“Why Religious Literacy Matters”

21 06 2009
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31 responses

21 06 2009
boremetotears

O.M.G.!! There’s a Jesus Button??!? I want one!!

21 06 2009
JJ

You could pray for one — ask and ye shall receive? 😉

21 06 2009
JJ

I think Dale should’ve included my favorite Star Trek Next Generation story, as reason for every child to master religious power of story literacy:

Note that the Universal Translator clearly works, at least partly, on the Children of Tama. . . they hear proper names (appropriately) untranslated, but all the function words, common nouns, and verbs are translated—”Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”, “Shaka, when the walls fell”, “Temba, his arms wide”.

So the problem is not that Tamarese is beyond the capabilities of the Universal Translator, which must mean that the Children of Tama’s brains are running on more-or-less the same wavelength as everyone else’s. The problem, rather, is that they express themselves entirely using allusions to their mythology.

21 06 2009
boremetotears

What Dale talks about at 4:45 (the more you know, the less you believe) ties in with a post that I’d like to write about Sunday school syndrome, which is being touted as “ground breaking research” by Ken Ham (of Answers in Genesis). Very generally, the more time that children spend in Sunday school, the less likely they are to remain religious. It sounds like the broken record I play over at my blog about apologetics: the more time you spend thinking about the apologies, the more painful the cognitive dissonance becomes. I’ve mentioned that it’s a recurring theme at ex-Christian sites: I was a Christian… until I started working my way through “the proof” (for God). I’d be all for “Bible literacy” in schools if it were truly about literacy and not just the latest trojan horse crafted by the “Have-you-seen-my-puppy?” Christian evangelists trying to lure and deflower “unchurched” children.

21 06 2009
boremetotears

At the page I linked, featured in the sidebar is a book by “astrophysicist” apologist, “Doctor” Jason Lisle. It’s a “completely new 21st century guide to defending the Christian faith” that will help you “learn how to move beyond simple circular arguments”! [laughing] Who’s in charge of editing over there? 🙂

21 06 2009
JJ

Thereby explaining why we all need to learn to accurately translate and understand such language, so that we can interpret what’s really meant by it in public policy decisions like education.

Here’s more about the storytelling language in Star Trek:TNG:

POSSIBLE PRECEDENTS FOR THE TAMARIAN LANGUAGE
. . . one language in SF that seem to come from the same linguistic family: the Ascian language in Gene Wolfe’s The Citadel of the Autarch.

Ascians live under an Orwellian state which permits them to speak only “Correct Thought.”

Correct Thoughts are homilies taken from a finite set of Approved Texts. For example, we learn that Ascian beggars ask for coins by repeating the maxim, “It is better to be just than to be kind, but only good judges can be just; let those who cannot be just, be kind.”

. . .there is a similarity between Tamarian and the highly allusive speech of the characters in Lady Murasaki’s _Tale of Genji_, a Japanese fiction of ca. 1005 AD, considered by some to be the world’s first novel.

Indeed, since for centuries the Chinese civil service exam has consisted of reciting poetry, it is easy to imagine court proceedings that would sound almost Tamarian.

Btw, Favorite Daughter finished her first university term Friday and spoke with her religion professor after their last class. The professor urged FavD to do more than minor in religious study as planned, to “double major” because “you really seem to have a gift for this.”

I agree! — and she’s seriously contemplating the suggestion now, but if true, these are words with more than one truth to understand, considering that FavD’s real gift is for creative writing and meaning-packed poetry. 😉

21 06 2009
JJ

LMAO, Lynn!

22 06 2009
Dawn

I did not watch the video. Honestly, people at the blog I read should provide full transcripts so those of us who are broadband impaired can follow the discussion. 😀

22 06 2009
JJ

Hi Dawn, lucky duck, look at that cool auto-generated avatar!

22 06 2009
JJ

Senator Jim DeMint coming out so strongly with religious reasoning against the hate crimes legislation, is an interesting example. Our kids — all kids — ought to be able to think this through, but to do that, they need to know what’s behind it.

Shall we look at it together, like a class project, see what we see?

Letter from Conservative Leaders Implores Senators to Filibuster Hate Crimes Bill

MEDIA ADVISORY, June 16 /Christian Newswire/ — This week, a letter is being hand-delivered to every member of the United States Senate imploring conservatives to join Senator Jim DeMint’s filibuster of the pending Hate Crimes bill, which would criminalize preaching the Gospel and put preachers in the crosshairs.

