cultural literacy and non-religious families? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
Reply
 
Thread Tools
#31 of 45 Old 02-05-2010, 05:33 PM
 
CatsCradle's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York City
Posts: 2,006
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I can't resist playing the devil's advocate here...but what about enjoying art for art's sake? OP, I copied a portion of your most recent post:

Quote:
As an avid reader and poetry lover with only a mildly religious upbringing, I always hated feeling like I was missing something in a book.
Based on my own visual art and writing background, I think it is safe to assume that many writers, artists and musicians appropriate other works all the time. We all are influenced or borrow from history in order to create something new. I did a series of pieces once based on the events of the Holocaust. In the end, the only reference to the Holocaust (from the viewer's point of view) were the titles of the pieces. I didn't expect the viewer to have specific knowledge of specific events. The viewer of course would come to his/her own conclusions or derive his/her own meanings of the work whether they had minimal or massive knowledge of those specific events. While it is probably true that someone may form more distinct conclusions regarding a piece if their knowledge on the subject is better, it doesn't change the fact that the person with limited knowledge doesn't form his/her own complex, and valid, conclusion. To me, that is the beauty of art. The conclusions that people reach are purely subjective and that is what makes art so interesting. I think that if we understood everything at the outset, then the making of stuff would be terribly boring. This is not to say that knowledge should not be sought or that we should remain comfortably oblivious to history. To analyze is even fun. But no matter what your knowledge given any subject, poetry, art and music can give immense pleasure at face value.

"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." Charles Lamb.
CatsCradle is offline  
#32 of 45 Old 02-05-2010, 05:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
AmyKT's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: my little corner of the world
Posts: 1,301
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post
I can't resist playing the devil's advocate here...but what about enjoying art for art's sake? OP, I copied a portion of your most recent post:



Based on my own visual art and writing background, I think it is safe to assume that many writers, artists and musicians appropriate other works all the time. We all are influenced or borrow from history in order to create something new. I did a series of pieces once based on the events of the Holocaust. In the end, the only reference to the Holocaust (from the viewer's point of view) were the titles of the pieces. I didn't expect the viewer to have specific knowledge of specific events. The viewer of course would come to his/her own conclusions or derive his/her own meanings of the work whether they had minimal or massive knowledge of those specific events. While it is probably true that someone may form more distinct conclusions regarding a piece if their knowledge on the subject is better, it doesn't change the fact that the person with limited knowledge doesn't form his/her own complex, and valid, conclusion. To me, that is the beauty of art. The conclusions that people reach are purely subjective and that is what makes art so interesting. I think that if we understood everything at the outset, then the making of stuff would be terribly boring. This is not to say that knowledge should not be sought or that we should remain comfortably oblivious to history. To analyze is even fun. But no matter what your knowledge given any subject, poetry, art and music can give immense pleasure at face value.
Well, of course art can be appreciated at face value, but I personally don't like missing stuff. So I'm a control freak, ok? An English major, librarian control freak.

The people obsessed with the TV show LOST (myself one of them) are constantly poring over every detail in the show trying to figure out things like if the title of the book on the professor's desk is relevant to the plot. Or why is John Locke named after a philosopher? Is that a key to his and the island's destiny? If Jacob is the name of the guy in white, is the guy in black Esau? If so, what can I learn from rereading the bible story? Without these questions, I could still enjoy watching the series, but I'd be missing a lot of the fun.

Not everything requires this amount of scrutiny, but some do if you're really going to get something out of it. At least, that's my experience. I'm not interested enough in everything I read or view to go that far, of course.

Amy (34): mommy to DD1 (11/07) and DD2 (7/10), wife, wohm, and wannabe suburban homesteader.
AmyKT is offline  
#33 of 45 Old 02-05-2010, 06:40 PM
 
lotusdebi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Facebook
Posts: 6,653
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I was raised as an atheist with very little education about Christianity, and I definitely suffered for it. In elementary school, I had no idea what my peers were talking about whenever they discussed anything related to Christianity. In high school, having a pretty basic understanding of Christianity and some of the more popular stories would have helped me tremendously. We read The Scarlet Letter, Canterbury Tales, and Dante's Inferno. Of course being culturally literate in Christianity would have helped me get through those works! I went to public school in a DC suburb in the early '90's, and my teachers definitely expected for me to come to class with an understanding of Christianity and the references made in the books.

