This is the first in a series of three essays intended to critique selected aspects of the prevailing modern worldview of the West’s ubiquitous liberal regime. In the present essay, I am interested in the prevailing modern view of education; I argue that various pre-modern ways of understanding education address their topic with a good deal more penetration than that achieved by the modern view, which tends to insipidity. In a follow-on essay to this one I will address the question how revelation is related to reality; a third essay will devote itself to a discussion of memory considered as an institution.
The one thing that modern educators, including modern college and university educators, know best is that faith has no place in education. Faith, the term by which modern educators, when they use it, invariably mean Christianity, is, in the prevailing view, inimical to education – a “clinging” bogey to be banished. At the institution where I teach, a mid-tier state college in the Northeast, official edicts have banished all signs of Easter and Christmas, substituting for the latter the bland notion of “Winter Holidays.” In December, the president annually sends all faculty and staff a calculatedly inoffensive “Winter Holidays” greeting, via email. For what it is worth, for many years I have regularly received an unambiguous “Merry Christmas” message from a long-distance colleague at the University of Tehran, under the auspices of whose department I had the good fortune, a few years ago, to chair a dissertation.