Tuesday, June 08, 2004

My old alma mater and subsequent employer makes national news

Rhea County made CNN today a day after the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals (Cincinnati, OH) upheld a judgement against the county and the Board of Education for the practice of Bible classes held in the elementary schools. Having been a product of this school system and having worked in this school system allow me to say that I've yet to meet an adult who hasn't had to find some measure of closure and compensation for some odd comment or instruction that they received as a youngster. The Bible classes have been an accepted practice in that community and overwhelmingly that community support continuing the classes. I say go for it. Frankly I hold pretty liberal views but I grew up there in that environment and was able to grow beyond a "small town mentality." I still happen to believe some things that I was taught and some things that I learned. I, however, have incredibly different views of how to disseminate understanding and opinions. I figure, I've got my ideas about reality and everyone else has theirs. I am not offended when I read stories of evolution in Scientific American any more than I am when I hear people support a literal 7-day creationist viewpoint. I'm not sure which is more realistic. Logically the Bible doesn't preclude a metaphorical or poetic interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2; in fact it can be argued that those two verses are of a different literary style than the rest of the anteDeluvian passage (I think through chapter 8). I happen to be a literalist in that what the Bible affirms or denounces I believe is literal and I take the Bible at its comments. I try to not read into the comments too much but I'm sure my cultural biases find insidious paths into my evaluations and belief system.

Back to the point, while I understand that separation of church and state are important, I don't think that a community should be banned from providing a viewpoint that is espoused by its proponents as elitist. My theory is that if you give every idiot a stage, sooner or later he'll talk himself out of a job or he's going to be followed by idiots. You can't make a man (or woman) choose to be wiser; people will be as dumb as they want. Conversely, you can't hold down anyone if they choose to free their mind and explore with a sense of adventure there is nothing you can do to imprison their thoughts. Teach a kid the Bible or don't. Its the values that he learns that are beneficial as it regards this program in Rhea county. I'm not neglecting the moral or spiritual benefits that an individual may garner from Christianity (or any other religion). All I'm saying is that as long as America is free and each child can choose to grow up; define him or herself; move away and educate himself as he sees fit, then 30 minutes a week for a few years just doesn't seem like much "indoctrination" to me. I see value in other forms of religious practice and I no longer believe with rock hard certainty that mine is the only possible religious belief system. I happen to believe firmly that it is the only correct one and that it is the only way to a particular point but I'm completely able to understand that I may be incorrect. And that to me is the difference in being a fundamentalist who accepts others and doesn't one who thinks that extermination of the "unsaved" is in their own best interest. To me, the mentality that the only way to go is an extreme form of fundamentalism is the kind of thinking that leads to shooting doctors who perform abortions. My belief is that at some point aborting a fetus in the womb is ending a life and based on arbitrary English it is murder. Similarly to shooting a 105-year old who might have difficulty caring for himself or a 35-year old whose life expectancy is another 40-50 years. Now I don't think that threatening anyone or actually harming anyone is a solution. I have said I can understand the mental road some fundamentalists take to reach this conclusion; I just don't happen to share certain beliefs with them. I think that the child will enter untainted by sin into the presence of God and the mother and doctor (as well as the support staff of nurses and others) probably need some grief counseling as any loss of life is tragic even if it was a conscious decision. Do I think that Christian counsellors are the people to offer this type of help, absolutely not. Most Christians have a childish mentality to me. Give me a counsellor that may or may not be Christian and let them work with a person who is hurting because of the uncertainties involved in making such a powerful decision. Who cares if the listener is a Christian; let the listener listen. Let him comfort based on human interaction rather than pointing to some mystical pie-in-the-sky God and then once that person has exhausted their hurt and found a balance more suited to normal day-to-day existence, then if its all-fired important for you to discussion their "eternal destination", jump on it with all fours.

I guess this is just more of a commentary on how ineffectual I find religious teaching and religious practice. Teach it in the schools, teach it in religious buildings. Until people begin to practice a heartfelt pennance; until people truly understand the uttered prayer of Paul when he cries out to God in Psalm 51:16-17

"You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart--
These, O God, You will not despise."

People want to appear holy rather than seeking holiness (IMO). People want to talk about Jesus rather than talking with Jesus. Upholding Biblical principles isn't easy. It isn't fun and it isn't going to win you any popularity contests. It can be fulfilling but only if you keep your attention trained on something you can't see, taste, touch, hear, feel or understand. If you believe the Bible's assertions regarding an entity and that entity's interaction with physical beings then you can look forward to a time when you have a new existence with a new body that can be in the presence of that entity and share in that entity's direct existence. That's a difficult concept to explain to a 10-year old in a 30 minute Bible class. Those classes teach the history of the Bible; they give an opportunity for object lessons about sharing and caring for others.

I don't really see any problem with having the classes. That's just my opinion (along with about 14 pages of rambling I suppose).

Thanks for reading,


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