Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pew Religion Poll

The results of the Pew Research Poll on religious knowledge has been all over the webosphere. Christians did not fare too well compared to Jews, Atheists, and Mormons.  In fact, I think Christianity did worse than the study indicates. By dividing Christians into subgroups (which they did not do for anyone else), they allowed a few Christian groups to float closer to the top.  Taken as a total average, the numbers are even lower.

It actually does not surprise me that Christians score low.  This was a religious test.... not a Christianity test.  In my experience, most Christians are not only disinterested in what goes on with other religions... they often feel that such knowledge could taint them. Usually, anything they learn about another religion comes from a Christian.

Before my family moved out to Utah six years ago, a number of fellow Christians offered us books about Mormons.  None of these were actually written by a Mormon.

So, if Christians generally see other religions as a threat or of no value, and the only reason to learn about them is for protection or proselytizing; and any education received is from a (probably) biased or inaccurate source .... is it any wonder that Christians would score low?

Unfortunately, according to the articles and blogs I am reading, most Christians are interpreting this study as:

We need to read our Bibles more.

I disagree.... you just need to get out more.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


"Dad, can you take me to the library?"

I don't know if my son can imagine, at his age, how much joy that question brings me.  Clutching a small stack, he told me that he was finished with all of his books from our last run, and needed more.

So off to the library we went.  I made my usual side turn just inside the door to see if there were any worthy books for sale.  I often find at least one the library is cutting loose, but today was not the day.  I then went to find Jake, who already had three books tucked under his arm and was busily searching for more.

I debated just shadowing him.  I knew if I headed over to the religion/philosophy isle, I would bring something home.  I already have two from the library and barely have time for those.... why grab anymore?

"I'll just look," I tell myself.

Through the rows I see many old friends, a few I am beginning to know, and some I would like to meet.  Marcus Borg, Karen Armstrong, the latest by David Dark.... I am always amazed at what a good selection they have.... Hitchens, been enjoying his Vanity Fair articles, I need to read something by him.... skip past the televangelist stuff to other faiths.... the Dali Lama.... what? no Thich Nhat Hahn? ... must be all checked out...

A tug at my elbow...

"Dad, are you ready?"

Jake is a young reader.... very task oriented.... he has his books and is ready to go.

That's ok.... he is just beginning.... someday he will savor these isles, pause at the pages, lose himself in their presence .....

His stack has grown to eight and we head to the check out.  We place the nine books on the conveyor (did anyone think I could resist?) and grab our receipt.  Outside a gentle rain is falling.  Jake is bent over as he walks.

"What are you doing?" I ask.

"I have to protect the books," he says without looking up.

How did I get so blessed?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

An Interesting Facebook Conversation

Chad - I just heard that 2 friends children brought home permission slips so they could watch the President's speech. What is happening in this world or is it just Texas and Utah?

14 September at 12:26 ·  · 

    • Gideon-  well the permission slip probably says "Barack Obama's stupidity is contagious. We need permission from the parent/guardian of _______ so they can watch it. Thank you."
      14 September at 12:37 ·  ·  1 person

    • Kim - I think there are two things at work here: 1) People are so afraid of their kids being taught something they don't agree with that they want to know what is being taught. 2) The education system is no longer just about teaching kids to think and learn, but it IS, to some degree, being involved in political indoctrination.
      14 September at 12:46 · 

    • Chuck  What's the big deal? I don't remember being allowed to watch political addresses of anyone from either party when I was a student.
      14 September at 13:05 · 

    • D - Too much to say, so I'll just say this. All you "Tom Jones' " that think you or your children will be ruined for life just because you heard President Obama speak make me sick. You all probably still think you could catch koodies from touching a girl/boy, too. Get over yourselves.
      14 September at 16:02 ·  ·  1 person

    • Brooke- couldn't have said it better. Thank u!
      14 September at 16:35 · 

    • Rose- SERIOUSLY!! Hummm interesting!
      14 September at 16:52 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      I have been teaching for 20 years. The vast liberal education conspiracy is driven by 2 things. 1. Money - Many Christian ministries thrive on bad news. If they can find that a homosexual has spoken to a class somewhere and report on it, that translates to many, many support checks (It doesn't matter if that Homosexual was speaking alongside Newt, Beck, and Limbaugh... it is still a liberal bias). Nobody writes a check faster than a Christian who thinks the "World" is out to get them.

