Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Love That God

Blogger and I were having some serious disagreements yesterday, so I didn't get to post on the Bible class in Georgia ye ol' Carpetbagger highlighted:
. . . The legislation, which passed 151-7, would allow high schools to form elective courses on the history and literature of the Old Testament and New Testament eras. The classes would focus on the law, morals, values and culture of the eras.
As the Carpetbagger notes, this sounds like a recipe for lawsuits from both church-state separatists and Bible literalists. This could be a shotgun waiting to go off in someone's face.

Still, I think it's a great idea. I think a problem with some of our more overzealous religious types is that they have gotten away from the Bible, meaning that they overemphasize some small parts and disregard big chunks, and I'm not talking about all that "begat" filler. Actually having to read entire chapters of books, if not entire books, of the Bible could be more educational than the legislators intend.

Obviously the focus would be on the religious and moral implications of the Bible, but the Bible is absolutely fascinating from a literary perspective. The Gospel of Mark happens to be my single all-time favorite piece of writing. Just gimme Mark and you can keep all of Paul's noise - not to mention the acid-flashback Revelations nonsense.


Noah said...

I think that any responsible religious discussion would need to focus also on the creation of the New Testamant. I don't mean the 'God told me to write it' stuff you get from Bush. I mean things you get from Elaine Pagels' book Beyond Belief, The Lost Gospel of Thomas. Things like a discussion of why certain books didn't make the cut over others, and what moral implications the lost books may have had on us.

I agree, that this could be of more benefit than not. Many hard-core biblacial literalists leave out some of the references that don't support their outrageous claims.

Thrillhous said...

Definitely, how the Bible came to be written is critical. It's also incredibly interesting (I'm going to have to read that book you cited).

The so-called Secret Gospel of Mark is also pretty interesting. That's the one where Jesus has a homosexual encounter. Believe it or not, there are those who don't think it belongs in the Bible. Wikipedia has an interesting entry on it, but linking to it would require work.

Otto Man said...

Anyone read Bart Erhman's "Misquoting Jesus"? He's a religion scholar and a former fundamentalist who drifted away from that the more he learned about the creation of the Bible. Sounds fascinating.

TravisG said...

I am so fucking sick and tired, tired and sick of Bible-thumpers trying to get their church-learnin' done during the week so they can sleep in come Sund'y. It's fucking bullshit.

Besides, who's going to teach it? Your kid happens to have a Baptist teacher? Sucks if you're Catholic. What if a Jewish teacher wants to do her lesson plan? Can't imagine there won't be some sort of objections from some people. And, honestly, I wouldn't exactly blame people for feeling uncomfortable about people of different religions or denominations giving their child religious instruction. I mean, after all, religion is a very personal lifestyle choice.

That's why we have separation of church and state, to prevent this sort of acrimony. (Doy.)

Pooh said...

I think forcing them to read about all that begatting would be good too. They might realise that the Bible is the filthiest piece of smut around and must thus be banned to save jeebus.

Thrillhous said...

Pooh, I couldn't agree more. A few years ago I read the Pentateuch straight through (sort of an endurance test), and I couldn't believe how smutty and violent it is. Brothers murdering brothers, son-on-father sex, father-on-daughter sex, genocide, you name it. Brokeback mountain ain't got nothing on the Bible.

Travis, I'm totally stealing your line about fundies trying to get religion in school so they can sleep in on Sunday. Your $40 rubber check is in the mail. You're right that the class could get real ugly real fast, but keep in mind it's an elective. I'm guessing a lot of the hard core folks won't let their kids take the class for the reasons you mentioned -- they don't want their kid taught the word of God by some godless Jew.

Otto Man said...

I say we let the fundamentalists teach the Bible in public schools, but we push their logic to the extreme and make the students read it in the original version, in the classical Greek. "What, you wanted to read the original writing, right? Let's do it!"

They'll return to teaching Home Ec classes in a heartbeat.

S.W. Anderson said...

"I am so fucking sick and tired, tired and sick of Bible-thumpers trying to get their church-learnin' done during the week so they can sleep in come Sund'y."

I think the point's being missed here.

The item mentions elective classes, not about the Bible but about "the Old Testament and New Testament eras". So, it's not about religion per se but about the times in which biblical stories came about.

I'm strong on church-state separation, but I don't see any conflict here at all. It's actually a history course, so I don't see where there would be any grounds for lawsuits or protests.