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The contemporary university is a tangled and troubled mess. In The Skies of Babylon, Barry Bercier attempts to help us see through and beyond the ideological fog that envelops academia by beginning with a simple thesis: the university should exist in service to the desire to teach. Bercier sees in that desire something very close to the desire for life itself, since through teaching one passes on to others the way of life one has received. When measured against that desire, today's colleges and universities are abysmal failures, argues Bercier. The contemporary university is at war with its past and in angry denial of its origins. It is about the business of cultural parricide--and seeks precisely to induct young people into its work. Under the rubric of diversity, it searches for anything other than its own identity. Academic games, careerism, the elaboration of a cynical and sterile politics, the production of systems of social-scientific control for the management of a befuddled and impotent populace--these things have replaced teaching and the work of education. In The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom made Athens his starting point. Bercier, by contrast, grounds his reflection in Jerusalem, in the idea of the West as having its deepest foundation in the biblical narration of the story of man. He suggests that returning to that story can shed light on the nihilistic anger at work on today's campus, and so defend against our academics' parricidal intentions. Bercier ends by encouraging a renewed respect for reason, a renewed ordering of the arts and sciences, and a renewed appreciation for our Western identity, now gravely important in light of the threat posed by our own homegrown nihilism and its Islamist doppelganger abroad.
|Publication date:||15th December 2007|
Barry Bercier, lives and works in Worcester, Massachusetts. Bercier is a Catholic priest and member of the Augustinians of the Assumption, teaches theology at Assumption College. He holds advanced degrees from the Weston School of Theology, University of Notre Dame, and Boston College.More About Barry Bercier