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The Rich Young Rulers Vs. SJWS

A reader who is a college professor and a practicing Christian writes to say he just spent a year on an intensive program mentoring freshmen at his college, and observing how relentless is the progressive propaganda the school (which is public) hits them with. He writes:

Here’s the thing I learned from spending a year talking to freshmen, though: none of them care. The perfect storm of progressive groupthink that sends out waves of propaganda on college campuses seems to turn students into rocks on the sea coast. They go quiet and hunker down and let the waves beat on them. They stay away from activities in droves (every one of the all-dorm events I attended had more faculty than students), and they respond to invitations to converse with stony silence. As one student said to me, “They keep telling us to be nice. How many times do they have to tell us?” This indoctrination that seems so near and dear to the hearts of university progressives seems a bit like public lectures on Leninism from the late Soviet days: everyone promises to come and pay close attention and but all anyone wants to do is avoid notice. I’m sure a few students are inspired by this preaching, but my experience tells me that support of these dogmas is total just as long as someone is listening. Only true believers are excited by this ham-handed piety.

In Dorothy Sayers’ The Man Born to Be King, Judas is a high-minded idealist and revolutionary who betrays Christ because Christ does not share his enlightened view of history. Sayers’ Judas comes to mind when I think about people like those currently persecuting Paul Griffiths at Duke. They are the true believers who will gladly sacrifice a human on the altar of humanity. My worry with the students I encounter is not that they will become a Judas, but that they already are the Rich Young Ruler: “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” The young men I spent the year with are nice fellows, but they will bow to SJWs because there’s too much to lose. They’re too complacent to radicalize, but also too rich and too connected to stand up to radicalism. I’ve yet to read The Benedict Option [2] (mostly because my priest has my copy), so I’m sure you’ve already tackled this in that book, but it seems to me that a successful call to the young must emphasize the ascetic: SJWs are loud and obnoxious, but for every one of them, there are ten Rich Young Rulers on college campuses that need to be told, “Sell all you own, take up your cross, and follow me.”

From The Benedict Option [2]‘s chapter on work:

In the end, it comes down to what believers are willing to suffer for the faith. Are we ready to have our social capital devalued and lose professional status, including the possibility of accumulating wealth? Are we prepared to relocate to places far from the wealth and power of the cities of the empire, in search of a more religiously free way of life? It’s going to come to that for more and more of us. The time of testing is at hand.

“A lot of Christians see no difference between being faithfully Christian and being professionally and socially ambitious,” says a religious liberty activist. “That is ending.”

True story: a couple in suburban Washington, D.C., approached their pastor asking him to help their college student daughter, who felt a calling to be an overseas missionary.

“That’s wonderful!” said the pastor.
“Oh no, you misunderstand,” said the parents. “We want you to help us talk her out of ruining her life.”

Christians like that couple won’t make it through what’s to come. Christians with sacrificial hearts like their daughter’s will. But it’s going to cost them plenty.

A young Christian who dreams of being a lawyer or doctor might have to abandon that hope and enter a career in which she makes far less money than a lawyer or doctor would. An aspiring Christian academic might have to be happy with the smaller salary and lower prestige of teaching at a classical Christian high school.

A Christian family might be forced to sell or close a business rather than submit to state dictates. The Stormans family of Washington state faced this decision after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a state law requiring its pharmacy to sell pills the family considers abortifacient. Depending on the ultimate outcome of her legal fight, florist Barronelle Stutzman, who declined for conscience reasons to arrange flowers for a gay wedding, faces the same choice.

When that price needs to be paid, Benedict Option Christians should be ready to support one another economically—through offering jobs, patronizing businesses, professional networking, and so forth. This will not be a cure-all; the conversion of the public square into a politicized zone will be too far-reaching for orthodox Christian networks to employ or otherwise financially support all their economic refugees. But we will be able to help some.

Given how much Americans have come to rely on middle-class comfort, freedom, and stability, Christians will be sorely tempted to say or do anything asked of us to hold on to what we have. That is the way of spiritual death. When the Roman proconsul told Polycarp he would burn him at the stake if he didn’t worship the emperor, the elderly second-century bishop retorted that the proconsul threatened temporary fire, which was nothing compared with the fire of judgment that awaited the ungodly.

