The evangelical bubble cannot be sustained (part 1)

The following unrelated items are not unrelated:

1. Latebloomer, who writes at Past Tense, Present Progressive, tells a familiar story about being an inquisitive kid in the insular world of American fundamentalist Christianity:

I was in the middle of writing a homeschool high school essay called “Why I Believe What I Believe,” and one of my points was that the Bible was inspired. I wrote down something like this: “Written over ____ years by ___ authors in different countries and in several languages, the Bible amazingly has no contradictions.” Then, I grabbed our family encyclopedia to check exactly how many years and how many authors. True horror suddenly gripped me as I saw words on the page like “disputed author,” “written in the second century,” and “not settled until the fourth century …” My vision blurred; I slammed the encyclopedia shut.  Eventually, I calmed down enough to continue writing, having mentally explained away the data as yet one more humanistic attack on God’s obvious truth. But I never managed to feel really confident in my finished essay.

2. Ed Cyzewski highlights a little-discussed, but very real gap between seminary-educated clergy and the laypeople in their congregations. In seminary, he writes:

Instead of finding all of the answers, seminary revealed all of the dirty little secrets that pastors aren’t allowed to talk about because they’d lose their jobs if they brought any of it up with their congregations.

I confronted controversial topics like biblical authority, inerrancy, the problem of evil, the character of God, how salvation works, the historic views of hell, women in ministry, where we got the Bible from, and the list goes on. …

3. Peggy Fletcher Stack of the Salt Lake Tribune reports how “Mormons confront ‘epidemic’ of online misinformation“:

A Mormon student surfs the Internet for a school assignment and discovers that Mormon founder Joseph Smith had multiple wives, even marrying a 14-year-old.

A returned Mormon missionary, preparing a Sunday school lesson, comes across a website alleging that the Book of Mormon was plagiarized from a novel.

Surprised by what they find so easily online, more and more Mormons are encountering crises of faith. Some even leave the fold and, feeling betrayed, join the ranks of Mormon opponents.

It’s a growing problem, acknowledges Marlin Jensen, the outgoing historian for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it’s one Mormon leaders are working to confront.

… For those who discover unwelcome information about the church’s history online, [LDS scholar Richard] Bushman said, “the whole picture changes in a flash.” The best way to prevent this from happening, Bushman said, is to give Mormons “the whole story from the beginning.”

“If the disruptive facts are worked into the history Latter-day Saints learn as they grow up, they won’t be turned upside down when they come across something negative.”

4. J.R. Daniel Kirk writes about the “irreducible theological diversity” of the four New Testament Gospels. To pastors, he says:

If you don’t give your people a category for this kind of diverse Bible being the word of God, then you will create a false sense of connection between a supposedly uniform, univocal Bible and the Christian faith as such. So what happens when they go off to college and take a Bible class at State University? What happens when they get bored one Saturday and map out (or try, anyway) the last week of Jesus’ life in each of the four Gospels?

Uh oh.

That’s when they discover that the Bible isn’t what you led them to believe. And if that imagined Bible is necessary for believing what God has to say about Jesus and the Christian faith in general, then the latter are apt to crumble as well.

5. Thousands traveled to Maiden, N.C., on Sunday to protest preacher who called for concentration camps:

Thousands of people traveled Sunday to the Catawba County Justice Center for a chance to share their feelings about the controversial comments of Charles Worley. During a May sermon, the Maiden pastor told his congregation he advocated confining gay people inside an electrified fence.

… People traveled to the protest from many North Carolina cities, including Asheville, Gastonia and Greensboro. The protest also drew travelers from across state lines.

 

  • GeniusLemur

    “No contradictions” in the Bible? What about the last words of Jesus? Working from memory, they’re “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, “It is finished,” or “Aaaaargh!” depending on which gospel you read. You’d think a devout Christian would have actually read the arguably most important bits of the gospels and know this. And what about Genesis with its two serperate (and imcompatible) creation stories?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Personally I’m fond of the method of reconciliation of the Genesis stories that involves Lilith, but that’s a Jewish thing, and since these people don’t do Jewish things and often avoid CS Lewis (where I first encountered the story), ain’t none of them heard of it.

