"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

America's Problem Is One of Culture, Not Race

© Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News
Any American who watches videos of a police officers shooting someone being placed under arrest is sickened. Likewise, any American who hears the news of five police officers being killed in cold blood during a racial rally in Dallas is sickened. We have a problem in America.

But that problem is not a racial one.

Racial problems in America occurred decades ago. Years ago people of color couldn't play sports with whites. Today America's biggest sports icons are people of color - just ask fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Years ago it was illegal for people of different races to marry in America. Today many marriages, not just a few, are mixed-race marriages. It used to be different races in America didn't worship together. Today, our churches are often more integrated than not. Last Wednesday night at Emmanuel we heard a wonderful Bible study, taught by one of our pastors. He's a man of color, but that doesn't even enter our minds. We don't have a racial problem in America. A black man holds the highest office in the land. Decades ago this would have been unthinkable. We are all human beings, created in God's image, and we are all people of color; some of us just have less pigment than our brothers. We don't have a racial problem.

We have a culture problem.

This culture problem transcends race. It affects all Americans, regardless of color, gender or socio-economic status. Culture is defined as "the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively." The problem in our country is that most Americans can't even understand the definition of culture, much less contribute to its display.

We have become an ignorant people. We are collectively ignorant of world history. We know our favorite sports teams, but we can't tell you about ancient Athens or Rome. We are collectively ignorant of classical literature. When most Americans hear the word Homer they think Homer Simpson instead of the first published poet of western civilization. We are clueless about world geography. We think the world revolves around America because we haven't seen the world. Most Americans are ignorant of the Bible. We'd rather play video games and watch our favorite game than spend an hour reading the Scriptures.

We have a culture problem.

When Abraham Lincoln miraculously became the President of the United States, there was a real, not imaginary, racial divide in our nation. Ironically, people considered Lincoln, the man who would eventually end American slavery, an ignorant backwoodsman. He was - at least by the standards of his day. Lincoln had no formal education. He lived on the frontier. He spent more time chopping wood than he did in class. Yet, at night, Lincoln read by candlelight. He read Aesop and Shakespeare. He studied geometry by reading Euclid. He memorized poetry. His favorite book to read was the Bible. As a young man, Lincoln taught himself Law by reading Blackstone's Commentaries on the Law, and he eventually become an auto-didactic lawyer in Springfield, Illinois.

Lincoln led our nation through our darkest hour because he was a man of culture.

He believed in honesty which meant his word was his bond. He treated other people with respect because he devoured the teachings of Jesus, and considered every human being a valuable person created in the image of God. He understand world history and therefore never took his place in history too seriously. He was self-deprecating and took very little offense at what others said of him. Yet because knew his own soul was damaged by laughing at others, he avoided scorn. Lincoln would rather be quiet and learn than be asked to speak and teach. He crafted his words succinctly (think Gettysburg) and thus every word bore potency.

Lincoln was a man of culture.

Culture is not obtained through the bestowal of educational degrees. Abraham Lincoln had no formal education. Culture is inner character characterized by personal humility and life-long learning. Culture is collectively displayed in a nation where citizens consider each other more important than themselves and eagerly listen and learn from what others have to teach.  During our nation's darkest hour, we overcame because people--regardless of color--had culture.

We've lost culture in America.

When culture is lost in a nation, people become ignorant, self-absorbed, and hostile. The loss of culture is a little like the loss of red-blood cells in the human body. When red blood cells disappear, the body turns on itself and dies from within.

Our nation is dying.

Thank God that He is in the business of raising the dead.




44 comments:

carl4grace said...

I agree. We do have a CULTURE problem.

Bob Cleveland said...

In 1988, I belonged to the Alabaster (AL) Rotary Club. The speaker for one of the first meetings I attended was Bill Bennett, who had been President Reagan's Secretary of Education.

After the meeting, I talked briefly with him. I asked specifically his take on the ban on prayer in schools. His response did not really deal with prayer as prayer, but his statement was that prayer in schools was acknowledging a high authority .. namely God. He stated you could trace the evidences of loss of respect for any authority back to the day of that decision.

