|Posted on July 12, 2012 at 5:45 PM|
I host a weekly reading group of freinds and coleagues on my faculty who are especially interested in the traditional liberal arts for our work as Lutheran professors in art, chemistry, communcation, English, environmental science, history, math, Mandarine, music, philosophy and theology. This week we will be discussing excerpts from Joseph Pieper's The End of Time: A Meditation on the Philosophy of History. Pieper observes, "The philosophy of history has ceased to exist; its place has been taken by the sociology of culture". Hmm.
This has been my experience, exactly. The concepts and vocabulary of the social sciences and professional anthropology have taken over the conversation for my students and many of my academic colleagues. Still, ocassionally in the course of human events it becomes necessary -- or, as Pieper writes, gesturing toward Kierkegaard, "it becomes positively needful to 'render oneself synchronous' to the fact of revelation again ..." For example, there are the self evident truths of human rights which, according to the text of The Declaration of Independence, are an unalienable endowment of ... wait for it ... God our Creator.
On the one hand, this means a return to theology in Western culture (please see my post Our Declaration of Dependence and my appended comment). For this reason I am looking forward to preaching on Amos 7 next week in order to proclaim the Gospel authority and weightiness of the office of our divinely-called Lutheran preachers and teachers. Speaking of which, Acts 17, especially Saint Paul's apologetic preamble in verses 26-28 makes it clear that the sociology of culture ought to give way to a philosophical anthropology. (See my annual college courses, PHI 202 Christian Apologetics and PHI 203 Philosophy of Human Nature.)
On the other hand, this Declaration text that rests on the self evident truths of human rights endowed us by our Creator (this is the conceptual framework and the exact vocabulary of that canonical text!) leads to Pieper's insistence on theology as a not-to-be-aspect of a good education: "... and, by so doing, calling to mind something which was self-evident not just to the Christian West but equally to Plato, Virgil, and Cicero, and also to Lao-Tse: that theology forms a part of general education".
My colleagues and I are sure to have plenty to talk about this week! Hope this gives you and yours some food for conversation too!
What do you think?