I am going slightly off topic for the general thread of my blog today… but feel impelled to set these inchoate ideas into print. And perhaps it is not actually far off my blog’s theme – as I am in the early stages of writing a multimedia academic eBook investigating the relationship between religion and society in the Atlantic world – which will in its early stages take me into fields afar – everywhere from the British Isles and North America to the rest of the Americas, France, Spain and Italy.
In the final exam for one course, I set a common ‘think-piece’ question for all to answer that requires the student to ‘cogitate’ on the necessity (or not!) of religion as a component of society – drawing on a quote from the political philosopher George Grant “…unassisted reason is able to know that without religious beliefs and actions no society whatever can last”. I have just finished giving full marks to a student whose answer to this question was badly structured, somewhat incoherent, and not too grammatically elegant (to put it mildly) ….. but…… he was thinking!!!! You could almost smell the black smoke coming out his ears, and almost hear the grinding noises as his brain clunked into life. But the purpose of this question is to do just this – the primary goal of any teacher in the Humanities – to counter the all-embracing modern culture of the slogan. We are today in the West, a people content to shout slogans at one another – and he who shouts loudest and longest wins the game. Here I saw a student who, with difficulty, did in fact, weigh the different sides to this question in his mind. He thought!