  • LL

    RE #1: I tried to have this conversation with my mother pretty long ago (it’s probably been about 20 years; yeah, I’m old; I had taken the required religious classes at college, one of which was History of Biblical Literature, and both classes – only 2 were required, this was a Methodist-affiliated school – were among the most interesting I attended there). 

    She refused to believe it (that the Bible was written by many different people at different times and that there are different versions of it, etc.). No idea how she feels about it now, as we haven’t discussed it since. I suspect her opinion hasn’t changed. The gulf between scholarly biblical knowledge and what most Christians think is the “truth” is indeed huge. See, facts don’t matter, only how people “feel.” If they feel that the Bible dropped straight down from heaven exactly as they have it today (King James Version, in my mother’s case), that’s it. That’s the truth. Regardless of the facts. 

  • Vermic

    This is unrelated to the main thrust of the discussion, but when I was a little kid (pre-Sunday School) I thought that the Dead Sea Scrolls were the Bible.  The Bible was discovered in a cave in the 1940s and nobody had heard of Judaism or Christianity before then.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

    Well, we all know how most evangelicals feel about sustainability.

  • lowtechcyclist

    Re #4: forget the rest of Jesus’ last week, just try to map out the paths of the various visitors to the tomb on Easter morning.   I suppose there might be a way to make it all fit, but it would be Keystone Kops city.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    On point 2, Jack Chick did a Crusaders comic that featured a student attending a seminary of some sort and having one of his teachers reluctantly admit that no one actually believes any of the hogwash in the Bible. 

    The student is so distraught by having his worldview destroyed that he flies off in a rage and attempts to actually burn the seminary down.I don’t remember how it was resolved, though I suspect it involved the titular Crusaders (these hip, with-it, 70s’-style evangelists) visiting him and explaining that all anyone needs to do is say the right magic words and read the Bible literally and that organized religion could, generally, be ignored as being irrelevant (unless it was a Bible-believing organized religion).

    I forget what  that particular Crusaders comic was called (I believe it may have featured the infamous Alberto), but stumbling across it online several years ago representative my first exposure to any of Jack’s long-form, non-tract work, and it inspired the horrified fascination with all things Jack T. Chick that, in time, led me to discover Enter the Jabberwock, which ultimately led me to Fred’s LB posts (he was still on the first book back then) on the old Typepad blog.

    And now you know…the rest of the story. /paulharvey

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    [Added] This is much longer than I intended, sorry about that. Feel free to skip it if you’re not interested in me rambling on a tangent about Lilith. [/added]

    I never understood the idea of Lilith.  (I’ve said this before.)

    If you read the story strictly believing that what comes later in the text must come later in time (which I don’t understand why you would) then Adam isn’t the first man because he was created 11 verses after God created man and woman.  You’d have to have Anonymous Man, Anonymous Woman, Adam, Eve.   Placing Lilith with Adam makes no sense because she was created at the same time as some other guy.  (Steve maybe?)

    If you allow that maybe the creation of Adam was a flashback, which makes more sense and is necessary for Adam to be the first man, then he wasn’t created on day six because he was created before plants, plants were created on day 3.  Not Genesis 1:26-27, but Genesis 1 between verses 10 and 11.

    It’s certainly possible to posit that a woman was created between verses 10 and 11 of Genesis 1, and there’s no reason not to call her Lilith if you do, but there’s no real reason to assume a woman was created then, and even if she was you’ve still got random unnamed Genesis 1:26-27 guy hanging out there.  Wouldn’t you want to dress random undescribed person that the text does make reference to instead of entirely hypothetical person?

    -

    Though that said, I think I actually do understand to some degree.

    If you see man as the center of everything, then you look at the two stories and align them using man.  It doesn’t matter when woman or plants or animals or anything else was created, all that matters is man.  So when you try to line up the two accounts you stick the two creations of man together and look at everything else in light of that.  Thus plants were created twice, animals were created twice, and woman was created twice.  (plants, animals, man+woman, plants, animals, woman)

    If instead you thought that woman was what mattered, you line things up based on woman, and conclude that man was created twice where woman was only created once.  (man, plants, animals, man+woman)

    I never really thought out the question of how to align the time lines of the stories before today*, but now that I have I think I do understand where Lilith comes from.