      The second bounces off that last sentence, nothing makes those same folks feel closer to God than if they are persecuted. 95% of the persecutions they list are exaggerated, misinterpreted, or just patently false.... but don't take the fun out of it by making them see reality. Being persecuted is so much more exciting.

      I've been at this for 20 years.... I have never encountered the "horrors" I see sent to me monthly by Focus on the Family ... but again, those stories are how they get checks sent.

      My daughter hears a lot of fright-wing nonsense from one of her teachers who does not seem to understand that the classroom is not a place for her to grind her axe.... but so what? I have trained my daughter in critical thinking... she can weigh things. Most Christians fear what their child might hear at school because they have indoctrinated their children. They have not learned critical thinking skills, so it is actually very easy for the child to jump ship... they have been taught to do as they were told. The fear Christians have of other thoughts should be a red warning light as to the practices by which they teach their children.
      14 September at 17:15 ·  ·  1 person · 

    • Chad-
      I took a display to the high school the other day as the high school loves what we are doing with the youth. Right in the center of the display, clearly seen was the word "Jesus". This was in the cafeteria of a public school. I displayed this during 2 different days and at an orientation. Funny thing is, if I'd listened to the fear mongers I would've left the display at the office and lots of people love coming up to the display as their are lots of different kids from the community shown in the pictures so I'm able to let them know about our programs. Point is, I think there are people who scares us so bad that they scare us into passivity. The President's message is about Education and the importance of it. It's not a political manuever, it's our leader delivering a message to our young, the opposition is the political manuever.
      14 September at 18:29 ·  ·  2 people

    • Chuck - Andrew, is a great example of the closed mindedness and prejudiced thinking that divides and destroys people rather than create understanding. Critical thinking does not lead to broad stroke depictions of people regardless of which side of the political spectrum they fall.
      14 September at 18:31 · 

    • Andrew Hackman Got a "for instance" there Chuck?
      14 September at 18:33 ·  · 

    • Chuck - Andrew's entire rant.
      14 September at 18:47 · 

    • Chuck - Go Chad! Thank you for your courage to reach out to others with a positive message of acceptance for all.
      14 September at 19:33 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      Hmmm... I think I qualify rather frequently rather than broad stroke - e.g. many Christian, than a Christian who, the same folks, etc... Rather than lump Christians into one group, I deal with a certain subset.

      As I said, I would love to address a specific concern you have Chuck, but when you broad stroke my whole argument it kinda leaves me with nothing to discuss.
      14 September at 19:38 ·  · 

    • Chuck -
      Andrew, I think you said it all pretty clearly. "No one writes a check more quickly than a Christian...","...most Christians fear...","...the fear Christians have..." Each of these statements is an example of unqualified overstatement.

      What validated research do you reference about 95 percent of some christian organizations' exaggerated claims? Who complained and what platform was shared by the likes of Newt, Beck, Limbaugh and a representative of the homosexual perspective? None of these statements exhibit critical thinking but unsubstantiated and speculative polemic.

      It is the Chads of the world that bring people together and promote critical thinking, understanding, tolerance and hope for our children's future.
      14 September at 20:47 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      I did not mean the Limbaugh comment literally. It was a joke :)

      Do you watch the 700 club, do you get Focus on the Family mailings, do you listen to the Colson "warnings"? Again, I don't put all Christians in this category, but that faction has a very strong voice and accounts for much of the rhetoric of the Christian community.... do you think that is not the case?

      "Many" Christians exaggerate all the time to their children. Then the kid goes off to college and "falls away". The parents blame the liberal institutions, when in fact, many times the kid has a knee-jerk reaction to finding out half the stuff their Christian parents told them wasn't true. And in many cases, it is merely the parent regurgitating what they heard from the Christian ministry.

      I experience this constantly... I go to a new bible study and in time folks find out I am a public school teacher.

      "It must be very difficult," they say, "being a Christian in a "Public" school. Boy, you must have some stories to tell."

      "What do you mean?" I ask; trying to be patient, but knowing where this is going.

      "Well, just all the Godlessness and Homosexual agendas "they" are pushing. It is horrible what they are teaching in these schools now. You have probably seen....." and then they go on to tell about the latest thing that Focus has let them know about.... what the schools are plotting.

      The look of disappointment on their faces, when I have no tales to tell and no "inside" info, would be priceless were it not so pitiful. I just took all the fun out of it. Either that, or I from then on become suspect... I have obviously been affected by such long term exposure to public schools.

