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Passions in Poetry

Big Brother Bible-Bangin' Blues

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Christopher
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0 posted 03-22-2006 10:47 AM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5294111

This might not go so well, I think. While I recognize the validity of Biblical studies at the base of much of our history, this provides a thin line which could easily, even if accidentaly, be crossed.

Thoughts?
Alicat
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1 posted 03-22-2006 01:33 PM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

Especially if other special interest groups pull the line back.  I personally see no harm in having it as an elective so long as it stays non-denominational/neutral.  Can't be any worse than a certain geography teacher including subjects such as political science and government into his high school geography lectures.  The Bible is a trove of literary forms and formats, not to mention historical record, and states are allowed a say in what courses can be taught on the state level at public schools.  I know groups like the ACLU will do their best to stymie Freedom of Speech and Press since the basis of the course is the Judeo/Christain Bible.  I doubt they would raise any objection to the Koran.
LeeJ
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2 posted 03-22-2006 02:05 PM       View Profile for LeeJ   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for LeeJ

I don't see anything wrong with an elective...matter of fact, I like this idea...but will special interests groups abolish this to?  I believe if a student is interested in studing the Bible, they should be allowed...and agree with Ali's comment as well...word for word...


Christopher
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3 posted 03-22-2006 03:46 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

I don't believe the concern is so much with biblical studies in and of themselves, but rather crossing the line into promoting a religious agenda.
Brad
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4 posted 03-22-2006 05:11 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

The problem with classes like this isn't that they'll promote a religious agenda but that they'll actually teach the Bible as history and literature. The one's protesting will be Christians, not non-believers.

That's what happened when I was in high school.

Christopher
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5 posted 03-22-2006 05:49 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

Why, Brad - how is it NOT history and literature? Or are you saying that they teach it as THE history?

In history, the bible has been a very large factor.

And I don't see how it's not literature...?
jbouder
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6 posted 03-23-2006 04:03 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Heroditus is taught in ancient history courses.  Why not teach the historical OT books as examples of ancient historical texts alongside Heroditus other examples from that era (Egyptian, Babylonian, etc.)?  Or the Psalms as poetry?  The King James Version of Job is wonderfully written.

It certainly is useful to know these stories and the people in them if you plan on doing any serious study of European literature (anyone out there miss the "Cain and Abel" allusions in Richard III or try to grasp the religious paradigms Hesse was wrestling with in his novels?).  Understanding the referents of these allusions and applying them to the historical context of Shakespeare's or Hesse's time can be of value.  Those who miss out on doing some serious study of the Biblical and Apocryphal books are at a disadvantage, in my opinion.

Jim
stargal
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7 posted 03-24-2006 01:09 AM       View Profile for stargal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for stargal

“I don't believe the concern is so much with biblical studies in and of themselves, but rather crossing the line into promoting a religious agenda”

Crossing the line into promoting a religious agenda?
Wow… I might not know exactly what your getting at but I do know that religions are not the only ones promoting their agendas.

I think it’s a great idea these classes are happening. For those of you who mind the “promoting of religious agenda”, don’t take the class!
Although I might add that since no one is forcing you to take these classes why force us to listen to evolution being taught? Why isn’t that optional?
Oh yes, I know, it’s a proven science fact that evolution is real, so every student should learn about evolution.
NOT! Science can not prove anything, period.

I think I got a bit off subject…
Sorry if I was speaking out of turn by saying my piece, I just get a little bit ... emotional? :P


@-->---
hush
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8 posted 03-24-2006 02:17 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

*shrug* I studied the bible as part of my senior English class, as litertaure, not history or religion... rather, we analyzed the meaning of the texts in a way you would analyze any book... what was the author saying? What is the significance of this character doing that, etc. Wasn't a problem.
serenity blaze
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9 posted 03-24-2006 02:44 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I feel like I'm following hush around kissin' her arse', but ain't it the truth?

What better example of free verse can you get than from the Old Testament?

If I have to vote, I'd say a yea, as an elective, but, it should be taught comparatively if such a course would be proffered as a "required" elective as per a course of study. (it ain't just literature, but history, (emphasize Josephus here) and my being a fan of Biblical Archeology Mag, well...nuff said.

I think it's important now, that all religions be taught as we are now a smaller world, and anthropology ought to be as necessary as civics.
Christopher
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10 posted 03-24-2006 10:35 AM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

Stargal - I think you may have misunderstood the direction of my concern - I have absolutely no problem with and even, as others have said, encourage learning of and about the Bible - far too many references (such as Jim pointed out) to not be at the least aware of the Bible.