You can find me on Facebook. PM for info.
lotusdebi is offline  
#34 of 45 Old 02-05-2010, 07:02 PM
 
CatsCradle's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York City
Posts: 2,006
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Well, of course art can be appreciated at face value, but I personally don't like missing stuff. So I'm a control freak, ok? An English major, librarian control freak.
Help! Those are my DH's stats! So, you can imagine that there are "interesting" conversations in our house. Or not.

"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." Charles Lamb.
CatsCradle is offline  
#35 of 45 Old 02-05-2010, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
AmyKT's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: my little corner of the world
Posts: 1,301
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post
Help! Those are my DH's stats! So, you can imagine that there are "interesting" conversations in our house. Or not.
Oh, dear, I'm sorry. I am glad I don't live with another me.

Amy (34): mommy to DD1 (11/07) and DD2 (7/10), wife, wohm, and wannabe suburban homesteader.
AmyKT is offline  
#36 of 45 Old 02-05-2010, 11:16 PM
 
KaylaBeanie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: The South...for now
Posts: 612
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
For my baptism, I was given a Precious Moments children's bible. Technically I was raised in a Christian home, but church and religion were always on the back burner. I remember my mom reading me the stories, and I never thought they were true and more than Rugrats. I still have the book, and I'll probably include it in story time when I have kids. My own religious beliefs tend to be more agnostic/eastern than Judeo-Christian, so any focus on Judeo-Christian mythology will be presented as just that; a make-believe story. It'll go on the bookshelf with all the other kids books about greek and roman mythology, norse mythology, grimm's fairy tales, etc. While my kids will be raised with my basic belief system, they'll always be able to read age-appropriate religious information and be able to decide for themselves what they believe.

treehugger.gif NMY, uber-crunchy, college student, doula-in-training, health food store worker and future librarian read.gif
                                      

KaylaBeanie is offline  
#37 of 45 Old 02-06-2010, 12:44 AM
 
kcstar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: nowhere near Kansas
Posts: 756
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Another UU here, and I will second PP's statements about the churches being different. At the church we attended when DS was born, we attended one service where the officiant requested a moment of silence... and our dear, precious infant was "talking" the entire time. I felt embarassed, but no one else indicated worries about it, including said officiant.

A few months later in our current church, DS was making noise during the very serious sermon, and I felt glared at.

Religious Education in the UU churches can also vary.

Unitarian Universalist Pagan
kcstar is offline  
#38 of 45 Old 02-06-2010, 04:50 AM
 
PreggieUBA2C's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: foothills, farm, deep wilderness
Posts: 1,851
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Op, we are in a similar situation I think. We have left christianity but just last year, at the end- me in November and dh at christmastime. We had been out of church attendance for three years but still believers, then returned a few times, continued in our research, bu then came to the only reasonable conclusions we could.

Our older 3 dc noticed and began asking questions. When 'Jesus' stopped being a common name in our home, they started asking hard questions and it was very hard when we were not yet decided, but leaning toward agnosticism/atheism.

I ended up telling them everything I'd researched about saviour archetypes in mythology and the dates and stories of several that predate the Jesus stories. Ds1 (6 yrs old) cried. He stopped talking to me for a few minutes and it occured to me that he may think that we've been tricking him, so I told him that we truly believed everything we'd told them, what we'd been taught in church, and that we were not lying to them; we were mistaken and we still don't know the whole truth, but that we're doing our best to understand who we are and what is reasonable about all of these stories we've been told and what is not. I told them that learning and finding oneself mistaken and wrong is a lifetime reality, that being an adult doesn't exempt anyone from this journey of learning, exploring, making mistakes, trying again, being wrong and discovering things we never expected- that this is life and it doesn't stop being hat way if you take an interest in your existence. Ds1 stopped crying and was very happy that we had not tricked him, but really believed, albeit wrongly.

