Cultural Poverty

Cultural Poverty

We have raised a generation of cultural illiterates.  In 1994, George Roche wrote in his book “The Fall of the Ivory Tower” that “it was possible to graduate from 78 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities without taking a course in the history of Western civilization.”

We have a generation that is supposedly educated, but has not read Dante, Milton, Bunyan and perhaps, very little of Shakespeare.

Familiar with the lyrics of Rock n’ Roll and Rap music, there is ignorance of Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Handel, Mozart and Mendelssohn.

Living in the generation of big box architecture there’s no appreciation for the Chartres Cathedral, Notre Dame, St. Pauls, or even La Sagradafamilia Cathedral in Barcelona, which is still under construction.

But, this lack of knowledge of Western culture means also that there is a horrendous ignorance of Christianity, because Christianity permeates the music, the sculpture, the painting, the architecture and the literature of Western civilization.  Shakespeare has 800 quotations from the Scripture besides another 1,000 allusions to the Bible.

It was Williams Lyon Phelps, professor for 41 years in English Department in Yale, who wrote, “A knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible.”

Allen Bloom, “The Closing of the American Mind”, 1987, wrote “Real religion and knowledge of the Bible have diminished to the vanishing point.”

In 2002, Hirsch, Kett and Trefil, came out with “The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy”.  They said “No one in the English-speaking world can be considered literate without a basic knowledge of the Bible.  A logical conclusion is that our schools need to teach more about the Bible … teaching about the Bible is not only consistent with our Constitution, it is essential to our literacy.”

Then, this encyclopedia quote goes on with 26 pages, double column, of definitions of basic Bible terms and phrases.