You’ve addressed prejudice in graduate admissions against serious Christians in two posts (by the way, your line “Cry reason and let slip the dogs of argument” is by far my new favorite quotation). Fortunately, the people who wrote my own grad school recommendations were well aware of the problem. But what, if anything, can be done to address the problem of hostile admissions committees?
P.S. I know you are a Renaissance man, but if you tell me you can speak Klingon, I will be truly amazed. Please ease my curiosity on this matter.
In the short run, almost nothing can be done; you can’t expect admissions committees to be reasonable when the universities themselves are unreasonable. But if you take the long view, a lot can be done. The real task is to build a new intellectual culture.
Undergrads should prepare not just by doing their coursework but by reading widely outside of it. Excellent suggestions about what to read can be found in the Student Guides to the Major Disciplines, available through the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Though you can purchase them, I believe PDF versions are available for free. Christian students should also read widely in the classics of faith. It’s amazing how much is available online – works of the Patristic writers such as St. Augustine’s Confessions and City of God, works of Thomas Aquinas such as the Summa Theologiae and Summa Contra Gentiles, and all sorts of other things like G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man and C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, The Abolition of Man, and The Screwtape Letters.
Then get your foot in the door. That’s why the second post warned grad school recommenders not to frighten the timid and easily-alarmed secularists on admissions committees by praising applicants for being persons of faith.
Once you get through the door, excel. That’s what I meant in the first post when I wrote “Cry reason and let slip the dogs of argument.” To be viewed as half as good, grad students who reject the secularist and relativist consensus will have to be twice as good – and I mean twice as good at using their minds. Which is not a bad training.
Both during your graduate training and after you get your degree, think big. The problem is that our intellectual culture is grounded on practical atheism; you don’t have to be an atheist, but you are expected to impersonate one. Your calling is to work out the alternative.
Because you can’t even begin to work it out alone, join with other people are trying to do the same thing. I’ve written about that lately too, here and here. Think through the implications of Christian faith for scholarship. Form intellectual wagon trains. Be pioneers.
The very fact that you reject the prevailing academic ideology will offend many people. Don’t shrink from tough critique, but distinguish between avoidable and unavoidable offense. Be winsome. Persuade.
Now as to your postscript. I am sorry to disappoint you, but I am not a Renaissance man, and I don’t know a word of Klingon. But I can tell you this: vIq Hol Qatlh. mughmeH Qatlh. *