Friday, April 13, 2007

Rod Dreher interviews Camille Paglia

And it's a gem. She and I may not agree on many things, but she's one sage lady.

Camille said that she's been really disturbed over the last five years by the lack of knowledge among her students of basic Biblical concepts, characters, themes and motifs -- the forgetting of which makes so much Western art, literature and culture opaque. Get this:

"The worst moment was a year and a half ago. I have a class on song lyrics, and I was presenting the Negro spiritual 'Go Down, Moses.' I was talking about how it's a coded message of liberation, a way for slaves to make political statements without being recognized. I suddenly realized to my absolute horror that so many of these students had no idea who Moses was! In this class of 30, not one white person, only African-Americans, understood the Biblical references. The only people I'm getting at my school [Philadelphia's University of the Arts] who recognize the Bible are African-Americans. And the lower the social class of the white person, the more likely they are to recognize the Bible. Lots of these white students, if they go to church, it's all feel good social activism. There's no preaching anymore. The Bible is one of the West's foundational texts, and they don't know it anymore."

Our interview ended with this grim observation about the West: "People here live in a bubble. They think it's going to go on forever."

No comments: