Joe Hardin (hardin@CHUMA.CAS.USF.EDU)
Wed, 7 Aug 1996 13:51:19 -0400

Been following this discussion for a while, and thought I'd throw this in.
Sorry if it's obvious or if it's been covered.

While people will indeed place matters of faith off limits to debate,
that doesn't negate the significance of discourse (or rhetoric, in this
discussion) in the formation of these beliefs, at least for me. That is
the dividing line as I see it. I have an easier time believing in
socially constructed knowledge than I do in a revealed truth, so I want
the student to place his or her own faith within a personal-social
dynamically constructed context. Admittedly, the student may not be able
to see it that way (my way), but I can't help but see faith as a construction.
For me, that doesn't negate its value, but I understand that this view
flies in the face of many believers in a revealed truth. Nevertheless,
the student is going to have to show me some personal involvement with
the source of the revealed truth he or she is using to promote his or her
view. "Because the Bible says so" ain't gonna get it. The student is
going to have to re-contextualize the Biblical truth every time for me
before I'm satisfied. Quoting from any authority has to include some
synthesis to the document to make it work. And after all, the Bible is
not just a list of truths; each one has a context and a relationship to the
rest of the text. It's a rhetorical document, even if it's a revelation,

Perhaps if I can show my students who believe in a revealed truth that
some may use this ploy to further their own nefarious gains (why does
Jesse Helmes keep popping up), then maybe they'll also question their own
blind faith. I have to admit that I want them to.

I can get rid of "in my opinion" statements in student papers by just
calling it bad rhetoric. I tell them: "Of course it's your opinion. You
only need to tell us when it's someones else's." Gee, it's a wonder
they don't hate me. Thanks for reading this far.

Joe Hardin