May Roundup

Actually just a round-up for this week… I will make a category for ‘Cooking’ and add the kifli recipes by popular request ( ok, only Tracey, but I know there are numerous unknown requests out there hhhhhhhha!) that was a belly laugh.

I changed the layout to mixed reviews. I admit this isn’t user friendly, so when I have time I will try to change that. If you are more comfortable with a certain feel to a website, my changeability is probably unsettling. I am the kind of person who seasonally changes my living spaces as well. Not as much as I used to, because I now have to wait for my husband to help move the furniture… in the days when I was more self-reliant on stronger abs…. that was not an issue. If I have the power, the aesthetics will change….

More seriously, Arethusa, Stalkers Not Allowed and MaxedOutMama posted comments on the religious instruction in school idea tossed out there in the “What You Don’t Know..” post.

Arethusa:”[An American Friend] claimed however that a) some Christians would not appreciate the inclusion of other religions (as would parents of other religions perhaps) and b) the debate of how many and which religions to include would be never-ending.

Mama:”the societies in which religion is taught in the schools seem to be far more secular than ours”


“If religious history is taught in the schools, that’s one thing. …..But consider the “wide appreciation of different faith perspectives”. In CA a unit on Islam is required – and there has been intense debate about it. This sort of thing can easily shade into propaganda.”

Yes, it is complex. Interestingly enough this is something that was much debated on a Christian/Pagan forum called ExWitch ( which is no more in that form- it is a totally different sort of forum now on its own server). I say it’s totally different, they might feel it evolved and is the same. But I have seen lots of the arguments from both sides thanks to that forum.

I suppose one key is to teach it in a historical context. Which religions impacted which societies at times throughout history. We often have teaching on Greek mythology this way with no problems. There are going to be disputes, and part of that is the working out of terms and debunking of propaganda that is almost taken as …. smile with me now…. gospel.

Everybody is so afraid of the big bogeyman. Christians can’t, and don’t, dictate what all the curriculum consists of….. they ( the ones you’re talking about) are one voice among many. A balanced inclusion in an historical context would not be unappreciated when all is done even handedly. As in reporting factually.That sorts through the emphasis and inclusions, also.

I don’t think it is pertinent or particularly accurate to say that the societies that include such instruction are more secular. They probably are less volitile; I would attribute that to the fact that this was instituted when the society was more religious as a whole and is now tradtitional. Those societies tend to be more homogenous than ours. They have experience in seeing that it doesn’t rock the secular boat to learn about such things and they don’t have the rabid litigation that has led to such fights over everything even remotely religious (the California State Seal…c’mon now).

It would be disputatious, no doubt.

The question is whether it would make Americans better citizens of their country. I suppose that is the root motivation for public education. There are several things that would have to take place.

One is the courts would have to allow experimentation. Education is best worked out on the field, not handed down by government fiat. The present court predisposition to punish schools for allowing religious expression would have to be reined in.

I don’t know if that can happen with the present antagonists in the secular and religious camps, but to remain religiously ignorant is to be prone to being ignorantly offensive in relation to an important part of humanity(practice of religion), its history and its reality now.

I just had a thought. You know education and learning never stops at a school door. If you refuse to educate people with a consensus on regulated material – there are back doors to education. This is the argument that is used by sex education proponents, usually. They use it because it happens. It happens with religion, too.

Every time you see the religious symbols, books, and rituals mocked and despised…you are being educated. Everytime you see religion repressed in a de facto way…. you are being educated. No wonder we have Americans doing stupid things to antagonize other societies… they see it at home, in their art galleries, on their news, in their TV programs and movies, all the time. It doesn’t seem any great shake to urinate on something others consider sacred. They don’t get that it is a problem, because at home it is just a big sniggering* joke.

[my question directed to the great ‘out there’ -not to the commenters, who both are open to the idea of religion in curriculum in the proper context; Mama being a particularly gentle soul who loves reason]

So, okay…now tell me why it is so bad to have a curriculum that educates people properly to the etiquette of treating others as one would be treated, and learn what things mean to others…. before you go trampling them?

But, yes, it would be a heated culture battle in America as it is at this time.

*[snicker with a snort]

14 thoughts on “May Roundup”

  1. A major part of the problem is that the extreme factions of any particular issue are usually the ones who are (at least initially) more vocal, motivated and focused in getting their agenda implemented. The rest of us sit back, distressingly secure that reason will prevail and boy, how about those oil prices?

    I also agree with MoM about the success of such curriculum in laid back secular societies (like Britian) and would add also in countries where Christianity is overwhelmingly dominant and secure in that status (Caribbean Commonwealth).

    I don’t know if equivalents of such classes are taught in Western Europe (certainly not in France).