      From your rebuttal, I still don't understand your basic disagreement with what I am saying (You say I am broad brushing, I disagree) ... I get the impression that you simply don't like that I am saying it.
      14 September at 21:33 ·  ·  1 person · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      And just to clarify - My "no one writes a check more quickly" is totally valid... it does not apply to every Christian, it applies to Christians who think the "World" is out to get them. I don't believe the world is out to get me, so when I get the latest scare mail from ministry X, I feel no compulsion to write them a check. There are plenty of Christians who also do not fall prey to such tactics. Such ministries prey on the ideologically fearful in the same way that the Tiltons and Hinns prey on the poor and the sick....
      14 September at 21:44 ·  · 

    • Chuck -
      You sure can make a lot of assumptions. Now you assume the reason I respond to your posting is because I don't like the fact that you are saying it? Quite the contrary, I appreciate interacting with a broad range of people with differing perspectives from my own. I'm sorry your experiences have left you unable to see christians as more than followers of some more visible and outspoken christian subgroups. If you examine your statements I quoted, I think you will find you are narrowly and unfairly judging millions of people worldwide.

      I have to go to bed now but I would be more than happy to interact with you later.
      14 September at 22:15 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      Some of this is translation difficulties... I say "I get the impression that", but you translate that as "you assume". My statement is open-ended, but you translate it in a closed way... you seem to have done that with a few of my statements.

      Another example - "your experiences have left you unable" I don't think anything I have said would indicate that I have trouble discerning varying layers of Christianity or that I think it to be monolithic.

      I don't think I am unfairly judging millions.... I think I am describing a subset and critiquing their approach...
      14 September at 22:32 ·  · 

    • Chuck - Examine your statements. You have not recognized the fact that these are broad sweeping and unlimited statements of an entire group of people. Yes, to get an impression that I don't like that you say something simply because I express disagreement is unfounded based on your own assumptions, not something I have said. If I didn't like that you say something I would probably try to categorize you and attempt to minimize your credibility by making broad generalizations about your beliefs.
      Wednesday at 06:00 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      You are correct, I don't recognize that at all. When I state that Christians who fear the world is out to get them are more apt to write checks, then I am setting them apart from Christians who do not feel the world is out to get them... this simply does not qualify as "unlimited". It is a subset... not an entire group. There are many Christians who would take no issue with anything I have defined. Have I poked your subgroup? If so, are you assuming that your subgroup is the proper view of Christianity and that is why you keep referencing our conversation as if I am speaking of all of Christianity (even after I have stated that I am not) ?
      You overstate and speak in very broad strokes... then accuse me of doing so in areas in which I have set boundaries.
      Wednesday at 07:18 via Email reply ·  · 

    • Chuck - You have not read your own original statements carefully.
      Wednesday at 07:52 · 

    • D -
      Then be specific, Chuck. You paint Andrew into your own corner. He can obviously differentiate between the gradients of "Christianity." And there are gradients, by the way. He claims, himself, to be Christian, but doesn't jump to write checks every time a third party tells him his own moral fiber is being threatened. He bases his text on his own experience. Are you debating HIS personal experiences, or do you presume to know so much better than him that you feel he is interpreting, wrongly, what he experiences? Poor Andrew. You can't even decide, for yourself, how you feel.
      As for you Chad... I, for one, can't believe you took a display with the word "Jesus" into a public school. The nerve. I'm surprised there weren't mass sacrifices and blood atonements. It seems to me (see that Chuck - this is simply my uneducated opinion) that there must not have been any radicals from the liberal left on watch those days. The fact is, most people are reasonable. We are all on this 'screwball of a planet that some deity shook out the bottom of his pant leg' together. Be sensitive to others, but don't be so sensitive yourself. We are going to have different opinions of how things should be done. Let's work it out together and move on.
      Wednesday at 14:15 · 

    • Chuck -
      I have no judgements to make about anyone's experiences. My first and only concern is that originally blanket statements were made about a group of people who are actually quite diverse. Apparently Andrew's experiences have not been with a very diverse sampling. Subsequently he has described some of his experiences and denied that his statements were as broad as they appeared.

