For me, the first week of school is pretty easy. This is because we sit around and talk about what the students want to get out of the class and generally catch up or get to know one another. The big crunch is this weekend when I have to coalesce all this information and plan the next 14 weeks of classes. (Thank god for templates.)
I have a good schedule in the financial sense, but the fact that I have to leave the house at quarter to six on Tuesday and Thursday is regrettable. And by regrettable, I mean suicide inducing. True, I am a morning person, but not really the pre-dawn kind.
Yesterday was the first test of the new before dawn routine and true to form, I tossed and turned the night before unable to sleep. I arrived bleary-eyed (what does that mean really? I'll go look. Okay, it means dull or dim relating to sight.) Two of the students were on vacation, so I had a private class with Khalil. We had a good long talk about the Middle East conflict and then we talked more about religion in general. My job is to get the students talking, it is not to argue points of view with the students. It was very difficult to hold my tongue at a couple of points:
Q: Hey what do you think about that story in the paper today about the five guys who were decapitated in Saudi Arabia for possession of hashish? Don't you think that's a harsh punishment when there isn't a victim?
A: I don't see anything particularly wrong about it. You know if you have a rotton tomato and you put it into the bag of good tomatoes, they all go bad.
Q: If all religions preach against killing, why do you think people kill others in the name of religion?
A: God says we must protect life and religion, because without life there can be no religion and vice versa. When either one is threatened, God says we must do what is just. (read: blow people up)
He went on to allude to the idea that anyone who isn't Muslim isn't really alive because life is pointless without Islam. The funny thing is that this guy is a warm caring funny individual who adores his wife and son. Also funny is that I am much more tolerant of this kind of fundamentalist talk than if it came from a Bible thumper. Still, it was all I could do not to roll my eyes when he said "God says...".
See, I have a hard time stomaching folks like him. Warm and caring in the outside, full of hate on the inside. The fact that "religious" people can not find the capacity to accept other religions totally escapes me and is maddening. I wish there were some clear precise thing we culd say to these nincompoops that would cut to their very core and make them see their folly.
I am a morning person too...
It's great that the guy is good with his family. However, being intolerant of others who aren't Muslim is no better than a Christian intolerant of Jews.
Sometimes I think that God looks down and says: We'll I let them eff this one up, time to wipe the slate and start over.
See to me - that young man isn't full of hate. He's full of what he's been taught - by his family, his friends, & his Muslim world around him. It would be difficult not to debate him on these extreme points of view.
We need to educate a broader audience than one young man. But how?
How's the smoking thing going?
Did you ever open that box and get some relief?
facing a fundamentalist of any religion with patience is tough. They just seem to accept no room for deviation or error. Guess thats why I don't do organized religion. It scares me a little bit.... scratch that. alot.
YIKES! God says get a kevlar vest for your class!~
It's that hipocricy and double-speak that keeps me from religion.
Wow, I have to get up at like 5:45 each morning to teach T and R as well! What exactly do you teach? Current events discussions?
Speaking of religion, I found myself looking around on the Bob Jones University website. I don't want to believe that this place really exists.
He may be caring and funny, but he's going to teach his children the same beliefs unless his opinion can be changed.
Somehow, people like this don't think their beliefs are "opinion." To them, they're fact.
A tomato that's different isn't necessarily rotten. There are many (hundreds of?) species of tomato. Does he propose that only a single species of tomato be allowed to survive? And his species is the one?
A rotten tomato could be defined as the one that ruins the whole bag. Sounds like he's the rotten tomato.
Assuming a universal god exists, s/he gave us a great example to live by: nature. Every species in nature has innumerable variations. Some are more aggressive (e.g., weeds that choke out other plants), and the weeds are usually removed to allow normal growth and diversity.
Your student is a weed, Torn, unless he is able to change his foliage. Hopefully (thinking optimistically here), humanity will be able to remove the weeds from its midst and provide room for everyone to grow freely.
Torn, I think you (and others) may have long ago figured out that I come at life froma perspective of faith. Please note that I said "faith" and not "religion".
Your student reminds me all too much of many others in other worlds of religion. My observation is that they are neither "faith-ful" nor are they truly well versed in the [true] teachings of their religion. Most of these folks use their religion as a sham cover for their own hidden agendas. A blatant case in point are the falsely so-called "evangelical Christians" that are in power in the US. They are neither evangelical nor are they Christian. They do not know what the first word means and they have never read the Gospels. Their agenda is selfish power and greed, both of which are diametrically opposite to the teachings, model, and life of Jesus. But they are so invested in their own agenda that their world would crumble if they ever faced the truth.
Unfortuantely the world hears them call "Lord! Lord!" and accepts them as the embodiment of the religion. I take heart that (from my perspective) they will find that same Lord is not fooled as easily as the sheeple he created.
