Recently I discovered one of our junior high boys reading Albert Camus’, The Stranger. Camus was an existentialist although he claimed not to be and was surprised that people associated him with the existentialism of Sartre.
Look him up in Wikipedia. The article there says Camus contributed to a philosophy known as absurdism. Absurd is masterful understatement. The article says that in an essay titled “The Rebel” Camus wrote that he devoted his whole life to opposing nihilism while still delving deeply into individual and sexual freedom. That’s like spitting into the face of a hurricane. What Camus and Sartre have in common is trying to make sense out of life and reality apart from God. The Bible calls this foolishness (Psalm 14:1).
In case it isn’t clear in the Wikipedia article, Camus lived a sexually immoral life. This is freedom? He pits the order of the moral law against personal freedom. The Bible makes no such distinction. Within the structure of the covenant there is freedom. Outside the law there is slavery and death. Ask any addict in one of his lucid moments.
The Stranger presents a moral dilemma assuming there are not absolute ethical standards. Morality is an inscrutable problem only for those who reject God and His Law. The effect is to leave the reader perplexed about discerning right from wrong. It teaches moral relativism and ambiguity about right and wrong.
I’m not in favor of burning other peoples’ books but sometimes the Holy Spirit motivates people to burn their own (Acts 19:18-20). Nevertheless, a junior high kid with a malformed worldview shouldn’t be reading Camus, at least not without adult supervision. How many of us parents are sufficiently free from the influence of humanism to supervise what our children are reading? After more than a century of public education in the US not many I’d guess. I told this young man he needs to develop a genuine Christian worldview before he reads that book. How do you do that? Read the Bible first.
I want to know if his parents are aware of what he is reading. I’d like to know where he got the book, who put him up to reading it, and why is he reading it.
How do I know about Camus? My son, Bud, read The Stranger in High School as an assignment for a humanities class. He told me about it years later when I came across the book. Bud was also captivated the by horror/fantasy fiction of Clive Barker because it spoke of other worlds and adventure. He confesses he would have been better off reading C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. He wrote, “Yes, I would say Clive Barker’s fiction is satanic and in many places pornographic. I had a couple of bad nights after reading some of his shorter fiction.”
How did I miss this? Why was I unable to adequately supervise what my son was reading? Simple, I’m a product of the same public education system. I was taught to believe in the myth of neutrality and in the trustworthiness of public education. Besides, I was paying property taxes to support it. It’s just what good citizens did. I was a Christian who thought like a humanist in most areas of life outside the church.
In high school in the first half of the 1960’s we were assigned The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, for English Lit. Oscar Wilde was a sodomite, not acceptable behavior at the time the book was published in 1890. The book was criticized for its decadence and homosexual allusions. Of all the English literature one could read, why this book and in High School no less? We read Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, another uplifting piece of fiction. Any reference to the Bible was verboten except to study it as literature. Desperate for something from the Bible I took a college class titled, “The Bible as Literature.” Translated that means, “The Bible as anything but a supernatural revelation from God.”
What does it take for us to see that there really is no neutral ground? One is either for Christ or against him. The public education system is against. It cannot be sanctified because the very idea of public education violates God’s directive to parents to educate their own children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Public education is based on a distrust of parents and is designed to take children away from their homes.
Praise God for his bountiful mercy to us, it’s never too late to learn. A good place to start is to study Pushing the Antithesis, the Apologetic Methodology of Greg L. Bahnsen. You can find it here Pushing the Antithesis in various electronic versions as well as printed. It’s also available at Amazon.com. Other good books that can help reform your worldview to a more consistent Christian perspective:
By R. J. Rushdoony (check out http://chalcedon.edu/)
Law and Liberty
The Institutes of Biblical Law
The Messianic Character of American Education
The Mythology of Science
Politics of Guilt and Pity
Gary North, Unconditional Surrender (http://www.garynorth.com/)
David Chilton, Paradise Restored
Stephen Perks, The Christian Philosophy of Education Explained (http://www.kuyper.org/)
Gary DeMar, Whoever Controls the Schools Rules the World (http://americanvision.org/)
Greg Bahnsen, By This Standard: The Authority of God’s Law Today
Joel McDurmon (http://americanvision.org)
Restoring American One County at a Time
Biblical Logic in Theory and Practice