      Most Christians don't even live in the US and don't know or care who are Newt, Beck, Limbaugh, Colson, Tilton, Hinn or the organizations they represent. I personally don't pay much attention to them either and don't have any axes to grind. The fastest way to get me to write a check is to present me with a needy child or family.
      Wednesday at 14:53 ·  ·  1 person

    • Chad - Let's take this to a deeper level, we have 2 opposing sides. Let's see if we can do what most people can't. Keep talking as I'm sure both sides of the argument don't fully understand each other yet. In our little corner of the world let's end this knowing that each side fully understand each other. I have the advantage of knowing all of you yet I know none of you know each other, with that in mind that is why I'd love for you to not give up you communication on this.
      Wednesday at 15:43 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      Hmmm.... It is hard to know where to take this conversation. In honesty Chuck, I have trouble following your line of reasoning. On the one hand, I am broad stroke painting all Christians (which no amount of clarification on my part seems to change your opinion), but then in your latest comment I am only addressing a thin slice of Christianity and this is suddenly a problem. Soooooo.... which is it??

      As D Shane has noted, you never actually address any of my issues. Your main contention seems to be that I present some/all (?) Christians in a not so complimentary light .... and... this..... shouldn't be said... I guess. :S

      Beyond that, you pretty consistently project words and motivations to me that I haven't said or don't feel. I say X, but by the time it goes through your filters, it becomes Z. You want me to address Z, but since I never said it, I don't even know where to begin.
      Wednesday at 16:18 ·  · 

    • Chuck - I quoted your words verbatim. There is really nothing more I can say.
      Wednesday at 16:27 · 

    • Andrew Hackman
      Chuck.... Here is a verbatim quote of your verbatim quote " "No one writes a check more quickly than a Christian..." "

      Now going by that quote, one would think that I think there is no one who writes a check faster than a Christian.... as in, all Christians.

      But of course, my quote was "Nobody writes a check faster than a Christian who thinks the "World" is out to get them."

      The "who thinks" is huge for context. It is pointing out that there are Christians who live in a state of fear and paranoia of many, if not all, non-Christians. My contention is that there are ministries who prey on these folks and fan these flames of fear for sake of financial gain.

      I am still unclear as to whether you think that position is inaccurate, or unfair?
      Wednesday at 16:43 ·  · 

    • D -
      What were we talking about? Oh, yes... We are idiots; therefore, our children are idiots. We musn't allow our children to hear any opinion other than our own so that we can ensure that they remain idiots. To those of you with differing opinions than me, you are wrong and I am better than you. We WILL take back America from all of you other patriotic Americans who think you know better than us. Idiots! AND, just in case you don't believe everything I say, just because I said it, I believe in God more and/or better than you. You simply can't argue with me now!
      Anyone want to talk about mandatory health care and the Constitutionality of it?
      Wednesday at 18:02 · 

    • Chuck -
      I used ellipsis rather than type every word on my Blackberry. The statement that no one writes a check faster than someone else is impossible to prove and is followed by an unverifiable claim that 95 percent of certain claims are unreliable. The closing comments state that MOST christians fear what their child might hear in school and refers to the fears CHRISTIANS have of thoughts. These are overly broad generalizations that simply characterize MOST christians in a certain way. It is not possible to accurately describe any group whether christian, muslim, or atheist in such a limited manner. Promoting such stereotypes creates barriers to understanding while we desperately need bridges today more than ever.

      I have spent most of my adult life attempting to break down racial, social, national and religious barriers. From personal experience I assert emphatically that accurate and helpful statements can rarely be coupled with the word "most" or a description of a large people group.
      Wednesday at 18:17 · 

    • Andrew Hackman So which adjective becomes acceptable by which to have a conversation?: some, multiple, two?.... again you don't address anything I point out, you just nitpick adjectives... first it is that I am broad painting all, then most may be too much.... and subset? too vague? .... pick your flavor, and then address the point.
      Wednesday at 18:24 ·  · 

    • Chuck - I think I said it pretty clearly. Seek to bring people together not pigeon hole them with impossible to measure characterizations.
      Wednesday at 18:47 · 

    • Andrew Hackman i am suspicious of that Chuck.... if it were all about the word selection, it seems your opening salvo would have been something more like "Hi Andrew... would you consider that adjective X might be a better descriptor..etc," Instead you come in guns blazing...seeming a bit offended.... much different approach then the bridge builder you keep declaring yourself to be.
      Wednesday at 19:05 ·  · 

    • Chuck - I'm sorry you have such a hard time with your suspicions. I don't think I have deviated from my original point that it is inaccurate to make broad sweeping generalizations of christians or any large group of people.
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