What Happens When Humanities Lose Their Humanity?

“In 2011, the University of California at Los Angeles wrecked its English major. Such a development may seem insignificant, compared with, say, the federal takeover of health care. It is not. What happened at UCLA is part of a momentous shift that bears on our relationship to the past—and to civilization itself,” claims Heather MacDonald in article titled “The Humanities Have Forgotten Their Humanity” in the Wall Street Journal.

Why is the demise of UCLA’s English major significant? Heather argues that “The UCLA coup represents the characteristic academic traits of our time: narcissism, an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics.” She mourns for past days when “colleges still reflected the humanist tradition, which was founded not on narcissism but on the all-consuming desire to engage with the genius and radical difference of the past.” This engaging with past led to an era, which would inspire “such philosophers of republicanism as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.”

We can all resonate with McDonald’s frustration over the contemporary disrespect for the wisdom of the ages that is endemic in so many of today’s colleges and universities.
The Wesleyan Quadrilateral and its emphasis of tradition comes to mind as I read this column.  I am glad we at OKWU have higher aspirations for our classrooms than the faddish narcissism cited by MacDonald.  Our 4Ps- Primacy of Jesus Christ, the Priority of Scripture, the Pursuit of Truth, and the Practice of Wisdom- guard against this shallowness by elevating what has been passed down to us through the ages via the immutability of Scripture and the durability of Wisdom.
Truth has much deeper roots than what happens to be popular today.

Dr. Everett Piper has served as the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University since August of 2002. His credentials include a B.A. from Spring Arbor University, a M.A. from Bowling Green State University and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He is an Adjunct Scholar for the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs, and a current member of the Council for National Policy. He has written routinely for numerous publications including the Examiner Enterprise, Crosswalk.com, Bullypulpit.com, Politicalmavens.com, Tulsa’s Community Spirit, and Chuck Colson’s Breakpoint magazine. Dr. Piper has a daily radio broadcast, titled Ideas Matter and he is the author of two books: The Wrong Side of the Door: Why Ideas Matter and Why I Am a ‘Liberal’ and Other Conservative Ideas.

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