Curated insights 7/3/17

  1. Adventurers, Dogmatists & Relativists
  2. Good change done badly
  3. Let’s make a deal
  4. Loss of Moral Compass
  5. A stellar Commencement address

I’ve cut two perfectly ordinary Tipsyesque laments, one about stultifying talk television, another about Pope Francis dismissing Guy A and appointing Guy B. And there are no Trump rants today. I still cringe at our POTUS, but the choir has heard the sermon before and nobody else is listening.


Because all the greatest religions are dogmatic, it is assumed that the religious man not only believes that there is such a thing as truth but has it all written down neatly in a book, and that all you need to do is read that book to know and understand all truth. This may be the case for some religious people, but they are not engaged in the romance of religion. They are engaged in the reduction of religion. They wish to reduce the great romance of religion to a rule book, regulations—a list of doctrinal statements and moral precepts. These people are not truly religious. They are, in fact, the dark side of religion. They are the Puritans, the hypocrites, the Pharisees, the purse-lipped old grouches of religion.

However, when the religious romantic says that there is such a thing as truth, he is not necessarily saying that the truth is easy to discover, define, and defend. He wrestles with the difficulty that there are many different religions and that all of them have truth within them. He sees that the truth has many faces and wears many different costumes. He admits with the relativist that truth is difficult to find and know. This is precisely why he is a religious romantic—because he is on the quest to find the hidden treasure he calls truth. He knows that he does not know it all. He is agnostic about many things and curious about many more. He lives in an open-ended and wondering state of mind …

This is how the adventurer for truth differs from both the religious dogmatist and the relativist, for both the religious dogmatist and the relativist are not uncertain about themselves. They may not know much, but they know one thing with absolute certainty: they know they are right.

However, unlike the relativist, there is one thing the religious romantic does believe, and this one belief is at the foundation of all the rest: he may be uncertain about himself, but he is certain that no matter how hard it is to discover, there really is a hidden treasure. There really is such a thing as truth, and it really can be discovered if one will only set out on the great adventure to find it.

While the map may be true, the truth itself is not the map. Neither is the truth the religious dogma. The religious dogma is simply an expression of the truth. It is true— indispensably true—but Truth is truer and bigger than dogma in the same way that a map is true, but the journey is truer and bigger than the map.

(Dwight Longenecker)


If a Christian school is founded with a wrong idea (let’s say racism), then it must change. However, that change should come at the end of academic discourse and spiritual discernment, not because we want to fit in with a culture moment. Good change done badly taints the benefits of positive change with the rot of cultural accommodation.

No intellectual program can remain healthy when the present opinions of the ruling class set the agenda.

In fact, most changes that come from the press of culture are bad. The rise of the administrator in our schools at the expense of the teacher comes from aping instead of thoughtfully leading the educational community.

(John Mark N. Reynolds, Is there an Iron Law for Christian Academic Institutions?)



Our family has contributed significantly to the SPLC over the past three to four decades. We are products of a liberal upbringing during the 1960s, and the SPLC was in the sweet spot of the type of organizations we wanted to support. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.

The straw that broke our back was when Ben Carson was placed on the extremist hate list. When I heard about this, I immediately called and was told that his name was removed. I must not have been the only supporter who was outraged. There are many good reasons to disagree with Ben Carson’s views, and I have troubles with many of them. However, the one thing I know for sure is that Dr. Carson isn’t a hater, and he has contributed more than most of us to the benefit of our country and will continue to do so. This lack of judgment on the part of the SPLC demonstrated to me that the organization had lost its moral compass, and we could no longer support it.

Mark Harris
Palo Alto, Calif.

Taking people and groups with different views from your own and lumping them with villains is the mark of intimidation. It contributes to increased polarization by maligning groups that tens of millions of Americans support, either directly or through a shared perspective on the issues.

Sean Parnell
The Philanthropy Roundtable

The SPLC was created to fight the KKK and make any members who had committed a crime held accountable. The SPLC accomplished that and reduced the influence of the Klan. It seems like all organizations that are created to solve problems, like the EPA, CFPB and many others, once their goals and objectives are accomplished, they are unwilling to disband, instead proclaiming to “have more work to do.” That mind-set encourages them to seek out soft targets and in some cases go beyond their mission statement.

Like many organizations that have done some good, the SPLC has now become political and is used as a tool to enforce biased opinions.

Barry J. Branagan
Casa Grande, Ariz.

(Letters to Wall Street Journal) There also is a letter from SPLC’s President predictably denying bias.


Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. gave the commencement address to the 9th-grade commencement at the Cardigan Mountain School in New Hampshire, from which John G. Roberts III was graduating. It is a keeper.

If you don’t care for long introductions, start at 6:00.

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There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.