Saturday, July 05, 2008

On Intellectual Pride

The Politics of the Cross is a really worthwhile blog, even if I disagree with some of its religious orientation. Craig Carter has a lot of neat things to say.

In his post on self-loathing Evangelical intellectuals, he writes:

Once you are an Evangelical, it is hard really to become something else. You can convert to an upper middle class denomination and get a graduate degree or two, but it is not easy to erase the focus on spiritual experience, the reverence for the Bible, and the centrality of Jesus Christ. Besides, unless you become an atheist, there is little incentive to do so. There is just a huge incentive to self-identify with educated, well-off, thoughtful, polite people instead of hand-clapping, narrow-minded, rural folk who mean well but, well you know, aren't exactly the cream of society.

I hear Evangelicals bashing Evangelical leaders mercilessly, laughing up their sleeves at Evangelical pre-occupations like chastity rings or creationism and generally demonstrating a hatred and loathing for the kind of Bible-believing, gospel-preaching, Jesus-loving plain folk who nurtured them in the faith.


The intellectuals always look down on the "true believers," the "worker bees," the "masses." Part of it is just old-fashioned, garden-variety pride: "I thank thee, O Lord, that I am not as other men are, uncouth, narrow, etc. . . . " Part of it is the frustration intellectuals feel when factors other than ideas influence the course of events in their movement. And part of it is that intellectuals always feel (guiltily) an affinity for other intellectuals, even those at the head of opposing movements, and secretly crave their approval.


We have a craving to prove that we are not like them, that we are superior in our tastes and beliefs - particularly in our higher degree of tolerance and open-mindedness, which we eagerly and erroneously attribute to being educated and cultured.

I am educated and somewhat cultured. Among the smug liberal elites, so-con, religious people like me are naturally stupid. I couldn't possibly know anything about history, literature or ideas. I'm a Catholic stay-at-home wife who fights for unborn rights. People like that are stupid and have no educational background and don't care about intellectual inquiry.

When I was in college, that rubbed off on me a little. You do want to be accepted.

But I have found that that acceptance is empty. It compels you to sell out. It compels you to straddle two worlds. This was especially true for me when I was involved in left-wing politics.

They never truly accept you.

My feeling is that people of a conservative bent would advance their ideas in a far more efficient manner if they simply created their own community of intellectuals, artists and other people of ideas. We need that cohesion, that collective force to fight back. We would be taken far more seriously by the other side if we took ourselves more seriously and created our own community, rather than always try to convince the other side. Sometimes I'm disgusted at how intellectually servile some Christians/Catholics are to the lib-left. We have to break free from that intellectual "colonization" if you will.

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