The letter explains that, in its current form, the Hate Crimes legislation would: “Silence the moral voice of the Church” — “Punish principled dissent from the homosexual agenda” — “Be a savage and perhaps fatal blow to First Amendment freedom of expression” – – and “Empower the left and encourage it to move forward with even more radical measures.”

The letter is signed by more than 60 conservative leaders, including some of the leading lights of the Values Voter movement, among them: James Dobson (Focus On The Family), Tony Perkins (Family Research Council), Don Wildmon (American Family Association), Gary Bauer (American Values), Hon. Tom DeLay (former Majority Whip, U.S. House of Representatives), Phyllis Schlafly (Eagle Forum), Mat Staver (Liberty Counsel), Wendy Wright (Concerned Women for America) and Rick Scarborough (Vision America).

Vision America President Dr. Rick Scarborough commented: “We are urging Senators to join DeMint (R, SC) in filibustering this pernicious — one might almost say ‘toxic’ — legislation. As Values Voter leaders, we are saying this vicious assault on the Church and the First Amendment must not and will not be allowed to succeed.”

22 06 2009
JJ

AND of special note to home education parents pressured to support a federal “parental rights amendment” because parents are under attack as a minority from the larger community — guess who’s making the exact same argument with the opposite conclusion, all at the same time?

Why, Senator Jim DeMint of course!

Parental Rights Amendment Introduced in the United States Senate

WASHINGTON, June 22 /Christian Newswire/ –Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina recently introduced a Parental Rights Amendment calling for parental rights to be explicitly protected in the Constitution as a fundamental and not just an implied right. Designated Senate Joint Resolution 16, the proposal is a companion bill to House Joint Resolution 42, introduced by Rep. Pete Hoekstra on March 31, 2009, which would prevent international law from interfering with state laws on families and children.

“Now we’re finding that parental rights are being attacked by courts all over the country,” DeMint explains. “And as we look at where this country is going, particularly [regarding] more association with the United Nations and [consideration of] the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, these treaties would supersede all the laws in 50 states.”

The efforts of ParentalRights.org and its extensive grassroots following have been successful in encouraging sponsorship in the House, working with Rep. Hoekstra’s office to secure 101 sponsors to date. To read more about the Amendment, visit http://www.parentalrights.org.

22 06 2009
JJ

Dana and Spunky among others, are arguing for (or at least leaning toward) the federal parental rights amendment, and beginning to float the strategy of spreading conservative Christian homeschooling fears to “other parents” too, to build political support for same —

But can that strategy itself be defended as moral and ethical “public education”, when conservative Christian homeschool hardball players make up their strategic mind what they want for their own political advantage, never mind other American parents, kids and families, and then spread hate and fear to get it? I’m not answering, I am ASKING — I am suggesting we need to have that question ever in the forefront of our thinking, or else the whole moral family-values line of reasoning is a lie, especially in what we think of as education policy:

Dana said:
“Most studies (if not all) begin with someone who has their own goals.”

Which is why there are ethical principles for human studies (including simple surveys) to guard against deception, exploitation, falsified data etc –

22 06 2009
Nance Confer

What is FavD’s professor urging her to do? Continue exploring or convert? He’s not thinking along conversion lines, is he. No, of course not. So he wants her to . . . . get into debunking? What do religious studies majors do after they leave college? And where can I buy her first book? 🙂

Nance

22 06 2009
JJ

Professor Doctor SHE (shame on you, Nance!) is definitely academic, no conversion in mind. 😉

That’s theology and divinity, not religious studies. This is more like history and cultural anthropology through the religious lens. Relevant for this new century, very power of true story . . .

p.s. She’s delighted at the idea of a first book and will send you one, autographed. . . . 😀

22 06 2009
boremetotears

…definitely academic, no conversion in mind.

The elites that run our academic institutions have *only* conversion in mind. Silly, JJ. We’ve been reading comments on your blog long enough to know that!
😉

22 06 2009
JJ

Well. 🙂

22 06 2009
Nance Confer

Why does it matter whether the professor is a “he” or “she?” Are you suggesting the female professor can’t be as underhanded in trying to convert FavD as her male counterparts? 🙂

But it’s all history, etc. OK. As long as they are not messing with FavD.

