Saturday, January 28, 2006


  • So, apparently, some democrats in Georgia and Alabama have introduced legislation that supports public schools teaching a "Bible as literature" course, and the intended text book is entitled The Bible and its Influence. My initial reaction is a good one. I'm not sure its revolutionary, a I know some schools that have been doing that for years. One person, in the New York Times article that I read, objected to it because, "It should also be noted that the so-called Bible bill doesn't use the Bible as the textbook, and would allow teachers with no belief at all in the Bible to teach the course." Um, yeah, so why is that a problem? This notion that the Bible is a textbook in and of itself seems kind of silly to me. If it's going to be taught as literature, there's so much that students would need to know. Anyway, I'm interested to hear how folks feel about that.
  • This Palestinian election has me thinking a lot about the democracy we're supposedly commited to spreading around the world. I know there have been reports of violence on election day, and I'm sure fear played some role in these elections, but it looks like the Palestinian people have made a choice for a party that openly supports violence to attain its goals in the world. I find it interesting that our government is posturing as if to deny the legitimacy of Hamas unless they renounce violence. Are we all about that power of the people to elect who they want to elect as long as they elect governments that see things the way we do? How can we really call for Hamas to cease violence, when we're in the midst of a campaign of violence in Iraq? Are we really commited to democracy? It's such a messed up situation over there, and these recent developments don't seem to shine much hope on things. Help me think about this.


Stuart Hill said...

firstly, i think that looking at the bible as literature is a fantastic idea. i am a big fan of separation of church and state, but i am dissatisfied with the taboo we've allowed it to make of all religions, but especially christianity. and i think having someone without any christian inclination teach the course is a good safeguard, thought i also don't necessarily believe it to be a need.

secondly, our country has picked up a lot of excess baggage with this truman doctrine of protecting freedom worldwide. i think that what we are to do is to protect basic human freedom and speak against injustice, but not necessarily to forcibly spread democracy. one of the crazy things about believing in freexdom is that you have to respect a person's right not to be free. that seems crazy when we consider all the benefits we reap from our democracy, but we can't fix everything (oh, that american service ethic) and it's really pretty dangerous sometimes to try.

mark said...

im with you in the bible as textbook thing..

but, if this passes, it will create another front in the whole conservative/liberal war about what textbooks to use and who wrote them, etc..and then we will have our rouge teachers from the left and from the right..and then we will have churches having youth bible studies called "the real story of the bible as literature."

but then again, anything we do on this matter, including nothing, will cause conflict..

is seperation of church and state the absolute best way to go? because as you know, this really isnt the case. the state bows to the religion of western raionalism and enlightenment thinking. (Whatever religion the pres claims to follows, this is the true religion of america)..

until we realize, that science is a religion in a sense, we will never have true sep of church and state anyway..


Teri said...

As for the Hamas/democracy thing, from "the ground" I can tell you that people are choosing this party because they have really amazing social programs--helping needy people, providing schools, etc, and the ruling Fatah party has been embezzling/stealing the money designed to go to those programs for years. So, for the majority of people, the choice of Hamas is not so much a choice for violence as it is a choice for a party that actually meets the needs of people. The fact that Hamas is committed to a Palestinian state and the way they think is best for accomplishing that is not the way most of us would choose is, for millions of Palestinians, a back-burner issue.
It is still an open question whether Hamas will act like a political party and not a militia organization, and also an open question whether their social programs will continue to receive time and support now that they're in "power." And for our own Western country, it's still an open question whether we are in fact a democracy supporting democracies or not. It's not as though there's no precedent--Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood (both outlawed 'militant' groups) have joined the political processes in the middle east and have been accepted by other countries--without renouncing violence.

As for the "Bible as Literature" thing, I will say only this: I approached the Bible as a work of literature as an unchurched teenager. By the time I got to the "end", the HS had converted me. Literature is powerful!