I stumbled across John D. Steinrucken’s interesting essay “Secularism’s Debt to Christianity” in today’s American Thinker. Steinrucken’s opening paragraph includes this provocative line:
Western civilization’s survival, including the survival of open secular thought, depends on the continuance within our society of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
This observation reminds me a great deal of Camille Paglia’s excellent essay from a few years ago in Arion, “Religion and the Arts in America,” which basically says that the loss of Christianity as a dominant force in the West is why art has declined over the past few years. Paglia claims
I would argue that the route to a renaissance of the American fine arts lies through religion.
I do not wish to make too much of these kinds of essays, but they are balm indeed for the current level of heat regarding religion, particularly evangelicalism and Catholicism, in academe. These essays are particularly poignant as backdrops to an essay by Wheaton University’s Timothy Larsen in today’s issue of Inside Higher Ed, “No Christianity Please, We’re Academics.” My favorite line of that essay comes in the form of a professor’s comment on a student paper that C. S. Lewis quotations were inappropriate because he was a pastor. Yeah, C. S. Lewis and T. S. Eliot were co-pastors outside of Nashville for a brief time, right? I’d forgotten about that. ;-) The comments that follow the essay are simply amazing in terms of candor and, well, insight as to the view towards Christian faith (or any faith) by some in academe.
Perhaps some of those commentators should read Steinrucken and Paglia.