Friday, March 16, 2007

Thus saith the Lord: Aha! Another Graduate of the University of Dah!

So, the Core curriculum at my old Alma Mater will include a unit on 'Culture and Belief.' Commenting on the inclusion of the study of belief in Harvard's vaunted curriculum, we find the following gem:

Louis Menand, co-chair of the six-professor committee and Bass Professor of English, explained the importance of adding this requirement. “Religion turns out to be an enormously important phenomenon in the world, which 30 or 40 years ago we didn’t think we had to deal with.” Menand added that religion is often easy to disparage in a secular environment and that courses on religion were seen as “esoteric” in his earlier days in the academy.

I don't know Professor Menand, but he is clearly a graduate of what Dr. Steven Plaut calls 'The University of Duuuuuh.' Religion? A significant factor in society? People believe in God and organize their lives accordingly. Even educated people, with doctorates, and Nobel Prizes...Ma Ata Omer?

My favorite Peter Berger line comes from his introduction to a collection of essays on the religious revival. (I'll try to find the exact citation.) Instead of studying how it is that so many people believe in God, we really should examine how it is that so many academics don't, and find those that do to be oddities.

2 comments:

Soccer Dad said...

Menand for a short time 20 some years ago was a contributing editor to the New Republic.

Michael said...

Human history contains a record of the struggle of enlightenment with the forces of conservatism (or prejudice), sort of "milhemeth bnei or bibnei hoshech." As science has in fact replaced religion throughout most of the world as the solver of people's most important practical needs, religion has become irrelevant in practice, though it remains a clutch for the benighted who are not serious enough to face reality and profit from ritual and tradition.
The Jewish bible is a great moral and literary achievement of tremendous educational value, reflecting the evolution of a great humanism based on truth (truth is exclusive, like monotheism) in a struggle against a prevailing Canaanite culture in which Israel was embedded (example: the fight against the sacrifice of the first born: Abraham and Isaac, Passover, Hiram, Japhet, Saul and Jonathan, Menashe, all the way to Isaia's "Uneshalma Parim Sephateinu" call for replacement of animal sacrifices with prayer, which was completely reversed in a Christianity based on the human sacrifice of their god's only son). The bible insists on factual verification, and the true continuer of the biblical mission is SCIENCE, which like monotheism is exclusive. For instance, the conservation laws of physics require that the mind be an aspect of the physical brain, and its effects result only from physical {chemical) actions of its material parts. Religion can be fun, make people feel good and comfortable, but it has as much to do with truth as the (hideous, though powerful) poetry of Uri Zvi Greenberg.