29 years later, the evidence is rampant, as is the evidence for the things you point out.

Unknown said...

And overarching the culture problem is a SIN problem.

everette said...

I think you are 1) overestimating the education of people in the past, and 2) limiting your definition of 'culture' to Western culture.

For 1), while Lincoln was indeed a brilliant audodidact, his father was as ignorant a backwoodsman as they come, and actively tried to prevent Abraham's education. Lincoln came to maturity during the era of the Trail of Tears, and entered politics when the Know Nothings were a going concern. This too, was the era in which people used their knowledge of the Bible to justify slavery.

For 2), if you limit your definition of 'culture' to Western culture, you're missing out on the vast majority of humanity, past and present. Most American Christians see the through a crippling lens of Western culture, which often limits their ability to understand what the Scripture has to say. (I say this as someone who majored in Greek and Latin in college, and who is grateful for the insights that this education brought me). Our privileging of Western culture also frequently limits our ability to understand the immigrants and minority peoples within our own midst.

everette said...

Edit: I say this because, while Paul and Luke give evidence of having had a Classical, Western education, the rest of the Bible is very much a non-Western document, and in many cases I think that it is more accessible to people with a non-Western mentality.

Vincent McMullen said...

I think "culture" just might miss the mark. Many who are very 'cultured' and can quote Homer, have traveled the world, and know a bunch of stuff also spread vile ideas throughout all the world. I personally would start with the sin problem. Recognizing those who (for the time being) hate the Light and love Darkness, and those who have been graciously brought into His Light and love the Light. There are likely 'cultured' and 'uncultured' people populating both the pro-Light and anti-Light camps.

Wade Burleson said...

Everette,

You make a good point. I am familiar with Eastern culture in terms of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, and greatly appreciate the contributions to the arts these cultures made. I do believe, however, you would agree that America was built upon the concepts of ancient Athenian democracy and the Roman republic of western civilization. For that reason, western civilization is the starting point in terms of our learning.

Thanks for the comment.

Wade Burleson said...

Vincent,

Of course you are correct.

Being cultured as a person doesn't automatically take care of the sin problem. BUT the collective display of our learning (culture) elevates society and makes even blacker the individual sin of man.

Thanks for the comment.

everette said...

Not trying to pick a fight, Wade, but I think that, regardless of the cultural roots of America's founders, our modern American culture is heavily influenced by other cultural backgrounds as well (and not just modern; for example, the Constitution was influenced by the unwritten constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy).

For example, although African Americans have been in the US for hundreds of years, Black American culture still bears many marks of its non-Western, African roots--not just in their arts and music, but also in that they tend to have more of a communitarian and less of an individualistic mindset (I'm grossly stereotyping here, but I hope my point comes across, however heavy handed my approach). And part (though not all) of the reason for racial tensions is that people from different racial groups often have different cultural heritages in addition to their biological differences, despite their common identity as American).

L Lee said...

Wade - I do not think that these problems are mutually exclusive (in other words this may be a false dichotomy). I think it would be true that the race problem is not as bad but has morphed into a somewhat different form (forms?) and the Culture problem has grown worse.

On another note - and going for your historical knowledge. I have friends who could be described as neo-confederates who despise A. Lincoln. What would you say to such people (who seem to have imbibed a heavy dose of Thomas Dilorenzo).

Wade Burleson said...

Everette,

I don't disagree. In fact, you are sustaining my major point. Our founding fathers drew from multiple cultures to establish a culture built on natural law (not any certain religion) which, according to Franklin, "forms the foundation of all sound religion."

Wade Burleson said...

L. Lee,

"What would you say to such people who seem to have imbibed a heavy dose of Thomas Dilorenzo?"

Answer: Any philosophy of life built on the "supremacy" of one race, one people, or one tribe among all the peoples of the earth is in direct contradiction to Natural Law, the teachings of Christ, and human reason.

That's what I say. :)

Byron Allen said...

What is the source of your definition of "culture"? "Culture is defined as "the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively." The words "other manifestations" seems to be so "all inclusive" as to render the definition inadequate.As it stands in your blog, the definition seems to place too much weight on the phrase "human intellectual achievement." I find it very difficult to attribute so much weight to the one aspect of "culture."

