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Don’t Censor Western Books

For thousands of men and women, the Western canon served as a lifeline

The King’s College, a longstanding evangelical Christian college in Manhattan’s financial district, announced financial shortcomings in February, and as of this month, canceled fall classes and laid off a majority of its faculty members.

King’s is small, but its students have historically been driven, smart, and ambitious. With a goal of transmitting the spiritual riches of the Judeo-Christian tradition to the next generation, the college saw students go on to elite graduate schools and take influential roles in journalism, law, academia, and the arts.

While the details of King’s seemingly ultimate demise is complicated, Joseph Loconte, a former history professor at King’s, writes that its death spiral is reflective of something deeper and endemic in the West. For so many Americans, politics is prized above education.

Loconte notes that in 2020, former-President Donald Trump amassed over a billion dollars in funding. “Just 1 percent of that amount — nearly $20 million — would reopen and reinvigorate the King’s College overnight,” he laments. “Ten percent, roughly $200 million, could create a flagship Christian research institution with state-of-the-art facilities in New York City.”

The numbers don’t lie. While the cultural and political Left hold the Western tradition in general contempt, the “new Right” also disregards cultural renewal in education.

Loconte goes on to mention Yeonmi Park, a refugee from North Korea who escaped to America, and how she sadly encountered a type of ideological groupthink in the States akin to her home country. She didn’t find metaphysical freedom in higher education, nor in the mainstream media, but in reading old books and exploring the great ideas of past novelists, artists, philosophers, and theologians. Loconte writes,

Park is talking about the humanities: the disciplines of history, literature, politics, philosophy, economics, the arts, and religion. These subjects once formed the lifeblood of our greatest academic institutions. They were the safe harbor where the most important questions could be asked and debated: questions about justice and virtue, about politics and the good society, and about the meaning and purpose of our mortal lives. It is through the study of the humanities that the collective wisdom of the West in grappling with those questions is transmitted.

-Joseph Loconte, King’s College Decline Reflects Western Civilizational Decay | National Review

In today’s contentious political atmosphere, that “safe harbor” is getting rarer. Only if we shift our priorities and recommit to cultural transmission will the fire of Western culture be preserved for the future generations.

Peter Biles

Writer and Editor, Center for Science & Culture
Peter Biles graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. He is the author of Hillbilly Hymn and Keep and Other Stories and has also written stories and essays for a variety of publications. He was born and raised in Ada, Oklahoma and is the Writer and Editor for Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture.

Don’t Censor Western Books