Sunday, January 10, 2010

Liberal Arts

I read the Newsweek article by Jon Meacham, In Defense of the Liberal Arts, which caused me to remember and to be thankful and reflect on my education.
Meachem made several points that I believe important.
1. “Belief in liberal-arts colleges like Sewanee (or other small liberal arts colleges, what ever economic level), however, is about more than sentiment.” Italics mine.
2. “It is just possible, though, that the traditional understanding of the liberal arts may help us in our search for new innovation and new competitiveness. The next chapter of the nation's economic life could well be written not only by engineers but by entrepreneurs who, as products of an apparently disparate education, have formed a habit of mind that enables them to connect ideas that might otherwise have gone unconnected. As Alan Brinkley, the historian and former provost of Columbia, has argued in our pages, liberal education is a crucial element in the creation of wealth, jobs, and, one hopes, a fairer and more just nation.”
3. “We need to make sure that the liberal arts prepare people for a good life, not just the good life.”
The ideas presented by Jon Meacham are good, but remain incomplete to me. I believe in a Christian Liberal Arts education and in my belief I observe, hear and feel the incompleteness of Meachem view. (I am not discounting Jon Meachem points, I believe they are important, but I do believe that they need to be amplified in light of Christian values.) Italics mine. The first and foremost task is to establish and build a Christian Worldview: A systematic philosophy of or insight into the movement and plan of the entire universe. “It's an understanding that Christianity and its values provide a springboard to explore truth in all its dimensions.” This is “the crucial element”. The following are also important: elements.
The historic, evangelical, biblical faith;
Education, not theological indoctrination;
Scholarship which is integrally Christian;
Institutional and individual lifestyles guided by the teaching of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit
Offering a wide range of study and service opportunities;
Reflecting, both in programs and people, the rich mosaic of the body of Christ;
Maturing its students in all dimensions of human development: physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual
Applying biblical principles to society and culture.
There is enough to think about in the above.

“Those of you who share an affinity for small institutions know the power of sentiment at such moments—how the old rooftops remind us of when we were young, and all of that. Arguing the interests of Dartmouth before the Supreme Court, Daniel Webster captured this feeling well: "It is, sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet there are those who love it."”

Eutychus, Gordon College, Class of ‘61

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