Tag Archives: truth

Truth and Political Decay

Congretional Pugilists (1798)
Congressional Pugilists (1798)

What a mess!

The current American political scene is likely to provoke this response from the thoughtful observer. Honesty, civility, and cooperation are almost unheard of. A sense of justice that does not entail revenge seems increasingly rare. Civic duty has given way to power grabs, political maneuvering to outright lies and even violence, and the common good to factional rights. A sense of fair play is all but lost.

But where, the thoughtful person might ask, have we gone wrong? Continue reading Truth and Political Decay

Why Is Science a Part of Liberal Education?

I am constantly reminded by my young son that we are curious beings. He has an endless fascination with exploring the world. I share that fascination of the natural world with him, which is one of the reasons that I chose to major in biology and chemistry. I chose a small liberal arts college because I wanted to know my professors. When I graduated, I left with much more than a good foundation in the sciences. I gained a deeper understanding of how a Christian can be a scientist. Continue reading Why Is Science a Part of Liberal Education?

Was Chief Beatty Right?

Book_burningThis is the second post of a two-part essay on the Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, core texts, and Truth.

The story-line of the Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is deceptively simple. Bradbury presents a dystopian society in which ubiquitous electronic media inoculate the masses from the emptiness of their, largely externally determined, lives. Most books are banned, but media immersion ensures that most people don’t care one way or the other. The relative few who do care are watched, controlled, eliminated if necessary, and subjected to having their beloved books burned by the so-called “firemen.” One such fireman is the protagonist, Guy Montag. Montag believes himself to be happy, but his unexpected realization that he isn’t drives him on a quest for true happiness. That quest takes him into the forbidden world of books and ultimately away from all that he knows in his sad little world. Continue reading Was Chief Beatty Right?

Core Texts and Truth in Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit451This is the first post of a two-part essay on the Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, core texts, and Truth.

I think it best to open with a disclaimer: I am not a classicist. I specialize in the history of Christianity, with an emphasis on Jacobean England. But in our very efficiently staffed history department, all faculty members teach in the Core Curriculum. I teach “America and the World,” a course that uses core texts to bring the students into engagement with modern history, especially modern Western history, and more particularly American history. We have chosen the course’s core texts mainly for their bearing on ideas of proper governance and societal justice.

In our module on the 20th century, we include Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. At first blush, it seems we’ve chosen this work for its commentary on government censorship, but it is better understood as an application of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (and associated Diagram of the Line of Knowledge), and therefore as a commentary on justice. That is how I teach it. Continue reading Core Texts and Truth in Fahrenheit 451

Asking the Right Questions

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” -Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

The questions we ask determine both the quality of information we receive, and how applicable it is to the problem at hand. When I was a teenager, if I was coming home late at night and my mother asked, “Where have you been?” I could answer, “With friends.” This could allow me to answer a simple question with a shallow answer and dart up to my bedroom. If my mother were to ask, “With whom did you go out, and what did you do while you were gone?” I would either have to make up an answer, or tell the truth and live with the consequences.

In our Core History courses at Concordia University Irvine, we stress asking the right questions.  Continue reading Asking the Right Questions