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The multiplication of nonsense causing division

 F. LaGard Smith
Courtesy of F. LaGard Smith

It’s nuts!  Oregon’s Department of Education has developed a teaching resource entitled, “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction,” aimed at removing racism from 6th-8th-grade math.  Seems that math + traditional teaching methods = white supremacy!  Not to mention promoting capitalism and imperialism.  Then this: “Expose students to mathematicians of color, particularly women of color and queer mathematicians of color.”  And this: “Too often students are tracked based on the notion that adults know what the right thing is for them, which does not allow room for student agency, reinforcing paternalism and powerhoarding.”  Parents, now powerhoarders?   

What’s behind this appalling poppycock?  It’s not simply a long-standing legitimate concern that minority students might not relate as easily as middle-class white students to certain word problems.  It’s perverse ideology.  “The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false,” says the guide.  “Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuates objectivity as well as fear of open conflict.”  Dare one ask how anything can be “unequivocally false” when the idea that something is either right or wrong is itself wrong?  Or, just exactly when 2+2 isn’t objectively 4?  Or, if this means that racism isn’t always wrong?

Never better illustrated than in this bizarre “math-e-madness,” the fundamental cause of America’s deep division is a battle between subjective and objective thinking.  Not that the two can’t co-exist, but, while the conservative Right leans heavily on objective, transcendent, universal truth, the liberal Left favors subjective, individualistic, personal truth (unless you disagree, of course, whereupon you are instantly met with objective moral outrage!)     

But, then, I’m speaking to the choir.  I can hear it now, “Amen!  Preach, brother, preach!”  So, let me do some hard preaching, if I may.  Make no mistake, there may still be pockets of resistance, but the culture war is irretrievably lost.  Apart from God’s own intervention, no political effort, court decisions, or conservative outcry can reverse the outcome.  Despite church buildings still open, “In God We Trust” on our currency, and “under God” in our Pledge, we are a post-faith, secular nation, and there’s no going back.  How can one possibly appeal to objective truth to win over a subjectively-thinking generation for whom there is now no ultimate truth? 

It’s bad enough that we’ve lost the “away game,” but far worse that we’ve lost on home court.  Admittedly painting with a very broad brush, “the church” (choose your definition) has become captive to the spirit of the age.  On matters of doctrine, millions of those claiming to be Christ followers have taken an Oregon Department of Education approach to Scripture, subjectively reading into it whatever meaning they jolly well wish, ignoring strictures as plain as 2+2=4. 

Even those who still honor the objective truth of Scripture have tired of any worship that doesn’t subjectively leave one warmly affirmed.  Traditional worship (often so dry and perfunctory that the soul is left void) has given way to slickly-orchestrated, leader-focused, celebrations of Self.  Is it Pollyannaish to long for objectively-grounded, inspiring worship — in both spirit and truth?

Subjective faith, like subjective math, simply doesn’t add up.  It subtracts from obedience, multiplies sin, and divides our allegiance between Self and God.  So, where are we in our faith life?  Or, are we so caught up in culture’s subjective thinking that we can’t answer objectively?

F. LaGard Smith is a retired law school professor (Pepperdine, Liberty, and Faulkner law schools), and is the author of some 35 books, touching on law, faith, and social issues.  He is the compiler and narrator of The Daily Bible (the NIV and NLT arranged in chronological order), and posts weekly devotionals on Facebook, drawing spiritual applications from current events.

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