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November 16, 1984 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-11-16
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V V V V V V W w

w w w W,




B O 0 K S
very earliest followers of Christ,
Newman concluded, which was the
source for the explanation of difficult
doctrines in scripture. These
/ traditionary explanations were in turn
kt 4 the source of dogma, being forced into
heretical departures from tradition.
This formulation was later to draw
The Vindication of Tradition Newman to the Catholic Church, as he
recognized its place as the continuation
By Joroslav Pelikan of that same tradition. Here, then, the
Yale University Press, $10.95 historical discernment of tradition led
to the recovery of it, and a realization of
By Michael E. Moore its priority and validity, judging upon
' its contents.
J aroslav Pelikan, whose massive isnerthe hedn "Taiina
work The Christian Tradition: A tnder the heading "Tradition as
History of the Development of Doc- History", Pelikan offers a
trine, has made him the successor to response to the century-old action of
Adolph von Harnack in the field of the historicism upon the concept of
history of dogma, was invited to deliver tradition. He sees an earlier tendency
the Jefferson Lecture in 1983, and this of the same kind in the Reformation,
has now been made available in print. when it was as important part of refor-
It is an elegant work, brief and clearly mer tactics to unearth as much eviden-
written. It may stand as a manifesto for ce as could be found concerning the
an historical attitude, in which a con- change of dogma through time. This
structive, loving approach to the past impermanence and change could then
stands beside the objective-critical ap- be contrasted with the unchanging
proach of historicism. The essay is a biblical source for which they stood.
clarion-call which begins and ends with This effort at historical criticism con-
the stirring words of Goethe: tinued during the next two centuries,
What you have as heritage leading to consequences unforeseen by
Take now as task; the reformers. "Inevitable, the very
For thus you will make it your norms in the name of which the
criticism of tradition had carried out its
own! program came under historical-critical
In America, one must be cir- scrutiny themselves...".
cumspect about the claims of various Pelikan: Ponders the history. of tradition In the 19th century the historicist
traditions. 'Traditions' are invented their ability (or willingness) to tran- beyond the generally accepted bounds method appeared in the hands of a
daily, so that we are often presented smit one or another constituent element of historical study. This is coming to a generation of great historians.
with the optimistic phrase "the First of the tradition", then students who decision on the value of-the content of "Although such historical study
Annual...", whether in the announ- come to study the collapse of tradition the newly discovered tradition. sometimes fostered loyalty of a
cement of a picnic or a political rally. can be expected to know very little The historicist form of study involves tradition and could even be responsible
More weight lies in the traditions which about the tradition whose history they 'bracketing' information from the past. for the recovery of a tradition...usually
stem from our central political events, shall study. It is necessary that the No decision is valid on these contents, it carried on the earlier pattern of
the Revolution and Constitution, though teacher teach the tradition beforehand. since they are valid only in their making the authority of tradition
even here there is a call for a new con- The problem is, at this level, an original temporal and social context. relative rather than absolute, by ex-
stitution. educational difficulty. It is a tribute to The past is not 'for-us', but 'for-itself'. posing its participation in the ebb and
In geieral; we seem to prize in- his rhetorical skills that Pelikan begins For Pelikan, however, the flow of historical currents". This
novation and newness above age and so mildly and with so much care builds rediscovery of tradition has as its dilemma was not lost on the prac-
tradition. It once struck me, however, to a deeper problem. ultimate goal this decision concerning titioners themselves. Ranke, for exam-
in studying Latin, that the teacher The need to understand tradition in the revival or the denial of tradition. If ple, struggled with the relativizing ef-
represented an unbroken chain of history has led to the 'rediscovery of we do not first come to know that fect of his method even while calling for
teachers extending over two millenia. tradition' in the fields of anthropology tradition, then we are condemned to a universal history.