It is long overdue for some us (such as myself) to refuse to allow them to be seen as the representatives of my faith. It is long overdue for true adherents of Islam to speak up if your student is not a true representative of Islam.
As for an immediate answer to your student (assuming that you are wearing the kevlar vest mentioned above): I guess I would be tempted to reply to his assertion that "God says.." by saying "funny, I was just talking with Him this morning and that's not at all what he told me!" [tip of the hat to Lewis Black on that one]
Sorry to rant and take up so much space.
As a card carrying heathen, I never get the whole "God approves of my treating others like shit and/or inflicting pain on them" schtick.
You're a stronger man than I. I would HAVE rolled my eyes.
"Also funny is that I am much more tolerant of this kind of fundamentalist talk than if it came from a Bible thumper."
Why do you think that is?
I know I bite my tongue more when it's a professional situation, like when I'm speaking to a parent of a student. I've not spoken to anyone who feels that way about Islam though, so I don't know what I might do.
Initiating a discussion about religion in a city like Montreal (significant populations of people with Jewish and Muslim backgrounds) is filed in my book under "duck and cover."
i just couldn't have this topic of conversation on my list. i'm no good at holding my tongue.
He's a perfect example of what happens when religion gets polarised. I think it's really, really sad.
Good for you for keeping your eye rolling at bay.
I always say,"Organized religion is like organized crapping, it's just something I cannot wrap my head around." I'm not saying it makes any sense or contributes anything to this discussion, it's just something I always say.
Please don't turn into a suicide bomber due to your early schedule!
I have family who would answer those questions exactly the same way. Thankfully I was raised by a Sicilian Catholic mother, the brainwashing never happened.
If God told you to jump of a bridge, would you do it? Oh, right, I guess you would. Sigh
I won't belong to a religeon where its own followers can't follow the rules. If "God" says thou shall not kill, then who are we to jump in and say "Yeah well - but if this happens then it's ok!" Because I'm sure "God" will have a different opinion on the matter when he meets us face to face.
The disconnection between head and heart is what puzzles me, the insistence that the heart is naturally depraved, and that living the life of the heart is worthy of death. Much traditional Christianity is the same as Islam in this regard. There is more and more Fundamentalist violence going on in America these days, and perhaps we should identify it as terrorism.
I think this is yet another example of a person who has been taught a religious doctrine without the benefit of critical thinking. It is not a belief because a belief implies that critical thinking took place and one was convinced of the validity, thus making it their belief. Instead it is a learned doctrine.
Many self-identifying Christians (like US President George W Bush) also act based on learned doctrines that have never been tested by critical thinking. I used to be that way too, having been raised in the non-questioning Jehovah's Witness religion. But after exploring critical thinking I was able to differentiate between learned doctrines and actual beliefs, and realized I didn't actually believe like the JWs.
"Also funny is that I am much more tolerant of this kind of fundamentalist talk than if it came from a Bible thumper."
I have an idea about this: if you're like me, you're sorta liberal, politically. And I think there's a tendency on our part to concern ourselves with cleaning house before heading with the mop bucket over to the neighbor's -- as opposed to many self-avowed conservatives, whose first and sometimes last instinct is to go after whoever they perceive to be "the other," completely ignoring the beam in their own collective eye...
Just an unqualified thought.
Bible-Thumpers may not be fun to be around but they aren't calling for the destruction of Israel nor are they suggesting the death of those with whom they don't agree. They just shove that eternal damnation down everyone else's throat and use words like "heathen" when describing those whom don't share their views.
If a person doesn't believe in hell, the threat of eternal damnation from a Bible-thumping Christian is a rather empty one compared to the threat of eliminating an entire nation? Isn't it?
That just makes me feel so sad inside. I'd have a hard time not trying to engage him in discussion.
Perplexio makes a valid point, though.
Well, bible thumpers might not be calling for the destructon of a State, but they work as hard as they can to marginalize any sexuality that isn't hetero. This includes denying freedoms that (I believe) all Americans should be entitled to. They do plenty of tangible damage.
Hate=Ignorance so I don't think it matters whether they guy means to be hateful or not. He thinks it is okay to kill those who follow different rules from himself.
"Bible-Thumpers may not be fun to be around but they aren't calling for the destruction of Israel..."
Just because they're lately very quiet about it doesn't mean they don't want it to happen -- the sooner it happens, the sooner their millenialist fantasies come true.
"...nor are they suggesting the death of those with whom they don't agree."
No offense, Perplexio, but that means you haven't been paying attention to an entire rogues' gallery that's been sounding off for years -- from Ann Coulter to Pat Robertson to just about every other right-wing Christianist nutjob in America.
