Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Self and Education

Sunday, December 3, 2017, 17:09
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By Joe Renfro, EdD

Education is central in the development of one’s (SELF).   The Bible in II Timothy 2:15 gives the guideline to Christians to, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, as workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  It is recorded in Matthew 16:25 that our Lord Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”  These two quotes unite to set a directive of true educational growth for the glory of God and the realization of truth with a focus to see God as central to knowledge.

A man once wrote that:  “The most important function of education at any level is to develop the personality of the individual and the significance of his life to himself and to others.  This is the basic architecture of a life; to rest is ornamentation and decoration of the structure.” (Speaker’s Sourcebook II, p. 15) The “significance of (one’s) life to himself and to others,” however, is only truly spawned and developed from the roots of one’s relationship with God—to learn from God his personage, his ways, his judgements, and his creative calling—all which are central in the realization of one’s (SELF).”  The paradox of losing one’s life to realize it in Christ truly integrates our selfhood with education to the reality of God who is all knowing and the ultimate of what really is truth, as Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

T.M. Moore in his November 22, 2017 article posted in the Fellowship of Ailbe, entitled “The God of Happiness”, was concerned on how the (SELF) needs “happiness to be a peace” in which he uses the scripture of Luke 12:19 to illustrate the opposite, that of the religion of the secularist, as it says: “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’”  He observes that, “For the secularist, the god of self or will is the ultimate deity, who must be identified, pursued, realized, actualized, satisfied, and made secure.”  To the secularist growth in knowledge is not to glorify God or to see the glory of God, but it is the hedonistic gratification of the sensual desires.

What has happened in America is that as we have subtracted God as foundation and have installed the worldview of the secularist, which is resulting the moral, psychological, and social breakdowns, which is breaking all around us, much of it rotating from our education directives, since the 1950s. The family, the church, the state, and education are all victims of this!

Moore brings out one paragraph that well describes our situation particularly in the falling of many things, and in feel especially in the performance of educational achievement and the falling standards.  He wrote the following:

“Falling standards–In our secular and relativist age, moreover, where (SELF) reigns supreme, no single standard of happiness can define the legitimate bounds of its experience or pursuit. Civil society, of course, attempts to put certain strictures on what one may pursue in the name of happiness. However, like the disorder of narcissism, many of those boundaries, as they have become more widely violated, have fallen by the wayside, and either are no longer enforced, or have been abandoned. One need only reflect on recent dramatic changes in human sexual practice, the proliferation of gambling, the definition of marriage and the terms of divorce, and the widespread availability of pornography, as indications of society’s retreat from boundaries staunchly defended by previous generations, but transmogrified over time in the service of self to merely another form of the god of happiness.”

Moore concludes his article in saying, “The god of self (SELF) seeks happiness; happiness realized brings satisfaction to the (SELF) self. Together these constitute the driving force of secular religion.”  Happiness is a fleeting experience as Nathaniel Hawthorne well described “happiness,” when he wrote: “Make happiness the object of your pursuit, and it leads on a wild-goose chase.” 

There is the secular quest for “happiness,” but the call from Christ is to realize his “joy” as central to our lives and a basic determiner of ourselves. The Lord Jesus focused on this joy, as is recorded in John 15:11 that, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”  Joy is of a much higher quality than happiness.  To find real joy in learning is paramount—not just a passing experience of happiness that is much like the wild-goose chase. It is the capacity of seeing the truths of God unfolding in all existence!

The moral law of our land is “Does it make me happy?”  Moore said, “America’s new supreme moral law-giver, is an incredibly dangerous development precisely because the media is incapable of applying its own shifting standards equally.” Yes, the media combines with secular education to applaud this wild-goose chase, because underneath is a hostility to God!

The Founding Fathers routinely explained that a free, peaceful society can only exist when that society’s population is deeply concerned with virtue, which they understood to be shaped by religious institutions.  George Washington wrote, “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people.” Patrick Henry said, “A vitiated [impious] state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom.” Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”  Our modern progressive thinking, however, looks at this thinking as but the product of outdated thinking.