One concern, as I said, is the propagation of a religious agenda; the teacher wielding a pulpit rather than a blackboard.

I recognize that you have a concern over the difference between teaching evolution and religion (though I disagree that evolution is so readily dismissed when the provable facts are right there in front of our collective faces). However, one of the tenets of our country is the promise of separation of church and state. If a publicly funded elective begins promoting religion, that separation begins to blur dramatically once those students reach voting age. If [you] can assure me that the class will be no more than a history or literature class, then I would be more than happy – but what’s going to stop someone with their own religious agenda from pushing it?

And then my other thought – who’s Bible do you teach?
stargal
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11 posted 03-24-2006 11:12 AM       View Profile for stargal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for stargal

Christopher – I apologize if I may have misunderstood what you were getting at. Like I said in my earlier post, I wasn’t quite sure what you were trying to say.

Your concern is readily understood, but I’m afraid that no matter what subject, place, or time, a teacher in authority will use that to promote what they believe in, even if it's unintentionally done. I maybe, and hope, I am wrong in this.
Sometimes I believe you have to take the good with the bad. Kids are not stupid they can, and will, form their own opinions. I was rather hasty in my opinion earlier I believe. I would like to withdraw any remarks on if this was a good or bad idea until I see the results.

As for evolution I won’t even go there, it is obvious we both have different opinions on this.

Who’s bible do I teach? What kind of question is this?
Are you asking what religion I believe in or what bible do I own?
What about yourself, where, or in what does your faith rest?

@-->---

Christopher
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12 posted 03-24-2006 12:04 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

No, no, no. I mean who's Bible do they choose to teach in school?

King James?
Latter Day Saints?
The Koran?

Just a few, but all important from a historical and literate perspective.

As to your question regarding my beliefs - I tend toward the agnostic. I won't say there isn't a god, but until I can see Her with my own two eyes, I'm afraid I also won't say there is one - I believe in that which I can see with my own eyes or that follows a definitive logical arrangement.

As a side note - I don't believe religion and evolution are mutually exclusive - I honestly think that if people took out the "we came from apes" pillar that so many get stuck on and looked at the changes continually happening (evolving/evolution), they could recognize that, even given a divine creator, there's distinct and provable occurences of evolution - even if you credit said creator with designing said evolutionary processes.

Thanks for coming back.
jbouder
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13 posted 03-24-2006 12:17 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Christopher:

There are philosophical agenda that are just as problematic as the theological that make their way unhindered into the classroom.  Humanism is, in my opinion, a philosophical approach with very weak foundations.

Like you, I have concerns about school teachers using the podium as a pulpit, but for different reasons.  My questions would be (1) what are the teacher's qualifications to opine on hermeneutical methods and historic doctrinal issues and (2) how do the teacher's person views on biblical interpretation influence the content of his or her teaching.  Depending on one's theological outlook, the OT and NT interpretations can be significantly different.  My answer to these questions is to permit teachers to teach the bible as literature, history, and a source for Anglo-American jurisprudence, but that differing opinions on theological interpretations of the Biblical texts throughout history must be given fair representation in the curriculum.

Unlike you, I don't agree that the Establishment Clause prohibits (or seems to prohibit) the teaching of these subjects in the classroom.  I think most legal scholars agree that the current "Lemon Test" is too strict a doctrine for interpreting the Establishment Clause but, even so, allowances have been made for the presence of such things as Christian themes in artwork and sculpture in public property on the basis of its historic significance.  

To illustrate how teaching on these subjects might be accomplished, consider these two statements:

1. Christians throughout history believe that Jesus' death and subsequent resurrection from the dead satisfy God's penalty for sin and, through faith, provide the Christian with hope that he/she too will raised from death and live eternally.

2. Christ's death on the cross satisfied God's penalty for sin and, through faith, you can have assurance that you too will be raised from death and live eternally.

Both convey the Christian meaning of Christ's death and both are arguably evangelistic, but the first reports the meaning, while the second invites a response of faith.

If you disallow both, then you tie the teacher's hands if books like "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" (Lewis) or "An Essay on Man" (Pope) are part of the curriculum.  If you allow the second, then I think you are treading on Establishment Clause territory.  The reasonable alternative is to allow the first.

Regardless, I will teach my children my understanding of the meanings of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.

