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LN Feature: Truth at the Crossroads

On the feature this week, a look at a new media enterprise promoting a Christian worldview on the humanities, and on the human condition generally.

It’s a new website, and the man behind it is Dr. Scott Masson.

He’s an Associate Professor of English at Tyndale University College in Toronto. In the past, Dr. Masson has also been associated with Joe Boot’s Ezra Institute and the Westminster Classical Christian Academy in Toronto.

LN: So you’ve started a new enterprise – a new website called VeraCrux.com. [www.veracrux.com] Talk to me a little bit about what it is and what you’re trying to achieve with it.

SM: Well what it is, is a news aggregator website like Drudge or Zero Hedge. There are a few different sites out there that are news aggregator sites like this. And it’s going to draw together articles from across the media landscape to try and bring a little cogency and coherence – and maybe a bit of wisdom – to the news. The reason I’m doing it is that I’m a Humanities scholar, and about 30 years ago – when I was still an undergraduate – deconstruction came into the academy, as did a variety of identity group approaches to the Humanities, which I think have effectively destroyed the Humanities from within. And we’re seeing that spilling out now into the broader culture with the way in which human interests are being addressed; not from a common human interest perspective, but from an identity group perspective. And I think that’s devastating, and I think there’s a need for a Christian voice on human nature to be addressed in the news. And the news aggregator site will just bring all the articles together, and my commentary will form a part of that.

LN: So what kinds of links and stories will you aggregate? Is it primarily stuff written by Christians for Christians, or is this a broader exercise to give people a wider – although somewhat guided – exposure to what’s out there?

SM: It’s not primarily stuff written by Christians for Christians. There may be some of that, but it certainly won’t be the majority. It will be a broader approach, bringing articles from across the media landscape. And what they will have in common is that they will speak to the concerted but quite varied attack on the human person, which is really the foundation of western jurisprudence and western culture and western politics and family law and ethics and so forth. But these are being addressed not just in Christian venues; they’re being addressed all over the media landscape – on the left, on the right, on the blogosphere, etc. But there is a lack of coherence drawing those stories together, and I think that I can do that as a Christian working in the academy. And that’s what I think I am aiming to provide. So it’s not trying to be partisan in the political sense, it’s giving human counsel on matters of human interest that are broadly shared even outside the Christian community. So I hope to appeal to people who aren’t Christians.

LN: You know, I’m looking at the site right now. I’m just on it, and just sort of clicked randomly on the home page, and the material (the headlines are) kind of all over the place. You know, “Trudeau Government Unveils Reproductive Health Projects”, “Victor Davis Hansen: Has Globalism gone off the rails?” Here’s one:  “Young Japanese people are not having sex.” I mean it’s all over the place, and it’s really kind of an eclectic collection. Is that on purpose?

SM: Well, yes. Because the broad range of interests are all human interests, and – you know – they break down into… I mean, at the top I think there are headings: “Politics”, “Arts & Culture”, “Education”, “Business”, “Religion”, “Family”, “Law”, (and) “Science and Technology”. But all of these have (something) in common: they have to have a basis in foundations. (In) answers to fundamental human questions about beauty, truth, and goodness, which are a part of what historically those who are in Christendom would regard as a human good, which are a product of the Personhood of the Triune God. The three-personal nature of God himself, and the divine human nature of Jesus Christ. That leads to the Humanities; the Liberals Arts, the seven liberal arts that were in the medieval universities. That common ground is expressed in the kaleidoscopic range of interests that you see on the website. But I think there is a common ground; the common ground will be articulated in the commentary that I give to it.

LN: So where does this fit into the broader context of media that Christians are following – or at least should be following?  I’m thinking of LifeSite News, the Gospel Coalition, Lighthouse News (this program); there’s already a fair bit of stuff out there.

SM: Hm-hm. Well, the site’s still developing I guess, but my sense is that there is no curated news aggregator site of the sort that I am currently working on. Drudge is out there, which is broadly speaking drawing conservative, Republican articles. Zero Hedge is out there on a fiscal conservative-type landscape, but there’s nothing there that is addressing the Humanities in its broadest sense, and giving a Christian voice to it.

I called the site VeraCrux.com [www.veracrux.com]- tag line “Truth at the Crossroads.” What I had in mind there (it’s a made-up word, by the way – Truth and Crossroad or Cross), it’s a reference to Proverbs 1 to 9, where we hear two women calling out in the streets – in the marketplace, if you will. Lady Wisdom on the one hand and the voice of Folly and Sin. I think without a unified understanding of all the diverse stories that are out there, it’s very easy to lose your way, and hard to orientate yourself to all of these things that are happening. I think all you can do is despair. And I’m seeing a lot of Christians doing that, in part because there is no voice of wisdom. I don’t claim to be the repository of wisdom, but I think I do have some wisdom about what is happening in the Humanities and how it plays out. So that’s what it’s providing.

LN: So how badly is this needed within the context of the day to day material that Christians are exposing themselves to on a regular basis? I mean, whether we like it or not, most people say they’re too busy to go surfing the Web for specific stuff like this. They generally still get their news from sources like the CBC, the Globe & Mail, or maybe the National Post. But that’s precisely because they think they’re too busy to seek this stuff out. How do you change that mindset?

SM: Well in a sense it’s a reflection of that. They’re too busy to seek it out, and therefore it’s being sought for them. And secondly, even when they find it, how are they going to process it? And I don’t think that they’ve been given the tools and the machinery to deal with post-modern literary criticism, and the way it works out today in politics today, and identity group studies and in the way that the binary nature of human beings – male and female – (is) being attacked. Not only from within the academy, but in politics. They don’t know how to process that. Did they have a background in post-modern literary theory? I don’t think so. I think Christians avoid it like the plague. Understandably, in some ways. But you need that understanding in order to make sense of contemporary affairs. So yeah, of course, where will you go when you’re busy to find out information about this? I think a site that draws those diverse interests together, and yet provides a unifying voice to it, is sorely needed precisely by the people who are too busy.

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