a retreat for the Christian intellectual

Brothers and sisters, I’m fighting with cancer right now, so nothing new will be appearing for a while… or maybe ever, as this world counts time.  Don’t forget to visit the video archive.  Parting thought: we may not need faith each day to live, but all of us always need it to die.  God bless!  ~  J.H.

I won’t waste too much space trying to explain, defend, or otherwise refine the phrase “Christian intellectual”.  Like such modifiers as “conservative”, “liberal”, “progressive”, and “fascist”, this pair of words has been mauled beyond any immediate recognition to the eye of the casual browser. It’s my hope that you will soon get my drift by reading a blog or two, or by viewing a few videos of my evolving library.  For now, perhaps I may limit myself to stressing that I do not associate activity on our college and university campuses with the life of the intellect.  How could I (how could anyone), when so much of that life is now censored and rigorously policed lest a dissenting view be heard?

“Christian”, as an adjective, is more problematic.  To me, it doesn’t signify that I’ve received a certain kind of baptism, or that I interpret the Old Testament literally from the perspective of contemporary science, or that I view the New Testament as licensing (let alone obligating) us to construct a great terrestrial socialist commune.  It means that I believe in the life of the spirit: that I believe every human being to have an eternal soul which may either germinate into a plant reaching for God’s presence or wither and rot in self-preoccupation.  It also means, however, that I understand “self” in two ways: a higher and a lower self, constantly at war on this earth.  The former self is an identity awaiting us in our Creator as we divine His eternal moment within our petty temporal projects; the latter is a the caricature in which those projects sooner or later suffocate us, if we let them (rich man, scholar, philanthropist, leader… and all the rest).

I’ll put it this way, and then leave you to read more elsewhere, if you like.  A man who elbows a weeping child aside because he’s late for a fundraiser that–if all goes well–might feed thousands of children is a little god unto himself who plans to make a “better” world, by his personally customized measure.  A man who misses that meeting, perhaps causing the charity to fail, but consoles the little child is someone who serves the true God instead of the “sensible” one in need of his cash-raising.

My perspective is that of an educator with thirty-five years of classroom experience (beginning in elementary and secondary teaching, then three decades of gypsy-like life as a professor).  At every step, I felt as though I were fighting a losing battle against “central planners” for the lost cause of Western civilization–and the feeling only deepened as my career lengthened. I persisted in what often seemed a futile labor because I did not believe this life to be “all we’ve got”, but to represent, rather, the tiniest of pinpricks opening upon ultimate reality.  Now, in retirement, I continue to push back against man-made utopias intended to better the chaos of a God who (so we’re told) was a fool, an evil brat, or a non-existent puff of smoke in naive imaginations.  Of folly, evil, and vapid fantasy, I’ve seen much–and by far the most impressive amounts come from those who have plopped their presumptuous rumps in God’s “empty” throne and attempted to substitute their “better” designs.

I hope you find something on this site that stirs a thought or two.  I’m not asking for your money: I don’t need it.  I have enough to get through whatever few years remain to me on earth.  I’d be very pleased if you found a book or two among my Amazon publications to buy; but I think you’ll agree that the cost of these is minimal, as the market goes.  Anyone who expects to make money as a writer had better not commit himself stubbornly to good writing!