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God and Man at Yale

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As a young recent Yale graduate, William F. Buckley took on the University's staff citing their hypocritical diversion from the tenets on which the ... Show synopsis

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Overall customer rating: 5.000
theslackersbookclub

Little Black Sheep Who Have Gone Astray

by theslackersbookclub on Apr 2, 2009

There is a lot more economics in this book than I expected. What a juxtaposition after reading, A New Era of Responsibility, the federal budget for 2010, itself the arch-Keynesian encyclical. As a newly minted Yale graduate of 24 (after spending two years in the military), Buckley, who had been editor of the Yalie Daily, challenged the board of his Alma Mater for reneging its founding principles: to instill a moral, Christian ethic in its students and to foster a dedication to the principles of personal, democratic freedom, especially with regard to self-determination through work and its financial rewards. He names names of professors who as agnostics taught in the religion department and of socialists who advocated the demise of capitalism, all with the tacit approval of the President, alumni and governing trustees. He extensively quotes from textbooks where authors "talk about desirable government action, appropriate social policies, just economic goals ... the obsolescence of individualism and the waning of free enterprise and capitalism." And this was written in 1950 and not last week? GAMAY even quotes sections of textbooks that advocate huge national deficits, as long as the debt is not held by other countries. Uh oh. GAMAY is set in Connecticut book but Buckley scarcely writes about New Haven. Buckley does not reminisce about the Yale Bowl, carillons or promenades. He is not concerned about dining halls or the tables down at Morey's (which has declared bankruptcy, by the way, possibly causing the Whiffenpoofs to lose their way even more). But the book surely depicts an intellectual domain, an ivory tower with no strong, true underpinnings. It is populated with villains: skillful, smart lecturers who stand before hundreds of young men pitching their personal biases and beliefs interspersed with curriculum, under the winking eye of an institutional administration that believes in laissez faire education. Buckley points out that many of these students are overly impressionable, unable yet to discern and assess professorial opinions which are conveyed in classrooms as authoritative tenets. Buckley is an Our Town narrator, or better yet, a Dickensian narrator, describing horrors that no one wants to acknowledge and no one believes will ripple back in unintended consequences, deleterious to Yale and the country as a whole. I want my 23 year old son to read the book, or at least the sections I've underlined. Nearing the end of his second year in college, he is considering majoring in psychology and minoring in philosophy and transferring to a larger university. I have told him that things have only gotten worse since 1950 ... that it is almost impossible to find educators who are not glaring, broadly liberal. I mention that a school with a strong religious affiliation would be less likely to divorce philosophy from morals and extol situational ethics. I reread Buckley's introduction that he wrote for the 25th anniversary of GAMAY's publication to see if he was even more discouraged by the state of higher education. I am predisposed to liking this book. I "religiously" watched Firing Line on PBS and sat enrapt when he came to speak at my college. Those tics that annoyed so many I found endearing -- his smile and uplifted eyebrow that facially challenged his guest/opponent to come back with a strong rebuttal to his erudite argument. (This wasn't a hormonal reaction; no one less than George Will in his tribute to Buckley when he died last year mentioned his grin as being right up there with Jack Nicholson's.)

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