Indoctrination

In Doctor Nation (aka Boston)

I normally don’t do diary pieces on here. They always seem a bit narcissistic. But blogging itself is egotistical so I might as well get over it and get on with it.

I’ve stumbled into a strange universe.

I used to smash rocks and houses all day, now I read. My backpack is heavy with books instead of camping gear.

I’m studying Theology and Psychology. The study of God and the study of Mind: should be right up my alley. And it is, but I have noticed a strange thing this first week. All my classes are talking about the same thing.

I’ve read 100 pages about the Hebrew Bible and 80 of those pages have gone something like this: “Be careful when you read because it was written by someone with a bias, and it was written in a culture that also had a bias, and now it’s being read by you who is nothing but biases…. Sooo, all interpretations are equally wrong-ish.”

In Theological Context, it’s a similar story: “your perspective shapes everything you look at, so you never really know what you are looking at.”

In Personality Theory it gets even more circular: “how can you know yourself, when the only way to look at yourself is through the biased lens of your self?”

They read like the self-reflections of a stoned introvert: “Whoa man, how do we really know that we know what we know? Know what I mean?”

After finally pulling my nose out of the books I realized what was going on: we are being indoctrinated. That’s to be expected. The strange part is that we are being indoctrinated with relativity.

Irony is an institution devoted to knowledge that worships the belief: “we don’t know anything.”

I’m pretty sure this is the cul-de-sac of reason. Being a fan of over-generalizations I’m going to do a two-sentence summary of the history of intellectual thought:

The enlightenment freed us from the dark ages of authority with this great new tool called reason. Physical science took reason, began deconstructing reality and uncovered some really cool ideas. Science’s sister, the humanities, wanted to play with the toy too and became so enamored with it that she forgot to keep her brother out of trouble.

Okay that was three sentences. Forgive me; there was a lot to cover.

The grand result of the humanities deconstructing ideas as if they were rocks is relativity.

Don’t get me wrong- I appreciate relativity. A world of fundamentalists is a world full of war. But a world full of relativists is… well it’s pretty boring. Worse than boring, it is also a world where action is forestalled by debate lest we step on anyone’s toes. And while we half step, our grocery stores fill up with corn and corn accessories and our arteries fill up with fat.

I will resist the temptation to write for pages about how deconstruction leads to relativity. I won’t outline all the problems that spring out of that perspective. I will resist because the real point is much more simple:
While relativity steers us away from fundamentalism, it can also impede real knowledge.

Don’t worry, I’m not dropping out. I actually like it here. It’s just easiest to critique after only one week.
Besides, I imagine that this will be the same as the real world: beneath the professed relativity there is a solid world of values. It’s just a hunch, but I’m pretty sure that that solid world is the place to mine for relevant knowledge. Hopefully my next report will come from there.

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One Reply to “Indoctrination”

  1. So you’ve discovered the modernism/postmodernism pendulum. It swings pretty freely in our culture. Yep, there’s no shortage of irony in indoctrinating relativism into grad students. I was greatful that my seminary began with a class that helped us all to see our post-enlightenment, western anglo biases. The paper I wrote at the end of it could be titled, “Confessions of a Recovering Moralist.” Seeing our biases and blindspots goes along way into actually seeing.

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