I'm not sure what you mean by "Whose Bible do you teach."  I would think that a reputable English translation (KJV, NASV, NIV, NEV, or RSV) would be the best choices.  Paraphrases, while written on a lower reading level, come too close to becoming commentaries of the paraphraser's theological biases.  I guess I would ask you, as a non-believer, what would you look for in a translation of the Bible should you find an interest in studying it as history or literature?

Jim
jbouder
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14 posted 03-24-2006 12:25 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Just saw your other post.

The Book of Mormon and The Koran purport to be further revelations from God to man subsequent to and apart from the Old and New Testament Canon.  Both purport to supercede the latter by claiming that the currently accessible OT and NT have been corrupted through the ages and, thus, are not completely reliable for purposes of establishing doctrine and practice.

I don't have a problems with these being taught in the public school classroom, provided, again, that both are subjected to the same rigorous standards of authenticating ancient (or allegedly ancient) religious manuscripts (i.e., while we are teaching them, as history, let us subject them to the internal, external, and autobiographical tests we would use to assess the reliability of any ancient document).

Jim
Christopher
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15 posted 03-24-2006 12:45 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

Jim, I don't disagree about religious references being allowed in classrooms - what's prohibited, as I understand it, is the conjoining of the two. I am wholeheartedly in favor of teaching of and about, as I mentioned. I am concerned, though, about the classroom becoming church.
Reading both your posts, I don't necessarily think I'd argue on any point you've made and find that we're surprisingly similar minded on the topic as a whole.

Again, however, my concern is that thin line. I doubt anyone would argue strongly and say that we don’t put a lot of trust in our teachers - they are the ones fulfilling a large part of educating our children and have the ability to influence much of those children's thoughts. A “good” teacher will instruct a child on how to learn, like they would instruct a child on how to read the/a bible and learn what it is saying, how it is saying it, how it fits into the context of our history, etc. A "bad" teacher will give the child a subject and have her memorize it, believe it without understanding it, etc., just as a "bad" teacher might tell those children that in the Bible it says if they aren't saved by Christ they will go to Hell and burn in eternal damnation and they don't want that to happen, do they? They'd better get themselves in a church and find God.

It's not much of a stretch, is it, to go from teaching to preaching?
Local Rebel
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16 posted 03-24-2006 09:14 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Jim,  I think post 13 is very well argued but, I think this paragraph needs a little bit of exploration along with post 14;

quote:

I'm not sure what you mean by "Whose Bible do you teach." I would think that a reputable English translation (KJV, NASV, NIV, NEV, or RSV) would be the best choices. Paraphrases, while written on a lower reading level, come too close to becoming commentaries of the paraphraser's theological biases. I guess I would ask you, as a non-believer, what would you look for in a translation of the Bible should you find an interest in studying it as history or literature?




The first problem is with the word 'reputable'.  You're asking for a value judgment that ultimately is going to offend some religion or group - this is what Brad's talking about I think...

An objective study of the Bible is going to be inclusive of many translations -- but ultimately it's going to come down to authorships and dating of texts and this is going to invite further headaches from many religious groups.

It's a worthwhile subject -- but I'm not sure that a school district is going to want to manage the constant squabbling with differing denominational interests.

quote:

The Book of Mormon and The Koran purport to be further revelations from God to man subsequent to and apart from the Old and New Testament Canon. Both purport to supercede the latter by claiming that the currently accessible OT and NT have been corrupted through the ages and, thus, are not completely reliable for purposes of establishing doctrine and practice.



I don't think the word supersede is quite accurately applied to the Book of Mormon.  This text is billed as  an 'added witness'  not an instead of or better than.  The large Mormon church that we all know uses, I believe, the King James version of the Bible because it is what Joseph used -- even though they consider it to be an incorrect translation.  Interestingly enough -- Joseph actually did 'correct' the King James version and this translation is used by a faction based out of the Kansas City/Independence Missouri area.  Actual study of original texts and dating as would be done in an objective study of the Bible as Literature or History would pose a problem for someone that believed this translation to be 'correct' and literal.  But, maybe I'm getting too far off for Chris..

quote:

I don't have a problems with these being taught in the public school classroom, provided, again, that both are subjected to the same rigorous standards of authenticating ancient (or allegedly ancient) religious manuscripts (i.e., while we are teaching them, as history, let us subject them to the internal, external, and autobiographical tests we would use to assess the reliability of any ancient document).