    -

    *Well, I did, but it seemed obvious to me.  If you take Genesis 2:4-25 as a flashback then the opening, verses 4 to 6, reads to me like a very clear indication of the time when the story is flashing back to.  What I never really thought about is if you say that that doesn’t matter, what matters is that man was created only once, then you do end up with, “Who’s the second woman.”

    I was always seeing the idea that man was created once as a conclusion, not a premise, and thus could never figure out how people got to that point.

  • Ken

    seminary revealed all of the dirty little secrets that pastors aren’t allowed to talk about… the problem of evil

    I really don’t see how a person can be a pastor without talking about the problem of evil. Maybe it could be avoided as a sermon topic, but pastoring is going to rub your face – more to the point, your parishoners’ faces – in it every day.

  • hapax

    My very first day of New Testament in college (we took NT before OT, which was… odd) the professor asked, “How many of your are ‘Bible-believing Christians’?”  Looking at the raised hands, he went on “At the end of this course, about half of you will have lost your faith.  About a quarter of you will have a deeper faith.  The rest will have dropped this class or flunked.”
     

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com Ed_Cyzewski

    I’ll bet you do Ken. I have many pastors who are friends who really get hit with rough stuff all of the time. 

    I was being pretty brief in the post, but the wider idea I was thinking of was the matters of predestination, divine foreknowledge, and the extent of God’s power. My sense is that a pastor either takes a strong stand on one perspective and defends it to the death or never mentions it. Acknowledging uncertainty and complexity about these issues in many evangelical congregations is a great way to get shown the door! 

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Back in the heyday of Church of Scientology vs the Internet, they tried to get all CoS members to install a net-nanny program customized to block any anti-CoS criticism. Someone got a hold of it and extracted the list – it was a point of honor to be listed personally.

  • Tonio

    Kirk seems most concerned about preserving faith, which is understandable.  He may or may not recognize that the people in question really have their faith in a book, but we shouldn’t assume as he does that losing this type of faith automatically means losing faith in Christianity in general.

    If they feel that the Bible dropped straight down from heaven exactly as they have it today

    Dumb question – what is the theological or pseudo-theological source for such beliefs? Fred has described it many times as bad theology.

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com Ed_Cyzewski

    Thanks for linking up to my post! All the best to you Fred. 

  • AnonymousSam

    I’ve known two people who received the same warning on the first day of their Philosophy classes. ^^ I received one like it for my Bioethics class:

    “Warning: Critical thinking exercises ahead! Continuing without caution may result in realizing the shallow depths of your world view and having them forcibly deepened! Side-effects may include loss of the following: gullibility, faith, and misogynistic tendencies.”

  • AnonymousSam

    There are a couple passages which more or less state that anyone who changes or adds to the Bible will be slain by God. Taken to a fundamentalist level of extreme, that means the Bible today is EXACTLY like the Bible of millennia ago, just in a different language.

  • GDwarf

    Kind of odd that a translation wouldn’t count as a changing. A perfect translation is impossible, you need cultural context in order to appreciate everything the same way as the original readers, never mind the tricks of translating words and phrases that simply have no equivalent.

    Mind you, being mildly active in the anime community, I know all too well people who insist that perfect translations are easy and why don’t those big companies do them in five minutes for free and so on. Most people just seem to think that you can do a perfect translation with a multi-language dictionary by just swapping out the words.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Just for fun, I translated “Most people just seem to think that you can do a perfect translation with a multi-language dictionary by just swapping out the words” into Danish with Google translate and then translated it back to English and got:

    Most people just seem to think that you can do a perfect translation of a multi-dictionary by simply swapping out the words.

    Even more fun, translating it back and forth using Thai:

    Most people seem to think that you can complete the translation dictionaries in multiple languages ​​by simply switching words.

  • GDwarf

    So close, yet so far. XD Actually, that’s the most dangerous kind of
    translation error: It’s perfect English…it just has a different
    meaning from the source.

    I’m inexorably reminded of “English as she is Spoke”, a 19th century
    Portuguese-English phrase book. Translated by a man who spoke no English
    and very little Portuguese. He used a Portuguese-French phrase book (he
    was fluent in French) and then a French-English one to do the
    translations.

