One of my favorite preacher/teacher/theologians is a man named John Piper who preaches at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You don’t have to be a Protestant to enjoy and appreciate the challenging sermons, books, etc. he posts. He gives many of his books away for free (in addition to selling hundreds of thousands) on his site. One of my favorite of his ministries is his group blog called Desiring God Blog. He’s a huge fan of C.S. Lewis (no shock there of course — many Christians across denominations are). Joe Rigney, a professor at a college called Bethlehem College and Seminary has been posting on the works of C.S. Lewis in a series he calls Live Like a Narnian. This week he is doing a 3 post series on Lewis’ critique of modern education — specifically expressed in Lewis’ book The Abolition of Man. I think you’ll see that Lewis was, of course quite perceptive in his view of the decline in Western culture and its consequences. From Rigney’s first post, Lewis v. Modern Education Part I:
Marginalizing Value Statements
First, Lewis highlights the subtle ways that modern education marginalizes value statements. The authors of The Green Book that he chose as his example argue that when we make a value statement about something in the world, we are not actually speaking about the thing, but instead making a statement about our own subjective feelings. In other words, when we stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon and exclaim, “That is glorious!” we are not really commenting about the canyon; rather we are simply communicating that we have feelings associated in our minds with the word “glory.” Lewis writes,
The schoolboy who reads this passage in The Green Book will believe two propositions: firstly, that all sentences containing a predicate of value are statements about the emotional state of the speaker, and, secondly, that all such statements are unimportant (The Abolition of Man, 19).
Separating Fact and Value
Second, this marginalization of value statements results in a sharp separation in the mind of the student between objective “facts” and subjective “values.” The former are rational, testable, and important. The latter are “contrary to reason and contemptible” (25). Moreover, this separation of fact and value is not a creed that is taught explicitly, but an atmosphere and tone that is inhaled and absorbed. It becomes a part of a student’s mental framework of assumptions, and it does so without critical analysis or reflection.
Go read the whole thing for his third consequence and conclusion and links to his other posts on Lewis.