[文摘] ‘The Academy Is Largely Itself Responsible for Its Own Peril’

CHRI
#學 哈佛傑出女性歷史學者 Jill Lepore 最近出了一本破千頁的新書談美國全史,書名叫作 These Truth。
《高等教育紀事報》對她做了一段涵蓋議題廣泛的訪談。精彩處處。
她身上包含「人民百姓史」、「左派批判史」、「觀念史」三大治史進路的功底;
一、
在人民百姓史角度,她感慨:近年學者教授在民主政治髒水下愛惜羽毛,紛紛遠離公共領域,導致以新聞記者撰述的「宮廷史學」成為市面主流。
二、
在左派批判史角度,她表達了對科技「破壞式創新」不在乎道德倫理的疑慮,也談及美國歷史書寫如何自 Howard Zinn 以來,更多地鼓勵了有色人種的、原住民的、女性的聲音。
三、
從觀念史角度,她發聾振聵地指出:「美國」的概念從歷史以來不應被誤解為神聖歷史(heilsgeschichte),而是「實證史」。
a)
最早的時候,實證的地位是看「事實(facts)」。在這個階段人文科學具有主導地位,確立什麼是事實。
b)
在第二個階段,「數字(numbers)」興起,學術的主導地位轉移到社會科學,這是量化崛起的時代。以票票等值、數字遊戲為基本原則的民主制度也萌芽了。
c)
在21世紀我們來到第三階段,講求的是「數據」;真理是看數據分析告訴我們什麼;「事實」與「數字」都必須服膺於它。這時候「自然科學(STEM)」已經不可避免地開始擠壓人文及社科了。
Jill Lepore 認為,這與政府在高等教育投入的預算配置有關,也與人文學者放棄了面向大眾的戰場有關。但究竟驅動這三階段知識典範移轉的事實觀點是什麼,歷史給出的答案,或許仍見仁見智。
The American Revolution, Lepore shows, was also an epistemological revolution. The country was built on truths that are self-evident and empirical, not sacred and God-given. « Let facts be submitted to a candid world, » Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence.
After the centuries-long rise of facts since the trial by jury starting in 1215, facts were replaced by numbers in the 18th and 19th centuries as the higher-status unit of knowledge, while the States are founded as a « demographic » democracy. Now what’s considered to be most prestigious is data.
Facts come from the realm of the humanities, numbers represent the social sciences, and data the natural sciences. When people talk about the decline of the humanities, they are actually talking about the rise and fall of the fact. Digital humanities and large data sets is no longer the humanities.
The resources of institutions of higher learning have gone to teaching students how to engineer problems rather than speak to people.
Innovation doesn’t assume its modern sense until the 1930s, and then only in a specialized literature.
Disruption has a totally different history; emerges in the 1990s as progress without any obligation to notions of goodness. It’s a way to avoid the word [moral] progress.

[文摘] Donald Trump Exposes the Split Between Ordinary and Elite Evangelicals

Source Link:  Donald Trump Exposes the Split Between Ordinary and Elite Evangelicals

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/02/donald-trumps-evangelical-divide/458706/

In the Trump phenomenon, we see there is a growing divide between ordinary evangelicals and evangelical leaders. Michael Lindsay’s class distinction is as relevant as it was when he first explored it.

  • Evangelical populists are working-class Americans who are pragmatic in their politics. One poll shows 63% of them rally behind Trump.
  • Cosmopolitan evangelicals are highbrow cultural elites in business, media, academia, and politics. According to World magazine, high-ranking evangelical leaders favor Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

    They are supporters of the so-called Evangelical Immigration Table included the National Association of Evangelicals, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and the political arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    When the Wall Street Journal reported, “Evangelicals push immigration path,” they mean them actually.

 

 

If This Pope Makes You Uncomfortable, You Are Far From Alone…

Because he is making us think of THAT GUY!

1. Pope Rejects Lunch with Boehner, Pelosi, McConnell, Reid: He will be Dining with the Homeless

婉拒與美國參眾議院大老吃飯,因為已經排定要在街頭配遊民吃飯,並親自為他們送食物。

Pope Francis says he didn’t have the time because he already had a date eating with the homeless. In fact, he is not only going to be eating with them, but serving them. The meal will take place at St. Patrick’s Church in Washington, D.C.