If Polycarp was willing to lose his life rather than deny his faith, how can we Christians today be unwilling to lose our jobs if put to the test? If Barronelle Stutzman is prepared to lose her business as the cost of Christian discipleship, how can we do anything less?

We will be able to choose courageously and correctly in the moment of trial only if we have prepared ourselves in every possible way. We can start by thinking of our work as a calling, as a vocation in the older sense: a way of life given to us by God for His own glory and for the common good. There is no reason why we can’t serve the community and our own desire for professional excellence as doctors, lawyers, teachers, or almost anything else—as long as we know in our hearts that we are the Lord’s good servants first.

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36 Comments To "The Rich Young Rulers Vs. SJWS"

#1 Comment By Claire Elizabeth On May 8, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

I think the author makes a sort of false equivalence when he says that these students simultaneously have too much to lose and are also too rich to stand up to radicalism. From my experience at first a very very progressive boarding school on scholarship and later a liberal Catholic university, I would say that it’s much more likely that students are keeping their heads down out of fear it will hurt their careers. We DO have too much to lose. It’s the rich ones who often become the SJWs because they have trust funds waitin and it really doesn’t matter how radical they are. One of the soundest pieces of advice I got at boarding school was: don’t rock the boat until you own the boat. In other words, there are a lot of us refusing to say anything because we know that it will ruin our chances of becoming doctors or lawyers in the future where we can affect real change, whereas speaking up now might get us a commendation on the TAC or Fox and a blacklist from a medical school or graduate school. We need to be in a position where we’re on equal footing before we can speak up effectively. Then we might be able to offer Catholic friendly OBGYN services, help run a network for pro life work, help donate to a Christian school, etc.

#2 Comment By Michelle On May 8, 2017 @ 6:07 pm

I hate to break it to your reader but his observation about college students is nothing new. What’s true of them has been true of them for ages–most just want to get along and will pay lip service to the prevailing orthodoxy of the day (be it SJW progressivism or McCarthyism) as long as that’s what it takes to be successful. It’s the strategy of corporate man and has been for as long as humans have formed communities. Most people aren’t willing to rock the boat if it will cost them their livelihoods, let alone their lives.

#3 Comment By James Burton On May 8, 2017 @ 6:35 pm

Persecuting? In all seriousness, the rhetoric here, as well as in the last post, seems a bit over the top relative to what’s actually being discussed.

#4 Comment By Annek On May 8, 2017 @ 6:36 pm

As one student said to me, “They keep telling us to be nice. How many times do they have to tell us?”

As odd as it might seem, I’ve practically come to despise the word “kind” and “kindness”. We are all constantly being lectured to be kind and practice kindness, much like the graphic you posted the other day, Rod, that I think said “Be kind”. I think it’s part of the anti-bullying campaign in support of LGBTQ and getting everyone to be accepting of immigrants and refugees.

#5 Comment By John B On May 8, 2017 @ 6:38 pm

None of this is new…I went though a similar process when I was in High School in the early 90’s (I went to a fairly lefty boarding school in New Hampshire, where we were forcefed this drivel along with bad cafeteria food…)

As I recall, very few of the students were much convinced by the propoganda, save for those who arleady believed it. I actually went to a diversity event hosted by a public school in Massachusetts (which mainly consisted of a bunch of black kids from Worcester being put through a Scared Straight session by an ex-con while a few of us Asians hung about in the back wondered why we’d let ourselves be roped into this nonsense…) I walked away from it thinking “What a crock of you-know-what.”

The teacher who ran that program also taught French, a very nice white lady in her fifties who certainly meant well…but was also so open-minded and Tolerant it was a wonder her brains didn’t fall out she walked. None of us who went were subjected to those noble lectures were convinced of their truth…in fact a good many of us ended up believing the opposite out of sheer bloody-mindedness and Gen X contrariness. There was one guy I knew who started freshman year as a fairly mainstream liberal of the time (or as much as a 14 your old boy could be) and graduated one step away from being a white supremacist…

#6 Comment By David Palmer On May 8, 2017 @ 7:01 pm

In a way, it is all about a works righteousness.

