When we write, we breathe into being the unformed void of thought and make it tangible, accessible, relatable. Ideas, written, spoken and released into the world work to change it as they pass from paper to paper, classroom to classroom, student to student until finally, they are the discussion of the shoe-shiners and gas station attendants and butchers and housewives. When I was a student in junior high and high school, my teachers knew the dangers of ideas. So, they taught us to be wary of them. They served their truth cafeteria-style: two scoops of suspicion smothered in fear. Take what you can eat; eat what you take. I looked for an evolutionist behind every bush and at night I dreamed of long-faced Liberal Humanists with child-catching nets skulking behind me as I waited for the bus.
When I got to Hoover High School, Mr. Sturgeon, my social studies teacher asked me to stay after class. He looked at me through his round glasses behind the mask of his Princeton education and said, You know Susan, only the ideas you refuse to understand can hurt you. What you know, you can change. Have a great day. And then, he snapped his newspaper to attention. Conversation over. That is what teachers do.
When I consider how the greatest universities of the world were founded by the Church, I wonder what exactly happened to us that we would give away our love of knowledge and let our brains atrophy. We just got scared, I guess. I heard Nancy Leigh DeMoss on the radio as I was driving to Montevallo yesterday. Be holy! she said, the implication being that Christians should separate themselves from culture. And while I heed my mother's admonition to be careful on the thin philosophical ice I so love to glide across, I consider the alternative. I wonder about this "holiness." Should we sit in our own homes watching PAX television and let the heathens think for us? Is that what God had in mind when he told Adam to take dominion of the world. (William Wordsworth spoke out against the "savage torpor" that comes from consuming too much existential junk-food. And this, is where we find ourselves.) I don't know exactly what N.L.D. was talking about, but it scares me. I have a sneaking suspicion that I wholeheartedly disagree. I need to know more about this "holiness." I don't know that it has much to do with movies.
I don't like what I see when I see Christians attempt to "engage the culture." It seems we're stuck in this limbo of "engaging the culture" yet being consumed by the wicked and harmful ideas it has to offer. "Come savage torpor!" we say. We take it to bed and think we're open-minded. We court it and yield because the television tells us to. We're not fierce. We don't want to offend and we're scared of making people "feel bad." And yet, the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, and the fear of the Lord starts with self-loathing. At least it did with me. But this isn't something we can do corporately. This is something that starts with individual acts of boldness with love. Real love. Not the kind of love that seeks to illuminate sin apart from the magnificent hope we have in Christ. (Do we believe we have a magnificent hope in Christ? Do we believe he died to give us Life Abundantly?) I hope we can do this and cling to the knowledge that God fathered art. God fathered literature. God fathered creativity and we must humbly and boldly proceed in the paths of our callings knowing that it is a gift to reflect him with the work of our hands and minds.