It is exceedingly rare to find such a con- and history, that is, the concept of mindlessly follow it, or equally min- Historicism arose in response to an
tact with the past here. It is easy tradition as a vethodological tool. The dlessly to let it lapse. "For even if-or unhistorical attitude especially
enough to bemoan the loss of tradition, importance of tradition-history has especially if-the tradition of our past is prevalent in the 18th century, when the
but less easy to know what to do about been felt especially in biblical studies, a burden that the next generation must Encyclopedists, and tragedians such as
it. Pelikan has offered in this essay the in tracing the tradition lying behind finally drop, it will not be able to drop it, Racine tended not to recognize dif-
hope that an obscured tradition need the four Gospels. or to understand why it must drop it, ferences in milieu and background
not be abandoned. There is a larger concern lying unless it has some sense of what its con- between themselves and their ancient
If, as Pelikan remarks, "the home, behind Pelikan's emphasis upon tent is and of how and why it has per- models, naively dressing Plato in
the community, the school, and the tradition-history, however, than sisted for so long." powdered wig and jacket. For the
church have all declined gravely in scholarly methodology, and which goes The rediscovery of tradition, then, notion that every age has its own man-
can lead either to an acceptance or a ner of dress is part of a broader under-
rejection of its contents. As an example standing of the nature of historical con-
another op'nln... another show. of its affirmative conclusion, Pelikan text.
presents the case of John Henry Car- The object of historical study, in the
dinal Newman, who grappled with historicist method, becomes the impor-
tradition in his work The Arians of the tant changes which seem to indicate
K iss M e K ate Fourth Century. Newman attempted to movement from one phase, or context,
formulate a means by which valid, con- to another. Pelikan argues, however,
sistent development in a tradition could that the historicist method has been
Power Center for the Performing Arts be distinguished from superfluities or unable to fairly deal with tradition
wrong directions. This idea of organic because although it has studied impor-
November 15,16 & 17, 8pm growth in history was first applied in tant change, it has ignored important
Tickets $6.00 Available at the his work on the Arian heresy. persistence. Thus, although the
A Newman was perhaps the most eucharist has been performed without
Michigan Union Ticket Office famous case of conversion in modern stint for centuries, "...if the historian
times, leaving the Anglican for the looks only at the changes of eucharistic
For more information. call 763-1107 Catholic church, and firing the theology, which is what most historians
U) imaginations of a generation that in- have done, the result will be a failure to
cluded Gerard Manley Hopkins. "It do justice to the historical situation
was Newman's rediscovery of tradition within which eucharistic theology has
GOthat led him, in 1845, to conclude that he evolved-which has been a situation of
could not consistently advocate its continuity and hence of tradition."
recovery and remain an Anglican...". In answering the question of what our
It was the tradition maintained by the relation to tradition can be now that
14 Weekend/riday, November 16. 1984
-- ----------------.-.:.-_.°- °--__.------- - _,--

C o V E
LSA'9S 90
Southeast/Southcentra .04
80 ""
By Sean Jackson
< < ERHAPS THE MOST serious, ,00....,
and certainly the most 700,,Miwes
publicized, challenge to colleges during
the coming decade is presented by
demographic trends," wrote Jack
Meiland, LSA's dean for long-range ,
planning in a memo last year. Northeast
The demographic changes to which
he was referring are, indeed, dramatic.
Over the next 12 years, the number of 0l...--....
college students will almost certainly
drop radically.
Nationwide, there will be a 26 percent
decline in the number of eighteen-year-
olds between the years of 1979 and 1994,
according to statistics the University
has compiled.
And in the University's prime west e6 0
recruiting grounds-Michigan, Ohio, *e
and Illinois-the decline is expected to 000 0 00"
be even steeper. The University
estimates somewhere between a 34 and
40 percent decline in the number of 1197 1991993
potential students from these states.