As stated by John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University: “Pope Francis is the ultimate Washington outsider. His priorities are not Washington’s priorities. We think we are the center of the world. We are not the center of Pope Francis’ world. He is frankly more comfortable in the slums of Argentina than in the corridors of power.”

photo by media.salon.com
Congress? not much fancifulness about it.  (photo by media.salon.com)

Related news on Pope Francis:

Fox News Host Tells Pope Francis to Leave U.S.: He Doesn’t Belong Here: Capitalism is Our Savior

2. The Pope Calls a Young Girl to Visit Him During His Washington Parade

華盛頓遊行時,一名5歲小女孩突破兩旁路障想接近教宗車隊,被保全圍住。教宗說:讓她到我這裡來。

「讓小孩子到我這裡來,不要禁止他們。」

Initially turned away by secret service agents, the girl, later identified as Sophie Cruz, 5, is called over by Pope Francis, who embraces her. The pope hugged and kissed several children during his tour around the city

3.   Pope Francis Smacks Churches: “If You Don’t Help the Poor and Needy, then Pay Taxes Like a Business”

痛斥教會:資產不用來濟貧助人,就照企業規矩來繳稅,別當自己是教會!

「凱撒的歸凱撒,上帝的歸上帝。」

“Some religious orders say, ‘No, now that the convent is empty we are going to make a hotel and we can have guests and support ourselves that way, or make money,’” said Pope Francis. “Well, if that is what you do, then pay taxes! A religious school is tax-exempt because it is religious, but if it is functioning as a hotel, then it should pay taxes just like its neighbor. Otherwise it is not fair business.”

The practice of renting space in religious buildings is very common in Europe. The philosophy behind it, that Pope Francis describes, could very well undermine what many televangelists do in the United States. Rather than practicing their religion, these charlatans run lean businesses and make fat profits. If the church isn’t engaged in the business of the Church, as Pope Francis explained, then it’s time for them to pay their fair share of taxes!

Related News:  教宗親吻瘤男 無神論者也融化

[文摘] What Reason Can Know and What Government Should Legislate: A Rejoinder to Arkes by Robert T. Miller

Source Link: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/08/13732/

 

Robert T. Miller, an eminent Aristotelian-Thomist law scholar, bring a well-reasoned postliberal public theology to the table of Hobby Lobby.

the argument goes as this:

1. Some people have complained that the judges in the Hobby Lobby case have ‘put the main and decisive accent on the « theology » of the litigants or the « sincerity » of their « beliefs », instead of using a discipline of reason for legal guidance on the deliberation of moral matters.

2. The loophole created, as these people would argue, is that « when someone believe something with sincerity, it is better that thing is not forbidden by law. »

(Nicholas Wolterstorff and some Neuhausians would see there is some intrinsic good in such a « dense libertarian » liberal-democratic civil society, though, vis-a-vis Rawlsians.)
3. But Miller has helped us in the discussion by rightly distinguishing the « Abstract Reason » and « the Reasoning of Particular Individuals. » He argues that

conferring on public officials a general power to inquire into moral or religious truths is dangerous because such people are no better than anyone else at sorting out true beliefs from false ones and they are just as likely as everyone else to think that ideas different from their own are unreasonable or perverse.

This does not mean that sound reason does not exist or that truth is unattainable. But truth will not side with a certain group of deliberative people all the time, and for this reason we have to do something to prevent a certain group of people from always having the final say on matters of truth.

An analogy will help. The natural sciences are the work of reason, and over the last few centuries human beings have made astonishing advances in understanding the natural world. On the basis of this success, no one doubts that human reason can discover scientific truths. But a person would have to be daft to support, on this basis, setting up a committee of eminent scientists with the power to decide, in a way binding on other people, which scientific propositions are true and which are false. The reasons are obvious: even professional scientists, when dealing with purely scientific questions, are subject to common human failings, including pride, envy, and all manner of prejudices, which can readily lead them into error. The history of science is replete with such examples, such as the early twentieth-century physicists who resisted the big bang theory because of its perceived theistic implications.

If this is true of natural science, how much truer is it of morality and religion, where the inquirer’s biases and self-interest will have much greater influence on his reasoning? We all know people (often ourselves) who have adjusted their moral beliefs when they have become inconvenient. We all know people (often ourselves) who hold certain moral views for no better reason than that we learned them from our parents. For such reasons, and because of the inherent difficulty of many moral and religious questions, there is scant basis to think that any particular person is likely to reach correct results on a given question, even when there is a unique, rationally determinable answer to the question. This is why there is so much disagreement on normative questions, even among intelligent and informed people of good will.

