Friday, 20 November 2015 12:57

Education -- Editorial

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Education -- Editorial

Angus MacDonald

There is a lot of talk about education, but the word is not defined properly. The popular understanding of education is development of a skill. You need knowledge, or skill, to become an electrician, lawyer, or physician. Education in the broadest sense is an understanding of life, what we can honestly believe, a grip on fundamentals. Everyone searches for this but few find it, or find it differently; some become Republicans or Democrats or Socialists or blends of each. Most are happy keeping the faith of their fathers, leave the problem to others, concentrate on money, or athletics, or entertainment, or conclude someone else can pursue lofty goals and it is enough to marry and have wonderful children. So it is, but it would be pleasant and beneficial to ourselves and to others if we gave some time to education in the broadest sense.

My parents had a sixth grade education and were honest. My father believed preachers formed a starving profession of hypocrites -- before I decided to be one. He became mellow with the passing of time. I don't know if others can appreciate the turmoil I had in a theological seminary keeping my honesty in an environment of dogmatic theology. Students had to lead in devotions and one of my first sermons was based on the text, "The word of God is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword." I was of the opinion men wrote the Bible, looking for God, and I even had the notion they could be wrong. Some of the Psalms are, unless you are beastly. I was not as extreme as it sounds because many of our professors were of a similar point of view, though they were discreet. We had studied Biblical scholarship and knew not only the Scriptures but how they were written. We also studied church history that had a lot to say about heresy, the blessings of it on many occasions and how the church institution had to learn and change.

Reading more than theology and church history, I discovered in 1945 The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant, and that changed my life. Within twelve months I was on my way to the United States. I was 22 at the time and knew I was a misfit, as Australia did not have a large enough population to include odd clerics. The United States, on the other hand, had a large population. I gambled I could find a home in this country.

To make a long story short, I found myself in the graduate department of Philosophy of Columbia University where I received a Ph.D. in intellectual history. My doctoral thesis was a comparison of Jacques Maritain and Henri Bergson. Maritain was a Protestant who became a conservative Catholic and Bergson was a Jew who became a simple Christian. All of this in a secular university! Religion was presented with sympathy and clarity. Bergson was killed as a Jew during World War II. Led to the scaffold, he wrote his name "Henri Bergson, Jew."

Another interesting detail. One of my interests at Columbia was 14th century logic. Though it is not well known that logic overturned what was called the realism of the Middle Age and began the empirical world. Realism was the doctrine that general terms have or describe real existence. I chose Nominalism, the name of the modern point of view that only individuals exist. I wanted to write a thesis on the nature of connections as presented in 14th century logic but Professor Herbert Schneider, my favorite professor, urged me to stay in the field of religion!

If you want to be educated you will have to do it yourself. There is no way you can get an education in a university, any university, because you cannot spend your life in school. Also, professors spend their lives with children and you must be an adult. An argument can be made that professors do not make intelligent company because they do not combine practice and learning.

You need history books. A splendid series I have used most of my adult life is The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant, in eleven volumes, some of them up to a thousand pages. Don't worry about the size; you have the rest of your life to browse. An interesting detail: when Will and Ariel were married, she came to the church on her skates. They were nice people. A good many years ago I helped a lady, doing what I do not remember. She had no money, and I didn't ask for any, but she gave me forty volumes of the history of the United States! That series is 100 years out of print, but there are histories of all kinds, easily available, which will lead to your education.

Education is the search to find ourselves. This is important in a world that concentrates on social action with unclear presuppositions. Values are back to front. *

[J]udges, therefore, should be always men of learning and experience in the laws, of exemplary morals, great patience, calmness, coolness, and attention. Their minds should not be distracted with jarring interests; they should not be dependent upon any man, or body of men." --John Adams

The quotes following each article have been gathered by The Federalist Patriot at: http://FederalistPatriot.US/services.asp.

Read 1741 times Last modified on Friday, 20 November 2015 18:57
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