Saturday, May 23, 2009

Historicity?

The following is an e-mail correspondence with a relative of mine who is a history professor at a Christian university. Since I took so much time in the response, I will share the details here. Also, he'll never see this blog because the censors at his institution filter them out.

E-MAIL MESSAGE I RECEIVED:

First, I believe that there is an objective reality to past events and that understanding these events to the best of our ability is important.

Second, because men are finite, imperfect, and sinful, all human attempts at reconstructing history are necessarily imperfect, partial, and distorted images of reality. Although many historians research and write history as even-handedly as possible, pure neutrality or objectivity is impossible.

Third, although a Christian historian, like any historian, will distort historical reality, a historically-trained Christian should distort it less than a secular historian because a Christian’s philosophy should be rooted in God’s word. A Christian should see man’s condition with a sharper eye. Proverbs 28: 5 says, “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand all things.” Human reason is a gift of God, and a Christian assessing history through a biblical perspective, should—everything else being equal—assess it more accurately than a non-Christian .

Finally, because no one—Christian or non-Christian—can construct a totally truthful picture of the past, history cannot be used to construct a scientific or biblically accurate philosophical system, true in all its particulars. What history provides the Christian is the reverse of a system. To a Christian, history is the ax to the roots of all man’s ideologies—his secular religions. That is, history is chiefly valuable to Christians, not for its positive lessons but for its negative ones

MY RESPONSE:

As an admittedly more amateur student of history, I have to respectfully disagree with your contention that "a historically-trained Christian should distort [a historical account] less than a secular historian because a Christian’s philosophy should be rooted in God’s word." At least you admit your bias, but unfortunately it is so exclusionary that it severely hinders your historicity.

Hasn't the majority of the history of Western civilization been written from a Christian perspective, much to the detriment of women, minorities, non-Christian religions, and any other group marginilized as "sinful" from this perspective?

Thank goodness "liberal" scholarship has taken steps to amend the "dead white guy" history I was taught in public secondary schools, which overlooked many atrocities and displayed outmoded biases, such as social Darwinism and echoes of Frederick Turner's Manifest Destiny in its boring pro-capitalism prose. Popular historians such as Howard Zinn, James Loewen, Kenneth C. Davis (okay, they're still white guys) have strived to give an account of Americans in history overlooked in school textbooks.

There is much moral strength to be felt when taking an unpopular position, and the Christian historian today, I imagine, is now as marginilized as those previously marginilized by them. Still, a Christian view of history has already been tried and, thankfully, superseded, by more inclusive biases.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chez-wah!!

Nobody's going to get this, so be warned. Okay, a few will, conspirators et al.

Shat, the trust fund 'moker, walked the course with a leering, PS3-addled gait. "Dude, why'd you throw my best putter out the window?" Something in his mien -- the stupid striped golf shirt or the tattered baggy shorts, definitely the backwards ball cap -- made me hate him instantly. We harassed him and his friends, though we were outnumbered, until they disappeared after the second tee.

Earlier, at Randall Oaks, the non-disc golfers got heckled.

"Who do you think you are? Casey Martin? Leg it out!!!"

"Elitists!! Environmental desecrators!! Miss!! Miss!!! Shank it, idiot!"

"You've come a long way, baby. Now you're an a-hole like the rest of them."

83 holes over five courses. En route the dumb kid with the pubescent 'stache got his. "Hey, dude. Shave a few more years before trying to grow a caterpillar on your lip." Misdirected anomy at its finest.

The conspirator gave it to the ladies.

"Ooh. Our first bwap of the day. No gagilfs sighted, despite the warmth of the day."

Even SHE got a kick out of our explanation of a gagilf.

"Tall Gordon Jump."

"Mabaho."

The hidden lexicon of fools.

Later, during the Tall-headed Woody jam, Shat was immortalized, both the latter day and the Mooshka Shat of ages past whose mother did amazing things at a certain Baptist church in Sycamore.

"Sure is hard to figure."