The Robin & Boom Show #10 – C. Derick Varn on Higher Education and Cheating

Jason Van Boom interviews author and educator, C. Derick Varn, about the with the college admissions bribery scandal, and what this tells us about trends in higher education today. How does modern education compare to the medieval university? Is there value in elite education? What is a meritocracy? What does it mean for a student to teach himself? How has our system of university degrees developed since the Middle Ages, and is it still viable? These are some of the many questions addressed in this episode.

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The Robin & Boom Show #05 – Interview with Michael d’Esterre on Classical Education and Emotional Wellness

What is classical education? How can the liberal arts fortify children against anxiety, depression and addiction? What was Charlotte Mason’s contribution to classical education? These are some of the questions that Robin and Jason explore with this week’s guest, Michael d’Esterre. Michael is a clinical social worker in Spokane Washington, who is turning to the liberal arts to find answers to some of our society’s most pressing problems, including mental disorders and addiction.

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The Robin & Boom Show #01 – Children and Screen Time

In this premier episode of their new podcast, Robin Phillips and Jason Van Boom discuss a recent study showing no correlation between a child’s well-being and time spent on technology. But is this study really as conclusive as the media is making out? And what can we learn about the role of studies in our culture? Robin and Jason also discuss why they are launching this podcast and what they plan to discuss on future episodes.

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Consumerism is Damaging Families, Christian Voice Researchers Discover

From Christian Voice:

460315046_divorce_a29nov09_xlargeGlobal consumer culture is destroying the family, Christian Voice researchers have discovered.

The net effect of a culture that prioritizes material prosperity above all else is that family relationships suffer, either directly through family breakdown, or indirectly from the array of pressures that prevent families from being properly ordered.

In the course of their investigation, Christian Voice researchers discovered seven primary areas where consumerism has been damaging families.

Robin Phillips, who oversaw the research, commented that he wanted to look beyond simple family breakdown to explore the more subtle ways consumerism is harming families. “Normally when we talk about threats against the family we have in mind things like divorce statistics” Phillips told the media in a statement this morning. “But we should also be attentive to the quality of family life. Our research suggests that the quality of family relationships has been a casualty of unrestrained consumerism. This runs against current thinking which tends to associate the good life with material prosperity.”

Phillips, whose book Saints and Scoundrels was published last year, added, “Although people have been warning about the effects of consumerism for years, what amazed us was the sheer scale of the problem. There are few areas of family life that have been left untouched by the ethic of unbridled consumerism. The impulses and metaphors of consumerism have exerted tentacles beyond the marketplace to affect nearly every area of life.”

Below are the seven areas Christian Voice identified where consumerism has wrought particular damage to the family. Click here to see these points fleshed out.

  1. Products Are Replacing Relationships
  2. Throw Away Culture
  3. Lifestyles For Sale
  4. Commodification of the Body
  5. Advertising Changes Identity Perception
  6. Consumerism Breeds Radical Autonomy
  7. Where Consumerism and Social Media Meet

When asked if the research yielded any surprises, Christian Voice researcher Robin Phillips replied: “the main effects of consumerism surprised us because they were not the areas that first come to mind. Greed, ambition and the accumulation of wealth do create great obstacles for healthy families. However, the primary harm consumerism does to families is more subtle, in so far as it orients family-members towards a false idea of what it means to be human. When joined with the powerful industry of advertising, the consumerist impulse underscores ideas of autonomy and self-definition that make it hard to accept the fixities of marriage and family life.”

Christian Voice, which has campaigned for many years against forces threatening to destroy the family, said it would be broadening its campaign to warn people against the temptations posed by unrestrained consumerism. The group is calling people to revaluate what truly matters in life based on Biblical teaching. They pointed out that although scripture teaches that wealth is a blessing (Proverbs 3:9-10), it also warns about the temptations that can arise when buying and selling are elevated above eternal verities like faith, hope and love (Mt. 6:24; 1 Tim. 6:9; 1 Cor. 13:13). A person’s true wealth is his family (Ps 127:4-5), and it is the wealth of family relationships that must be protected from the pervasive consumerism all around us.


Aquinas, Ockham and the Power of Ideas

Part 1 of a series on Nominalism originally posted at Chuck Colson’s Breakpoint website.

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Gentile_da_Fabriano_052“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which lit is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” Hebrews 6:17-18

Ideas have consequences

It is reported that William Temple, who became the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1942, once asked his father, who was then the Archbishop, “Daddy, why don’t the philosophers rule the world?” His father looked down at the boy and replied, “Of course they do, silly—two hundred years after they’re dead!”

The more one studies history, the more apparent it becomes that William Temple’s father had a point.  In fact, we could state the matter in even stronger terms: there has never been a more powerful influence, a greater agency of change or a stronger force for good or ill in this world than that of human ideas.

Such a statement may seem out of place in a society that has long since relegated philosophy (the science of correct thinking) to a specialist discipline. Reflection on ideas has little or no relevance to the world of everyday affairs, many people think. We have come a long way from the time when philosophy was considered to be the backbone of all the disciplines, including the sciences (indeed, the early scientists called themselves “Natural Philosophers”).

One’s philosophy of the world, or worldview, is still the backbone for how we view everything else, whether we realize it or not.  This is even true for those who have never given much thought to questions of worldview. As John Byl puts it in his book The Divine Challenge, “Many people hold their worldviews implicitly, without having deeply reflected on what they believe and why they believe it. They may not even realize that they have a worldview. Consequently, they may unwittingly hold beliefs that are mutually contradictory.”

A person’s life, motivations, priorities, agendas, conversation, and assumptions are just some of the areas affected by our philosophy of the world, whether that philosophy is thought-out or merely implicit and unconscious.

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Darwin was Wrong


From Salvo issue #21, “Culture & the Malleability of the Human Brain”:

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason,” wrote Robert Jastrow in God and the Astronomers, “the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

Jastrow’s words come to mind whenever I hear about professional scientists being obliged to abandon, or at least to seriously modify, their Darwinian assumptions. From cutting-edge work in genetics to the latest discoveries in astrophysics, the evidence is increasingly pointing to one fact: Darwin was wrong.

This has been impressed upon me recently, as I have been studying the way culture affects the human brain. Contemporary neuroscientists have been making some fascinating discoveries about the way our cultural preoccupations and artifacts alter the physiological structure of our brains, and, once again, Darwinian orthodoxy is being compelled to yield to new findings.

Read the entire article at