Late 18C, early 19C Protestantism was clear about original sin, the reality of hell and the need to be right with God, through the atoning work of Christ upon the cross. There was a remarkable growth of nonconformity in particular, vast numbers of churches built, and in many cases filled to overflowing.

But then something happened in the second half of the 19C. Church people rejected original sin. They no longer wanted to hear about hell. They became respectable and contented with their life. Life was going well, all around progress – e.g. children and mothers were surviving childbirth in far greater numbers, because of the coming of sewerage and so on. If you have graduated from salvation by faith in the finished work of Christ to salvation by works righteousness, you can tick off your works accomplishment and really feel quite satisfied by your progress.

Now, are there some parallels here with the situation described by the Professor?

The follow through for the late 19C was the destruction of inevitable progress and self-satisfaction in the Great War and subsequent emptying of the churches through the 1920s and 1930s, at least in Britain and Germany both of which lost so much through 4 years of butchery.

#7 Comment By James Bradshaw On May 8, 2017 @ 7:14 pm

“If Polycarp was willing to lose his life rather than deny his faith, how can we Christians today be unwilling to lose our jobs if put to the test?”

I don’t think that’s the sort of thing one could know in advance one is capable of doing. Best not to have too much confidence in one’s own strength of character.

Besides, when one has a family to support, I can see making certain concessions to avoid losing one’s job, even if it means keeping quiet about one’s personal beliefs. Is that horrible?

I guess I don’t understand how beliefs in the transcendent can be more real and demand more than the here and now. I say that as someone who believes in a Creator. I’m just not so sure about my ideas that I’m willing to inflict tangible harm on others I care for when the necessity is unclear.

This reminds me that I need to see Martin Scorsese’s “Silence”: [3]

#8 Comment By Anne On May 8, 2017 @ 7:16 pm

Since when haven’t freshmen been bored by orientation events colleges plan for them? And what on earth does this have to do with campus personnel being “progressive”? I was a freshman at a conservative Catholic women’s college some 50+ years ago, and believe me, we kept our heads down too. This reads like the observances of a once-sheltered traveler reporting on the natives he’s identified as “progressives” from the rightwing guidebook he brought from home.

#9 Comment By EngineerScotty On May 8, 2017 @ 8:20 pm

This was true when I was in college, and this is why I roll my eyes whenever I read the latest horrid tale of some campus leftist throwing their weight around: outside the academy, this sh~t simply doesn’t matter, and most of the students know it. (And the ones who don’t, will figure it out after they graduate).

#10 Comment By Bernie On May 8, 2017 @ 8:55 pm

Forgive my double posting of this comment, but I put it under the wrong post:

“None of them care.”

The lukewarm – those who are neither hot nor cold – are nauseating to Christ. I think it’s the most pervasive attitude of the West. Anyone who’s worked in Christian ministry will find this one of the the greatest, if not the greatest, demoralizer.

They’ve never been formed in belief, never worshiped with devotion and regularly, never known radical witnesses to Jesus, don’t believe in an afterlife, or at least in hell, never known the beauty of transcendent experiences, and don’t pray. They have no significant relationship with God. This describes a huge swath of our culture and the media promotes it. There is no sin, no obedience, no humility, and no higher authority than self. And the icing is, that’s the cool and acceptable position to hold. Good luck in reaching them. Only God’s merciful grace can break through. Woe to us who empower their lukewarmness.

#11 Comment By Johan On May 8, 2017 @ 9:39 pm

“But then something happened in the second half of the 19C. Church people rejected original sin.”

A good move, since there is no such thing.

“Life was going well, all around progress – e.g. children and mothers were surviving childbirth in far greater numbers.”

Religion was invented to be a salve for the oppressed and distressed. When advancements in society improve the quality of life, religion diminishes (see: Western Europe). I think conservative Christians vote rightwing because they correctly see that economic insecurity and ill health (via policies like reduced social spending and repeal of Obamacare) are factors that prompt people to join their religion as the only available source of solace.