Looking forward to the book. 🙂

Nance

22 06 2009
terry@ breathing grace

What I know about the federal parental rights amendment (and I admit my knowledge is fairly limited) does indeed suggest that this issue should matter to parents beyond those of us who are religious or conservative. It seems that people tend to think of us as religious kooks when we seek the freedom to raise and guide our children as we see fit. But don’t parents of all religious and social stripes seek the same? When the political winds are blowing your way (as is the case for liberals right now), it’s easy to write this type of thing off as religious fanatacism (did I spell that right?).

But one of my big problems with many in the conservative Christian community is the almost univrsal refusal to reach out to those with whom we share common ground. And particularly in the case of homeschooling, I think its important to stop swiping and join forces against the idea that parents have to be on the defensive, that we are guilty until proven inncent and that any family that dares to take the road less traveled needs to be legislated into submission to groupthink. JJ, you know a bit about the area where I grew up and one thing is certain as I have seen in the Black community I was raised in: dogmatic and blind allegiance to any political group is a death sentence to a group pf people. Why is it that the idea of parental rights has to be universally denounced by liberals? Especially since as homeschoolers, you obviously enjoy the freedom to raise your children as you see fit

My personal opinion is that if Americans were less apathetic and more informed this type of massive action as a Constitutional amendment wouldn’t necessary.
This could be taken care of in the voting booth within the context of current law. But people know more about American Idol than they do about their rights and responsibilities as outlined in the Constitution.

22 06 2009
Dana

Uh, you completely misunderstood my post if you think I’m arguing for the parental rights amendment. I actually specifically stated that I’m against it.

This is also a misrepresentation:

…and beginning to float the strategy of spreading conservative Christian homeschooling fears to “other parents” too, to build political support for same –

First, I can’t float any strategy for anything, especially for an amendment I’m opposed to. Second, what I would advocate if anyone were to listen isn’t to spread our fears but to see what other people’s concerns are.

And the “strategy,” is taken directly from the example of those who have opposed the parental rights amendment in the past. Dislike all the studies and opinion polls and collection of talking points if you like, but it isn’t a tactic used exclusively by the right.

22 06 2009
JJ

I’ve been reading Spunky too, Dana, particularly her fears of national public school standards and her thoughts about enlisting public school parents in some sort of standardized testing boycott or protest. And opposing the UNCRC of course — so I see (and meant to blog) a bigger picture than one limited to pro- or anti- the parent rights amendment.

But I’m sorry that I didn’t reflect your personal thinking accurately (and didn’t take much trouble to do so, just wanted to reference you) — hence the link so people could see more for themselves. Also I apologize for being pesky at your place today about the difference between sincerely asking other people what they think so we can benefit from their povs , or just collecting data on them so we can figure out how to sway them or enlist them in homeschooling’s cause. Thanks for putting up with that, and for the clarification here.

22 06 2009
JJ

Hi Terry, I do agree with this (being nonpartisan myself!):
“dogmatic and blind allegiance to any political group is a death sentence to a group pf people. ”

I wonder if this is more Tower of Babel trouble like I had with Luke of Sonlight curriculum last week, about whether homeschooling is meant to “fit children for usefulness in their stations.”

I don’t think your idea that all liberals are against parent rights is a useful one fitted to American home education’s um, station? 😉

My past ten years in home education public advocacy has been hearing all about those stupid, lazy, greedy, godless public school families etc etc — oh, and how if my daughter is sexually active or my son is gay, the RR wants government to legislate what’s fitting and what’s not. So I just don’t see anybody liberal OR conservative with a lock on REAL parent freedom and I don’t expect to . . .

22 06 2009
Crimson Wife

FWIW, the one Religious Studies major I knew in college (one of my sorority sisters) became a rabbi.

The Anthropology major I knew (another of my sorority sisters) became a stockbroker.

23 06 2009
terry@ breathing grace

Well, JJ, I have 4 teens in public school and our family is neither lazy nor godless. We are also a homeschool family- or will be if it’s not overrun with regualtion or outlawed altogether in the next few years. We are black conservatives (not republicans) who don’t fit neatly into ANY box.

I didn’t mean to imply that liberals are against parental rights as a whole, but it certainly seems to be the case when the subject of religious parents is raised. I would like to see, like I said before a retreat from this idea of parents as guilty until proven innocent.