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

The problem that America has is not race or culture, but not knowing truth. (“The truth will set you free”)

The majority cannot be blamed for sins of a few.

In the news today, I believe Sarah Palin said it well:

“Self-descriptions that put any race in front of being an American are now being used to further divide our nation. It’s time to acknowledge you’re either an American under our system of equality, law and order – and traditional patriotic spirit – or you’re not…And knock off the shoulder chip if you’ve let ‘leaders’ burden you…that chip is crushing the people’s hope.”

She said, Black Lives Matter movement is a farce that further divides our nation.

ScottShaver said...

Lost culture is true.

Lose language and borders along with that an you've no longer got any foundation for a civilized nation of diverse ethnicities.

Wade Burleson said...

Byron,

Culture, by its definition, is all-inclusive of those religions and philosophies that do two things: 1. Respect of another person's property and person by not crossing a moral boundary and stealing another's property or harming another's person. That's the essence of Natural Law, the basis of "all sound religion" (Benjamin Franklin) 2. The exclusion of any people and/or philosophy that violates the principles of Natural Law. In my opinion, this is the foundation of America (see the phrase "Natural Law" and "Nature's God" in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution).

Thanks

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

I agree, the truth shall set you free. However, spiritual truth for the individual soul transcends governmental truth for the society. You and I both believe Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, but our government (America) was built on the concepts of Natural Law, which is inclusive of "all sound religion" that respects property and people. This is why it's important to know the classics, to understand history, and to be a person of learning - then you are able to separate government from the church and vice-versa. By the way, this is why SHARIA LAW is unconstitutional in the United States (or at least should be declared such) because it merges faith and government.

L. Lee said...

Wade - your reply did not exactly hit the target. This may be my fault, I should have asked you to read a little of Dilorenzo (readily available if you google him on the web). His objections to Lincoln arise more from his (Dilorenzo's) libertarianism than from his possible racism.

Wade Burleson said...

My apologies L.Lee,

I was not clear. I understand the fear of libertarianism. Dilorenzo and others would hold that only the intellectual and land owners (the elite) have the ability to govern and give liberty to the masses. I, like Lincoln, hold to libertarian principles that the soul of man makes him elite and all mankind have equal value and worth.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Sorry you thought I was promoting religion in government. I was just saying truth made people free.

It’s hard to know truth without an education. This link states that males of 22% Whites, 42% Latino, and 48% Blacks drop out of high school.

https://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylc=X3oDMTFiaHBhMnJmBF9TAzIwMjM1MzgwNzUEaXRjAzEEc2VjA3NyY2hfcWEEc2xrA3NyY2hhc3Q-?p=how+many+blacks+finish+high+school&fr=yfp-t-s&fp=1&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8


How do all these ‘dropouts’ have the chance to experience “the classics, to understand history, and to be a person of learning”?

Does the movement of “Black Lives Matter” promote peace or violence?

The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

I tend to agree, having lived between cultures, that our problem in the US is one of culture. However, I also see unresolved racial issues (for example:
http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/white-fragility-why-its-so-hard-to-talk-to-white-people-about-racism-twlm/ ), particularly in the US, that still need addressing as our world changes. I am glad to be raising my sons in San Antonio with schoolmates and church friends from a variety of racial backgrounds. It is a cultural experience that will benefit them later in life. But we still have work to do in understanding the cultural experiences of each other, in the church and in American society: I wouldn't say racial issues have ever been entirely resolved. I have yet to observe any society that is truly at peace with the others around them. Also, a fuller understanding of culture necessitates a fuller worldview than just the study of European culture, IMO. Still, I tend to agree we Americans have a dumbed down culture that is letting us down and leading to increasingly polarized rather than creative thinking. I say all this as an ATCK (adult third culture kid), born in the USA, but often embarrassed by its lack of culture.

Byron Allen said...