Suggested reading on eliminationist rhetoric in America's political discourse: David Neiwert. And if you were hinting at the allegatings that Ahmadenijad had threatened to "wipe Israel off the map," I would refer you to Juan Cole -- specifically to support a nitpick that a) he didn't and b) even if he did, he is not in fact the Commander in Chief of his military; Iran's governmental structure is different from ours.
I concede the point, however, that the vast majority of Christian fundamentalists are happy to confine themselves to legal and democratic channels when engaging in activism to oppress their fellow countrymen, and that most of them are not murderous fiends.
Okay. Hope that doesn't start a flame war... (sorry tw!)
Reminder to self: proofread comments more carefully.
Its sad. I'm wondering if he'd think differently if it was his head on the block?
No one ever thinks that they would ever do anything wrong. That is until someone redefines what wrong is...
why don't you try talking to your student about something a little more trivial, this seems a little too personal for a teacher/ student conversation.
but then we wouldn't have all these "really interesting" comments to read.
I enjoy these kinds of posts more than the arse ones.
You simply have to love religious people and their convictions. I don't know that there is anything in this world or another that I believe in 100%. Maybe I'm cynical.
teh l4m3: Being a moderate love thy neighbor kind of Christian, most of us in the "middle" think of Pat Robertson as that crazy old uncle that won't shut up. He makes a lot of noise but basically he's harmless and the rest of us just kind of ignore him, "Oh what's crazy old Uncle Pat saying this time? Give him a copy of the latest Left Behind book, that'll keep him quiet for awhile."
As for Coulter, I honestly don't believe she's as vitrolic and negative as she comes across. It's an act. controversy sells and when it comes to selling controversy she's damn good at what she does. I do think she DOES believe what she says. I just don't believe she has near the level of fervor about those beliefs as most people believe. The fervor is all an act.
I'm a Republican Christian, just because the far right fringe is speaking the loudest doesn't mean they're representing the majority of us.
perplexio: Fair enough, I named only two examples. Perhaps I should link to the comments sections on every wingnut haven imaginable, from Delphi.com's Freaky Fox forums to Stormfront to LittleGreenFootballs. Oh, notice I didn't. I'd hate to mess up TW's nice, tidy blog. Those are pure hate sites run, by the way, by (like it or not) your de facto political allies.
"I'm a Republican Christian, just because the far right fringe is speaking the loudest doesn't mean they're representing the majority of us."
You might be surprised by just how little power you have against that minority whom your silence and dismissiveness empower. Remember, they're pretty much running our country right now. They suffer political failures, but they still enjoy an amount of power tremendously disproportionate to their numbers.
And as an American, and referring to my comment earlier, I concern myself first and foremost with that which is in my control. Namely, I have no control over some yahoo screaming "death to America" half a globe away. I do however have a bit more control over the yahoo in my neighborhood who's burning crosses on my other neighbor's lawn.
(Incidentally, I know for a fact that I and my countrymen are not helping to spread democracy in other countries if we are destroying it here.)
Similarly, if you're unhappy with the likes of Falwell or Coulter or Robertson or Malkin, isn't it incumbent on you to call them out on their bombast and lies and eliminationism? You know, being a Republican Christian and all that.
Of course, once you do, don't expect to last too long in the company of others who proudly proclaim themselves to be Republican Christians...
Wonderful blog, TW, and a fascinating discussion. Allow me to toss in my two drachmas:
Perhaps the whole issue of religious beliefs, and their political extensions, must be examined in context. Fundie Islam has its violent strains, but those are mostly based in countries that are still in post-colonial dictatorships (that we support directly or indirectly, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt), or in right-wing theocracies that rose from the ashes of the former (see Iran). While the West is not entirely at fault for the rise of Muslim extremism, it must be said that we are responsible for helping to sabotage Arab/Middle Eastern democracy at every turn, and for helping to establish a European settler state right in the heart of Arab/Muslim land (a continuing provocation, especially considering the brutal Israeli occupation of Arab lands). There is a lot of anger and frustration in those places, and Islam has been an organizing force. If the people in those regions were all Baptists, though, they'd likely be chanting "death to America" in the name of Jesus. Also, it bears mentioning that some of the Islamist organizations we label as major threats (al Qaeda, for instance) were recruited, trained, and organized by Western agents to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, then left to their own devices once the godless commies were driven out.
Point being: TW, the words of your student don't sound that different from some of the crap that flies from the mouths of fundie Xtians right here. Perhaps we have a tendency to place such language in the context of the extremism that seems quite the rage on the other side of the globe, but I wonder how our own fundies will behave when there is a major social/political/economic upheaval here in the Land of the Free. (For a good and scary idea, I suggest Octavia Butler's Parable of the Talents. Reading that book made me want to teach my daughter how to handle firearms.)
One day I should write to you about my job. I've heard it all. I meditate myself in a Zen like haze when I have to start teaching religion. I wish the university let us drink in class.
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