective understanding of a certain worldview. They aren’t the same. But the Jewish moral and spiritual and the Christian values harmonize so far as the cultural accord, where other religions, like Islam do not. The categorization is not to equate the two religions, but to show that they maintain much the same worldview and overall values.

American democracy has worked because Judeo-Christian values have been an underpinning from which to work. Dewey felt that democracy is a method of organizing society, which is in keeping with the method of inquiry, not just a form of government, but it is a way of life, an ethical ideal, and a personal commitment. It is a call for individuals to be self-directing to pursue their own goals and projects for the common good together with the individual benefit. But Plato in the Republic felt it was but one step away from tyranny, having within itself the tendency to lead to tyranny and was the worst of all lawful governments, and the best of all lawless ones.” (Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion. W.L Reese, Harvester Press, 16 Ship Street, Brighton, Sussex, 1980, p. 122,123). Dewey’s concept sounds good, but it lacks a foundation, while Plato’s understanding suggests a strong warning.

The reason that the American democracy has worked beyond Plato’s warning, however, is that underneath has been the Judeo-Christian foundation, and this is suggested by the Declaration of Independence, from the “Laws of Nature” in accord with “Nature’s God,” and “endowed by their Creator.” Here is basic reference to God, understood broadly from the Judeo-Christian heritage and the fact that the laws of our land have basically have evolved from the Ten Commandments. Our culture did not develop from the Islamic culture or Far Eastern understandings. Although there were only three Deists among the fifty-six that signed the Declaration, even deism was from the Judeo-Christian background, not some other.

If the American education system continues to slide away from our heritage into the focus that we are but a melting pot for all cultures and worldviews, we can but only witness the wilderness of anarchy spreading across our land. It is a sad picture I don’t want to see. But are we educating for anarchy in the American public schools and our colleges?

.

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