Russell and Duenes

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

I Wouldn’t Give Yale University One Red Cent

leave a comment »

Nor Princeton, Harvard, Dartmouth, Stanford and a whole host of other “big name” colleges either. At least not as presently constituted and governed. If any of my children want to go there, that will be up to them when the time comes, but you can bet I will employ all of my persuasive powers in urging them not to attend such schools. And so far as it depends on me, they will most certainly have to pay for it on their own dime, not because I don’t want to give them financial assistance for their higher educational task, but simply because I cannot countenance giving money to such institutions as Yale, et al.

They are intellectually, culturally, morally and spiritually bankrupt, and that’s true despite the presence of any superb and courageous faculty they may have. There are not nearly enough of such faculty to offset the problem. These places have ceased to have an overall legitimate reason to exist. That they exist to foment lies, ignorance, tyranny, arrogance, and even violence, has become self-evident.

Jonathan Edwards once attended Yale College and was president of Princeton. Oh, to think how these universities have fallen into the abyss since then! I have thought this about certain of America’s “universities” for awhile, but this piece by Rod Dreher, entitled Yale Rewards Student Thugs, Bullies, clinched it.

When students who engage in physically-threatening, mob-like activity are not disciplined, regularly expelled, and told in the most explicit terms that their behavior will not be tolerated, but instead, are celebrated by the administration of the university, then that place has ceased to be one to which I would give a single one of my hard-earned nickels.

It has rather become a place of anti-intellectual cowardice where no true learning is taking place. It deserves condemnation and disdain, not continued support and admiration.



Written by Michael Duenes

May 28, 2017 at 1:21 pm

The Sloth May Be Very Busy

with one comment

In 1941, Dorothy Sayers wrote of “Sloth”:

[I]t is one of the favourite tricks of this Sin to dissemble itself under cover of a whiffling activity of body.  We think that if we are busily rushing about and doing things, we cannot be suffering from Sloth.  And besides, violent activity seems to offer an escape from the horrors of Sloth.  So the other sins hasten to provide a cloak for Sloth: Gluttony offers a whirl of dancing, dining, sports, and dashing very fast from place to place to gape at beauty-spots; which when we get to them, we defile with vulgarity and waste.  Covetousness rakes us out of bed at an early hour, in order that we may put pep and hustle into our business: Envy sets us to gossip and scandal, to writing cantankerous letters to the papers, and to the unearthing of secrets and the scavenging of dustbins; Wrath provides (very ingeniously) the argument that the only fitting activity in a world so full of evildoers and evil demons is to curse loudly and incessantly “Whatever brute and blackguard made the world”; while Lust provides that round of dreary promiscuity that passes for bodily vigour.  But these are all disguises for the empty heart and the empty brain and the empty soul of Acedia (i.e., Sloth). 

Some Christian brothers and I have been reading and discussing Every Good Endeavor, by Tim Keller. When I read this Sayers quote in the book, it went through me like a shot. I had never considered sloth and laziness in this way, particularly my own sloth. Yet I think Sayers is correct. Like other sins, sloth is not always, and likely not typically, identifiable by the observance of outward actions. While there are many who “sit around and do nothing,” there are also many who run around at breakneck speed, doing only that which “disguises the empty heart and empty brain.” I know from my own experience exactly what she means. My inward sloth is masked, or “cloaked” by other sins. To wit, I may not truly want to work and think hard, I may want simply to look better than my co-workers.

Sayers goes on, more pointedly:

Let us take particular notice of the empty brain. Here Sloth is in a conspiracy with Envy to prevent people from thinking.  Sloth persuades us that stupidity is not our sin, but our misfortune: while Envy at the same time persuades us that intelligence is despicable—a dusty, highbrow, and commercially useless thing. 

The “conspiracy . . . to prevent people from thinking” is legion on our college campuses, in our primary public education system, and in our political and cultural discourse (if one may call it that). We Evangelicals suffer from a good bit of it as well. Yet we in the Church may suffer even more painfully from the view that “intelligence is despicable.” Dusty and highbrow, yes, but even more, we consider it unspiritual. arrogant, and perhaps even a “quenching of the Spirit.” If Sayers is right, there is more sloth beneath our failure to think hard and well than we had supposed.


Written by Michael Duenes

November 21, 2015 at 8:23 am

Husbands and Wives With Little Children: Read Aloud to Each Other

leave a comment »

jeffersonbookAs I am sure is the case with most parents who have young children, when once my wife and I have gotten our children down for the night and finished tidying up the house each evening, we are generally very tired, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. So it was easy for us to justify “vegging out” in front of the TV for awhile before going to bed. We had gotten into the habit of this (and still, the habit is very hard to break. It’s an easy, downhill coast to the TV remote).

