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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Sometimes, when you opponents are incapable of responding to a serious argument, there is nothing left to do but make fun of them.

ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM

(Including Limerick # 58)

 

The Thought Police will inspect you all,

Interrogate and dissect you all

Lest the horrible plague should infect you all

Which has threatened e’er now to have wrecked you all.

If it has, they will surely detect you all

And pursue you until they have decked you all.

Your excuses will prove ineffectual

And the members will rightly reject you all

For trying to be intellectual.

 

Though I really can’t say I have checked you all,

With all of these rhymes, I expect you all

To be duly impressed

By my passing the test

And not using Lord Byron’s “hen pecked, you all.”

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016), An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018), and The Young Christian’s Survival Guide: Common Questions Young Christians Are Asked about God, the Bible, and the Christian Faith Answered (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2019)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

 Why does anti-intellectualism have such a hold on so many of the American people and so much of the American church?

C. S. Lewis–not an Anti-Intellectual

THE ROOTS OF ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM

Commentary, 1 Cor. 1:26

When I was a young and foolish boy,

I thought intelligence a gift so rare

That all those who were blessed by it would share

The hunger of the mind for thought, the joy

Of battle on the windy plains of Troy,

The Big Bang, Quarks—the search for what is there,

The Saint’s hope, the Post-Modernist’s despair,

Of Hopkins’ call:  “Have, get before it cloy!”

Tolkien–not an Anti-Intellectual

The church especially would love to trace

The Father’s hand in all He had created.

It seems that I had underestimated

How far we’ve let the Enemy deface

In us the image of the One who made

In us the very minds we have betrayed.

Dr. Johnson–not an Anti-Intellectual

A short attention span will pad the purse

Of publishers who ought to be devoted

To seeing Truth pursued and then promoted.

They take the easy way.  And, what is worse,

We justify our treason with a verse:

“Not many wise,” we’ve quoted and we’ve quoted;

“According to the flesh,” we’ve barely noted.

Thus blithely we perpetuate the Curse.

John Milton–not an Anti-Intellectual

Willing to know the Evil as the Good,

We bypassed the Instructions on the Tree.

Not eating from it would have been the key

To all its fruit, if we had only stood.

We plucked it green, and greedily we ate.

Now, gorged with garbage, we push back the plate.

Jesus of Nazareth–not an Anti-Intellectual. “Love the Lord your God with all your mind.”

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

247

 Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

 Some contemporary translations of the Bible actually admit—proudly!—that they were translated for a sixth-grade reading level.  But was the Bible written for sixth-graders, or for adults?  Hmmm.

Written for Adults

ANOTHER ATTEMPT

TO EXPLAIN THE SPIRITUAL WIMPINESS

OF THE AMERICAN CHURCH

 

Today’s translators are a squeamish lot.

We are not able, by their estimation,

To handle hard words like propitiation.

Alright, the word is hard; the thing is not?

And do we need to deal with it, or what?

A simple failure of determination

To follow to its final destination

The trail left by the tittle and the jot.

 

Paul did not write for children or for fools

(Childlike and humble are another thing),

But those who loved the Lord with all their mind.

When teachers occupy the dunces’ stools,

We mustn’t be shocked if their pupils fling

The meat away to gnaw upon the rhind.

Donald T. Williams, PhDLook for  Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

 

OPTIMISTIC PESSIMISM

I am a Southerner. Lost Causes don’t bother me. We are used to them.

Portrait-RELee7

In the short run, I am not very optimistic for our society or for the church. We as a society are trying to maintain our democracy while dismantling its foundation–the self evident truth that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. This project is doomed to failure. Nevertheless, having repudiated the only foundation on which a successful democracy has ever been erected, we presume to teach the rest of the world how to “do” democracy. This is sheer idiocy.

People Who Understood the Foundations
People Who Understood the Foundations

Meanwhile, the conservative church’s only response is senselessly to berate the society for departing from a foundation it no longer remembers ever having had, rather than doing the only sensible thing to address the situation: re-evangelizing it from scratch and teaching it the biblical world view again. At the same time, I see our theological birthright, the hard gains of an Evangelical movement that clawed its way up out of Fundamentalist anti-intellectualism, being squandered for a mess of Post-Modern epistemological pottage, soft nihilism masquerading as humility about truth.  Look, if there is no resurrection then Christ is not raised; and if there are no valid metanarratives, then Christianity is not true. The Evangelical movement is exactly where the mainline Protestant denominations were a century ago, losing its message to the Spirit of the Age so slowly and subtly that it doesn’t realize what is happening. Only now, the friends of Truth, remembering how ugly things turned during the old Fundamentalist days, no longer have any stomach for the fight. Oh, yes, the future is bleak indeed.

