The following is Part II of an insightful letter of advice my friend, Donn Taylor, wrote to his grandson as he prepared for his college journey. It has been modified to be of general interest to anyone beginning that same journey. Donn Taylor has his PhD in English literature (Renaissance), taught literature and history of ideas at two Christian liberal arts colleges, Wayland Baptist University in Texas and Jamestown (ND) College. He is the author of Rhapsody in Red and The Lazarus File. You can learn more about Donn and his writings at his website.
In Part One I we dealt with theory; now we’ll talk about practicalities affecting your campus experience:
- There are three basic ways to teach (and view) the history of any nation: 1) warts and all, 2) no warts, and 3) all warts all the time. I follow #1. I’ve heard of #2 but never seen it in practice. Unfortunately, #3 is the predominant way history is taught in schools and colleges today. This has been studied extensively by the National Association of Scholars, of which I’m a member.
- We can grade ourselves and other humans against perfection because we have the example of Christ as the perfect human. But there has been no Messiah nation to achieve that perfect standard. Consequently, we must grade nations on the curve. That is why I grade the U.S. (or Britain or Israel, etc.) only in comparison to other nations, past and present.
- You’ll have to make up your mind about evil. It’s one of the most obvious realities in the world, yet most people don’t think seriously about it. Extended serious thought about it is what confirmed my belief as a Christian. Other approaches cannot deal adequately with the subject. You’ll have to prove this out for yourself.
- One of the great historical questions is rarely asked: Why does most of the world remain in a state of savagery equal to or worse than that in the time of Christ? The exceptions? Chiefly Europe and the U.S. In other words, Christendom. It would be very hard not to see the gradual civilizing influence of Christianity as causing the difference. (See John 5:17)
- As a student, you have the right to instructors you can understand and instructors who teach the subject rather than their political/social opinions. If your instructor is a foreign-student teaching assistant whose English you can’t understand, drop the course. If your math instructor keeps lecturing about the rain forest or passing out political petitions, either drop the course or resign yourself to giving the foundling what he wants and learning the subject on your own. If you are ever discriminated against for your religion, contact the Alliance Defending Freedom, which offers pro bono defenses.
- Discrimination is not necessarily bad. When I married my wife, I discriminated against all other women. When you chose your college, you discriminated against all other colleges. It’s wise to be a discriminating person, one careful of what he chooses to discriminate against.
- I suppose we have to mention sex. The three great influences on the current mythology about sex were the twentieth-century writers Sigmund Freud, Margaret Mead, and Alfred Kinsey. All have been proven frauds. Freud reported other psychoanalysts’ work as his own. Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa presented as fact the wild tales of two Samoan teenagers who later signed sworn affidavits about their lies. Kinsey was himself a pervert and based his writing about “normal” sex practices on interviews with pedophiles and other perverts in prison. In this area, people believe what they want to believe in order to do what they want to do.
- While we’re at it: Kisses are nice but must be approached with caution. In the epidemiological sense, we aren’t kissing just one person. We’re kissing everyone and everything that person has ever kissed, including pets.
- When all else fails, try praying. Prayer (my own and others) saw me through two wars and innumerable other crises. Better yet, pray regularly for guidance so that failure doesn’t happen.
- If you are the kind of college entrant I was, you’ll take all of the above with a ton of salt and make up your own mind. That’s expected: It’s the path anyone who is worth his own salt will take. Do make up your own mind. But read through these thoughts again about a year from now and see what you think.
Best wishes for your college experience. My prayers go with you.
Your loving grandfather