Gimme That OV Time Educationn. Fdrm and Limit belong to the Good. “nSchooling as a Ritual Performance:nTowards a Political Economy ofnEducational Symbols and Gesturesnby Peter McLaren, London andnBoston: Routledge & Kegan Paul.nGod’s Choice: The Total World of anFundamentalist Christian School bynAlan Peshkin, Chicago: University ofnChicago Press; $24.95.nLiberals in the United States havenlately gathered around the standardnof pluralism in the hope of stallingnthe movement toward privatenChristian education. Yet Americans,nhistorically indifferent to slich objections,nhave been the last to censure anchurch—especially a reformed or annevangelical one—for its forays intonschooling. Essentially we are a religiousnpeople. Our traditions, symbols,nand character carry the stamp of thenpulpiteer. Listen to almost any groupnof Americans conversing on a topicnthat requires taking sides (and, givennthe American character, few topicsndon’t), and you will pick up first thenhigh moral tone, second a trace ofnrighteous anger, and finally the hammernof condemnation. When annAmerican thinks he’s right, he standsnon the mountaintop with a thunderboltnin hand and challenges all comers.nSuch an attitude must perplex andnirritate foreigners — notably WesternnEuropeans—just as the lack of it innthem galls us; yet an American withoutnit would hardly seem worthy of thenname.nWe are all preachers at heart ThenNew Englander finds himself alternatelynhaunted and inspired by imagesnof the glorious City on the Hill; andnthe Southerner surely sees nothingnstrange in the offshoot of the GreatnAwakening, the revival. But whethernwe trace our origins to Plymouth Rocknor Jamestown, we find the same thing:na group of men dedicated to servingnCarl C. Curtis is assistant professornof English at Liberty University.n—C.S. LewisnGod, And not just any God. Jeffersohnand Paine could talk all they wantednabout Nature’s God, but outside theirnsmall circle, men had much morendefinite ideas about who God was andnwhat He expected. The God of thenmen who fought in the Revolutionnand ratified the Constitution was thenGod of Abraham and Paul, the God ofnthe Bible, sharply defined as Saviornand judge, and specific in His commandments.nBehind this piety was alwaysna sure reverence for the Word,ndivinely inspired and, in the minds ofnmost men of the time, unambiguous.nGenerations of young Americansnwere educated to revere the God ofnScripture, to invoke Him in time ofnneed, to fight for Him if necessary. It isnno accident that Harvard and Yalenwere founded to promote the art ofnpreaching, biblical exegesis, and missionarynzeal; that Princeton once chosenJonathan Edwards to serve as its president;nthat Lincoln in his Second InauguralnAddress invoked not the God ofnNature but the God of the Bible; ornthat historian and statesman AlbertnBeveridge confidentiy declared beforenthe U,S, Senate near 1900 that Americanwas God’s chosen nation. Suchnbehavior was what Americans hadncome to expect of their leaders; theyneducated their children to insure theynby Carl C. Curtisnnnwould act similarly.nTo attempt to skirt the role of religionnin the history of American education,nas indeed many contemporarynpedagogues are trying to do, is tonrerrikin ignorant of the central fact ofnour background. Yet this ignorancenhas come to dominate the communitynof intellectuals and pedagogues whonhave assigned themselves the task ofninterpreting and chronicling our country’snpast, as well as its relationship tonthe present and future. Their “pluralism”n(translated in the extreme intonnihilism) quite logically follows fromntheir inability to accept the traditionalnAmerican adherence to biblical precepts.nFor them, the American traditionnis 20th-century secularism andnrelativism read into the past. The absolutenlimits of our worldly conditionnclearly delineated in the Christianndoctrines of the Fall, damnation, andnredemption—doctrines once carefullyntaught our young—are treated as foreignnto the American genius.nThat Christian schooling, as practicednby the evangelical and reformedncommunities in this country, is anathemanin this community is shown inntwo recent additions to pedagogicalnresearch, Alan Peshkin’s God’s Choicenand Peter McLaren’s Schooling as anRitual Performance. Though pursuingndifferent purpose and theory, each authorndisplays a frame of mind characteristicallynhostile to or perplexed bynthe revival of educational techniquesnOCTOBER 1987 133n