  2. Great Britain had institutionalized religion … and that is why religion class would be a tradition.

    We don’t have that, but are we less secular as a government system? We have been a religious people, but that was kept in check with the First amendment. It made religious people feel safe within their conviction and it made secular people feel safe. That boat has been rocked; I hesitiate to say it is on the shoals, but that’s my opinion.

    I feel as though you are suggesting that the effort not be made because there are extreme factions. Is that what you are saying?

    I think those groups would pose more of a problem in getting the go-ahead rather than the actual implementation. In the present climate of fear, that the secularists promote, it would take work or revealing circumstances to convince that sector of the usefulness of religious education.

    I am going out on a limb and say that I sometimes wonder if they care about the treatment of the Koran so much as the opportunity to lambaste politicians and media targets. Tolerance, so much as the field day to drive anything of religion through the gauntlet

    Those who wish for reason to have an easy way of it are bound to be disappointed.
    It is more a question of how much of an asset would this be to Americans as a society….

  3. Arethusa – nice point about the extremism. I think your American friend is right. There would be an unending debate.

    Ilona, I want to distinguish between education about religion and education in religion. In Germany, for example, you get both Protestant and Catholic religious classes – you go to whichever is your family’s denomination. Now they are incorporating Islamic classes.

    In these classes they teach the “approved” version of whichever religion, which is a rather watered-down religion in my view. One of the recent controversies in Germany has been the content of these Islamic classes; instead of them being taught by imams they want to have a state-approved version of moderate Islam taught.

    Evangelistic Christianity is on the rise in Germany – it is attractive because it has heart.

    Do you want your kids taught religion in this way? I don’t. Plus I can just imagine trying to incorporate Islam, Wiccan, Buddhism and all the others into the curriculum. We are far too much a pluralistic society for this to work.

    But education about religion seems necessary to me. I don’t think you can understand history without understanding the ideas, laws and social systems that have contended for each age.

    And I so agree – I don’t think those having hysterics about the Koran being touched by a guard are disturbed about religious sensibilities. I think they just see it as a useful weapon, and the Muslims as useful idiots.

  4. We couldn’t utilize Germany’s system in this country. We would have to have a highly secularized curriculum, like an overview college level class… maybe along the lines of a philosophy of religion 101, religion in history. Anything else could rightly be construed as state supported religion, and would be unconstitutional. At least that is how my view plays out on this.

    In a historical perspective Wiccan has almost no import, but those religions which shaped civilizations are useful to know about. It would be an academic competition, not a clamor for everything represented. That is outside the scope of public education in more respects than just the first amendment perimeter.

    I am a bit outside the subjectivity of this topic: as long as I can homeschool, I can include my religion classes unmolested by state intervention. I don’t want the state to be a vehicle of religion, but I see the need for citizens to be informed about religion. That is why a secular observation of religion is useful. Comparative religion classes don’t cover all the details, it is a time factor if nothing else.

    We layer on lots of presumed premises about this, and it makes many afraid of the entire topic, all the slippery slopes are so built into our mentality that we think it is a foregone conclusion that religion will abuse the opportunity and turn it into a brainwash or forced conversion fest.

    Our biggest danger is to let a vacuum remain in this area of teaching.

    Think about all the debates on sex education, insert the word religion for sex ( I know people will have fun with that one) and you will see what I mean.

    I think people are correct in thinking that religion is the most dangerously abused of all humanity’s important institutions. It is our convictions, of the rights involved, in safekeeping tolerance and freedom for expression that is one of most important values. How does closing off the discussion in education serve that? It only strangles the basis we have for desiring the maintenance of the tolerance of our laws.
    to say it is too hard to figure out is to argue for continued ignorance,don’t you think?

  5. “I feel as though you are suggesting that the effort not be made because there are extreme factions. Is that what you are saying?”

    Not at all, I was merely presenting why I think a wide-spread effort would not be made for the sort of religious classes we’re interested in. It seems to be a fairly common characteristic of developed countries where we’re all drunk on middle-life luxuries and problems that, short of the FBI or mounties knocking down our door without permission because they discovered that one of us was downloading a movie on bittorrent, no one seems interested. They’ll note the name of some small group championing their cause and nod, thinking that they’ll take care of it for them.

    As to your question as to whether the US (or Canada?) is less secular, it’s actually bemusing (to me) that Britain, with a very strong symbolic tie to the Anglican Church (the monarchy) is, as a country much more indifferent to religion than the US. It’s kinda like the current malaise said to be affecting traditional Christian denominations, while younger off shoots are growing rapidly. I can’t say confidently that the US govt. is significantly less secular than the British one, but the country as a whole certainly isn’t. Some would say that’s a part of the problem.

    Things would go much easier if y’all weren’t so heated at the moment. :p

  6. I have to agree with your first paragraph, but there ought to be forward thinkers that are preparing proper history curriculum now.

    I think a Biblical principle is that preparation is everything….