But we were talking about our children’s education the other night, and were reading a little tidbit out of a book called “A Thomas Jefferson Education.” This book suggests that parents who want a true education for their children must also educate themselves for the task, and they will educate themselves, at least in part, by reading the classics themselves. Yet this is a difficult challenge. Who has time or energy for it? Then we thought, “Well, we probably do. Nothing dictates that we simply must watch TV at night. Why don’t we just start in with some of these books by reading them aloud to each other, even if for only 15 or so minutes a day?”

We have not started a “classic” yet, as we were already reading another book on raising boys, but we’ve been very excited about the idea. So right now I am reading “Future Men,” by Douglas Wilson, aloud to my wife, and it is provoking some good discussion. And truth be told, we are not too tired to do it. The “vegging out” thing is not necessary.

Just thought I’d put this out there as an encouragement to other parents of young children (or husbands and wives of no children, as the case may be). It’s exciting to think about what we might still learn – and pass on to our children – and how our souls might still be enriched educationally, even at this post-schooling stage of our lives.


Written by Michael Duenes

May 22, 2015 at 4:49 am

Do Nothing With Us

leave a comment »

Set a guard over my mouth, O Lordkeep watch over the door of my lips! (Psalm 141:3). It seems like such a small thing to be able to keep one’s mouth closed when one should, but as I continue to find my way as an attorney, I see more clearly now why the Psalmist prays this prayer. An attorney’s work for his or her client, as well as the attorney’s standing in the profession and in the community, is almost entirely predicated on being able to keep one’s mouth closed. The Scriptures know the tremendous damage that can be done by a person who cannot control his tongue. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. . . but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:5-8). I’m seeing how greatly I need God’s grace to keep me back from sin, and to help me keep a door on my mouth. Everything depends on it. 

Frederick Douglass once said something that, in my view, should be heeded today as much as it was when he said it in 1865.

[I]n regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us…I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! . . . [I]f the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!…[Y]our interference is doing him positive injury.

 This seems particularly true in the area of education. The government has done so much, spent so much money, enacted so many schemes in public education to try and help blacks, and we might even charitably grant that it has done so with benevolent intent. Yet it is blacks themselves (and other minorities) who have been forced to remain in public schools, and who have been very vocal in wanting out. As Jason Riley points out in Please Stop Helping Us: “These days it is mostly charter schools that are closing the achievement gap, which is one reason why they are so popular with black people. . . Polls have shown that charter supporters outnumber opponents by four to one.” Yet we are told that impoverished, urban minority children are doomed without traditional public schools. Of course the issues run deeper than simply giving blacks school choice, but the educational issue is indicative of the way many of the race issues are handled in this country, namely, by having the government step in and “do something” to help, rather than taking Douglass’ advice. There is no doubt in my mind that in education, this “interference is doing him positive injury.”


Written by Michael Duenes

March 6, 2015 at 7:52 pm

What Did You Learn About Benito Mussolini?

with 2 comments

mussoliniI’ve been listening to Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Facism in my car, and these questions keep coming up in my mind as I listen: Why wasn’t I actually taught history at my award-winning, nationally recognized public school? Surely my high school had to rank up there with the elite public high schools across the country. So why did I not learn that Benito Mussolini was something other than just an overweight, bumbling, two-bit facist dictator? Why did I not learn the true origin and nature of the “Palmer raids?” Why did I not learn the real facts of Woodrow Wilson’s “progressivism,” which was far more oppressive, dictatorial and truly “facist” than anything McCarthy cooked up? Of the fact that the forebears of modern liberals, not conservatives, were eugenicists? That war was advocated by many leading liberals because it enabled a greater Statism in our nation? Why was I not taught to make connections between the history of ideas and movements – particularly “progressivism” – and the fruit they actually bear in our current lives? Why was it all so one-sided – particularly when it came to men like Wilson, TR, FDR and their supporters – thin and brushed over?

Not enough time in the school year? The bell rang? The teachers didn’t know this stuff themselves? The public school curriculum at the time forced teachers to jam more than 200 years of history into less than 200 hours of instruction? Maybe these things were taught and I just didn’t care and wasn’t paying attention? Surely that’s true to some extent, and I deserve the lion’s share of the blame for not caring enough about my own early education to pursue it with any vigor.

One thing I do know, however; my U.S. History teacher was showing us “North and South” with Patrick Swayze and Kirstey Alley for our unit on the Civil War. That tells you quite a bit. And I seem to recall that my U.S. Government and Economic classes didn’t do much better. It’s unfortunate, but my guess is, quite common.


Written by Michael Duenes

October 19, 2014 at 11:17 am

Posted in Duenes, Education