“Harvard, We’re Watching You Too”
Three of the most prestigious Ivy League universities in the USA are Harvard, Yale and Princeton. They are also the centres of political correctness. What happens there is mimicked in universities all over the world. They all had impeccable Christian foundations. Yale came into existence in 1701 in part as a conservative Congregationalist reaction to the growing departure of Harvard from its traditional Calvinist stance. In 1739 David Brainerd, the future missionary to the American native peoples, was converted and enrolled there. He became one of the leading figures of the Great Awakening. The motto of Yale is based upon Psalm 43:3 “Lux et veritas” – “Light and Truth.”
That motto has been chosen by Avik Roy, a graduate student in medicine, as the name for a fine journal which, if you searched British universities with candles, you could not come across. It is a student journal of ideas, devoted to maintaining the standards, values and cultural traditions for which universities were originally founded, and it offers to its student readership something more ennobling than the pop and porn of the campus culture.
“Light and Truth” (PO Box 205778, Yale Station, New Haven, Connecticut 06520) takes a stand against all forms of discrimination – and especially those perpetrated in the name of political correctness, and which have the forces of conservatism as their target. It is not a Christian publication, but it defends those institutions which an earlier gospel grace helped to shape – classical architecture, serious art, free speech and high culture. It addresses the modern undergraduate who has yet to understand why these things matter.
It is wonderfully satirical about the new kinds of scholarship, with a regular profile of academics who use their tenure to attack Dead White European Males – like those men who founded Yale and made it the kind of place where it might be profitable to have a university education.
The “Salisbury Review” (Autumn 2000) recently announced that one year ago the August issue of “Light and Truth” was distributed in Yale as usual, 1200 copies. Immediately it was removed from the mail boxes of its recipients by the ‘freshmen counsellors’ employed by the university, and conveyed to the dustbin. This exercise in academic freedom was occasioned by the magazine’s stance against the pornographic and libertine forms of sex-education now propagated in American universities.
The theft was condoned, of course, by many members of the academic establishment, including the Dean of Ezra Stiles College, Susan Reiger, lecturer in ‘Women’s and Gender Studies’. Ezra Stiles (1727-1795) was a preacher and president of Yale College. A moderate Calvinist, to him “tolerance was a matter of both principle and temperament” (“Dictionary of Christianity in America”, 1990, IVP, p.1134).
A year ago at the Labour Party Conference the British Prime Minister launched into a diatribe against the ‘Forces of Conservatism.’ It did not make happy listening. We evangelical Christians are such people. We oppose homosexual practice, and the ordination of women, and abortion. We defend the right of parents to admonish their children by smacking. We are not opposed to the death penalty. We do not believe that it is the duty of Caesar to educate our children. We are not opposed in principle to hunting foxes, though we despise the exploitation of animals. We believe in purity before marriage and faithfulness within it. We believe in male headship in the relationship of husband and wife. How long before the mobs and the paint daubers start gathering around our doors?
Conservatives are becoming the sole public defenders of academic seriousness, free discussion and responsible citizenship in those communities from which such values first emerged. It is only their courage, wit and wisdom which will keep those freedoms alive.
At Princeton Theological Seminary (please sell your shirt and get the two volume history of the Seminary by Calhoun published by the Banner of Truth and be thrilled by the story of what this Seminary once was) another kind of tyranny is evident. S.E.Hinlicky, a student there, has written a revealing piece in the current issue of the magazine called “First Things” (www.firstthings.com). This periodical is published by The Institute on Religion and Public Life whose purpose is to ‘advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.’ Its editor in chief is Richard John Neuhaus. The article concerns the psychological evaluations that now have replaced tests of orthodoxy and morality in candidates for the ministry in some seminaries. This is what Hinlicky writes:
“When you start out at seminary with an eye toward entering the ministry, the first thing they want to know about you is not whether you believe in God, or pray, or go to church. The first thing they want to know is whether you are a loony-toon. And so, in a move that may or not make sense, they bustle you off to a psychological evaluation to find out.
This is mildly irritating to someone like me who believes in God, prays, goes to church, and wonders how much sanity has to do with any of it. For the record – and for those who place great import on childhood baggage – I (a) get plenty of positive attention from my dad, (b) approve of my mom’s taste in clothes, and (c) adore my one brother whose only flaw is having learned to play on me all the tricks I played on him when he was smaller than me.
But my well-adjusted smile was not enough to convince the People in Charge that I was too healthy to spend an hour in a shrink’s office. Instead, I got a whole day there. Before that, though, I had to take a whole battery of tests.
If I wasn’t tending toward loony-toonity beforehand the ‘Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory’ was nearly enough to trigger it. There is something ethically fishy about the test. The MMPI is approximately 567 true-or-false statements that, in their effort to detect whether one suffers from paranoia or hysteria, effectively induce those very conditions.
The MMPI! My nemesis was back. I tried to focus while he explained in a monotone about the threshold line on the charts, which means, in lay terms, that as long as you’re below it, you’re not a psycho.
‘But I’m over the line on that one,’ I said, pointing to the column labelled ‘Bizarre Mentation’. ‘What does that mean?’ ‘Oh, that,’ said the doctor dully, waving it away like a fly with his hand. ‘Don’t worry about it. All religious people score high on that one.’ he went on to explain that if you mark ‘true’ for statements like ‘I believe in the afterlife’ or ‘I think angels exist,’ the test chalks it up to potential mental illness. I didn’t know whether to be insulted or strangely comforted; either way, the doctor didn’t care and proceeded with the results.”
So, Yale is ruled by the religion of Political Correctness. I would be safer with the Puritans. And Princeton Seminary is not checking up on the orthodoxy and ethics of its ministerial candidates but just their sanity. One looks back to the days when adherence to the many textured Westminster Standards structured the lives of that diverse and happy faculty and student body. Would there be the remotest chance of a serious-minded young man like David Brainerd passing the MMPI and entering the ministry?
So we have had those little windows opened on to us on life today in Yale and Princeton. Harvard, we’ve got our eyes on you too.
Living in the World 6 November 2020
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When coming to consider plagues throughout history and some Christian responses, it is appropriate to begin with this extract from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer: O Almighty God, who in thy wrath did send a plague upon thine own people in the wilderness, for their obstinate rebellion against Moses and Aaron; and also, in […]