18 February 2004

Ignorance, to our detriment

Ryan makes the following observation:

It’s quite sad that we don’t have similar public religious studies education in America. I envy all my colleagues who had the benefit of a rigorous Catholic school education, steeped in theology and religious history. Public school kids would do well to learn a little religious history. In my public school we learned nothing about religion—I was forced to study on my own, borrowing philosophy and religious history texts from Olympia Public Library. I was both unsurprised and appalled when I saw this post over at Crooked Timber:

I’ve wondered before about this, in part because of a course in Classical Social Theory that I teach. I usually take a detour for a lecture before we read some Max Weber, because a chunk of the class (upper-level undergraduates) will have no clear idea what the Reformation was. This surprised me when it first happened, but now I anticipate it. Last year I got a very nice evaluation from an evangelical Protestant student saying, in part, “Thanks for respecting my views and for all the information about where Protestantism came from! I never knew that!” She would wear “Jesus Loves You” t-shirts to class and really livened up our discussions about Durkheim.

Now, I hardly expect all evangelicals to teach their children their own religious history, outside the occasional hagiographic sketch of the sect founder. To expect more would be absurd. But is it really that unreasonable to wish that any child coming out of a basic high school education in America would at least have a good idea of what the Reformation was? Ugh.

I envy my Catholic sistren and brethren too.  I was raised in the evangelical environment, and everything was filtered through that lens, and so there was a decided lack of historical background or context.  Even though I went to religious schools, I had to do the same thing as you — borrow texts in philosophy, theology, religious history, and the sociology of religion from acquaintances and libraries.

Americans are possibly the only nation I can think of with this simultaneous attraction and great fear of religion.  And we’re the poorer for it: we know very little about other religions (and if that threatens one’s faith to know about other religions, then it’s a pretty poor faith one has; anything else is probably intellectually dishonest), and we know very little real information about our own religion (whatever that is.

Posted in Rayleejun on 18 February 2004 at 11:12 am by Nate

Margaret Cho responds…

“Queens do not play. They will fucking kill you.
Lesbians know how to throw a punch that will leave a very large bruise,
and aren’t opposed to kicking protesting men right in the balls. The
underrepresented, unvoiced, ignored part of our population, the great
many that make up the Cho Army are something you are unaware of, and
pretty much the gang not to fuck with.”

Margaret Cho repsonds in her blog to a group of conservatives who
threatened to picket her performance at a Texas nightclub.  One of
the protestor leaders is also one of the people who sent her racist,
mysoginist, homophobic e-mail.  So his contribution ot the public
discourse is on a par, well, with the KKK.  So I feel free to
ignore his ilk, even to the point of telling such people that I don’t
listen to or consider their viewpoints valid.  (No, I wouldn’t
move to restrict his right to say whatever; but I’m exercising my right
to not listen and to ignore.)

Anyway, here’s the link for some interesting reading.

Posted in OnTheWeb on 18 February 2004 at 10:54 am by Nate