"And thought the last lights off the black West went, / Oh, morning at the brown brink eastward springs!" -- Gerard manley Hopkins
“And thought the last lights off the black West went, / Oh, morning at the brown brink eastward springs!” — Gerard manley Hopkins

Fortunately, both History and Theology save me from despair. History tells me that things have looked this bad before, or worse–right after the fall of Rome, at the height of Medieval papal corruption before the Reformation, and at the height of the Endarkenment of the Eighteenth Century before the First Great Awakening came seemingly out of nowhere. And Theology tells me that God is sovereign and doesn’t need favorable cultural situations to accomplish his purpose or preserve His remnant or even initiate a new Reformation leading to a new Awakening. So, thank God, I don’t need optimism. In fact, the need to find optimism based on a Pollyanish view of circumstances through rose colored glasses–which a lot of Christians seem to think it their duty to concoct–is the most pessimistic and depressing thing I know of.

Puddleglum Did Not Need Optimism Either
Puddleglum Did Not Need Optimism Either

We have no hope in this world. Good! That means we’ve got the Enemy just where we want him. Lift up your heads, for our redemption draweth nigh!

 

For more writing by Dr. Williams, go to the Lantern Hollow Store and order his books, Stars through the Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2011), Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters, 2nd ed. (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2012), and Reflections from Plato’s Cave: Essays in Evangelical Philosophy (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2012).  Order ($15.00 each) at https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.
A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

Appearance or Rationality?

Yesterday I posted the following comment as my status on Facebook:

“After several years of getting drawn in to various debates on Facebook, I have come to a conclusion. About 95% of the people commenting care nothing whatsoever about evidence or chains of reasoning or the search for truth. They are concerned only with what statements will make them appear cool, intelligent, or with it to whatever group they are trying to impress.”

Not a person I was describing.
Not a person I was describing.

The response–an unusually high number of “likes” and not a few comments–suggested I had hit a nerve.  All of those commenting basically agreed with me.  Either I was in the group they were trying to impress, or I had just attracted all the rational exceptions to the rule.  (Either generalization would probably be dangerous!)

The bottom line is that, while there are many exceptions, the level of rational discourse of which our contemporaries seem capable is distressingly low.  Many apparently think that assertion is evidence, insult is rebuttal, shouting is argument, and repetition is exposition.  It’s not just that they try to get away with these substitutions; they apparently really cannot tell the difference.  They respond to the caricature that is already in their head of the position they are arguing against, ignoring the actual argument that has just been placed before them.

Shakespeare's Grammar School.  He learned to read Latin there.
Shakespeare’s Grammar School. He learned to read Latin there.

How is it that more people are consuming more higher education than ever before while getting so little benefit from it?  There are many reasons.  The expansion of educational opportunity in itself brings a lowering of standards.  Addiction to electronic media has decimated attention spans.  Public figures set terrible examples.  (The entire senate race my state is currently living through consists of one candidate implying that the other is a closet communist and his opponent characterizing him as a Robber Baron; each has called the other a liar, though not in so many words.  Discussion of any actual issues or political principles has been notably absent.)  The media reinforces a focus on soundbytes over reasoned civic discourse. Too many parents no longer teach their kids to practice self-discipline or to take responsibility for their time and be accountable for their actions.  So what’s even a good teacher to do when they get to school?  A climate of Post-Modern relativism cultivates cynicism about truth with a corresponding reluctance to engage in the rigorous disciplines required seriously to pursue it.  All these things make it harder to overcome the basic intellectual laziness and dishonesty that is our legacy from the Fall of Man.

No comment necessary.
No comment necessary.

If you have not yet completely fallen prey to these enemies of the mind, push back against them when you have the opportunity and set a better example when you can.  You’d better.  Otherwise these logic-deficient, evidence-impervious, educated morons that annoy you on Facebook will be the people sitting on our juries and electing our next congress and president.  Oh, wait; it’s worse than that.  They already are.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.
A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

Donald T. Williams is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College and President of the International Society of Christian Apologetics.  To order his books from Lantern Hollow Press, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/