Three cheers for Kahn et al., on the occasion of their bold ride into the heart of liberal arts territory, where they will wrest the definition of secular away from religion-banishing secularists and invite all voices, including theological ones, to a free-wheeling conversation about the nature of liberal arts education. Pointing to the collapse of the secularization thesis and the agreement of diverse philosophers that a secular space “scrubbed free of religion” is impossible, Kahn et al. believe not only that they will accomplish their purposes, but that the time is ripe for a truly inclusive conversation about the liberal arts. I applaud their optimism and respect their daring, but I caution Kahn to keep his riders together and enter only those colleges that invite them. Not all colleges ripen for difficult conversations at the same pace, and in many the inhabitants carry out their business oblivious to postmodern philosophical convergences or to the crumbling of secularization theory.Read the rest of Yearning, yawning, and resisting.
Timothy Clydesdale is Professor of Sociology at The College of New Jersey. He is the author of The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens after High School (University of Chicago Press, 2007) as well as numerous articles, including "Abandoned, Pursued, or Safely Stowed: The Religious Life of First Year Undergraduates," which appeared in the SSRC's essay forum The Religious Engagements of American Undergraduates.