Some Steinbeck

There’s an almost insufferable conversation going on behind me in the Language Lab at the ACAD building. Keep in mind I go to a shockingly conservative school — no wonder that the Bush family already have a grave plot on campus (seriously). A self-proclaimed Pentacostal Christian undergraduate (heretofore known as SPPC) conversating with a French-speaking foreign-exchange student (FSFES). It escalates. It become unbearable for me not to say something. SPPC doesn’t believe in free education. FSFES does. Bible verses are brought to the table. SPPC says he believes in capitalism; he then references a verse that endorses socialism (his words) and laughs at how absurd it is that he must believe that. Must believe that. I jump in. Another girl jumps in. SPPC feels attacked and retracts some of his statements.

When it comes to free education, I know it’s a hard thing to fathom ever happening. Maybe even illogical. It’s about on the same caliber as ending world poverty. But that doesn’t mean it’s worthless to try or that there are valid reasons against it. Someone could convince me to be for it, but not against it. The conversation became almost meta, and had certainly taken a wishy-washy turn on someone’s part. SPPC believes that free education doesn’t jive with capitalism, it doesn’t jive with the established hierarchy of poor versus rich, haves versus have-nots. Ignorant versus intelligent. FSFES, the other girl, and I are blinking in disbelief. There’s so much I could say about this but I don’t have the time. I’ll take a note from SPPC and quote a book that I hold dear.

And I feel that a man is a very important thing—maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed— because ‘Thou mayest.’”

– John Steinbeck,

    East of Eden

Read the rest of the excerpt at if you’re confused as to what I’m trying to say. My main point is that SPPC is illustrating the very fact that he can believe whatever he wants, regardless of why — but if he can’t back up what he says, then I’m in big favor of him learning the value of paying to learn what he will learn in his coming years at university about getting along with people, understanding other people’s views, changing the world around him and growing. I want to say more, but I want to play off of what other people have to say. I just had to jot some thoughts down.


5 comments on “Some Steinbeck”

  1. great quote.


    For your free education thing, you might also like-

    “I think if we forbade our illiterate children to touch the wonderful things of our literature, perhaps they might steal them and find secret joy.”
    -John Steinbeck

  3. I think a very important discussion in our country at the moment is on the matter of what is considered a “right.” Like health care. I think health care and education are required for a happy life, and both allow for the continuity of our society…

    I adore Steinbeck, he’s certainly one of the essential modern American writers. I haven’t read East of Eden but I did read the link you posted. I think that SPPC, like many people in this town, take spirituality way out of context. It seems that when one’s scientific or political or social beliefs contradict religious beliefs, it becomes this huge inner turmoil that festers. Religion, namely Christianity, is apart from everything else in this world because it is not a hard science and it is also quite ancient. Crazies need to stop taking things out of context and see the world for what it is, not some Christian rendering.

    sorry for the verbosity, hah.

    good post girly

  4. I wish I had more to say about this. Rarely can you discuss something complicated with someone who “believe[s] whatever [s]he wants, regardless of why.” I’ve attempted to do this, and it always ends very badly for me. Too often people justify their beliefs with intuition instead of reason. Also, people are unable or unwilling to comprehend this distinction. This is the point where I begin to get frustrated. I think intuition plays a part in forming beliefs, but intuition alone isn’t sufficient justification for holding a belief. Pick your battles!!!!

    • Your comment brings up a good point about how people are unable or unwilling to comprehend the distinction between intuition and reason when considering their beliefs. I feel like even less people comprehend the difference between believing IN something. Then again… that’s where the discussion usually stops. And that’s just poking at rhetoric and diction — which is where the original conversation ended up going!

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