Shaper of the Shakers and Movers?

Fellow HEM blogger Valerie Moon’s News & Commentary has an article on the recent developments surrounding Patrick Henry College, a brouhaha which has seen increasing coverage in the national media in recent weeks as one professor was fired and four others resigned, saying the administration prohibited free-ranging discussions. An article in the May 13 Los Angeles Times explained: “The specific issues that led to the firing and resignations are abstruse, but they revolve around the question of how the ideas and writings of nonevangelical thinkers such as Catholics or the ancient Greeks should be treated in the classroom.”

Martin E. Marty, one of today’s most prominent interpreters of culture and religion, wrote on May 22 in Sightings, a publication of the University of Chicago’s Martin Marty Center (The Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion): “The rest of us might not care about Patrick Henry, were it not so well poised to take its place as shaper of the shakers and movers who move this nation. Farris and company take them from home schooling (for the most part) to the halls of power. Some have interned for Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, and the like, a fact that does not have to be condemning but does raise questions about the single-minded and even obsessive character of this training school for tomorrow’s right-wing leadership. It might be nice to think that even Augustine and also the suspect Reformed Protestant tradition could have their place among the Bible-believing power people there. These five professors learned: not.”

Harsh words? Martin Marty was just getting warmed up: “Those who care (as, I confess, I do) that Christian influences and ties freely be part of Christian-related-type colleges are more likely to be embarrassed — because of guilt by association — than cheered by this example of those who would ‘lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values.'”

I strongly advise reading the entire essay. I’ve subscribed to Sightings, bookmarked Martin Marty’s website, and added his name to my small but growing list of Voices of Reason.

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