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Before I start, two notes:

I've been wanting to write about all of the nonsense I have had to deal with in college for a while, finally doing so now. I'm quite critical of many things, but I thank God for this opportunity and gift.

A short while ago, I began studying at a public university in California. I was a little bit prepared to expect liberal nonsense, to let things go in one ear, and out the other. But boy, was I unprepared.

    - Secular postmodernism seems to influence every professor. Truth, morality, good, etc. don't exist, and are simply social constructs varying from each culture and time period.

    - I'm a history major. I like history, and view it as a study of the past to know the truth, to recognize those unique events, as well as to acknowledge patterns that appear to have taken place. According to my instructors, there is no such thing as "the truth," and each understanding of the past changes from person to person. I don't agree with this. Although people can have different opinions on different subjects (the South lost because of this, so and so killed Kennedy), there is a Truth about the past that we can certainly know. On a very basic level, history is an investigation, a journalism of the past. The first chapter of Coulombe's Puritan's Empire notes that:

[quote]
History is the key to understanding men—whether as nations, families, or individuals. Without an employment record, we cannot evaluate a prospective worker; without genealogy, we cannot say much about a given family as it is today. Similarly, without a firm grasp of a nation’s history, we cannot understand its present...For Catholics, history has an even higher purpose beside. For them, history is the unfolding of God’s Will in time, and the attempts of men either to conform themselves to or to resist that Will. As the great Dom Gueranger, author of the monumental Liturgical Year points out, “for the Christian there is no purely human History” since “man has been divinely called to the supernatural state. This state is his goal and the chronicles of human kind should therefore exhibit the traces of that supernatural life.” Thus the Catholic historian may rely upon the guidance provided by the Church which always goes before him as a column of light and divinely illuminates all his thoughts. The Christian knows that a close bond unites the Church and the Son of God made man; the Christian knows that the Church has the guarantee of Christ’s promise against all errors in her teaching and in the general conduct of Christian society, and that the Holy Spirit animates and leads the Church. It is in her, therefore, that he finds the rule for judging. The true Christian is not surprised by the weakness of churchmen or by
their temporal abuses, because he knows that God has decided to tolerate the weeds in His field until the harvest... But he knows where the direction, the spirit, and the divine instinct of the Church are manifested. He receives them, he accepts them, he professes them bravely and applies them in his narration of history. Therefore, he never betrays them, he never sacrifices them, he considers good what the Church judges as good and bad what the Church judges as bad. He does not care about the sarcasm or clamor of short-sighted cowards. Other historians will stubbornly observe only the political side of events, and so will descend to the pagan point of view. But the Christian historian will remain firm, because he has the initial certainty that he is not mistaken. [He knows that] Christ is at home in history; [that is why] he must not fear condemning the thousands of calumnies which have made history a huge conspiracy against truth... It is necessary to be prepared to fight; if one is not brave enough to do that, then that person should refrain from writing history. (Gueranger, The Christian Sense of History, pp. 17-18, 53-54)
[quote]

    - Crudeness. We don't need to speak like Victorian English, but instructors should make efforts to keep vulgarities and obscenities to an absolute minimum. However, this can apply to any institution.

    - Liberalism is taken as truth, and some attempts are made, some subtle, others quite obvious, to indoctrinate students. For example, I thought some trads were taking things too far when they said the Left wished to destroy the uniqueness of culture. But I now see that its true. They are not only attacking differences in culture, but even differences between man and woman.

In closing, I get fed up with a lot of things after a while. I went to a Novus Ordo high school, and thought it was bad enough there. However, at least there was a palpable Catholic ethos present. I took that for granted, and certainly miss seeing a crucifix in every room, and praying at the beginning and end of each school day. It is true that we don't miss things until they're gone.

Everyday, I have to deal with instructors and fellow students attacking our Faith any chance they get. While some of the liberals are truly liberal, and they recognize the contributions our Faith made, others are not. If some can make a good living without attending college, God bless them. For the rest of us, we need to get degrees and deal with many temptations. I suppose this is true for all of the world and society, and is simply a preparation for what to expect in the world.
I empathize with you.  I wrote a couple threads about my history teacher teacher.  Sounds like yours are cut from the mold of mine. 