23 06 2009
JJ

(Don’t you want to deny stupid and greedy too??) 😉

I know, I remember and I’m glad your family is part of the conversation precisely because you DON’T just neatly fit your little prescribed and assumed social stations. Nobody does, nobody wants to. And I’m not even sure anymore that “liberals” and “conservatives” exist in reality. Words like that instead seem to create some political mythology of convenience, that dehumanizes us all when we believe it as literal truth.

And from long and painful experience I literally believe the adjective Christian isn’t a very useful word fitted to its station anymore . . .

23 06 2009
Nance Confer

Terry: “I didn’t mean to imply that liberals are against parental rights as a whole, but it certainly seems to be the case when the subject of religious parents is raised.”

If there’s some truth to that, why do you think that is?

When we see a religious parent fighting for something that guarantees “parental rights” above and beyond the rights all of us have, why do you think that might raise a red flag?

Nance

23 06 2009
COD

Well, the guy behind the Parental Rights movement, Michael Faris, has a long and well documented track record of not being particularly concerned about the rights of anybody, except Dominionist Christians that donate to his organization.

Why exactly would any rational person trust anything he is involved with?

23 06 2009
JJ

It sure does give me pause. . .

5 07 2009
JJ

Funny post on this general subject from Mrs. C. today:

If I can’t get my kids to quit discussing farts at the dinner table, do you think that somehow I’m going to be able to turn out zealots for Jesus who believe exactly as I do? Come on, now.

5 07 2009
Nance Confer

Or that anyone in the UN is going to have better luck either way? 🙂

Nance

5 07 2009
JJ

A quote printed in FavD’s new American passport (currently with her in London):

“The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect,
a party or a class —
it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.”

– Anna Julia Cooper”

Btw Dr. Cooper is a great unschooling sleuth for freedom lovers — female or not, African-American or not, also for Americans in Paris like FavD and her friend have planned all year to become. Here’s the wikipedia starting line.

6 07 2009
JJ

I commented in Mrs. C’s thread to pursue the power of religious story further:

JJ Ross said…

To get serious about this, we can think of dogma like diets. From vegan to junk food and everything in between, each human gets to choose to consciously follow a diet or not and if so, to choose which one/s. But as we go about our individual choices, don’t force-feed anyone, not even your own children. For universal human health don’t make it the fat people against the thin people, or the fish-eaters (Catholics) against the cheese-eaters (Protestants) nor any other war over dogma or diet, because war like force-feeding is itself unhealthy and immoral no matter the beliefs behind the war!

Like dogma, your commitment to a way of eating isn’t a matter of the particular diet you choose to believe in for yourself or your children, but the reality of it in your life once chosen, whether it’s demonstrably “good” for you and your family or not. So much depends on how you choose, how well you use your good mind to learn about eating and diets, adapt that knowledge to your own means and needs and then how you practice it over a lifetime, the results you experience, whether it creates and expands human health and happiness, or limits and destroys it, etc.

Then how do you present your personal diet choices to others? — are you thoughtfully self-disciplined about that or do you push it, sell it, even legislate it onto others indiscriminately? Go to war over it? Does it bring people closer together or drive wedges between you and others?

Last year in the news there was a shocking pro-anorexia site for vulnerable young girls, that glamorized and “evangelized” starvation, presented it as a positive but persecuted community of faith peers who should band together as disciples and fight the rest of the world trying to interfere. That is free belief and free speech but I say it’s monstrously immoral no matter whether I personally am fat or thin, or whether my own daughter gets sucked into it, whether I personally believe there’s a god who wants one or the other, or not.

I choose to fight against such seductive public power of story with my own freedoms because I believe it is evil and destructive to humanity. My weapon of choice (literally) is EDUCATION — not inculcation through schooling of any kind religious or secular, but actual education to help kids develop not a dogma or a diet but a healthy respect for themselves and others as thinking, choosing individuals. If we do it “right” they can freely and consciously choose to commit their own lives, liberties and pursuits to fighting for every human’s right to the same. No matter what they eat at home any day of the week. 🙂

A quote printed in FavD’s new American passport (currently with her en route to Paris):

“The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect,
a party or a class —
it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.”

– Anna Julia Cooper”

Btw I know nothing of her dogma or diet but Dr. Cooper was born a slave and her life story is a good educational sleuth for freedom lovers — female or not, African-American or not, especially for unschoolers who love Paris like FavD and her friend.

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