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11 Responses to “The Fourth R”

  1. Carl Creasman says:

    As a modern educator, a Professor and Chair of the History Program, I agree wholeheartedly in your perspective and your historical analysis. Your take, I fear, represents the future continued decline of our country, though if we can raise the alarm enough, perhaps others will hear!

  2. marble says:

    Delighted to see the T.S. Eliot take on the Fourth R. . . . and (as usual) you’ve come up with a powerful depiction of the bad consequences of having gone astray. Rock pile, indeed. No wonder so many students hate school.

  3. Dave Thom says:

    Mike, nice job. You paint the Middle Ages almost a bit too kindly, but never mind, the Middle Ages deserves better press and you gave it its over-due due for its bright side. Gatto used the word “meaning” but if I was your editor I’d ask you to squeeze in the word Real to make the R emphasis round-out in a final R. Still, a further comment: Secularists I know sincerely believe their lives are full of meaning and they often very generously propose that we’re all seeking “good things” but that they do so without the imaginary fluff of gods & myths, making their inquiry a lot more pure (and therefore more likely to succeed) because in their asking questions, they’ll ask better questions, having removed superfluous issues. My answer back is, and to put it on a plane with your essay, is that Real Religion includes real questions and not pat-answers. That’s the secularists’ real concern: we religious types have stopped asking questions, and instead we have accepted pat-answers in the form of religion. We appear to them to have a long way to go to keep our own questions real. When we sound or act like know-it-alls is when we lose touch with reality (& religion). You keep raising great questions, and you help me bring up questions I’ve never dreamed of asking! Thanks for keeping it real.

  4. John Seel says:

    Unlike moderns, people in the Middle Ages believed that religion spoke about reality, not subjective opinion. This shift has made all the difference in the public imagination.

  5. Larry Dyer says:

    Thanks very much for a most interesting read.
    God still has the final word on things including “Education.” Consider what He said here: “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24 and again: “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.” Proverbs 21:30 This the “education” a man needs to “know”.

  6. Russ Schlecht says:

    Mike, thank you again for getting me “dialed in” this morning. It’s wonderful to have our common focus clearly stated but in new ways and with fresh information to back it. I appreciate your work!

  7. Nathan Miller says:

    While I agree with gusto on most points – I can not agree that religion has been removed as the “fourth R.” It appears that this has happened – but the reality is that we have simply excluded MOST religion from our education system. We have done this as a defensive mechanism for protecting the one religion currently held by a majority of academia today – secular humanism layered on atheism.

    Atheists will howl that “Atheism is not a religion – but if you look at what religion is – there is no stretching required in order to apply this label. By definition, religion is: “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe…” The atheists base their system of beliefs in this area on the absence of any god – where the Christian is a “monotheist” who bases their understanding on a system that includes one (mono) true God.

    Those who care about education must deal honestly and directly with the reality that as leftists succeeded in driving Christianity from education, they have indeed installed what amounts to a “state religion” by default.

  8. Ray Blunt says:


    Week in and week out you write some of the most thoughtful, fulsome, and wise articles I encounter on the web. As a (now) teacher of apologetics and worldview in a classical Christian high school in Centreville, VA, almost everything you write on is marvelous food for the next generation. Many are spot on for our conversations any week, Keep persisting,


  9. kyle vitasek says:

    Mike, thank you for continuing this work of writing to enlighten us to the four-chapter world all around us, and the forces that endeavor to de-root it. The enlightenment gave us “higher education,” which began a slippery slope. I’d like to see us work more trades education into our secondary ed system, so that when students graduate and have the decision to enter the work force or get further training they will really have that choice, rather than being subject to a system that trains them to “think” above all else, and try to get a desk job so that they can “manage” others and make a great salary.

    My personal experience holds true to your thesis. I would have rather been mentored by a business leader than watch my parents transfer their retirement income into the state school coffers so that I might sit under many who desire to “pick apart” my presuppositions, and leave me w/no roots, rather than honor the fact that we all have presuppositions and may learn from one another, and flourish together if we have some sort of root, rather than none.

    Thank God for the few men and women who were connected to their roots, and respected mine, and for those men and women involved in the Fellows Initiative. I almost wish I had found them directly after high school, but alas i think the timing was right.

    Maybe some day we’ll be at the point where high-schoolers can do something like TFI instead of going to a school that will try to “root up” their religious grounding.

    I hope these comments have been helpful. Thanks again for writing.


  10. Dwightk says:

    Makes me think of Prov29:18 (which I like in the KJV):

    “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

    The ESV has “cast off restraint” for “perish”

  11. Freedom Comes From Religious Education, But Not Just Any Religion | Darrow Miller & Friends says:

    […] Metzgerā€™s recent essay, The Fourth R caught my attention. (As we wrote here, Mike is the Senior Fellow and President of the Clapham […]

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