« My blogistic compendium magisterium | Main | Pope says hellfire is real and eternal »

March 27, 2007


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Looking at the photo you included ("heavenly bottom"), I remembered how joyous it is to be a Lascivious Literatzi.

Like you, I'm a nonbeliever who has a fair familiarity with the bible. However, I disagree with your conclusion about teaching it in public schools. That would open the door to every theocratic nut who wants to control education.

For a full explanation of my view, you might enjoy reading my post at:

I think it is fine to critically study (not teach) the Bible, along with other religious texts, in public schools.

However, the courses must be secular in nature while avoiding all religious overtones. It would be equivalent to taking a religious studies course in any major liberal arts college.

I would definitely include readings from the following scholars:

Elaine Pagels
Karen King
Bart Ehrman
Karen Armstrong
Huston Smith

Who said I wasn't bias??

Marcel, lascivious? Who, me?

All I can say is that the photo makes me want to get behind the teachings of the Bible and tightly embrace them. How can that be a bad thing?

The Exterminator, you make good sense in your post. I liked your rules for teaching the Bible in public schools.

And I heartily agree that the Bible (like the Koran and most other religious books) is mostly deathly boring.

You'd think that if God wanted to spread his divine word, the Almighty would do it in a more readable fashion. Where's the holy page-turner?

Bob, good list. Yes, secularizing the Bible would be essential--but surely difficult for true believing teachers.

Dear Brian,

Although I fear that The Exterminator's caveats about dealing objectively with the Bible in public school settings are unfortunately all too real, I find your proposition very valuable for any Christian culture seeking to overcome its own prejudices and self-glorifying tendencies. (And the same would be true for other cultures, with their different "scriptures," just as well.)

It was only in the process of seriously studying the Bible (B.A. and M.A. in Religion [from a secular institution]) that I came to grasp it to be the insubstantial basis which it is for understanding "truth." When arguments over the "facts" in global warming often degenerate into little more than name-calling and questioning one another's credentials, I fear, however, that far too many prejudiced (and ignorant) "judges" would interfere with any "critical..." or "comprehensive..." teaching about the Bible (and the origins of either Judaism or Christianity [or Islam, etc., etc.]).

I like your suggestion. I "pray" for something like that to occur. But I have little hope to ever see it come about. May I be wrong in that lack of hope.

Robert Paul Howard

I say nay.

First let's teach accurate civics in schools. When the children don't know how the town they are in even gets to have a public school, trying to sell a secular study of religious texts is putting the cart before the Heirophant.

I don't care if there are ill-informed Christians. I'd like to see some partially-informed proles.

I can't say I comment much, but this topic interests me.

I have to agree with Edward.

Religion has taken the forefront of debate these days since people feel inclined to blame "Muslims" for terrorist attacks and the current American presidential administration favors the religious right on many issues.

However, why doesn't TIME run articles on the new and improved science and mathematics textbooks? Why is so much emphasis being placed on such a trivial piece of literature (seeing as few Caucasians understand the "bedrock of Western culture")?

In that article, the author cites literary analysis as a reason as to why it should be taught. Born Hindu, even as junior in high school, I knew four things about Christianity: One God, Jesus, Satan, Bible. When reading the novel "Darkness at Noon" in a high level English class, I asked who Judas was and received a seemingly, physically impossible jaw-drop from one of my close friends. I learned what I needed to. And now, in my Humanities (Western art and literature through the ages) class as senior, my teachers constructed an entire unit on Christianity. Every piece of art and literature after the death of Jesus contains Biblical references and believe me, I learn.

Personally, literary analysis does not stand as a serious argument.

I am of another mind, as well. Religious debate could perhaps increase in ferocity as well. Christians will become more Christian and other sects (Atheism, other religions, etc.) will find faults in the text to further pre-conceived notions or learn from it. For me, it doesn't seem anything will change.

We should stop wasting tax dollars to teach something with so little relevance. We seem to be getting along fine as it is, don't you?

Dear Brian,

You've reminded me of why I once wanted to be a tattoo artist -- for the religious experiences.

I'm of two minds about teaching the Bible in public schools. A part of me thinks doing so might wake up a few people to what that book is really about. Yet, another part of me is reluctant to inflict one of the world's poorest examples of wisdom literature on mere kids.

A broader question is why in this Christ intoxicated country so few people know their own holy scripture? I'll probably be awake all night thinking about that one. Do you have any ideas you can offer me about that?

Why not teach Mark Twain instead...and start with his "The Mysterious Stranger?"

(Others may be far-out, but, Edward, your posts are far-in. Inspiring!)

There's a simple answer to your question:

People don't like to read. It's easier to be told what to think and who I am. Tapping into that inherent trait (exacerbated by the broader consumer culture in which we live), religious leadership does not encourage any direct engagement with the mythology or meaning of the Bible but only the filtered version through dogma and doctrine.

After all, if "Christians" were encouraged to read it by religious leaders - heaven forbid - they might accidentally stumble across the parts about not judging, non-resistance, the folly of power and open up their minds to allow a spiritual critique of our society and culture. And there'd be no more religious leaders (and not as many anxious consumers, either).

"Christianity" is only one piece of the cultural puzzle though.

I'm not at all certain that one could teach the bible from a literary perspective only; the bible's central theme of covenental relationship to God cannot fail but to be mentioned, and thus theology makes an entrance.

If the bible truly is the foundation of "Western" civilisation (and is this point true? There are critiques that most "Christianities" have occasionally strayed from biblical teachings or at points totally ignored them, so that culture was formed in opposition to, rather than obedience of, biblical religious rules), then even a course that points out the difference between ideology and lived experience would still carry theological content. It would have to by default.

The 17th century scientists spoke of studying G-d's two books, the Bible and Nature. I'd like to embrace Nature, in the form of those beautiful tatooed buttocks!

As for the Prot fundies who'd excrete bricks were any view of the Bible but their own taught, may they inscribe all 613 commandments on their hearts! While they are recovering from amateur surgery, the rest of us could enjoy our lives!

Zhu Bajie, alive in the bitter sea

Just as a point of interest (perhaps), there is the theologian Walter Wink who floats the idea that the foundational myth of western society is the "Babylonian Myth of Redemptive Violence"

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.