So, ds2 (5 yrs old) and ds3 (4 yrs old) are still asking loads of questions about god and I am answering confidently that I don't know to most of them. I tell them what others have guessed and believe, but ask them to think of a way that we could test those ideas. Then we discuss how we can know things and they really get a lot out of these discussions. They have been enormously fruitful as evidenced by what I hear them discussing amongst themselves about all sorts of topics, but using the tools for logic and reasoning that we discuss as related to god and religion.

They ask me if I believe things that we discuss and I tell them if I do or not, and also that they are free to consider those beliefs and to hold them, reject them, or to choose to not conclude either way, and that any of those positions are valid if they are being honest.

As for stories, I have been reading them a variety of creation myths and mythologies of all sorts. They sometimes ask if they are true and I answer honestly (though who knows if it's true- I am being honest though). Sometimes I ask them to consider whether or not they could be true and why. In the end I encourage them to live in freedom of thought and conscience and to search out the meaning they need. I validate their choices. I have become very comfortable with this approach even though at first I found the specifically christian myths to be somewhat threatening.

I don't know if I think it is culturally necessary to be educated in mythology; I suppose it really depends on many factors including whether or not it matters to the individual. In our case, because we have left christianity, it is necessary for us to sort this stuff out for all of our sakes; we all have questions specific to our education in christianity and subsequently, in world religions and ancient mythologies. If none of us had ever been indoctrinated, I have no idea what importance I would place on knowing religious beliefs and myths. I may well have placed lots of importance on skill-building and arts (which I do anyway along with a ridiculously long list of other things we do) to the exclusion of religious education.

I honestly don't know if I'd bother with it without being in the place of exiting as I am presently, but I do appreciate the knowledge I have gained and do find myself enriched by understanding cultural references to religion, but even then, as Tigerchild pointed out, I am largely alone even amongst christians in recognising those references, for a variety of reasons. Perhaps if I had never welcomed religion into my life, I would have spent those years learning other things that would fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge and thereby the cultural references I miss presently.

I miss political references (especially American ones because they are probably as or more frequent as religious ones at least in contemporary western literature and I'm not American), and only in some instances do I find them engaging enough to me to learn the source of those references; I'm just as content to let those go by. I also miss sports references in most cases and nearly every war reference from any time period (I just hate war and have mostly blocked out any knowledge I have inadvertently gained through study of other subjects) and I'm sure many others because while I am well-read and educated, I don't know everything (duh...) and don't want to devote my time to learning about things that don't interest me when the precious little time I do have is spent learning those things that do. There are only so many hours in a day.

Religion may someday occupy that same place of irrelevance to me, but for now it cannot; it must be addressed, but I wouldn't at this point propose that it is essential learning for those for whom it is largely irrelevant to their lives. Heck, that would include a lot of people who call themselves 'religious' too!

We could be having the same sort of discussion about historical war or politics and there would be many who would validly point out that knowing about these realities of human experience is essential to understanding the culture we create presently, and I wouldn't argue against that for those who do understand such things, but maybe it just isn't necessary for everyone to have the same knowledge and understanding as everyone else about everything that some find relevant. And maybe it isn't even possible since people learn and express in such diverse ways that even with hypothetically identical knowledge, there would not be uniform or even verifiably beneficial results from that, imo.

Neat thread, and timely for me. Thanks!

Well, I've been absent for 8 months, and during that time, it turns out that I have completely transformed. You are all precious. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives. You are truly a gift. namaste.gif Jan. 23, 2012

PreggieUBA2C is offline  
#39 of 45 Old 02-06-2010, 07:18 AM
 
Litcrit's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Belgrade, Serbia
Posts: 219
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by AmyKT View Post

It's interesting to hear the different points of view about how important it really is to know biblical stories to get literary references and such, and I totally know what some of you mean about devout religious people who wouldn't get a literary allusion if it walked up and slapped them on the face.

[...]

So what if I don't get a Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist reference? I go look it up. Though as someone pointed out, if you don't even know enough to know that you're missing something, you're stuck. But then again, I don't get a lot of sports metaphors in books, so....
I was raised moderately secular/Christian, in that I was aware my parents vaguely believed in a God and went to church once in a blue moon when there was something ritually fun going on, but I had to learn about religion and mythology on my own. I had a children's Bible, several real ones, a Koran, Greek myths and Nordic myths in my library. I ended up a practicing Eastern Orthodox Christian with a fascination and love for all religious mythology and imagery.

