3 Weekend Thoughts

First, Andrew Sullivan agrees with me:

If you read the many comments you will notice that those who disagree (about 90%) fail to understand both Christianity and Critical Race Theory. CRT is not simply an assertion that blacks are treated unfairly, it is an assertion about the whole of human society and of human nature that is utterly opposed to the Christian tradition. Christian doctrine is not merely a command to be nice and ethical with some Jesus-based sentimentality, it is an assertion about human nature and the whole of reality.

 

Second, I finally got around to reading Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer.

Hoffer does a good job describing the sort of person who is prone to fanaticism: disappointed in himself, feeling his talents exceed his prospects, and as a result unable to enjoy the world as he finds it, the fanatic seeks to flee himself and be subsumed into something greater.

The book is weak on history. When quoting some figures with whom I’m familiar (Luther and Loyola… I did study theology) I noticed the context was all wrong, which makes me suspect how he was using other historical figures. There are also a lot of unfounded assumptions: are preindustrial societies really “backwards” or “stagnant”? What if they are perfectly adequate to the situation? Why is Western liberal democracy the goal of human striving? Maybe I am nitpicking, Hoffer wasn’t attempting to write a scholarly work.

Hoffer would say all mass movements follow the same pattern, and while neither good nor bad in themselves, some like the French or American Revolution can be positive for humanity. I don’t agree that all movements have the same motives, even if from the outside they may seem to share superficial patterns or though one movement may ape the language of another. I don’t believe the early 60s Civil Rights movement was more or less the same as today’s BLM movement in its motives and it will not be the same in its effect.

Hoffer sees only sanguine individuals at one with themselves either by temperament, good luck, or because they are just struggling to survive, and aliened souls ripe for revolution. He does not really see that the alienated soul is choosing to attribute his unhappiness to external forces rather than turn inward and take control of himself, and that people are able to do that in community.

 

Third, we are now debating on whether or not to open schools in the fall given the pandemic.

Arguments in favor of opening schools:

  • Children are not particularly susceptible to this flu, nor do they seem to be major spreaders of it.
  • This is not the 1950s, there are very few stay-at-home mothers in the United States once the kids are school-aged, and we just can’t have kids roaming the streets.
  • Children need interaction, socialization, and time away from screens.

Arguments against opening schools:

  • A 6 hour school day is a colossal waste of time until 7th grade or so.
  • Schools are not particularly good at socializing children: it is a highly weird and artificial environment that has nothing to do with adult social life. In fact, to become a functional adult you have to unlearn many of the lessons you learned in school.

My solution:

  • Permanently shut down the elementary and middle schools and give the money saved to families so one parent can stay at home and educate the kids. For kids over 14 make school optional, replace it with apprenticeships for those prefer to get a job.

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