Wade:
Your response to my response to your blog seems to have a definition of culture that differs significantly from the one in the original blog. The one contained in your response appears to be more accurate and acceptable than the previous. We do indeed have a culture problem when viewed from may and various angles. Thanks for your blogs. They give birth to serious thinking about Biblical theology as well as social issues.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Rex: Black Lives Matter promotes non-violence.

Rex Ray said...

Obama’s pastor of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright, said G—D-- America, but the latest condemnation revealed today on the Kelly TV show was more to the point.

Kelly asked leader of Black Lives Matter march in Dallas about a statement he had made in the past: “G—D—White America!” His reply did not make any sense.

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2015/08/01/3685871/carson-black-lives-matter/

In August 2015, Ben Carson said Black Lives Matter Movement is silly and divisive.

Wade,

I’ll ask again, do you think the movement of “Black Lives Matter” promote peace or violence?

RRR said...

I mentioned in the book, "When I Am President-The President's Bible" in Chapter 5-"Immorality of Infanticide", that the continued chaos we have between the white and black races today is the consequence of the immoral practice of kidnap, slavery and oppression of those millions of Africans forced into lives of cruel servitude over 300 years ago. The un-Godly apartheid stance of our American "culture" continued for subsequent centuries.

A nation, "culture" if you will, cannot function on such an atrocious basis without experiencing the consequences of God's "moral code". The racial dilemma we have today is a continuation of the consequence of an unconscionable position taken by those in control of our nation, meaning, not only "government" players but the elite class of our culture (we anglos) who have had control.

This explanation of today's current racial strife is used in the book to introduce the reality that our nation's stigma as a result of its racial oppression is nothing compared to the consequences we will, and perhaps are, experience as a result of a reality that is much eviler than racial oppression. It is inevitable that the United States will (Is?) experience the consequences of the vicious, unimaginably monstrous, position our "culture" is taking in regards to the butchering of millions of U.S. infants each year residing in their mothers' womb; 50 million since Roe vs Wade.

The racial strife which continues today is the incurred consequences of the collective moral atrocities committed by our nation over time toward a race of people. It is an example on a micro-level, of what we will suffer, perhaps forever, as a nation due to our ineptness at resolving the killing of millions of innocents. A "people" cannot assert such cruel, inhumane practice upon the vulnerable segment living in its midst and escape God's judgment. This conclusion is not based upon conjecture or wild-eyed radicalism but upon the repeated portrayal of God's judgment reflected in the history of His written Word.

Chapter 12-"Civil Equality", in the book, presents an approach to remedy the prevailing atmosphere of racial prejudice in our nation that has never been applied. It would not take place overnight even if it were accepted by God as a means of contrition. Only God knows whether we will ever find a resolution to this issue when it is indeed "pay-back" for atrocities committed for centuries.

Christiane said...

we reap what we sow

And I think the grace that engenders even the smallest act of kindness can in time evolve into a force that can change a multitude of problems

small steps, humility, thankfulness, and a deep compassion for the suffering of others that impels us to respond: these are the products of grace working in us that helps to bring Christ's light into the darkness

It is Christ Who overcomes the darkness. We honor this truth with hope; and we CAN trust that our small steps in His Name may yield fruit in some future age ... the way of grace is not bound by time

we reap what we sow



Rex Ray said...

Rev. Jeff Hood, an organizer of the protest, said on “Good Morning America” today. “Things went from beautiful to evil very quickly.”

This is the guy that cursed: “…White America”, and was questioned for saying so on The Kelly TV Show two days ago.

I believe the leader of any nation influences the people.

Yes Christiane, we reap what we sow or who we elect.

“Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child…” (Ecclesiastes 10:16 KJ)

Has race relations in America with Obama President improved or declined? NUFF SAID.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Rex: You mean this sermon by Jeremiah Wright? Here is an article saying it's the full story which seems opposite of what you are attempting to convey.

http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2008/03/21/the-full-story-behind-wright%e2%80%99s-%e2%80%9cgod-damn-america%e2%80%9d-sermon/


A quote from that sermon:

“War does not make for peace,” he said. “Fighting for peace is like raping for virginity."

“War does not make for peace. War only makes for escalating violence and a mindset to pay the enemy back by any means necessary,” he said.