    I don’t find Britains spiritual malaise mysterious. I think that this has been the direction of modern liberal theology… it simply works towards its inevitable end. That is why you see the same characteristics in all the mainstream denominations which have ingested the sceptical deconstructionism that guts the Faith.

    I would say the basic structures of the three governments named are secular, but the USA has offical perimeters built into it more than the British ( which ought to include Canada for simplicity of the conversation).

    Perhaps now is the time to make courses for the private sector, which can then be used as models for the public-when the public sector is ready. In the meantime, more people would have exposure to the facts of life in other cultures.

    Although I have to say – too bad the educational bureaucracy as a whole is so backward. I say this quite apart from the topic of religious topics.

  7. I sorta used that last answer as a soapbox platform… but it all applies anyway….

  8. Ilona – I am unable to divorce myself from my religious beliefs in this discussion. My opposition to religion being taught in the schools is that I believe special interest groups will inevitably teach a warped set of ideas about religion. I don’t want any child blocked from discovering what has been my taproot into life by preconceived ideas acquired at a very early age.

    Europe as a whole is a more secular culture than ours, and I believe that it is because government has gotten its fingers into religion. Paradoxically, the church/state divide in the US has operated to generate “live” churches.

  9. Ilona, you are probably intellectually correct, but I doubt you are pragmatic given the intellectual atmosphere in which we live. IMO the real battle is between old-style tolerance, and the newer brand of enforced approval. The nature of this battle is such that all fairness and rationality goes out the window.

  10. {{MoM}} I think you are pragmatically correct, and would agree with you, but I am something of a gambler if not a visionary. Likelihoods change and sometimes quite suddenly when you are dealing with humanity. I say that without even adding faith into the pot.

    We are not helpless in the face of new-style enforced ‘tolerance’. And even if we were, I believe it is worth the fight if the goal is a worthy one. I do hear your tone of caution, and I feel it myself. It would be a tragedy if in the name of gaining understanding through education we opened a door to the state’s boots upon more of our freedom. I hear you ….. but I believe we can promote this in a beneficial way without eroding the secular structure of government.

    on another note:

    You said, ” the church/state divide in the US has operated to generate “live” churches.”

    I disagree, but I think it is an interesting viewpoint. I think the difference between ‘live’ and ‘dead’ churches is an internal one and internally generated. I could argue quite strongly on this. What the divide gives us is a great opportunity -one that is more often passed by- which is a free playing field. It gives us a wonderfully stable and peaceful environment to live in. No Thirty Years Wars!

    And in saying that it makes me think about the threat of secularism that acts as religion. The more it takes on the mantle and characteristic of religion the more fractious and sharp the contentions will be.

    With some stretching I could use our discussion to further underline the need for American citizens to be educated in the earmarks of religion, and how to evenhandedly treat the boundaries it imposes. The terms have changed so much that the very concept of religion is warped. How many know that the Supreme Court stated that secular humanism is religion or why?
    -regardless of some backhanded arguments that foment doubt based on “well, they said it but that does not make it so”, etc.

  11. “Although I have to say – too bad the educational bureaucracy as a whole is so backward. I say this quite apart from the topic of religious topics.”

    I would not disagree with you. 🙂

  12. I didn’t realize how redundant that sentence was until I saw it quoted! I guess the end of this is that we all recognize that religious training inserted in schools is a minefield, but it isn’t the troubling sitution of the minefield so much as whether the battle is worth going through it.

    In the face of Islam which boils with Islamofascism within, I think it is worth it to be better prepared to better handle situations where we have no compunctions about sending our soldiers to die.

    I doubt if the soldiers stay unaware, but they get put at risk by ivory tower armchair generals on magazine staffs who seem most ignorant of how religions work in cultures. They have lost all recollection of why they can be so openly disrespectful here in the USA.

    They are tolerated by the good grace of those who are tolerant by conviction… and that isn’t found everywhere in the world.
    Wouldn’t hurt them to find out why….

    We could call the course: Foundations of the American Philosophy….after someone works out just what that philosophy is;)

  13. Ilona – yes you are a visionary. I understand your point about secularism, and you are correct. I do see the threat. I like your idea of education in religion not as faith but as facts. Exposure to the great ideas is both necessary for understanding history and society and worthwhile in and of itself.

    We can all get on board the “No Thirty Year Wars” platform.

    Arethusa, you have a point there. I don’t believe that ignorance helps anyone in any way. I’d like to think that we could use such knowledge to prevent wars rather than just fight them….

  14. Thanks for highlighting the discussion over @ your blog. You have a way of fleshing out the ideas and putting things in perspective that I really like.

    This is something that I would like to see, it seems so much more constructive than many of the like projects that Christians get behind politically.

    Sometimes I think we get so parochial ( if people will pardon me using that term). That seems to hobble Christians whenever they start to work together across denominations -or even among separate churches for the greater good.

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