I'm also a geeky English Literature major, currently doing my dissertation on religious imagery in Shakespeare (I also greatly enjoyed spotting Koranic allusions in Rushdie's work). As such, I love the word 'story'. Stories aren't true or false, they just are. There is an inherent truth to Noah's Ark (and the many similar stories in other mythologies), Hamlet, Christ's Resurrection, Sleeping Beauty, and the Gilgamesh Epic. I personally believe one of these to also be literally true, but small children don't really know the difference well and it's not even an issue for so long. I tell my three-year-old daughter the stories of Snowwhite, Christ's Birth, Death and Resurrection, and Santa Claus (he doesn't literally enter our realm, though). In time I would personally like her to believe one is a pretty children's story, one is wonderful poetry that actually took place, and one is a relatively silly invention. She doesn't have to, though; the stories are presented in the same way.
Litcrit is offline  
#40 of 45 Old 02-06-2010, 10:24 AM
 
ollyoxenfree's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 4,933
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post
I can't resist playing the devil's advocate here...but what about enjoying art for art's sake? OP, I copied a portion of your most recent post:



Based on my own visual art and writing background, I think it is safe to assume that many writers, artists and musicians appropriate other works all the time. We all are influenced or borrow from history in order to create something new. I did a series of pieces once based on the events of the Holocaust. In the end, the only reference to the Holocaust (from the viewer's point of view) were the titles of the pieces. I didn't expect the viewer to have specific knowledge of specific events. The viewer of course would come to his/her own conclusions or derive his/her own meanings of the work whether they had minimal or massive knowledge of those specific events. While it is probably true that someone may form more distinct conclusions regarding a piece if their knowledge on the subject is better, it doesn't change the fact that the person with limited knowledge doesn't form his/her own complex, and valid, conclusion. To me, that is the beauty of art. The conclusions that people reach are purely subjective and that is what makes art so interesting. I think that if we understood everything at the outset, then the making of stuff would be terribly boring. This is not to say that knowledge should not be sought or that we should remain comfortably oblivious to history. To analyze is even fun. But no matter what your knowledge given any subject, poetry, art and music can give immense pleasure at face value.
Yes, we can enjoy "art for art's sake". I consider my enjoyment of a work still "for art's sake" if I understand the artist's influences and references.

We watched Cool Hand Luke a while back. There are many, many Christ references in the movie. I can't remember them all now but I recall crosses and crucifixion poses appeared. Now, we all knew that Luke was a good guy in a bad situation. But catching those references was fun and interesting.

Face value is okay, but it's also good to have a deeper appreciation and value the richness of a work.
ollyoxenfree is offline  
#41 of 45 Old 02-06-2010, 11:47 AM
 
CatsCradle's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York City
Posts: 2,006
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Face value is okay, but it's also good to have a deeper appreciation and value the richness of a work.
I understand that point of view and appreciate it. But I would still argue that the "richness" and/or meanings may be in the work itself, and not in the individual elements making up the work. Reminds me of the whole modernist movement (in the visual arts) where artists attempted to strip their paintings of all cultural references so that the painting itself could be directly addressed. Funny how the visual arts have evolved over the centuries from telling direct biblical stories (for the mostly illiterate masses) to what some might deem an elitist position of painting about paint! I guess I see myself less as a critic or seeker of meanings as someone who likes to understand the artist's process and thinking. Now that I think about it, though, I do like to understand certain historical contexts when I'm reading novels or poetry. Two different mediums, I guess.

"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." Charles Lamb.
CatsCradle is offline  
#42 of 45 Old 02-06-2010, 01:17 PM
 
Jessy1019's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Flemington, NJ
Posts: 3,514
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
We just take references as they come and explain what religious people think and what we think (generally, that it is just a story with various purposes . . . like stories about heaven are used to make people feel better when someone they love dies, stories about the commandments were to get people to behave a certain way, etc).

I think it's important from a cultural perspective but also because I want my kids to know why we feel the way we do. I don't want my children to become religious, so I want them to always know the sound reasons behind why we are not. So far, so good!

