Focus America, Focus

Ramon Arias | July 5, 2015

The law of sowing and reaping goes without mentioning since nature tells us we cannot plant an apple seed and reap tomatoes. Nor should I mention that we reap more than what we sow, even if you are not a farmer or have ever planted a garden you know this to be true, or do you? Nowadays, with critical thinking, it’s not hard to know where people’s thinking is, especially since we have been witnessing the dumbing down of the American mind in full bloom.

In 1987, I read the book, “The Closing of the American Mind” (read for free in PDF), with the subtitle “How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students” by Allan Bloom (September 14, 1930 – October 7, 1992). He was a political philosophy professor at the University of Chicago. Rachel Donadio, in her Essay “Revisiting the Canon Wars” published by The New York Times September 16, 2007, says:

“Bloom’s book was full of bold claims: that abandoning the Western canon had dumbed down universities, while the ‘relativism’ that had replaced it had ‘extinguished the real motive of education, the search for a good life’; that rock music ‘ruins the imagination of young people’; that America had produced no significant contributions to intellectual life since the 1950s; and that many earlier contributions were just watered-down versions of Heidegger, Nietzsche, Weber, Freud and other Continental thinkers. For Bloom, things had gone wrong in the ’60s, when universities took on ‘the imperative to promote equality, stamp out racism, sexism and elitism (the peculiar crimes of our democratic society), as well as war,’ he wrote, because they thought such attempts at social change ‘possessed a moral truth superior to any the university could provide.’”

Donadio goes on to say:

“… Bloom’s book shared space at the top of the best-seller list with E. D. Hirsch’s ‘Cultural Literacy’ (1987), which argued that progressive education had left Americans without a grasp of basic knowledge. It also inspired further conservative attacks against the university, including Roger Kimball’s ‘Tenured Radicals’ (1990) and Dinesh D’Souza’s ‘Illiberal Education’ (1991).”

Her follow-up remarks are very telling:

“Today it’s generally agreed that the multiculturalists won the canon wars. Reading lists were broadened to include more works by women and minority writers, and most scholars consider that a positive development. Yet 20 years later, there’s a more complicated sense of the costs and benefits of those transformations. Here, the lines aren’t drawn between right and left in the traditional political sense, but between those who defend the idea of a distinct body of knowledge and texts that students should master and those who focus more on modes of inquiry and interpretation. However polarizing Bloom may have been, many of the issues he raised still resonate — especially when it comes to the place of the humanities on campus and in the culture.”

Keep in mind that Donadio wrote this essay in 2007.

Even though Allan Bloom physically departed this world 23 years ago, (at the time of this writing), there is clear undeniable evidence through his writings that he is still saying to the early 21st Century of Americans, “I told you so.”

Bloom’s outstanding study in, The Closing of the American Mind (pp. 55-61), demonstrates that the decline of Biblical knowledge in America is what led to the abdication of true education, a task that was solely delegated by God to parents. The full responsibility of this is in the home: 

“[N]obody believes The cause of this decay of the family’s traditional role as the transmitter of tradition is the same as that of the decay of the humanities that the old books do, or even could, contain the truth…. In the United States, practically speaking, the Bible was the only common culture, one that united simple and sophisticated, rich and poor, young and old, and—as the very model for a vision of the order of the whole of things, as well as the key to the rest of Western art, the greatest works of which were in one way or another responsive to the Bible—provided access to the seriousness of books. With its gradual and inevitable disappearance, the very idea of such a total book and the possibility and necessity of world-explanation is disappearing. And fathers and mothers have lost the idea that the highest aspiration they might have for their children is for them to be wise—as priests, prophets or philosophers are wise. Specialized competence and success are all that they can imagine. Contrary to what is commonly thought, without the book even the idea of the order of the whole is lost.

… My grandparents were ignorant people by our standards, and my grandfather held only lowly jobs. But their home was spiritually rich because all the things done in it, not only what was specifically ritual, found their origin in the Bible’s commandments, and their explanation in the Bible’s stories and the commentaries on them, and had their imaginative counterparts in the deeds of the myriad of exemplary heroes.

My grandparents found reasons for the existence of their family and the fulfillment of their duties in serious writings, and they interpreted their special sufferings with respect to a great and ennobling past. Their simple faith and practices linked them to great scholars and thinkers who dealt with the same material, not from outside or from an alien perspective, but believing as they did, while simply going deeper and providing guidance.

There was a respect for real learning, because it had a felt connection with their lives. This is what a community and a history mean, a common experience inviting high and low into a single body of belief. 

I do not believe that my generation, my cousins who have been educated in the American way, all of whom are M.D.s or Ph.D.s, have any comparable learning. When they talk about heaven and earth, the relations between men and women, parents and children, the human condition, I hear nothing but cliches, superficialities, the material of satire. I am not saying anything so trite as that life is fuller when people have myths to live by. I mean rather that a life based on the Book is closer to the truth, that it provides the material for deeper research in and access to the real nature of things. Without the great revelations, epics and philosophies as part of our natural vision, there is nothing to see out there, and eventually little left inside. The Bible is not the only means to furnish a mind, but without a book of similar gravity, read with the gravity of the potential believer, it will remain unfurnished. (bold emphasis mine)

Well said, Allan Bloom, thank you! It is not only higher education that has failed the nation and impoverished the soul of students, for the most part; it is also the home and the church that have contributed to the impoverishment of the soul of the nation.  America did not arrive at this atrocious moral cultural condition overnight; it is the result of bad cultural seeds from past generations. 

Since the late 1700s to the present, we can trace the abandonment of God’s full counsel as revealed in His Word, and thus began the gradual and incremental embrace of those seeds of the knowledge of destruction. The law of sowing and reaping is not just for nature, it also applies to man’s ideas for moral behavior, and just like in nature, one single seed produces hundreds and thousands of its kind. “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). 

The battle for the soul of America is no longer a cliché phrase as many thought it was; only the moral and spiritually blind cannot see where we are and where we are going. Jesus told the Jews of his generation: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).  

One generation later, 70 A.D., the nation was destroyed just as Jesus said it would happen. (Matthew 2, Mark 13 and Luke 21). However, before it happened, Jesus told them all the signs that would indicate the coming destruction. The warning signs were to be hard times, wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution, and especially false religious leaders that through their corrupt teachings would cause more devastation than anything else. Jesus told his disciples the good news that during this time period the spread of the gospel of the Kingdom was going to increase. The wall relief on the Arch of Titus reveals the Roman soldiers carrying spoils from the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. God’s revealed truth and Jesus were accurate and the religious leaders of Israel were dead wrong.

The warning signs against America have greatly increased and only Almighty God knows if there are enough righteous people to spare the nation from His just wrath. America has no excuse; the biblical foundation laid by the forefathers in the early 17th century is there for the reclaiming. The Bible is the only Document that is relevant now more than ever, and I mean THE ONLY ONE! The government has destroyed The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The question for biblical Christians is: are we going to focus on the original Document of true freedom, the Bible, and go forward confronting all adversity, which includes the humanist socialists, progressives, liberal societies and the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes that are at the helm of the leadership in our churches, seminaries and Bible institutes? Are we the generation with the backbone and unbending determination to take back what rightfully belongs to our God and Savior Jesus Christ and rebuild what past generations destroyed? (Isaiah 61:1-4) 

The future will reveal for generations to come what our decision is. 

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” John 14:27 (ESV)

 “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” Romans 8:37 (ESV)

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”  2 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)

It is high time: Focus America, Focus!