Steve Krause (skrause@BGNET.BGSU.EDU)
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 15:55:47 -0400

Just a couple quick thoughts to toss back into the frey here...

On Tue, 6 Aug 1996, Darlene Sybert wrote:

> In addition to its status in the Judeo-Christian-Islam faiths, the Bible
> is an ancient work of literature, full of practical wisdom that has proven
> to be true over the ages. Most educated people who have not had a negative
> or de-conversion (I can't think of the right word here) experience in one
> of these religions recognize that the Bible often expresses things
> succinctly and in an easily memorable way.

I'm not a religous person by any streach of the imagination, but I've
certainly read more than my fair share of the bible and have certainly
heard enough from/been victimized by people quoting the bible at me as
evidence that I ought to or not ought to do something. The only thing
that I can come up with personally is that the Bible (and frankly all of
the religious texts I've ever looked at) can be interpreted to mean
pretty much whatever you want them to mean. Which is why Pat Buchanan
and Bill Clinton both call themselves "Christians" and both will on
occassion quote from the bible to support their purposes. So I guess I
disagree with the point you seem to be making here. I don't think the
Bible is at all an easy to recognize document that can be convinently
quoted for "truths" that have lasted throughout the ages in and of
itself. Sure, maybe "church X's" interpretation of the bible might be
useful, but I don't know how much info the bible in and of itself gives
us on anything.

Which agains gets back to the whole thing on faith I and others have been
trying to get across here: you can convince someone about something with
rhetoric when the argument is based on faith, and the validity of the
bible as the literal word of God and as a guide to the way one lives
their lives and a multitude of other things is based on faith.

It's like when someone quotes
> LaoTzu or Buddha or, for that matter, Marx or Freud. I'm not a follower of
> any of those people, but I realize that much of what they said has stood
> the test of time or, often, just makes sense in the context in which it
> is quoted.

Same sort of thing would apply to these folks as to the writers of the
bible, though I think Marx and Freud (for example) are presenting very
different sorts of discourses than those tyically seen in religious
texts. Marx and Freud present arguments that beg to be (and of course
are) critiqued; religous texts don't because part of the point of a
religious text is to be beyond criticism-- ie, the TRUTH (in all caps on

> One thing that has been overlooked in this discussion is that we
> are talking about freshmen or at least undergrads mostly. Some of the
> drastic sentiments that have been expressed or approaches recommended
> might be appropriate in an upper level or grad class. Many of my students
> are away from home for the first time, unsophisticated, and not too sure
> of much of anything at the moment. I'm not going to kick them in the ribs
> about the one thing they are certain of--whether I agree with them or not.

I'm not going to kick any of them in the ribs either, but I'm also
going to try to "clue them in" to the academic culture and what sorts of
discourses it values which goes back to the point I had before about how
issues of faith which aren't really part of my perceptions about academia
in terms of my scholarship and my teaching. A surprising number of
students at BGSU (at least to me, anyway) come from extremely sheltered
and extremely religous backgrounds where the research paper filled with
references to the bible was seen as the way things were done in school.
Now, I'm not here to kick per se, but some of these folks need more then
a gentle shove to get them to realize that that sort of appeal simply
ain't going to cut it in the university. So I'm not trying to shatter
anyone either, but when I ask students to question assumptions and to
question authority (which every good teacher should do, of course), I
frequently am asking them to question their fundamental religous beliefs
whether they want to or not.

Steve Krause * Department of English * Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH * 43403 * (419) 372-8934 *
*Soon to be at Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, OR*