Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Book Review (#22 of 2008)

I just finished The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Disbelief by George M. Marsden.

I won't lie-- I was required to read this book. It's a comprehensive history of religion in American universities since the establishment of the U.S. Marsden does a good job of being comprehensive. Thus, the book is long and rather dry. While I read a lot of history, I didn't enjoy this book much. The person who assigned it to me had to read it for a class in his doctorate.

I found a few things interesting-- the early influence of Scottish thinkers like Adam Smith on early curriculum, Protestants' eager embrace of the quest for scientific knowledge in the belief that new discoveries would always jive with Scripture (which eventually led to the downfall of religion in universities), and the parallels of the 1920's "lost" youth culture with today's postmodern youth culture. I also found some of the individual universities' histories interesting.

Marsden's "unscientific conclusion" is that today's universities are hypocritical in their espousement of tolerance while refusing to tolerate pluralistic views in academia-- namely the viewpoints of various religions. Marsden is an oft-cited voice on how many Christians have bought the lie that to be Christian means you must chuck your higher academic thinking at the door.

That's about it. Two stars out of five.

1 comment:

Keith Walters said...

Marsden is usually pretty good, sorry this was a dry read :(