A young man, a high school student, does a religiously oriented blog on WordPress.com, just as I do. He has posted comments on some of my posts and I would gladly return the favor but he does not allow comments on his blog. Recently he posted his comments about an article in the LA Times advocating the teaching of a Bible literacy course in the public schools. You can read his post, which includes a link to the original article in the Times a target=”_blank” href=”http://icanplainlysee.wordpress.com/2007/03/14/public-school-bible-study-recommended-by-latimes/”>here. What follows below is my comments on what this young man has to say
If the Bible were taught as, say, a literature course without any doctrinal prejudice one way or another, this would be a terrific idea. It might get these students to develop their critical thinking – the REAL purpose of education – in an area that most of them do not think much about at all. They either develop serious apathy or they swallow whatever pablum they get from their family and/or church.
What you believe about matters of faith is not to be taken lighly or without serious reflection. Perhaps discussing the Bible in a secular context like a literature class might encourage these kids to give some serious thought to what they believe and why.
Another reason this makes sense is that parts of the Bible really are examples of great literature. Whether one accepts the ethical and religious lessons of the Songs of Solomon or Psalms, both books contain some absolutely beautiful poetry. And the Book of Revelations is a stunning example of the use of metaphor.
Finally, the Bible contains some wonderful stories that can be appreciated as stories without getting into the religious aspects of those stories.
My fear is not the reaction of the liberals, but the reaction of the religious conservatives who would see the reading of the Bible purely as literature as an act of blasphemy or sacrilege. They would be the major stumbling block to the institution of such a program. After all, it is the religious conservatives, not the liberals, who want us all to accept the Bible as infallible and incontrivertible.