Michael Hamende (HamendeM@CTS.DB.ERAU.EDU)
Fri, 2 Aug 1996 13:02:24 EST


Sorry if I offended you. That was not my intent.

"I'm going to express a combination of my concern and a devil's
advocate role in response to Mike's comment that *Jesse-baby*
"believes waht he believes because the Bible tells him so"."

I'm glad you are willing to take the time to do so. Dialogues like
this are how I learn.

"I'm troubled by the remark for a couple of reasons. One of which is
that I am a believing and practicing Christian who believes for a
variety of reasons, one of which is that the "Bible tells me so".
I've also got a Ph.D. in rhetoric and comp. "

The combination of being a Christian and holding a PhD in rhetoric
tells me that you are not victim to the kind of blind faith Jesse
Helms seems to speak to.

"I'm wondering if Mike means that a person can't be a Christian and a
rhetor? I don't have too much trouble combing these philosophies, but
I think many people do."

No it is surely possible to be both. I agree with you that some find
it a contradiction and are forced to "bracket" one or the other
depending on their environment. To me that is the result of an
incomplete rhetorical approach to life.

"This leads me to another concern that I've been batting around with a
few colleagues around here -- at what point do our own religious views
or lack thereof interfere with our ability to read, respond, and
evaluate a student's paper?"

Again they have significant ability to interfere depending on your
focus. I begin my comp classes by telling students that WHAT they
believe is none of my business as their teacher. But (Darlene) since
I am teaching Rhetoric (not just writing) my concern is very much HOW
they think. I mean HOW they come to believe what they believe. What
I try to do in composition classrooms is talk about and develop a
student's ability to:

1. Know what it is they believe.
2. Why they believe that.
3. And an ability to articulate both.

When this is what I'm doing the light side (as opposed to the Dark
Side) of rhetoric comes out. I have no trouble with a critical
thinking Christian. My concern is that Jesse Helms and other
Christians that subscribe to the idea of blind faith, do not think

Many students have opinions about their faith, or race, or all kinds
of things. But some are not at all sure about what they believe.
Many or maybe most do NOT know why they hold that opinion, if they
hold one. And the reason we require them to take composition at all
is that we believe that universally they lack the ability to
articulate those things.

So if you get wrapped up in what the student believes you are subject
to the problems you describe. If you focus on the HOW its far less of
an issue.

"Why, then, can't we extend ourselves to understand and respond to
papers that take on a Christian perspective? This is a valid world
view for lots of people."

I would suggest the Christianity has gotten a bad rap. In the
academy, I think because of a liberal's lack of comfort dealing with
what people believe that may have its roots in this separation of
church and state stuff in America. I also think it has a bad rap
because of the blind faith issue and the conservative positions held
by those who are associated with it (Like Mr. Helms).

I also think that we must remember that Christianity is very much a
minority religion in the world. There are only a few million
Christians of all persuasions; there are billions of Buddhists. Most
nonchristian religions have a much broader world view than
Christianity does. Not very many other religions profess that if you
don't believe like them you are wrong or are going to hell.

"I don't mean to trash Mike or to suggest that he's unfair. It's just
that his comment got me to thinking and I thought I'd share these
thoughts with y'all to see what you think."

Thanks for allowing me to think in public. These lists are about
thinking and discussing and learning. I would hope we are free to
express our opinions and give thought to those of other. And of
course learn something in the process.

Mike Hamende