Thursday, January 9, 2014

Read this now, we'll talk later

Rod Dreher draw attention to a literature professor's criticism of his own field.  Very worthwhile reads from both Dreher and the original post by Dr. D. G. Myers.  At the end Dreher concludes with his characteristic flourish:

If there is a collapse in the university humanities — and it seems as if that is coming very soon, if not already upon us — then one has to reflect on how the humanities departments have brought it on themselves.
I can easily see making the case for why one should study Dante, and Shakespeare, and Milton, and Austen, and all the others. I cannot see why anyone should study that trendy bullshit above until and unless they’ve mastered the Tradition.

Look up "hits nail on head" and there's Dreher's picture.   Trendy bullshit. Yes.  From within the Religious Studies world, part of what makes smaller religious movements like Sufism, Jonestown, the Mormons, or edgier material like  tattooed Lutheran pastors and the punk movement among young Muslims relevant and, yes Virginia, fun to study is the traditional framework--which, yes, isn't always as exciting as the edges--by which we analyze them.  When pressed, many of these groups seem to agree (OK, Peoples Temple skews things, I realize).  Part of their identities reside, however anxiously, in their respective traditions.

But that's now it's done these days, and we're all the worse for it.

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