#12 Comment By Corey On May 8, 2017 @ 10:07 pm

Would Augustine have become Augustine had he not drunk the Kool Aid at Manichaean U as a young man?

#13 Comment By Khalid On May 8, 2017 @ 11:03 pm

Great post! Reminded me a bit of the discussion about how universities are producing “excellent sheep”.

Was also intrigued by your idea of the necessity of another economy. Will look out for your book but am not sure if I will be able to find it here.

#14 Comment By DM On May 9, 2017 @ 7:29 am

I currently attend a grad program at an engineering school. The administrators push the SJW warrior stuff with posters and e-mails and declaring the evils of Trump but it had zero impact on my classmates, and no discernible impact on the undergrads I meet.
I see more displays of faith at a this school – ashes on Ash Wednesday, kids with bibles – than I ever did as an undergrad at a Catholic college.

#15 Comment By KW On May 9, 2017 @ 8:24 am

How’s the air up there on your lofty perch, Johan?
It must be totally awesome, too, having that time machine that takes you back to the “invention” of religion.

#16 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On May 9, 2017 @ 9:14 am

But then something happened in the second half of the 19C. Church people rejected original sin.

That something was the Victorian crisis of faith which was instigated by Darwin’s theory of evolution and the concept of deep time from geology. The evidence was pretty clear that Adam and Eve were ahistorical, but if they’re a metaphor then how does original sin make any kind of sense?

#17 Comment By Caroline Nina in DC On May 9, 2017 @ 9:34 am

Count me in as another former scholarship student at lefty boarding school who experienced the same thing! And Claire Elizabeth is right–it’s always the trustafarian types who are the biggest agitators.

#18 Comment By Bernie On May 9, 2017 @ 9:59 am

MH – Secular Misanthropist,

The site below is an excellent reflection on original sin by then Father, now Bishop, Robert Barron. It’s 10 minutes long, but worth the viewing. Bishop Barron is the creator and producer of the 10-part series “Catholicism” which is widely known, respected, and used in parish adult formation.

As I’m sure you know, the Catholic Church has no problem with evolution, with the understanding that it was planned and executed by God, and that the first humans, known as Adam and Eve, were the first two beings infused by God with a soul.

Here’s the link to Bishop Barron’s reflection on original sin. Of course, different churches will interpret original sin differently.

[4]

#19 Comment By Kevin Smith On May 9, 2017 @ 1:13 pm

Congratulations on positing the choice to be made regarding being a good Christian and remaining a part of the prosperous middle, or upper middle class.

American Conservatives have a very hard time being critical of basic bourgeois values. Maybe more time should be spent on this than on preaching to the choir on the evils of the SJWs?

In the end, this is right where the “Option” is going to lose. You just don’t have the critical people who can make the right choice.

#20 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 9, 2017 @ 1:22 pm

See? There is hope for the future. The indoctrination is not sinking in, being absorbed, much less accepted. The next generation is not going to turn the entire country into a facsimile of Middlebury College.

But let’s talk about the tyranny of the reCAPTCHA process, which is arbitrary, capricious, and offers no process of appeal.

#21 Comment By JonF On May 9, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

Re: The evidence was pretty clear that Adam and Eve were ahistorical, but if they’re a metaphor then how does original sin make any kind of sense?

Adam and Eve may be a metaphor, but Original Sin is not: it should be staringly obvious that human beings are kind of, well, screwed up (substitute another well-known vulgarism for that). While some theologians, especially among Protestants, speak as if Original Sin is passed down genetically (and some really weird folk think Original Sin is sex) under a Platonic understanding of how human nature exists and how we all partake of it, no parent-to-child transmission is required; rather the corruption of human nature expresses itself in all of us simply because we are human.

#22 Comment By Susan On May 9, 2017 @ 2:04 pm

Some young people will wisely reject the indoctrination but some, sadly, will be taken in by it. That is why it is so important for parents to discuss things in the home before kids are exposed to leftist propaganda in schools. It is hard for all of us, adults and kids alike, to know when it is wise to courageously speak up and when it is wise to prudently keep quiet.