If you're really set on a history degree, make sure you get good grades and do your own studying.  Only do what you have to do in order to get good grades.  Good luck.
Can you give me a link to the thread? Thx
I agree that we can discover truth in history, but I don't think it is necessarily wrong to say that the meaning of the past changes from person to person. History always takes on the form of a narrative after all. As obnoxious as relativism is, we ought also to avoid the arrogance of reading the past as merely an anticipation of the present that can be judged by our standards without difficulty.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have just taught myself. Pretty much did anyway.

If I wanted to be a history major. I think I would just read a lot of really good books and then start writing them.
(01-26-2012, 11:53 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: [ -> ]I agree that we can discover truth in history, but I don't think it is necessarily wrong to say that the meaning of the past changes from person to person. History always takes on the form of a narrative after all. As obnoxious as relativism is, we ought also to avoid the arrogance of reading the past as merely an anticipation of the present that can be judged by our standards without difficulty.

The meaning of the past can vary from person to person, but history and truth do not change. Also, the current trend is for historians to write monographs and to avoid narratives. Everything is an argument, and in my entire academic career, I have only written historical monographs. The only narratives are when I wrote articles or explain to people.
(01-27-2012, 01:18 AM)Crusader_Philly Wrote: [ -> ]
(01-26-2012, 11:53 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: [ -> ]I agree that we can discover truth in history, but I don't think it is necessarily wrong to say that the meaning of the past changes from person to person. History always takes on the form of a narrative after all. As obnoxious as relativism is, we ought also to avoid the arrogance of reading the past as merely an anticipation of the present that can be judged by our standards without difficulty.

The meaning of the past can vary from person to person, but history and truth do not change. Also, the current trend is for historians to write monographs and to avoid narratives. Everything is an argument, and in my entire academic career, I have only written historical monographs. The only narratives are when I wrote articles or explain to people.

But even something like which facts you select as important, how you interpret them, and how you relate them to other facts implies a narrative.
Indeed.

Most history before the 1950s, really old school history, was narrative. Ever since then, the trend has been to monograph, with some even calling for the abandonment of narrative history. However, some authors have returned to the monograph. For example, 1776, by D. McCullogh, is narrative. A prominent monograph historian is Gordon Wood.
I was very disappointed with college life, and I went to a small mens' military school in the south.  The behavior was crude, the talk mostly vile, and the professors attitudes toward our moral formation mostly non-existent, with some notable exceptions.  I was not expecting a seminary, but what I found was not in keeping with the traditions of southern gentlemen, by a long shot.  College in general is an industry that trades on its fine history, which is now devoid of content and soul. Cultivate a group of friends with whom you can enjoy the pleasures that come from decent breeding and taste.  You will probably find at least a few professors who will respond favorably to your desire to learn and develop a coherent philosophy of life.

If you want to study history, you must also select a language other than English.  The language you select would be dependent on the period you want to learn - if you are interested in the World Wars, you must learn Russian or German.  If the 17 to 19th centuries are your focus, then French.  If American history is your forte, you have more freedom, but Latin or French would be good choices, since the founders and most of the men and women of letters up to WW2 knew these languages.

The best way to get a feel for the zietgeist of your chosen period is to read the literature of the time - read a good copy of the original work, like a Penguin or Everyman edition (they are inexpensive).  The "synopses" of the works that are found in college texts are, in my observation, not accurate.  By way of example, I compared the complete WWI memoir "Storm of Steel," by Junger, with the excepts in a college textbook, and found that the textbook conflated the author's experience in the Battle of Verdun with his final battles in 1918, which seriously altered the meaning Junger was trying to convey:  sort of like conflating the island hopping of the Pacific with the Battle of the Bulge.

I wish you the best of luck, and hope that you find your studies enjoyable.  No matter your experience, though, learning is a lifelong process.  This forum is proof that there is often more common sense to be found in the mind of a well rounded citizen than within the halls of ivy.  Cheers!
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