Growing up in an Orthodox Jewish community, Celeste Marcus thought she knew something about dogmatism. Then she went to college:
College students, whether they are secular or religious, . . . have dogmas, cults, temples, scriptures, prooftexts, prophets, and methods of excommunication. Their loyalty to the group and its doctrine is often about the reward of belonging to a culture and a community. But inside their institutions of faith and ritual, they pursue the good life that their gods prescribe. . . .
I was raised in an Orthodox community, and so I recognized the religiosity and the piety. But I must note a significant difference. My denomination of Judaism, which calls itself Modern Orthodoxy, allowed for students to ask why we think what we think and why we do what we do. We were permitted to speak skeptically and express doubt. . . . (Granted, we still had to keep performing the practices, despite the overwhelming stream of underwhelming answers). The spiritual leaders—the good ones, anyway—are trained in a dialectical tradition, and they must show that they have mastered the vast and quarrelsome literature of the rabbis before they can claim, and are given, authority. They are trained to hold long, complicated conversations about hard questions.
So it was surprising for me to discover secular orthodoxies that are even more insular and disciplined than religious ones. The secular faiths that I see on campus demand certainty about questions that are too complex and too broad for certainty to be possible. They do not allow for questioning.