Gleanings, 12/30/15

  1. Admissions “beyond the numbers”
  2. Book list
  3. Why would Richard Cory do such a thing?
  4. 2 signs of hope

Well. It looks as if I’ve mostly managed to free-associate off some Rod Dreher stuff, but it feels like time to publish the gleanings anyway.


[A]ffirmative action is not the only form of race-based policy in which universities engage in seeking to increase minority numbers and pursue other ideological goals. Universities, along with governments and even private employers, already have moved beyond the intrinsically limited logic of affirmative action to a program of “diversity” that is without limit, logic, or any reasonable means of oversight. We already are entering a brave new world in which diversity committees choose new students and employees on the basis of “narratives” that serve as fig leaves for racial and ideological considerations inimical to standards of excellence and fair play.

The apparatus already is in place and being used extensively in admissions, hiring, and promotion. It is the personal narrative, the story of oppression liable to expropriated by those without factual claims to minority status such as Rachel Dolezal and now-Senator Elizabeth Warren but intentionally open-ended so as to avoid the charge of imposing group-based quotas. In essence, the institutions (universities especially) simply invite applicants to show that they are on board with the diversity ideology and make their case for victimhood. One example should suffice, here. It is provided by the University of Michigan, but similar examples are literally everywhere in our education system.

Personal Statement — Tell us about yourself. How have your background and life experiences—including cultural, geographical, financial, educational or other opportunities or challenges—motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan? For instance, if you grew up in a community where educational, cultural, or other opportunities were either especially plentiful or especially lacking, you might discuss the impact this had on your development and interests.

Requirements like this are justified as allowing admissions committees to “go beyond the numbers” to see whether students who have overcome, say, poverty or abuse may bring to the university experiences that will improve its educational environment. The claim is that they can show how their privileges have helped them as well, but then committees are realms of discretion. The quite reasonable argument also is made that students who have overcome diversity may have resources to succeed that have not been fully measured by standardized tests, grades, and letters of recommendation. Again, this part of the argument seems quite reasonable. Unfortunately, in our highly politicized atmosphere, it serves as a mammoth opening for committee discretion.

(Bruce Frohnen)


Looking for some really good reading for 2016? I just finished the book that gave Rod Dreher hope. Seldom have I been so eager to continue reading a book that didn’t feel like a thriller. I may try to read a biography in 2016 — a genre I’ve rarely sought out — and one or two on Dietrich Bonoeffer would surely be worthy if well-done:

As for Bonhoeffer, his journey toward eventual martyrdom at the hands of the Nazis bears compelling witness to what it means to be a Christian in an even darker time than our own.


Reading this from Rod Dreher put me in mind of Richard Cory.

A new (to me) quip is “I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich and I can tell you rich is better.” I’ll buy that if you modify it with four words: “I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich and I can tell you, all else being equal, rich is better.” The trick is to keep all else equal.


The fact that Mars Hill Audio Journal and Eighth Day Books exist are clear signs that all is not lost, and that God loves us, and wants us to be happy. That, and the fact that Warren serves cold Boulevard beer at the opening night reception in the store.

(Rod Dreher) I plan to pay a visit to Eighth Day Books soon. I’ve subscribed to Mars Hill Audio Journal so long that I even have an anachronistic poster. I’d share it if I could figure out how to strip the geotagging. It reads “Tapes for people who believe that truth, goodness and beauty are still more important than race, class and gender.” Apart from “tape,” that still fits well.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.