In these days of extraordinary terror and ordinary routine, the future seems at once darker and more open than we had expected. It may be that in the face of war or want, future generations will answer the call to Christian heroism with renewed vigor, and take refuge in Christian hope from failed utopias. It may be that such a change has already begun, though few observers mark it.
In Wendell Berry’s novel Jayber Crow, Jayber is a barber in Port William, Kentucky, who interacts with a variety of people as they come to his barbershop. He struggles to get along with Troy Chatham, an acquisitive agribusinessman whom Jayber thinks is destroying the land in their county.
Many intellectuals associate religion—and Christianity in particular—with violence. Hence they argue that the less religion we have the better off we will be. In an article in the Atlantic, for example, Jonathan Rauch argues that the greatest development in modern religion is “apatheism”—a sense of not caring one way or the other whether God exists.
Listening to news of the war with Iraq, I have never been more aware how much depends on people’s view of reality. Support for the present conflict has been built on the rhetoric of good versus evil, which rises so naturally from the worldview of the West that many people I know accept it as reality instead of one view of reality.
In the two decades since MTV captured the restless souls and short attention spans of our youth, it has become increasingly evident that teaching and learning require new strategies. The classroom lecture is dead, reading is an endangered art, and memorization belongs next to exorcism in the dustbin of discarded teaching arts.
Jason Trigg, a recent MIT graduate in computer science, may represent a new breed in his generation. He’s taken a job at a Wall Street hedge fund company to make as much money as he can—so he can give away as much as he can. His favorite charity is the Against Malaria Foundation, which estimates that a $2,500 donation can save one life. Trigg, who lives with three roommates, figures he can do more by contributing to good causes than by actually working in them. Rather than going on a mission trip to dig wells in Africa, he can contribute funds to have more wells dug. Trigg attributes his career choice to philosopher Peter Singer, who regards earning-to-give as the most ethical career choice (Wonkblog, washingtonpost.com, May 31).