I don't have a problem with it either -- but what about the Wiccans?  The Scientologists?  The Zoroastrians?  
Stephanos
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17 posted 03-26-2006 12:51 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
The problem with classes like this isn't that they'll promote a religious agenda but that they'll actually teach the Bible as history and literature. The one's protesting will be Christians, not non-believers.


But Brad, the theological content of the Bible is not so neatly divorced from the literary aspect.  The moment you teach it as mere literature, you have just taken another stance that is anything but neutral.  Because questions such as "Is this true?", or "can this be true?", or "how much is real history?", will naturally arise.  


About the best that can be expected is to teach without overtly preaching ... or overtly denying the theological implications.  You certainly don't have to make the theological the main focus.  But when theology is the content of literature, you can't expect to discuss the literature without it coming up, in some degree.


This is probably what makes Chris nervous.  And I have to say, I agree that it is likely.  The text of scripture is kind of like a lion ... once you let it out of the cage, you can't just passively ignore it.  It almost (in and of itself) defies the approach of an antiseptic academia.  It is usually both inspiring and inflammatory, controversial and profound at the same time.


I don't know what the solution is.  Schools are definitely taking a secular turn, where not only taught religion, but every trace of it's mention is chased away.  We home school our children, for positive reasons.  But as for the negative reasons, that is certainly one of them.


Stephen.    
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18 posted 03-27-2006 12:07 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Hawke:

I'm not sure if there is a better way to characterize the Mormon view of the OT and NT than this:

quote:
... I asked the Personage who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong), and which I should join. ... “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; “… that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts were far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having the form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’”  - Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of Mormonism, Pearl of Great Price, 1:14-19


To Smith, his translation of the Gold Tablets (the "Book of Mormon") is the only thoroughly accurate special revelation we have.  To Smith, where the OT and NT canon conflict with the content of the BOM, the BOM carries the day.  To the extent that the opinions of Mormonism's founder are authoritative, I think my word "supercede" is an appropriate characterization.  If this is offensive, read on.

As for Wiccans, Scientologists, Zoroastrians or the Super Adventure Club, to the extent that they rely on ancient documents to establish doctrine, I would say the same standards should apply.  Perhaps the eclectic aspects of Wicca and neo-paganism would allow this exercise.  "Battlefield Earth" is a relatively recent text.  I know almost nothing about Zoroastrianism.

I personally don't care whether my research offends one interest group or another.  I care about reasoned dialogue about positions.  Some might take the position, "if the King James Version was good enough for Peter and Paul, then it is good enough for me!"  I am particularly interested in offending these people.     In the end, serious study of translations requires you to consider the translator, especially when you are studying a dynamic-equivalent translation (as opposed to an essentially literal one).  The way around this, to some degree, is to teach the classic languages, including Koine.

Jim
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19 posted 03-27-2006 06:04 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Egads man... you mean Peter and Paul didn't speak the King's English?  

But, seriously, I don't think you'll find too many Latter Day Saints who think the BOM conflicts with the Old or New Testaments at all.  The 'incorrectness' of the translation of the Bible as Joseph saw it was more of 'incompleteness'.  This is the established need for the Book of Mormon.  It is additional text.

If you ever get your hands on an 'Inspired' version, as used by, I believe what is now called the Community of Christ -- you'll see that Joe was mostly concerned about writing himself into the Bible.  And expanded sections on Moses and Enoch.

I don't know how far you'll be able to get in a public high school elective though.  And -- this is the government we're talking about here -- if you start offending people with reasoned dialog there are going to be robes and gavels involved before too long.
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20 posted 03-27-2006 10:00 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Ah, the wonders of the internet --

About Smith's translation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Smith_Translation_of_the_Bible

Smith's translation complete text: http://www.centerplace.org/hs/iv/default.htm

The Community of Christ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_of_Christ
jbouder
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21 posted 03-29-2006 10:31 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Hawke:

quote:
I don't know how far you'll be able to get in a public high school elective though.  And -- this is the government we're talking about here -- if you start offending people with reasoned dialog there are going to be robes and gavels involved before too long.


A risk averse engineer.  Hmmm ... that's a new one for me.

One has two choices when it comes to litigation.  First, avoid litigation for fear of setting a bad precedent or, second, quash the litigious through vigorous litigation and establishment of good precedent.

On the BOM, I still think we're saying the same thing.

Jim
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22 posted 04-01-2006 02:14 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I don't care that much about what bible shall be taught at highschool.  That it is being taught at all I think is a great step in both teaching and learning.
 
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