#23 Comment By William Harrington On May 9, 2017 @ 4:08 pm

James Burton

In all seriousness, your problem with the word persecuting is nothing but a method of avoiding the seriousness of what is being discussed. A Russian priest once told me that the soft persecution faced by Christians in the west is more spiritually deadly than the hard persecution faced by Christians under communism. Why? They knew what they stood for while we give up our ground without knowing we are in a war.

#24 Comment By William Harrington On May 9, 2017 @ 4:17 pm

Engineer Scotty

People tell themselves that this stuff doesn’t matter outside of academia, and then they get fired for their opinions. So, keep telling yorselves your comforting little bedtime story, but don’t let anyone know you contributed to a politician they don’t like lest they use social media to tear your life apart. The world you live in does not exist anymore.

#25 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On May 9, 2017 @ 5:16 pm

@Bernie and @JonF, I watched the video. While I agree we’re obviously screwed up, but were we ever not screwed up, and if so what’s responsible for our becoming screwed up?

In the Protestant tradition we were initially perfect and fell due to our own actions. So original sin absolves God of the responsibility for the flaws in our nature.

But the evidence is clear that evolution produces effective but imperfect organisms. Humans like all other organisms contain numerous imperfections in our bodies and genes. So why should our nature be any different? If our nature was imperfect from the start then how could it fall? Moreover who’s responsible for the initial imperfection?

#26 Comment By John Turner On May 9, 2017 @ 5:25 pm

Johan says, “Religion was invented to be a salve for the oppressed and distressed.” Obviously, he does not see the point of religion’s salve, which is ironic for one whose very name (Johan) derives from the Hebrew for “Yahweh’s grace (umerited favor)”: Yeho-hanan or Jeho-hanan. I pray that he and much of the rest of the word will come to see that God’s grace is real and all-important, and that there is a reason for him to take humble pride in his wonderful name, as I do.

#27 Comment By Bernie On May 9, 2017 @ 7:38 pm

MH, you will need to consult more of a theologian than I to answer all your questions concerning “the fall”. I’ll put a link here giving an overview of Catholic thought. If you search “Catholic original sin”, you’ll get literally countless sites explaining it, including the Catholic Catechism.

[5]

#28 Comment By RR On May 9, 2017 @ 11:05 pm

Rod,

I’ve taught undergraduates at two different flagship research universities, one of which is fairly prestigious, a mid-sized state school and now a community college. In my experience, the idea that “none of them care” is pretty much correct at all of these institutions. Most students are moderately and sporadically intellectually curious. College is primarily about credentialing because a college degree is necessary to get a good paying job these days. Progressive propaganda is real. But it is simply no match for the combination of pragmatic credentialing and passive indifference that pervades at many schools. As some of my liberal colleagues quip, they have a hard enough time forcing students to do the class readings, much less turning them into communists. One of my colleagues in economics even told me that the reaction of most of his students to his discussions of the meltdown of the economy in his fall 2008 classes was largely along the lines of “is this going to be on the test?” If the economy teetering on the edge of another Great Depression doesn’t spark some intellectual curiosity in an economics class beyond the confines of class exams, then nothing will.

Social justice warriors are generally rare, especially at community colleges where in addition to indifference, most students are too busy working a part-time job and taking classes to bother with political activism. Social justice warriors on college campuses make the news because they make a lot of noise. However, the reality is that most college students aren’t involved in their activities. I would wager that many college social justice warrior types are ironically wealthy (read: privileged unlike my community college students) kids with too much time on their hands. I don’t think that indifference is anything to be excited about. But realizing how “the silent majority” of American college students think and behave is a healthy correction to stories about the antics of social justice warrior types on college campuses.

#29 Comment By JonF On May 10, 2017 @ 1:52 pm

One solace we may take from this: the “rich young ruler” types will end running things someday, and their indifference to radical agendas of both left and right isn’t necessarily a threat to anyone. All those [insert demographic group]-Studies graduates will, at best, be pushing paper in some back office, or may just be relegated to serving up lattes at Starbucks.

#30 Comment By JonF On May 10, 2017 @ 1:59 pm

Re: While I agree we’re obviously screwed up, but were we ever not screwed up, and if so what’s responsible for our becoming screwed up?