There are the intellectual elites of the far left that are very influential in the education in our land from the early school education through the colleges and particularly now very much evident in the platforms of the media.  As a result many find themselves unmoored, dangling not know what to believe or what to do!

God gives the call in I Corinthians 2:6 to look to learning as coming from a right relatedness to God. It is knowledge, but knowledge to know the limitations of secular knowledge and how apply God’s spiritual revelation and knowledge to life.  It says:  “Howbeit, we speak wisdom to them that are perfect; yet, not the wisdom of this world.” See the distinction. Faith in God through Christ is an instrument to true learning, not a hindrance.

Many parents are turning to homeschooling to alleviate the negative factors that are very much becoming standard in American education.  But the requirements regarding homeschooling vary in various states.  The attacks, however by the establishment against homeschooling are often very flagrant in some states, but parents are increasingly turning to this avenue to keep their children free from this secular indoctrination.

The motivation for homeschooling has according to one study stated that the number one reason for 91 percent of the parents was the concern about the school environment, 77 percent wanted moral instruction, 77 percent were dissatisfied with the academic instruction, and 64 percent wanted religious instruction in their children’s education.  There were other reasons, but these were basic.  (Homeschooling in the United States-Wikipedia)

So far as homeschooling and college admissions it can be said that “seventy-eight percent of admissions officers expect homeschooled students to do as well or better than traditional high school graduates at college. Students coming from a homeschool graduated from college at a higher rate than their peers, 66.7 percent compared to 57.5 percent, and they earned higher grade point averages along the way.” (Wikipedia). 

As well, many homeschooled students are able to combine their work while studying for their high school graduation to take courses to qualify for advanced placement in college, much more so than with students from state schools.  The achievement is greater for the homeschoolers, and they display a much more disciplined academic commitment than those from the public schools.

Education is best understood when seen as personal development.  Learning takes on a moral significance when accountability to God becomes part of it.  Galatians 1:10 says, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”  Each is an individual, and one of the great factors of much schooling is the tendency to group teaching and learning, rather than to be open it to the exploration by the individuals, each a difference individual.  Boredom is characteristic of much regimented school.

Dwiia Borobia in an article from the Catholic Exchange, April 22, 2012 entitled, “Why are homeschooled kids so annoying?” basically says that educators in the public schools find the kids annoying because they “ask too many questions and know too much information and like certain stuff and refuse to like other things and don’t care what other people think about their silly hobbies and their know-it-all-ness.”  She went on to write, “They’re able to cultivate their interests, learn to be comfortable in their own quirky skin, encouraged to achieve as much as their little over-achieving hearts desire, and they’ll enter adulthood with the confidence to continue on that path.”  They are generally not just the programmed robots that much of the progressive agenda seeks to develop! 

There is without question a campus hostility in many of our college to free speech as various leftist groups seek to impose its political hegemony upon others.  They talk free speech, but they don’t practice it.  Open intellectual debate is not allowed, and generally on the current campus environment free speech has become oriented around identity politics. To answer the question “Who am I?”, it becomes, “What group do I support?” not “This is who I am, and I stand here because it is right.”  The (SELF) of masses of our society has become an area of confusion, because it is no longer to many the individual, but rather the group to which he or she belongs. This opens the door to programmed personalities rather than true individuals created in the image of God.

The grade book for an education where Jesus Christ is central is given in Romans 14:18 where it says “For he that in these things serves Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men”  Because God is the basic grader in this type of education, it has an effect, as faithful Christian commitment has positive influence and the character which in turn without question should be observed by any thinking person.

Freedom of speech is under attack very much in colleges, as progressives seek to curtail any speech that might be offensive to a minority; that is, any minority except students with traditional Christian values. But freedom of speech is essential for true education.

Commentary Magazine, June 14, 2017 has an article entitled, “Symposium: Is Free Speech Under Threat in the United States?” where many leading thinkers, some liberal and others conservative, left and right, address the question, “Is free speech under threat in the United States?”