    This results in a mixture of almost-right English (“The superior and
    inferior lips”) and utter nonsense (“To craunch a marmoset”) It’s very much worth a read. (Edit: Here’s a link to the Project Gutenberg versions: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/30411)

    Edit 2: Technically “English as she is spoke” is a book that collects the ‘best’ phrases from the actual phrase book, which I don’t believe still exists.

  • Tricksterson

    The unnamed first man?  That was Zelig.

  • Tricksterson

    “The superior and inferior lips”  Does have a perfectly understandable English meaning if one’s mind is pornographically inclined.  It’s like a term one would find in Fanny Hill

  • GDwarf

     *coughing*

    Alright, that hadn’t even occured to me. XD.

    Some other fun ones:
    Fishes and Shellfishes [includes]: Snails, hedgehogs, wolves.

    “Here is a horse who have a
    bad looks. He not sail know to march, he is pursy, he is foundered.
    Don’t you are ashamed to give me a jade as like? he is unshoed, he is
    with nails up; it want to lead to the farrier.”

    “Idiotisms and Proverbs”

    “A horse
    baared don’t look him the tooth”

  • GDwarf

    Ooh, some more:
    Woman objects:

      The busk; The paint or disguise

    Servants:

      Coochmann

    Speaking of pornographically inclined…

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Then for even more fun, I used Google translate to translate the sentence, “I’m going to translate this sentence three times” first into Thai, then from Thai to Danish, then back to English. I got, ”I do it three times.” I think there is some missing information.

  • Lori

    “Written over ____ years by ___ authors in different countries and in
    several languages, the Bible amazingly has no contradictions.” 

    That gave me a nasty flashback to the days of my youth. It didn’t take me all that much actual reading of the Bible to realize that “no contradictions” does not mean what they apparently wanted me to think it meant. It made me wonder (for the first time, but definitely not the last) if they were actively trying to weed out the smart people.

  • Lori

     

    Most people just seem to think that you can do a perfect translation
    with a multi-language dictionary by just swapping out the words.  

    I have a good friend who was a linguistics major in college. In his opinion the hardest thing for many people who try to learn a 2nd language later in life is really understanding deep down that New Language is not in fact a translation of Native Language, but is instead it’s own separate thing with it’s own rules and nuances and so on. Some folks never get it.

  • LL

    Dude, your guess is as good as mine. I have no idea where people get these ridiculous ideas. From their equally ignorant ministers, I’m guessing. And the other members of the church. 

  • GDwarf

    I find that I learn bits of other languages faster now that I’m older. I hated learning French in school, none of it ever made any sense and teachers never explained why you’d conjugate a verb, say. So it was just lists of arbitrary words that could be spelled half-a-dozen different ways, apparently at random.

    Now that I understand at least the basics of how languages work it’s much easier to figure out what pieces go where and why.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    This. I can actually tell roughly from where someone is under certain circumstances by the particular changes they make to the normal constructions of English grammar.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    For me, I’m finding it the other way around. I have a terrible, terrible time grokking new languages.

  • http://willbikeforchange.wordpress.com/ storiteller

    often avoid CS Lewis (where I first encountered the story),

     I haven’t found that people avoid C.S. Lewis so much as lionize him as a “Christian writer” without reading anything but Narnia, if that.  I personally like Lewis and have read a bunch of his stuff, but then I recognize what’s problematic in it too (oh, That Hideous Strength) and can make my peace with the good stuff.  These folks don’t seem to be capable of doing that with anything – it’s all or nothing.

  • Tricksterson

    Those are obviously snails, hedgehogs and wolves that have been genetically engineered to live in the sea.

  • Makabit

    The rabbinic approach to the the apparent double creation of man that I’ve always liked is simply that there were several couples created in various places–’male and female created he them’–but that we are told the personal story of only one pair, as an exemplar, and also so that people will not say to one another that their primal ancestor was greater than anyone else’s.

    In other words, we are not all, actually children of Adam and Chava, we’re just supposed to think of ourselves that way in order to understand the fundamental equality of humans to one another.

  • Makabit

    A college friend of mine became a Christian through exposure to an extremely secularly oriented course called “The Bible as Literature”.

    I do not think the professor had expected this outcome at all, and I might go so far as to speculate she may not have been thrilled by it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    In other words, we are not all, actually children of Adam and Chava, we’re just supposed to think of ourselves that way in order to understand the fundamental equality of humans to one another.