MH,
If I say “the corruption of human nature” you’re not going buy that (I am assuming) because I am offering what metaphysics calls a “formal cause” not an “efficient cause”– the latter being the only kind that science generally analyzes, at least outside the quantum level.

#31 Comment By Susan On May 10, 2017 @ 9:19 pm

“…it seems to me that a successful call to the young must emphasize the ascetic: SJWs are loud and obnoxious, but for every one of them, there are ten Rich Young Rulers on college campuses that need to be told, ‘Sell all you own, take up your cross, and follow me.'”…
“In the end, it comes down to what believers are willing to suffer for the faith.”

But was the Rich Young Ruler a believer before his encounter with Christ? We cannot be certain he followed Jesus even after his encounter, since scripture only tells us that he went away saddened and grieving because he owned much. Belief is something far greater than mere knowledge/intellectual assent to spiritual truths (even the demons have this, see James 2:19). Believing changes *everything*. It reorients your entire life to God; Christ becomes your only attachment–what matters to Him matters to you and nothing else. If there are other things in your heart besides God (His truth and the things that matter to Him) then you are not yet free. St. John of the Cross said, “For whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender and delicate thread that holds the bird, it matters not, if it really holds it fast; for until the cord be broken the bird cannot fly.” Belief requires total self sacrifice (sacrifice = “to make sacred or holy”).

We have to be careful not to simply lead our young people to another “rule of life”–a prescription for living (of which social justice, and government policies are two). Rather, we must be ourselves so deeply intimate with Christ that they will actually encounter Him.♥

#32 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On May 11, 2017 @ 12:09 pm

@JonF, obviously I’d be skeptical because it’s existence opens up a can of worms of questions. For example:

How does the causality work? What binds a “formal cause” to an “efficient cause”?

How does it corrupts individuals, and how do they corrupt it?

At what point did it spring into being, and was it corrupt at that point?

Since Neanderthals were close enough to interbreed with humans, did they share the same nature?

How about our close evolutionary cousins? Could slow genetic changes in a population of humans cause them to have a nature separate from all other humans?

#33 Comment By JonF On May 11, 2017 @ 3:08 pm

Re: How does the causality work?

Well, there are areas of science nowadays where that question looms rather large. It’s all bound up with questions about Time, which is probably the one area of modern physics where the greatest misconceptions remain? What lies on the imaginary side of the Action Equation (A=sqrt(s^2-T^) – I hope I did not just send people screaming away
from Rod’s blog!) There be dragons.

Re:At what point did it spring into being

That question also requires a better understanding of Time than we have available right now.

Re: How does it corrupts individuals, and how do they corrupt it?

Yes, it’s a two way street. In a sense every sin does the same work as original sin.

Re: Since Neanderthals were close enough to interbreed with humans, did they share the same nature?

Both wolves and jackals can mate with domestic dogs (of the appropriate size). Doe all three animals share the same nature? Exactly the same?

Re: Could slow genetic changes in a population of humans cause them to have a nature separate from all other humans?

Yes, and hang around for a few millennia. I’ll supply the popcorn– and the memorial prayers. Interesting time ahead.

#34 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On May 11, 2017 @ 4:09 pm

Both wolves and jackals can mate with domestic dogs (of the appropriate size). Doe all three animals share the same nature? Exactly the same?

If natures exist in a hierarchy then they share a parent nature and each species has a sub-class.

If God had write protected natures then original sin could have been avoided.

#35 Comment By JonF On May 12, 2017 @ 6:34 am

MH, if natures were “protected” as you suggest then it’s not clear that anything would exist except=– maybe=– for Time-Space. To even have the various bosons and fermions that comprise matter and energy fall out of the primordial Singularity you need to have natures (morphai in Platonic terms) that are not rigidly set in stone.

#36 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On May 12, 2017 @ 4:46 pm

I don’t think that would be the case. The nature of a quark is unchanging, as it is always a quark. But it can have states that evolve over time and let it become other things. So at times it could be part of a neutron, at other times a proton, but it’s nature never changes.