4. In devicing governmental institutions, therefore, it’s critically important

  • to make it difficult to enact laws without very broad support (broad support reduces the chance of error),
  • to allow errors to be corrected relatively easily
  • to have a system of checks and balances that requires approval by different officials answerable to people in different ways before effecting laws

5. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), under which Hobby Lobby was decided, is part of such a system in that it provides additional protection for religious freedom.

Under our [U.S.] Constitution, enacting a federal law requires the assent of both houses of Congress and the concurrence of the president (subject to Congress’s overruling a presidential veto by a two-thirds vote of both houses). This system by itself affords real protection to minorities whose religious practices may be restricted by legislation: they have the opportunity to participate in the political process at various points to affect the legislation. Beyond that, however, RFRA provides that, if a federal law substantially burdens a person’s exercise of his religion, the government must convince a court that applying the burden to the plaintiff furthers a compelling governmental interest by the least restrictive means available. This is a protection of religious freedom over and above the protections available to minorities in the ordinary legislative process.

The keywords are: « convince », « compelling governmental interest », and « least restrictive means available. »

In the procedure, people adversely affected by the law will be allowed at least two chances of hearing. The first one is at the legislative stage before the proposed law has been finally signed by the president. This is what is usually called ‘lobbying.’ The second one is at the juridical stage- thanks to RFRA, when the judges will review if such a a federal law that burdens a person’s exercise of his religion could be proven to furthers a substantive governmental interest by the least restrictive means available.

6. Miller’s sophisticated argument lies right between his statements that

  • judges are not good at determining moral and religious truths
  • it is good that judges are entitled [by RAFA] to determine whether a law furthers a compelling governmental interest by the least restrictive means on individual religious freedom

For to have judges to determine what « substantive interest » and « least restrictive means available » are is not the same to empower them to determine « moral and religious truths », namely, whether a law is « justified or unjustified » , good or bad, right or wrong, wise or foolish.

This does not mean that when evaluating « interest » and « means of restriction » the judges will never touch moral issues and make moral judgments, but with these guidelines, the institutional utterance of forceful words will tend to be much more regulated and accountable. The goal is exactly to cabin the judges’ discretion in ways that will tend to produce the best reasonable results on average.

7. « There are some immoral actions that it would be immoral to make illegal. » This is Miller’s central contention, and it is also one of the central contention of postliberal public theology. As the Aristotelian-Thomist postliberal McIntyre’s virtue ethics would tell us, « To Become Virtuous, One Must Choose Good Actions Freely. »

Part of becoming virtuous, part of becoming a good human being, is identifying and choosing good actions for oneself. If one’s neighbors, or the state, or even God himself were always at hand to point the way and then coerce a man into doing good and avoiding evil, virtue would become impossible: a man might always choose good actions, but he would not become a virtuous man.

Surely there are gravely immoral conduct causing grievous harm to others that on morally grounds should be legally restricted (such as murdering), but we do not for morally permissible reasons force the rich people to give a fraction of their wealth to the poor, or to restrict the right to marriage to couples who demonstratively to have mature quality of love.

« The classic tradition has made room for ‘prudence’—for not applying the principles of right in their stringency to every case” because sometimes “it’s necessary for statesmen to make an accommodation with evil for the sake of compressing it, as the American founders did with slavery. »

This ‘prudence’, or φρόνησις in the original Greek language, is what we should soundly bite and reflect upon.

[文摘] Evangelical Retreat? (福音派撤出公共領域?)

Source Link: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2013/12/evangelical-retreat  12月號 First Things 雜誌

by Russell D. Moore (president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention)

當台灣的老福音派系統還在跌跌撞撞地為第一次社會議題動員重整軍容和療傷時,美國的福音神學界的新一波世代,已經來到了可以進行20年總評估的節點。

其最大的特徵是:美國下一代的福音派年輕人不敢再衝撞政治性的爭議項目(同婚、墮胎、宗教教育自由),轉而致力柔性的社會修復工程(孤兒與遊民之家、反性奴販賣、反毒)。

但這種「神學正確」是否能改變後福音派在公共領域的弱勢呢?看法是否定的:

Not that this changes the way they’re spoken of in public. When Evangelicals adopt, the secularist Left accuses them of “stealing” children for “Evangelism,” though if they didn’t the left would accuse them of caring about “fetuses” without providing them homes.