Jonah Goldberg, senior editor at National Review and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, observed: “Of course free speech is under threat in America. Frankly, it’s always under threat in America because it’s always under threat everywhere. Ronald Reagan was right when he said in 1961, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”’

Goldberg also wrote, “One could mark the beginning of the self-esteem movement with Nathaniel Branden’s 1969 paper, “The Psychology of Self-Esteem,” which claimed that “feelings of self-esteem were the key to success in life. This understandable idea ran amok in our schools and in our culture. When I was a kid, Saturday-morning cartoons were punctuated with public-service announcements telling kids: ‘The most important person in the whole wide world is you, and you hardly even know you!’”

He went on to state that “The self-esteem craze was just part of the cocktail of educational fads. Other ingredients included multiculturalism, the anti-bullying crusade, and, of course, that broad phenomenon known as “political correctness.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the founder of the AHA Foundation observed that, “The way activists of the regressive left achieve silence or censor is by creating a taboo, and one of the most pernicious taboos in operation today is the word ‘Islamophobia.’ Islamists are similarly motivated to rule out any critical scrutiny of Islamic doctrine as out of order. There is now a university center (funded by Saudi money) in the U.S. dedicated to monitoring and denouncing incidences of ‘Islamophobia.’

He says, “The term ‘Islamophobia’ is used against critics of political Islam, but also against progressive reformers within Islam. The term implies an irrational fear that is tainted by hatred, and it has had a chilling effect on free speech. In fact, ‘Islamophobia’ is a poorly defined term. Islam is not a race, and it is very often perfectly rational to fear some expressions of Islam. No set of ideas should be beyond critical scrutiny.”  Yet, the political and educational establishment, especially that of the past decade has very much sought to curtail any negative speech against some of the radical influences of the Islamic faith.

Christina Hoff Sommers, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of several books, including WHO STOLE FEMINISM? And THE WAR AGAINST BOYS, wrote: “Intersectionality is a neo-Marxist doctrine that views racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, and all forms of “oppression” as interconnected and mutually reinforcing. Together these “isms” form a complex arrangement of advantages and burdens. A white woman is disadvantaged by her gender but advantaged by her race. A Latino is burdened by his ethnicity but privileged by his gender. According to intersectionality, American society is a “matrix of domination,” with affluent white males in control. Not only do they enjoy most of the advantages, they also determine what counts as “truth” and “knowledge.”  She feels this must change!

She goes on to say in her promotion of “Intersectionality” that “Intersectionality concerns itself not so much with objective knowledge but with the ‘lived experience’.”  The “Lived experience”, according to intersectional theory, is a better guide to the truth than self-serving Western and masculine styles of thinking. So don’t try to refute intersectionality with logic or evidence: That only proves that you are part of the problem it seeks to overcome.”

This to me seems very confusing, and I categorize it as a teaching of false teachers very often in our colleges and universities, doing much as II Timothy 3:7 declares that in the last days men “shall be ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

II Peter 2:1 says that, “There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.”                                                                                                     

It is sad that often even to mention the name of Jesus in public places is condemned. It is a shame Christian chaplains can’t pray in the name of Jesus or mention Jesus as the Christ. What about chaplains at universities?  Prayers at athletic events that were once fully accepted now are rejected. Even coaches at high schools and colleges who have prayed with their teams have been fired. The root cause of these wild inconsistencies is that there is a void left in our culture by a rejection of religion and the Judeo-Christian values.

Throughout the history of Western Civilization, many people may have privately chosen not to believe in God and/or the teachings of churches, but nearly everyone agreed in the importance of having a moral standard established by religion so that, at the very least, conduct could be judged fairly and somewhat consistently. The lack of such a standard today that has effectively been removed by the media, the only institution powerful enough to quickly engage with the whole populace.  It instills an education for our society to be amoral and immoral in all kinds of ways!

Without a clear standard of morality, virtue is impossible, and without virtue, freedom will inevitably fade away, because rather than respect the rights of our neighbors, people will use the institutions of society—chief among them, the media together with our schools—to destroy those with whom they don’t agree on one or more issues, as has been evidenced by demonstrations at colleges throughout our land by leftists thinkers.  The centralization of the (SELF) subtracts the directives of God, and it can be argued that our society is being educated away from the God of the Bible to that of the wild-goose chase of the centralization of contradictory, (SELVES)—the stress on the diversity with the subtraction of morality or even rational faith.

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