Proud Anti-Adoption, Atheist, Reproductive-Freedom Fighter Mama
Rylie is 7, Ronin is 3.5
Jessy1019 is offline  
#43 of 45 Old 02-07-2010, 07:51 AM
 
ollyoxenfree's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 4,933
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post
I understand that point of view and appreciate it. But I would still argue that the "richness" and/or meanings may be in the work itself, and not in the individual elements making up the work. Reminds me of the whole modernist movement (in the visual arts) where artists attempted to strip their paintings of all cultural references so that the painting itself could be directly addressed. Funny how the visual arts have evolved over the centuries from telling direct biblical stories (for the mostly illiterate masses) to what some might deem an elitist position of painting about paint! I guess I see myself less as a critic or seeker of meanings as someone who likes to understand the artist's process and thinking. Now that I think about it, though, I do like to understand certain historical contexts when I'm reading novels or poetry. Two different mediums, I guess.
I am considering a variety of artistic media, including visual, film, literary and musical, and I think the OP is too. We could have a long discussion about the value of contextual art, artistic expression, the role of the artist and the audience, but I think that's may be too far off-topic.

I'd just say that there is some value in developing critical insights into art. My 16 DS takes a film course in high school. He came home the other day feeling pretty good. His teacher said DS was the most astute student in the class with the best insight into the works they had been studying - which included many classic movies, but also the students' own short films. So if nothing else, it's at least worth an A+ in high school!
ollyoxenfree is offline  
#44 of 45 Old 02-08-2010, 01:16 AM
 
mamadelbosque's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Ohio, USA
Posts: 6,946
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Sorry its taken me so long to reply - I've been without a computer for severa days and am currently on my moms (DH says I'm an addict... that may or may not be tru ). ANYWHO...

Honestly, I think that some people look for biblical references so hard that they find them in places where they weren't *meant* to be. I've come to this conclusion mostly by working with christians at YMCA camps over several years. Some people insist that LOTR is christian. Others decry it as heresy. Ditto for CSS Lewsi' Chronicles of Narnia. Really and truelly if you look hard enough you can find references to most anything anywhere you look. Doesn't mean they were *meant* to be there. Doesn't mean they matter or add *anything* to the story. And unless you were the creator/author/artist (or know them personally and they've confirmed it!), you don't *really* know one way or the other (unless of course they quote specific bible verses & cite them.

I really don't think that just because I (or anyone else) doesn't pick up on 100% of all biblical references that I/we are missing anything. Nobody picks up on 100% of all references - books reference the bible, the koran, greek, roman, celtic, native american, african, hindu, etc mythologies, they reference more modern literary works - LOTR, Chronicles of Narnia, Dune, Ann of Green Gables, the Little House on the Prairie and everything in between. Nobody is going to pick up on all of it. Most people won't pick up on 10%, and just because you happen to look for (and thus pick up on) biblical/judeo/christian references doesn't mean theirs really that many more of them out there than anything else.

I don't really know where I'm going with this other than to say the insistance that christianity is *SO* important to our culture that if you aren't extremely familiar with it you *WILL* be missing out is just... not true. At least, not in my opinion. I just don't think it matters - as long as you have some semblance of an idea of what christians believe (that jesus died for peoples' sins, rose again, and went to 'heaven') I think you'll be fine. Having the same semblance of an idea of what the other major world religions believe is, IMO, equally helpful, and I just don't get the insistance that one is so vastl much more important than the others.
mamadelbosque is offline  
#45 of 45 Old 02-08-2010, 01:30 AM
 
zinemama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: from the fire roads to the interstate
Posts: 6,568
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I wasn't raised in any religion, but I was plenty literate in Bible stories, Jewish and Christian. How? I grew up in a house full of books. Those stories are referenced all the time. We also had an illustrated children's Bible lying around. No one told me to read it, no one sat down and talked about those stories to me. I just picked them up in context.

It's great to talk about them with your kid and I totally agree about the necessity of being familiar with this stuff for cultural literacy. But if a kid is a reader, he or she is going to learn those stories one way or another.
zinemama is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off