He then gets to the thesis of his sermon, saying, “y’all looking to the government for only what God can give. A lot of people confuse God with their government.”

Debbie Kaufman said...

http://blacklivesmatter.com/about/

This is the Black Lives Matter Site so one can judge for themselves. I just think truth matters Rex.

Debbie Kaufman said...

I don't agree with everything about Black Life Matters I just think the truth or as close as we can get to the truth about anything is important. I also understand why Black Lives Matters exists.

The one thing I hate about the internet is so much false information and out and out lies are being propagated and even as Christians we tend to eat it up if it suits our cause. I try not to do that and investigate everything I can find in order to get to the truth. I think it's important, especially in light of the internet. News or gossip travels so quickly it's important for me that it is the truth.

Rex Ray said...

Debbie,

Thanks for the links even thought I’ll conclude by saying, GOOD GRIEF. (That’s about as close I ever get to swearing.)

Jeremiah Wright’s statement, “War is like raping for virginity” is a far cry from Nathan Hale being hung and saying, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

Hale’s last words were different of a Christian being hung by hooded Muslims as shown on the internet: “This is the happiest day of my life.”

In my opinion Wright’s worst statement: “The government still thinks a woman has no rights over her own body…they are about to un-do Roe vs. Wade.”

Close to that statement was Wright saying, “The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color.”

No, Jeremiah, that was God’s invention.

Wright said, Clarence Thomas sexually harassed Anita Hill.

My sister would disagree with Wright as a man had made a lewd remark to her. She said she did not ever want to see him again, much less do what Hill did.

Hill took a second job from Thomas and later had personal contacts with him including driving him to an airport. Why did Hill wait ten years to tell her story other than to get some lime light?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anita_Hill

Ramesh said...

Two links pertinent to this discussion:

It Has Begun | Corey Robin

&

Discussion with Noam Chomsky and Robert Trivers on deceit and self-deception.

The second link may not seem relevant to race issues but it addresses underlying themes. There is also a YouTube video of the discussion that adds to the transcript.

Ramesh said...

Here is the YouTube video. It is more complete and easily approachable.

Florence in KY said...

We definitely have a culture problem and a race problem. Just think of the unjust treatment of our president by many who think he is not legitimate, is foreign born, a Muslim, etc., mostly because he is Black (whether we want to admit it or not). Also, he has been known to turn the other cheek. Also important is his espousal of family values.

ScottShaver said...

Debbie Kaufman:

I personally think you're a little overdosed on "white-guilt". Not healthy in 2016.

Rex Ray said...

Florence in KY,

I assume you are a Christian. Who have you heard say? “WE Christians should get off our high horse.”

Have you ever heard a Christian say:?

1. “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
2. “America is not – and will never be – at war with Islam.”
3. “The sweetest sound I know is the Muslim call to prayer.”
4. “Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism.”
5. “We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith.”
6. “I have known Islam on three continents.”
7. “I know civilization’s debt to Islam.”
8. “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.”
9. “Islam has always been part of America.”
10. “Throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.”
11. “I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”
12. “The Holy Koran tells us, we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/crime/article84815842.html

“Under pressure, the Obama administration reversed course Monday and released full transcripts of the 911 calls made by Orlando shooter to police during his June 12 shooting rampage at a gay nightclub. Obama removed references to the Islamic State terrorist group known as ISIS.”

Florence, do you think Obama omitted the full transcripts “to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear” as he stated in #11?

Ramesh said...

From my perspective there are two underlying themes that create these pathologies. One Wade calls 'culture' which is opposite of the current state of indoctrination via education.

And the other which is much bigger is atomization.

I will address on atomization in this comment and later on education.

