I have an Iranian office mate. My contact with the Iranians has been educational in my understanding of the Scriptures. One thing he’s really big on is bread. One time we went to a bakery where he brought a loaf of sourdough bread, which he consumed in its entirety–in one sitting. I bring bread from […]
Historical amnesia is a common American malady. One of those aspects of American life that is oft forgotten is that of the “acceptable religion,” the idea that certain religions are more socially acceptable (and thus more amenable to their adherents moving up) than others. In the past, this was mostly an intramural contest within Christianity (with the Lodge lurking in the background); certain forms of the faith were more “acceptable” than others, thus the Episcopal Church was the “church of Presidents.” (I think we just buried our last one.) That made Christianity, especially in the South, a socio-economically stratified business: people changed churches both to help move up and to announce that arrival when it happened. Those who had the bad taste to buck the trend had…bad taste, with the consequences that followed. The first groups to push back in a significant way against this were Jews and Roman Catholics, but it wasn’t an easy struggle for either group.
But in late March, Yale Law School adopted a novel tactic: one-upping the protesters. It announced three major policy changes that went further than many of the protesters’ demands, all under the guise of an expanded nondiscrimination policy.
The new policies require all employers to swear that, when hiring students or graduates who benefit from certain Yale funding, they will not consider an applicant’s “religion,” “religious creed,” “gender identity” or “gender expression,” among other factors. The effect of this, for instance, is if a Yale Law student or graduate wishes to work for an organization that does consider religion in hiring — say a Catholic organization or Jewish advocacy group — Yale will cut them off from three important programs.
Because the United States had the bad taste to make another decision–anoint a group of private schools as its ne plus ultra educational institutions–this will probably stick in some form, since students at private schools of any kind don’t enjoy the same broad First Amendment protections from university intrusion that their state school counterparts do. But it’s a serious shot across the bow, especially for climbing Evangelicals who want their children to move up without the inconvenience–and eternal consequence–of formally adopting an “acceptable” religion.
But such has never really been an option, has it?
Do not love the world or what the world can offer. When any one loves the world, there is no love for the Father in him; for all that the world can offer–the gratification of the earthly nature, the gratification of the eye, the pretentious life–belongs, not to the Father, but to the world. And the world, and all that it gratifies, is passing away, but he who does God’s will remains for ever. (1 John 2:15-17 TCNT)
I just about got an ulcer sitting in that office listening to rich people complaining bitterly about an “unfair” or a “rigged” system. Sometimes they would say things so outlandish that I would just stare at them, trying to beam into their mind the question, Can you hear yourself? That so many of them were (literal) limousine liberals lent the meetings an element of radical chic. They were down for the revolution, but there was no way their kid was going to settle for Lehigh.
“Settling” for Lehigh is what my grandfather did; he graduated in 1912. The legacy he left in aviation and yachting alone is so spacious that it’s taken two generations of my family to really get out from under it.
But my grandfather lived in a different country: today all of our Presidents (including the current one) and Supreme Court justices are products of the Ivy League, to say nothing of much of the upper bureaucracy and of Congress. For my part I passed up the Ivy League, to the catcalls of my prep school. Given the course that our privileged few have led us this past half century, to say nothing of the attitudes on display that Flanagan experienced as an admissions counselor, not being complicit in that is a relief.
I think that Flanagan’s bottom line on why the privileged few went for broke in the admissions scandal is accurate:
But what accounted for the intensity of emotion these parents expressed, their sense of a profound loss, of rage at being robbed of what they believed was rightfully theirs? They were experiencing the same response to a changing America that ultimately brought Donald Trump to office: white displacement and a revised social contract. The collapse of manufacturing jobs has been to poor whites what the elite college-admissions crunch has been to wealthy ones: a smaller and smaller slice of pie for people who were used to having the fattest piece of all.
I think that’s part of the problem I witnessed at the Church of God, which expedited my departure. I think that the world is changing; we should celebrate what we have, move forward with those who are with us, and forget about what color they happen to be. But that’s easier for a Christian engineer whose spent much of his life on the “outside” to say than someone who’s heavily invested on the “inside” that’s fading away.