    You know, if we all thought of her as Chava, it would be tough to make all those “Adam and Steve” jokes.

  • Tapetum

     I’m finding myself in a similar place. Nine years of French in school finally drilled something near fluency into my skull, but it all felt very arbitrary. Thirty years and a couple of college linguistics classes later, I’m tackling Japanese for fun. After a year of self-study,I am a significant percentage of the way to as fluent as I ever got in French. I fully expect that by the time I get to Okinawa (about 18 months), I’ll be as good (or as bad) as I am in French, and by the time I get back, I’ll be better.

  • GDwarf

    For me, I’m finding it the other way around. I have a terrible, terrible time grokking new languages.

    Indeed, apparently learning languages gets much harder once you hit about 20, and is easiest when you’re around 1.

    And who knows, perhaps if I’d had a better grasp of the different parts of language and how it works I’d have picked up French in no time and I’d regard my current ability as much worse than what it used to be.

    All I know is that a combination of not caring on my part and, at least some, poor teaching on the other (endless word searches don’t teach one French. Everything focused on vocabulary, which I can get from a book if I need it, and what we did learn about the grammar was never explained. We were just given lists of words in different forms and told to memorize them) meant that I currently know essentially no French, despite five years of study. What little I do know is self-taught since then, and it’s stuck with me much more than the in-class stuff.

    It’s like…the way we were taught French the wrong way ’round. No basic principles (or, if they were there, they were mentioned once and then not again until the finals) just words. I didn’t know until after I was done with the classes what “Nous” and “Vous” stood for; which means that I didn’t know what “They” and “We” meant, just that if you put them in a sentence then some, but not all, words that followed got different endings.

    There were never comparisons to English, either. Nothing like: “The different endings are like ‘are’ in English: ‘I am running’, ‘They are running’ and so on.”

    Again, I don’t know how much of that was me vs. my teachers, and it’s been half a dozen years since I last took a class in it, but I can’t help but feel that it’s just being taught wrong, especially since it’s one of the most hated classes.

  • GDwarf

    Those are obviously snails, hedgehogs and wolves that have been genetically engineered to live in the sea.

    Well, snails make a sort of sense. Hedgehogs and wolves, however… I ‘unno, is there a French or Portuguese word that translates as “Sea Wolf” or something?* I suppose hedgehogs might be sea urchins, but that’d mean that they’re called something like “Sea hedgehogs”** in one of those two languages as well.

    *There is! Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the name of the Wolffish. Not actually a fish that comes up in conversation often, so one wonders why it was included in a phrase book. With the “fish” part of its name dropped.

    **Huh, that is indeed their name in Portuguese. So that’s one mystery solved. Sort-of. Though why he dropped the rather key “of the sea” from their name…

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I had an excellent French teacher. Four years of French in high school made me fluent in it. I thought in it nearly as much as I thought in English. When I took a test in college to place me in a French class, I got the “French literature taught in French” result — i.e., I needed no more French language classes for my degree. I had to take two semesters of another language. I chose Russian. That class was terrible. It was pure memorization, the Russian teacher’s aid was extremely mean, and she was particularly mean about the fact that I spoke Russian with a French accent.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t used French in a looooong time. My vocabulary is particularly rusty. I still remember the basic rules, though.

  • Jenora Feuer

     Well, one thing I have heard is that learning the grammar and vocabulary of a language isn’t necessarily harder as you get older (though it can be for some people).  Learning the new sounds of a language, though, is nearly impossible once you’re past about 5.  Pretty much the set of auditory symbols that we break speech down into freezes around then.  You can learn new words after that, but you’ll be making them with the old sounds.

    This explains a lot of foreign accents.  For a moderately well-known example, in Japanese speech there is no difference between ‘l’ and ‘r’, so they don’t really learn to distinguish between the sounds; they can’t learn to pick up the difference afterwards because they no longer properly hear a difference.

