or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Spirituality › Religious Studies › Here's another religious knowledge quiz...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Here's another religious knowledge quiz... - Page 2

post #21 of 38
I thought that the point was more that there was not only a general lack of knowledge of what other people believe, but in the US a huge portion of the population who claim a religious affliliation, but are not aware of the contents of their own holy book. Although I did find some of the passages out of context, making them more difficult to place.
post #22 of 38
Forgive me if I'm wrong, one of the Muslim Mama's can probably tell me if I am, but from my research over the past few years I was under the impression that the Qur'anic verse that is oft' quoted by non-Muslims as promoting wife beating doesn't actually do that...
post #23 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
I'd be really interested to know if the Muslims on this board found the article to be negative?
I rarely find decontextualizing to be a positive thing, and here no more than usual.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
Forgive me if I'm wrong, one of the Muslim Mama's can probably tell me if I am, but from my research over the past few years I was under the impression that the Qur'anic verse that is oft' quoted by non-Muslims as promoting wife beating doesn't actually do that...
That the relevant verse doesn't refer to permitting a man to strike his spouse under certain circumstances is a rather small, albeit understandably popular, minority view. I have yet to see an argument for that point of view which seemed to hold up, in my opinion, though I know there are other Muslims on this board who see things differently. (<-- Not meant to imply that I agree with a man striking his spouse. Simply that as far as I can see what I say and what the Qur'an says differ on that point.)
post #24 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thanks for responding, Liquesce! So it sounds like you are in the same camp as Bluegoat - don't necessarily disagree with the point the author is trying to make, but don't like the way he made it?
post #25 of 38
More likely, I don't think he made it particularly well in the first place. Or that the point was misplaced ... all textual religions having both pleasant and difficult verses is all well and good, but if it is up in the air as to whether or not those religions are able to address difficult verses in a manner that is not actively harming people then it's an argument for all textual religions being equally detestable more than anything.
post #26 of 38
Thread Starter 
Sure, and if I thought the article promoted the conclusion that religions are all equally detestable I wouldn't have posted it. I dislike the Richard Dawkins types as much as you all. But I thought that given the conclusion it was pretty clear that the article promotes a nuanced, not negative, view of religion.

Clearly most people don't agree with me .

Which leads to another question: is it even possible for "outsiders" of a religion (I have no idea what Kristof's religious affiliation is, but let's assume he is not a devout Christian or Muslim) to publicly discuss the difficult bits of a religion without it being perceived as criticism?
post #27 of 38
I don't read him as criticizing; I just read him as failing in his intentions. If you are demonstrating that various holy texts are "sympathetic to slavery," for example, it really doesn't matter whether you're a believer in any of those faiths or not, it simply would probably be prudent to get into what it means to by sympathetic, how that has been dealt with historically and modernly, and whether or not people who are believers have been able to use their own theology to either distance themselves or reinterpret themselves away from accepting slavery in practice. If Muhammad both praised and killed Jews, it would probably be prudent to get into in what contexts those events occurred, and what they mean to followers of a religion which so strongly idealizes acting as Muhammad did to the best of one's ability. You don't have to be Muslim to do that, just as you don't have to be non-Muslim to leave it at "Muhammad praised and married Jews, except when he was killing them."
post #28 of 38
I also didn't consider him to be criticizing. I just felt he wasn't engaging the question in a meaningful way. Just to show that some lines from religious texts say one thing or another doesn't mean much. Verses in isolation like that can't tell us much at all.

I do think that one can discuss religion as a non-member without it being seen as criticism. I think of Eagleton's book rebutting Dawkins as a recent example.

I think that this quiz format was just no good for what he was trying to do.
post #29 of 38
Thread Starter 
I don't think his intention was to demonstrate the truth of the questions he asks. I think his intention was to demonstrate that the holy books of both religions contain verses that say on their face i.e. without any other context some difficult things (slaves obey your masters, dashing babies against a rock, beating your wife, etc) along with some wonderful things. And then warn against thinking that such a simplistic reading in any way reflects the truth of the religion. (Because that is what the anti-Islam groups in the US are doing).