The below is excerpted from :

Language, Politics, and Composition | Noam Chomsky interviewed by Gary A. Olson and Lester Faigley | Journal of Advanced Composition, Vol. 11, No. 1

In examining the media’s role in indoctrination, Chomsky says that “the media’s institutional structure gives them the same kind of purpose that the educational system has: to turn people into submissive, atomized individu­als who don’t interfere with the structures of power and authority.” Similarly, democratic governments use propaganda and “the manufacture of consent” in place of violence and force to control the masses. “Indoctrination is to democracy,” he philosophizes, “what a bludgeon is to totalitarianism.” This atomization of individuals, this breakdown of independent thought, and this general depoliticizing of society together create the perfect environment, in Chomsky’s view, for a charismatic, fascist dictator to seize power. “I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m very much in favor of corruption…. A corrupt leader is going to rob people but not cause that much trouble…. Power hunger is much more dangerous than money hunger,” he argues.

...

Ramesh said...

Q.   You’ve even expressed fear that the U.S. is ripe for a fascist leader. You write, “In a depoliticized society with few mechanisms for people to express their fears and needs and to participate constructively in managing the affairs of life, someone could come along who was interested not in personal gain, but power. That could be very dangerous.” Is this statement rhetorical, or cautionary, or do you have serious fears that the U.S. can fall victim to a charismatic, fascist dictator?

A.    It’s real. I mentioned something very good about the United States, but there are also a number of things that are very bad. One is the breakdown of independent social organization and independent thought, the atomi­zation of people. As we move towards a society which is optimal from the point of view of the business classes—namely, that each individual is an atom, lacking means to communicate with others so that he or she can’t develop independent thought or action and is just a consumer, not a producer—people become deeply alienated, and they may hate what’s going on but have no way to express that hatred constructively. And if a charismatic leader comes along, they may very well follow. I think the United States is very lucky that that hasn’t happened. I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m very much in favor of corruption. I think that’s one of the best things there is. You’ll notice that in my books I never criticize corruption. I think it’s a wonderful thing. I’d much rather have a corrupt leader than a power-hungry leader. A corrupt leader is going to rob people but not cause that much trouble. For example, as long as the fundamen­talist preachers—like Jim Bakker, or whatever his name is—are interested in Cadillacs, sex, and that kind of thing, they’re not a big problem. But suppose one of them comes along who’s a Hitler and who doesn’t care much about sex and Cadillacs, who just wants power. Then we’re going to be in real trouble. The more corrupt these guys are, the better off we are. I think we all ought to applaud corruption. In fact, that’s true in authori­tarian societies too. The more corrupt they are, the better off the people usually are because power hunger is much more dangerous than money hunger. But I think the United States is ripe for a fascist leader. It’s a very good thing that everyone who’s come along so far is impossible: Joe McCarthy, for example, was too much of a thug; Richard Nixon was too much of a crook; Ronald Reagan was too much of a clown; the fundamen­talist preachers are ultimately too corrupt. In fact, we’ve escaped, but it’s by luck. If a Hitler comes along, I think we might be in serious trouble.

Ramesh said...

The best antidote to atomization are the teachings of Christ. BTW the best thing about Wade's teachings next to the gospel message is he encourages one to QUESTION and discover for oneself. THAT is true education.

Ramesh said...

This is too good of an excerpt in my view on teaching and education from the above linked article:

Q.   As someone who is profoundly interested in the structure of language as well as the use and abuse of rhetoric in political contexts, you must have some thoughts about the nature of rhetoric. For you, what are the most important elements of rhetoric?

A.    I don’t have any theory of rhetoric, but what I have in the back of my mind is that one should not try to persuade; rather, you should try to layout the territory as best you can so that other people can use their own intellectual powers to work out for themselves what they think is right or wrong. For example, I try, particularly in political writing, to make it extremely clear in advance exactly where I stand. In my view, the idea of neutral objectivity is largely fraudulent. It’s not that I take the realistic view with regard to fact, but the fact is that everyone approaches complex and controversial questions—especially those of human significance—with an ax to grind, and I like that ax to be apparent right up front so that people can compen­sate for it. But to the extent that I can monitor my own rhetorical activities, which is probably not a lot, I try to refrain from efforts to bring people to reach my conclusions.

