How much do any of us remember about the specific content of college classes?
A walk on Manhattan's Park Avenue, with the Seagram Building on one side and Lever House on the other, reminds me of architecture professor Vincent Scully's lavish praise of them. Occasionally I remember other professorial lectures. But 40 years ago I met two journalists, and theirs was the gift that kept on taking—taking me to a desire to echo their sardonic negativity about America.
One, Seymour Hersh, was 33 at the time. The other, David Halberstam, was 36. Both had recently won Pulitzer Prizes for their anti-war reporting from Vietnam. I met them before I knew much about them, and then started reading more by and about them. They seemed admirable. First they won my heart. Then they won my brain.
Both Halberstam, now deceased, and Hersh, still ticking, were leftists, but the same pattern is observable on the right. In WORLD Magazine’s April 24 issue we ran an interview with National Review editor Rich Lowry (see "Young and restless"), who said, "It's very telling how political psychology works: I saw Bill Buckley on his famous television program Firing Line and was blown away by his persona. . . . That's how I discovered National Review and that's how I got a political education."
Lowry and I both worked our way backward: What do these people believe? That's frequently the case with others as well. And that's what's so troubling about conversations I have with many evangelicals of college age and slightly beyond: They frequently cannot think of a single conservative evangelical whom they admire. Some of them in 2008, as they encountered laudatory coverage of Barack Obama, gave their hearts to him, switching off their brains in the process.
Conservative evangelicals over 50 are worried about those under 30. They worry about lack of church attendance and commitment, although—historically—age and children lead many wanderers home. They also worry about a political slide to the left, and it's too early to tell whether a growing awareness of the reality of sin and the unreality of utopias will do the same. Thus the question arises: What can elders do to keep the young from being lost at sea?