As for going into all of the detail you suggest, that obviously could not be done in a newspaper column. Nor was it necessary for the point he was trying to make. But I can see that the article could come across as flippant to those for whom these issues are a very tender point, especially after being targeted by anti-Islam or anti-Christian types.
post #30 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Verses in isolation like that can't tell us much at all.
Right, that was his point!!!
post #31 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
Right, that was his point!!!
... but they can appear to tell us a great deal. Removed from context "Christianity is sympathetic to slavery" inspires only about as much of a sense of backing complexity as "the sky is blue." To someone who thinks blue is an ugly color, "the sky is blue" is going to sound like "the sky is an ugly color," not "wow, there must be some really interesting color spectrum science behind that which I don't know about."
post #32 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
... but they can appear to tell us a great deal. Removed from context "Christianity is sympathetic to slavery" inspires only about as much of a sense of backing complexity as "the sky is blue." To someone who thinks blue is an ugly color, "the sky is blue" is going to sound like "the sky is an ugly color," not "wow, there must be some really interesting color spectrum science behind that which I don't know about."
You are saying what I am thinking much more clearly than I am.

Thanks!
post #33 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
... but they can appear to tell us a great deal.
Well, I suppose it was to prevent that kind of misunderstanding that he made the comments at the beginning and the end of the quiz. I think you're taking the quiz out of context .

Also, bear in mind the quiz pointed out positive as well as negative verses. So for your analogy to work, it would have to be something like "the sky is blue and has fluffy clouds" where the reader detests the color blue but loves fluffy clouds. And I do think this prompts a response along the lines of "hm, this is complicated", not "the sky is ugly".

But maybe the basic disconnect we are having is our assumptions about the audience. I'm imagining a general public that is culturally Christian and has a generally positive view of Christianity but a negative view of Islam, whereas it seems you and Bluegoat are imagining a general public that think negatively of religion in general.
post #34 of 38
Quote:
But maybe the basic disconnect we are having is our assumptions about the audience. I'm imagining a general public that is culturally Christian and has a generally positive view of Christianity but a negative view of Islam, whereas it seems you and Bluegoat are imagining a general public that think negatively of religion in general.
The way I see it, the view that the general public is anti-God is the Biblical view. Humanity is divided, Biblically speaking, into those who love God and those who are at enmity with him - which is an outright rejection and hatred, not a sort of middle-of-the-road fuzziness. There's no "third class" of people who are sorta for God and sorta against him, and will end up floating halfway between heaven and hell feeling mildly OK for all eternity.

And I think that's demonstrated in society - certainly in New Zealand, although I realise we have a much more overtly secular climate than in the US. Most people who are "positive" about Christianity either don't know the first thing about it - and would probably find it extremely offensive if they really knew its doctrines - or are just being polite, but can be brought to admit they really hate it by a few well-chosen questions. It's really not something you can be informedly neutral on.

Now, I think there are certainly people who have a vaguely positive view of cultural "Christianity-lite" - people who have the fuzzy impression that if Jesus hadn't been born, we wouldn't have Santa and turkey, and Santa and turkey are nice, and they saw a pretty cathedral once, and they think the Narnia books are a lot of fun, and therefore Christianity must be a Good Thing. But I don't really see that as a positive view of Christianity, or any kind of acceptance of the Christian God. It's pure cultural smugness. For them, sure, the quiz might make them think "Oh, I didn't know that - well, I guess Christianity's evil after all", but that would be an equally facile opinion.
post #35 of 38
Thread Starter 
I think you are conflating "people who have a negative view of your particular interpretation of God", which granted would probably be a majority, and "people who have a negative view of Christianity in general", which is most definitely not the majority here in the US. All you have to do is look at the people we elect to political office. Out of 534 members of Congress, for example, we have 2 Muslims, 2 Buddhists, 8 who identify as "other" and "not defined", and all the rest are either various shades of Christian or Jewish. Clearly a large majority of Americans think that the God of the Bible stands for something good.

