Can the Humanities Survive without Religion?

For some time now, humanities professors have bemoaned the declining interest in their courses, and enrollment statistics back up their complaints. An exception can be found in a small number of Christian colleges, where interest in the humanities seems to be alive and well. Christopher Noble, a literature professor at Azusa Pacific University, writes of his own experience:

When my mostly Protestant students read Dante (or Darwin) in the woods, they are not primarily “appreciating a classic,” “learning to respect otherness,” “gaining a marketable skill,” “cultivating the life of the mind,” or living out some bizarre Thoreauvian fantasy. Any of those things may happen by accident, but their measurable learning outcomes are explicitly religious: (1) I expect them to master basic skills of literary interpretation and rhetorical organization as a prerequisite for biblical and ecumenical dialectics; (2) I expect them to clarify and refine their own theological perspectives by practicing textual confrontation with the past—a practice significant only in communities that affirm that identity emanates from the past. Those two learning outcomes represent competencies that students cannot develop anywhere else, for their churches stopped teaching them long ago.

Read more at Chronicle of Higher Education

More about: Academia, Education, Humanities, Religion

As Hamas’s Reign of Terror Endures, the International Community Remains Obsessed with Jews Living in the Wrong Places

On Thursday, foreign ministers of the G-7—the U.S., Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy—along with the EU, made an official “statement on the situation in the West Bank,” an area where they are very concerned, it appears, that too many Jews are dwelling. In particular, the G-7 condemned Israel’s decision to grant municipal status to five ad-hoc villages built without proper permits. Elliott Abrams comments:

I can see “condemning” murder, terror, kidnapping, and “rejecting” that legalization. Indeed in the next sentence they “reject the decision by the government of Israel to declare over 1,270 hectares of land in the West Bank as ‘state lands.’” Building houses should not be treated with language usually reserved for murder.

The statement then added complaints about the Israeli settlement program more generally, and about Israel’s decision to withhold some tax revenues it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Why does Israel ever withhold such funds? Sometimes it is in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack. Sometimes it’s domestic politics. But it’s worth remembering something else: the Taylor Force Act, which became law in 2018 and stated that the “Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying salaries to terrorists serving in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists, is an incentive to commit acts of terror.” Until those payments cease, most forms of aid from the U.S. government to the Palestinian Authority may not be made. The payments continue. It is not clear if the State Department is pressuring the Palestinian Authority to end them.

Such moral considerations are entirely absent from the G-7 statement. The statement may be correct when it says, “maintaining economic stability in the West Bank is critical for regional security.” But it should be obvious that ending the pay-for-slay program and rewards for terrorism is even more critical for regional security. It’s a pity the G-7 did not find time to mention that.

The statement, it’s worth noting, appeared on the U.S. State Department website.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Europe and Israel, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy, West Bank