Thursday, January 17, 2013

God & Man at Yale by William F. Buckley Jr.

I noticed a contemporary report about what is going on at Yale and on the back cover of the book was a statement claiming that there was a 1951 precursor  to that contemporary volume.  Instead of reading the more modern book I found the original to be a controversial statement that propelled Mr. Buckley to his fame as a proponent of the political right.  God & Man at Yale is a cogent argument that education should be influenced by the values that the private institution wants to promote.  That there is no infringement on personal freedom since the individual is not forced to go to that private institution.

Buckley's undergraduate experience at Yale introduced him to surprising attitudes that he did not expect to find at a Christian private university.  He found the famed Religion department to be composed of mostly secular, agnostic or even atheistic scholars.  He found the Economics department to promote 'collectivist' approaches as opposed to 'capitalistic' ones in explaining the national economy; the department of Sociology was outwardly hostile toward religion and belief in God.

He uncovers in Yale's defense of 'Academic Freedom' bias in favor of the political left. He puts forth the argument that a Christian college should a least be influenced by the Christian auspices as they manifest themselves in the administration and Alumni associations and other ruling bodies. Mr. Buckley also reveals the somewhat duplicitous nature of the school administration when it espouses the advantages of capitalism and free markets over Socialism and Communism but refrains from exercising its power to control the teaching faculty that espouses those collective social experiments.

I think Mr. Buckley could not fathom why Yale was not similar to a college like Pepperdine.  Pepperdine was founded with private money from a religious Christian and strives to teach in an environment promoting Christian spiritual values. I fully relate to Mr. Buckley's arguments.  His arguments support the concepts behind a Touro College, a Yeshiva University and a Hebrew Theological College where the education is influenced by the values of traditional Judaism. Their staff is picked based on scholarship and religious attitudes that the schools want to promote.

Academic freedom would mean that one is free to chose from a plethora of educational opportunities that offer differing approaches.  One is free to choose between a public secular college like the University of California and a private religious institution like Yeshiva University.  When one chooses a particular college, however, one should not be confused or surprised about the kind of education one will receive.

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