It could be, as you say, just cultural smugness - an "us" vs. "them thing. But the point of the article still stands, because "us" identifies with the Bible, and "them" is Islam, or Hinduism, or whatever other religion you care to name.
post #36 of 38
It depends how you define Christianity. As I said before, people in America seem to have a certain preference for their own culture, which has been influenced by a form of Christianity. That doesn't mean that voting for politicians who market themselves as Christians is actually a vote for "the God of the Bible", though. It could equally be a vote for generic white middle-classness, or for not-a-foreigner-ness, or not-Muslimness, or unlikely-to-rock-the-boatness. Or even, in a few staggering cases, because people thought the candidates were good and liked their policies.

Certainly I imagine most people would be anti- my particular view of God, ie the Calvinist one, but I think it's a broader issue than that. I don't imagine most people, if pressed, would accept most of the generic characteristics of God as agreed upon by all sorts of denominations. It goes against a lot of modern thinking. God's omnipotent? Problem of evil/He should have saved my grandma's life/but what about earthquakes? Omniscient? Free will. Holy? There's divinity in everything (or nothing, perhaps). The Creator? Evolution. Wrathful? But I don't deserve judgment/man's basically good/that's not fair. Described in predominantly male terms? Sexist. And so on. "Loving" would probably be accepted, in a vague sort of way, but that might be about as far as you'd get.

So I do think it's good that "Christianity" as a phenomenon - from potluck casseroles to hate marches - be separated from Christianity - any and all versions of it - as understood on a doctrinal level. Preferably by discussion more nuanced than the quiz in question.

I think Christians do tend to view this differently than non-Christians. I'm sure it would be much harder to be a Muslim or Buddhist in the USA than a Christian, in terms of persecution and prejudice. But perhaps non-Christians are more willing to lump cultural Christianity in with the real thing than practicing Christians are. (Just as, I'm sure, Christians in Iran are likely to conflate religious and cultural Islam.) As a Christian, I tend to view claims that companies, politicians, individuals etc are Christian with a degree of cynicism, just because the term's so often co-opted for political reasons or out of sheer laziness. I mean, I won't tend to challenge people on it, but if they want to convince me they have to do more than just use the buzzword. Whereas if someone told me she was Hindu, I'd tend to assume she was a "real" Hindu, because I have less familiarity with the ins and outs of it - whether or not she was practicing it according to its tenets, how much social pressure she had to call herself one, etc. It's not the language I know, if that makes sense. And I wonder sometimes if non-Christians do the same thing to Christianity, giving them a rather distorted idea of what the religion actually entails (ie. "They must be Christians, they eat tunafish casserole!"). Does that make any sense?
post #37 of 38
Thread Starter 
Sure it makes sense, and I don't disagree with anything you say, Smokering. I'm still as to what it has to do with the article, though, which certainly isn't an attempt to define Christianity. He's just pointing out -- to an audience in which a majority of people are culturally conditioned to view the Bible as a Good Thing -- that both the Bible and the Koran are complicated and should not be read in a simplistic way.

Through this conversation, I understand your point (general you) that if he is going to bring up potentially incendiary verses he should give them a more in-depth treatment so the article isn't misunderstood and just adds fuel to the fire. He couldn't have done that of course, given the format he was working with. And to me he writes clearly enough in his conclusion that if anyone misunderstands his point it's their bad, not his. But I recognize that I don't have the sensitivity that you (general you) have since I am not a Christian. Although to be honest, I really don't think I would have objected to this article back when I was a Christian either (for over half my life, and I was definitely not a "cultural" Christian).
post #38 of 38
I don't think we disagree hugely. I would have preferred a more nuanced conclusion, maybe, and as I originally said, I take issue with his interpretation of one of the questions (Jesus' views on homosexuality), but I don't think it's the worst article ever written or anything.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Religious Studies
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Spirituality › Religious Studies › Here's another religious knowledge quiz...