Monday, May 23

Barbarians at the Gate

[Welcome, everybody, to a fourth year of Beaverhausen! And thanks to Ben for noting our anniversary on Saturday.]

Last week, my indominatable co-blogger deconstructed the first of the NYTimes "Class Matters" series. Yesterday, the paper published another installment, this time about how the increasing wealth and influence of evangelicals have led them mount an assault on that true bastion of the Eastern liberal establishment -- the Ivy League.

Gone are the days when groups like the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship played a bit part on campus. Now we have a concerted effort by the Christian Union and its brethren to "advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ" among the Ivies. Of course, getting into these vaunted institutions of higher learning is just the first step in a battle to "shape the culture for decades to come." By their reckoning, you have to be represented among Ivy League grads to become senators, Supreme Court justices, or presidents. (I guess the religious right aren't satisfied with such folk merely pandering to them any more.) After all, who's ever heard of Calvin College?

I've witnessed this effect in the business world. It's scary to me how law firm rainmakers can successfully land major clients by attending prayer breakfasts and bible classes. I used to attribute this effect to my living in the South, but maybe it's a broader phenomenon.

It would be depressing if the Ivies' commitment to an ecumenical education, grounded strongly in the liberal arts and an exposure to a wide range of great ideas, comes to be undermined by the self-blinding anti-rationalism of born-again Christianity.