Q.   Is that because you might lose credibility or lose the audience?

A.    Not at all. In fact, you’d probably lose the audience by not doing it. It’s just kind of an authoritarian practice one should keep away from. The same is true for teaching. It seems to me that the best teacher would be the one who allows students to find their way through complex material as you lay out the terrain. Of course, you can’t avoid guiding because you’re doing it a particular way and not some other way. But it seems to me that a cautionary flag should go up if you’re doing it too much because the purpose is to enable students to be able to figure out things for themselves, not to know this thing or to understand that thing but to understand the next thing that’s going to come along; that means you’ve got to develop the skills to be able to critically analyze and inquire and be creative. This doesn’t come from persuasion or forcing things on people. There’s sort of a classical version of this—that teaching is not a matter of pouring water into a vessel but of helping a flower to grow in its own way—and I think that’s right. It seems to me that that’s the model we ought to approach as best possible. So I think the best rhetoric is the least rhetoric.

Ramesh said...

BTW the above excerpt is also a good answer to the discussions that ensued for the post '15 Words and 15 Seconds That Save Any Marriage'.

Ramesh said...

Sorry about all these excerpts. To me they address fundamental issues. A last one.

:)

Throughout the interview, Chomsky has much to say about teaching He feels that teaching is “mostly common sense” and contends that “ninety nine percent of good teaching is getting people interested.” Paraphrasing nuclear physicist Victor Weisskopf’s teaching philosophy, Chomsky says, “It doesn’t matter what you cover; it matters how much you develop the capacity to discover.” However, he does believe that a “sensible prescriptivism ought to be part of any education.” That is, all students should master “standard English” even though “much of it is a violation of natural law.” Although “a good deal of what’s taught in the standard language is just a history of artificialities,” students should learn it nonetheless because it’s part of our “rich cultural heritage.” In keeping with his past statements denying the relevance of linguistics to other disciplines, he doubts that linguistics has anything to contribute to teaching reading and writing.

Chomsky’s views on ideology, propaganda, and indoctrination are also of interest to compositionists. He claims that intellectuals are “ideological managers,” complicit in controlling “the organized flow of information” because intellectuals are by definition those who have “passed through various gates and filters” in order to become “cultural managers.” In effect, “the whole educational system involves a good deal of filtering towards submissiveness and obedience.” By definition, those who are subversive or independent minded are not called intellectuals but “wackos.” In fact, Chomsky is quite critical of the distinction established between intellectuals—those in the universities—and non-intellectuals. Arguing that often non-intellectuals have a richer cultural life, he speaks disparagingly of the principal activity that sets academics apart from others: “From an intel­lectual point of view, a lot of scholarship is just very low-level clerical work.”

Rex Ray said...

Speech writer for Ronald Reagan, John Podhoretz, said Obama’s speech in Dallas began for 15 minutes as a national healer; then for 25 minutes became a crashing bore.

Of the first 1,564 words Podhoretz said, “The speech was magnificent. It was elevated and powerful and profoundly moving…possibly one of the great presidential speeches of our age.

“And then he blew it.” [2,124 more words] “…repeating himself endlessly…how “we” (we means you) need to open our hearts on the subject of race…that it’s easier for a poor kid in a struggling neighborhood to get a Glock [gun] than a book.”


I believe Obama is a great reader of a teleprompter. But he messed up twice in his 8 page speech. On page 4, he quoted “John’s Gospel” instead of ‘First John’s Gospel’, and on page 8, he said, “…we need police department departments.”

Obama’s speech starts downhill on page 5. “We also know that centuries of racial discrimination…didn’t simply vanish…when study after study shows that whites and people of color experience the criminal justice system differently. So that if you’re black, you’re more likely to be pulled over, searched, or arrested; more likely to get longer sentences; more likely to get the death penalty for the same crime.”


Wade, it looks like our president disagrees with culture being the problem.

ScottShaver said...

Read a comment yesterday from one Paige Patterson who tweeted while "revisiting" the Vatican in Rome. He disparaged the ostentatious display of lavish wealth by quoting scripture, "we have forsaken all to follow thee".

Very interesting how we criticize in others what we fail to see in ourselves.

I have a couple of questions:

Who pays for Pattersons' many trips, safaris, sight-seeing excursions, rehabs of "Pecan Manor" and offices etc. Looks to me like the guys tab might rival that of the bishops of Rome.

Pot calling kettles black IMO.