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Summary: The foundations in America are showing signs of crumbling. We need some firm foundations.

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September 22, 2002

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, And do not the things which I say? 47Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: 48He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6.46-49 (KJV)

Winchester Cathedral was dedicated in 1093 AD¡KEurope¡¦s oldest gothic church; [it is] a magnificent and massive architectural creation¡K. Winchester Cathedral is indeed a sight to behold.

In 1905, however, some serious signs of structural weakness appeared in the cathedral ¡V ominous cracks began to develop. Some architectural experts suggested buttresses to prop up the walls, or tie-rods to hold them together. Finally, an expert maintained that the foundation should be probed and so deep shafts were dug to the foundation. There they discovered that the great cathedral had been constructed on a bog. The original builders had laid tree trunks flat on the soft watery soil, and on that had reared their building. The miracle was that the building had stood as long as it had.

In 1906, W.G. Walker in a deep-sea diving suit began working in water thick and brown digging down through eight feet of peat. He picked the peat out in sections and replaced it with concrete. It took him five and a half years to restore the cathedral¡¦s rotting foundation.(1)

It is far easier (in the long-run), less expensive, and smarter to build on a solid foundation. That is true for buildings of rock, wood and stone; it is true for the buildings of our lives. That is not happening in America today.

John Leo, columnist for U.S. News & World Report referred to a recent Zogby International poll of college seniors: Almost all of the 401 randomly selected students around the country ¡V 97 percent ¡V said their college studies had prepared them to behave ethically in their future work lives. So far, so good. But 73 percent of the students said that when their professors taught about ethical issues, the usual message was that uniform standards of right and wrong don¡¦t exist (¡§what is right and wrong depends on differences in individual values and cultural diversity¡¨). It¡¦s not news that today¡¦s campuses are drenched in moral relativism. (2)

Moral relativism is the opposite of strong moral foundations in life. Leo, in that same article, pointed to a college class where a professor reported that between 10 and 20% of his students could not bring themselves to condemn the Nazi extermination of Jews¡Ksince no culture can be judged from the outside and no individual can challenge the moral worldview of another¡K.To claim knowledge as universal truth is impossible. There is no truth, just narratives and stories that ¡¥work¡¦ for particular communities¡K.Since ¡¥truth¡¦ is an act of community empowerment, truth is whatever the tribe or the individual says it is. This is why debate and argument have disappeared from the modern campus ¡V to criticize anyone¡¦s ideas is a personal assault, like attacking someone for liking chocolate ice cream¡K. If all beliefs are equally valid, there is nothing to debate¡K.The nation is currently outraged about the moral shenanigans of the tycoon class, but it¡¦s hard to see how things will improve if we teach the next generation that standards don¡¦t exist and moral debate is a personal violation and a sham.(3)


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