The expected declines challenge all Projected Number of High School Graduates: 1984-1999
colleges and universities in the nation, courses or provide students with an in- graduate students in order to get the the college
as Meiland said. But they seem to hit tegrated view of how their courses fit benefits for themselves of this kind of college id
home especially hard in Ann Arbor's together into a comprehensive teaching," he wrote. scores an
college of Literature, Science and the education. In a more recent trend, students deficient u
Arts, one of the largest liberal arts Also, with no stated goals toward seem to perceive college as a pathway who migli
colleges in the nation and the flagship of which professors can direct or evaluate to a single, often narrowly defined, flourish or
the Univesity's seventeen schools and courses, the college could unwittingly vocation rather than a place to gain a help? Will
colleges. be harboring a plethora of courses broad range of knowledge and problem- out of its
The changing demographics promise which provide students with credit but solving skills. compete fo
to alter not only the types of students little valuable education. One report to the school's Executive - T 0 SOI
who will enroll in LSA, but also the 'The distribution requirements and Committee pointed to a national surveydh probl
definition and content of the school's content of courses has simply not been of college freshman by the American college shi
goals. able to keep up with a rapidly changing Council of Education which showed a LSA Exec
The fear of a crisis looming ahead world where communication and sharp decline in the number of students a Blue Rib
seems to have brought the school slowly technological innovation occur with who believe developing a philosophy of The co
to a crossroads. Over the last several startling frequency, where third-world life is an important educational goal. professor
years, the threat of enrollment declines and developing nations play an in- eighty-three percent said it was impor- Meiland-
has forced the school to examine its creasingly important role, and where tant in 1967, while only 49 percent step back
most fundamental precepts and its. every human is threatened by a agreed in 1982. examinin
most basic methods of teaching-a task spiraling arms race and nuclear an- "This is a disturbing trend for those requireme
some say has been neglected for a long nihilation. who believe in the liberal arts, and we cial aid pr
time and in some aspects never been at- A report to the college's executive believe this college should confront it goals.
tempted. committee last year suggested that forthrightly," the report concluded. College
In discussions of everything from LSA overhaul its distribution to add *Although the median SAT scores of these prob
distribution requirements and class courses in ethics and morality, non- entering freshpersons has risen since pected dro
content to financial aid and recruiting, western cultures, and science, 1978, the college is attracting fewer LSA pull
the school's officials have fleshed out technology, and society. stud ants from the top 1 and 10 percent decade ah
several fundamental problems which eProfessors and more recently of their high school classes. This as one of
they say may hinder LSA's ability to students, show a tendency to may-though no one is certain-in- colleges in
educate and, perhaps just as importan- "professionalize" courses and areas of dicate a problem with the college's By sho
tly, to recruit students: study. ability to compete effectively against aggressive
'Although it calls itself a liberal arts In Meiland's memo he warned of "an other schools for blue chip students. roblems
college, the college has no clear ever-present and understandable ten- This could be a fatal flaw if the size of needs of t
definition of what that means. Or. dency on the part of departments to the college-age population shrinks hopes to
perhaps more accurately, it has many make courses for undergraduates into drastically and LSA decides not to brightest o
definitions, one for each of its professional courses, since our depar- shrink along with it.:years.
professors. tments are primarily interested in The issue brings in the whole spectre LSA is n
"It is a fundamental, and I believe graduate education and in research." of the college's recruiting and financial evaluating
sad, fact about the college that it has no He cautioned that this tendency aid packages. providing.
explicit, official, clearly stated policy," would become even worse if the projec- And in that spectre, there currently A recent
Meiland wrote in a memo to the LSA ted declines in the college-age population seem to be more questions than an- the Nation
Curriculum Committee last September. translated into fewer graduate students swers: do current recruiting and braced the
Without such a policy statement, it is at the University. financial practices discriminate again- liberal edu
difficult, if not impossible, for the "Then the faculty will begin to treat st transfer students, non-traditional But the
school to judge the value of specific undergraduates even more like students, minorities and other groups


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