這是美國福音派教會處在前期後自由思想的一些困境:

[I]n talking to Catholic and Orthodox friends, some of them… worry that Evangelical Christians will soon evacuate not the earth but the public square. In an era of tumult over sexual revolution and threats to religious liberty, will social conservatives turn around to find the empty clothes of the Evangelicals all around them and realize they’ve been left behind to face the spirit of the age?

After all, Evangelicals are still pro-life and pro-marriage. But there is reason to wonder where Evangelicalism will go after taking leave of the religious right, whether into suspended political animation or into the sort of political activism that avoids the points of greatest tension with the ambient culture. Some social conservatives have criticized in recent days a large gathering of young Evangelicals for speaking on sex trafficking, global poverty, and orphan care with little mention of abortion, homosexuality, or threats to religious liberty.

Some younger Evangelicals’ flight impulse from issues deemed “political” isn’t a move to the political left as much as a move to the theological right.

[They] want to retain Christianity in its fullest, but they are not sure how, or whether, public engagement fits with the mission of the church, but not because [they’re] theologically liberal.

To understand the Evangelical tension on public engagement, one must understand that Evangelicals are a narrative-driven people.

作者的建議是:不可逃避文化戰爭。新舊約先知都無懼地抗衡世俗君王的不義(亞哈、希律)。

The Gospel, after all…cannot help but have political consequences… We cannot in our attempt to keep the Gospel from being too big present a Gospel that is too small to, as the Great Commission puts it, teach the nations “whatsoever I have commanded you.”

作者繼續提出的兩個給後福音派青年的解決方案,仍然是屬於前期後自由神學的貫徹:

  1. The secularization of American culture will ensure that Christianity must either capitulate or engage. The engagement will not be at the level of voters’ guides or consumer boycotts—and thank God. The engagement instead will be first congregational, in shaping the consciences of a people who will witness to, as Evangelical theologian Carl F. H. Henry put it, the God who judges both men and nations. An Evangelical who is leading more than an online presence but an actual church must equip people to testify to the whole counsel of God about what a person is, what makes for human flourishing, what the goal of sexuality is, and so on.

  2. Moreover, as genuine Christianity—in all its forms—becomes more freakish to the culture, the less it will be seen as one more constituency for one or the other political party. This is not necessarily because Evangelicalism changes, but because the parties start to see even the mildest Christian the way President Obama’s campaign viewed Jeremiah Wright: as an embarrassment among the “reasonable” people, who give donations and vote. This could give the sort of prophetic distance that enables Christians to speak in the public arena but with a primary focus on the church as the colony of the kingdom of God, not on America as some sort of mythical new Israel with a covenant mandate to bless the nations.

然後傳統上的老大哥「天主教」,會仍然在傳統倫理立場上比咱們新教更有能力抗擊變遷的世俗文化思潮:

I mean instead that the Roman Catholic Church is unlikely, at least at the magisterial level, to shift with the tides of Western culture as the state gives the sword of Caesar to protect the orthodoxies of the sexual revolution. Rome’s witness to a Christian sexual ethic will keep the question alive, and entrepreneurial Evangelicalism will be unable to bargain away its birthright without being reminded by the Vatican of what we’ve become in the process.

新舊教未必會在形式上聯手迎戰世俗,但至少能在神學的精神上互相提點:

At the same time, Evangelical Christianity can remind Roman Catholicism that natural law is true enough so far as it goes but that the natural law points to a Judgment Seat (Rom. 2:15–16). Catholics will push Evangelicals to see beyond “Christian values” to the natural underpinnings of human life and flourishing, and Evangelicals will push Catholics to see that the universe is shaped around the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10) and that losing our living sense of the ultimate telos leads to an unsustainable teleology.

結論實在寫得很優美:

Evangelicals may go wobbly here and there, but we will still be here, even if our sawdust trail leads again to the prison cell. We might be left behind by Wall Street or Capitol Hill, but we’re looking beyond them to something—Someone—we expect to see exploding forth in the eastern skies, maybe any moment now. You can call that a “Rapture” if you want, but don’t call it a “retreat.”