    Similar with the complete inability of a great many English-speaking people to ever properly pick up the French nasal vowels, or the glottal stop used in German and Scottish…

  • Rose

    In light of all the translation fun times upthread, I think I’ll just leave this here.

    http://translationparty.com

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Re: French

    I learned it in high school. I also had some really good teachers who took the time to explain the mechanics of language you don’t really get in English until a lot later. So I knew what a verb conjugation was, what a subject pronoun was, what an object pronoun was, etc. I even learned about the distinction between transitive (j’ai pensé ;) ) and intransitive (je suis allé :D )  verbs. Indicative, subjunctive, and so on and so on.

    So I understand language mechanics, but the details of fitting them up with vocab – that’s always been my weak spot and since you converse with vocabulary, well.. heh. :P

    (so don’t ask me if chaise is masculine or feminine because I can never remember :( )

  • Ursula L

    I’ve noticed that there is something of a fashion, in educational theory, of wanting to replicate the natural learning ability of very young children when teaching older children and adults.  

    For example, when I studied French in college, they used a curriculum (“French in Action”, I think) that was supposed to be working with the same principles as the “immersion” in a language that one experiences as a young child learning to speak or as an adult who finds oneself living in a place where the foreign language is the native language.

    This “immersion” was supposed to be experienced by watching videos, where over the course of two years a story progressed, being told with increasingly complicated vocabulary and grammar.  The teacher was supposed to teach by providing many examples, and letting the students learn the rules by experience.

    But, of course, watching videos for a few hours a week isn’t “immersion.”  

    Young children aren’t left to just guess about language.  The people around a child deliberately help with language, pointing to things and saying words, correcting mistakes, and interacting with the child using language, rather than just leaving the child to watch in the way that one watches videos. 

    Adults in an “immersion” experience, such as immigrants who don’t know the local language, don’t just passively experience the language in the way that one watches videos.  They talk to native speakers, in daily life, at least some of which are likely to know a little of their native language.  They quickly learn the words and phrases that are useful for asking questions about language, such as “what do you call this in French?”  

    Mistakes in grammar are considered to be less important in real life than learning the vocabulary that lets you convey an idea, even if it is in a grammatically “wrong” way.  This is very different from the way in which language classes focus on correct grammar, memorizing lists of conjugated verbs and rules of construction, when memorizing pages of the dictionary and phrases from a guidebook would be more useful if you ever found yourself needing to communicate.  People will forgive grammar mistakes from a foreigner, if the foreigner is working hard to communicate in the local way.

    ***  

    There is a similar problem with the fashion of teaching reading, in English, in the “whole words” fashion, rather than explicitly teaching the sounds associated with different letters and letter combinations.

    I’ve seen teachers, and more significantly, professors in the education departments of colleges who are training teachers, wax poetic about how if you teach children to recognize words, they will, on their own discoverthe rules that various letters are associated with sounds, and then be able to read.

    Which is utter nonsense.  

    Recognizing words is fine if you are reading Chinese, or any other language where there is a symbol for each word that is unrelated to the sound of the word.

    But in a language with an alphabet or syllabary, there is no reason for a student to be left to guess.  ”A word to the wise is sufficient.”  Teaching phonics won’t give someone perfect use of the language.  But it will let them approach any unfamiliar text, and apply the rules they have been taught in order to figure out what is being said.

    Heck, I’m turning forty this year.  And on the (very rare) occasions where I find an unfamiliar word while reading, I still go back to the rules of letters and sounds that I was taught in first grade.  And the more subtle rules I learned later, about how English has absorbed words from different languages, and how you can recognize variations in how the alphabet is used in English by recognizing certain letter combinations to signal that you follow the subset of rules for words derived from this or that language.  

    If I’d only been taught to recognize whole words, rather than letters and sounds, I’d be completely lost when encountering a new world, unless I’d somehow managed to guess rules that could have easily been told to me.  

    It is less useful, but not useless, in writing, converting sound to letters rather than letter to sound. The rules are sometimes contradictory, and their can be multiple options for how to write down the sound of a word.  But even if a writer gets the “wrong” combinations of letters to write down a word, if they follow the basic rules, they will write down something that any other reader can figure out, even if it isn’t technically “correct” by the dictionary’s preferred spelling. 

    ***

    It is theoretically beautiful for teaching to be all about leading students to discovering the truth on their own terms.

    But it is massively impractical to teach that way.  

    We’re humans, we have language to communicate ideas.  And to deliberately communicate ideas in an indirect way, when you could easily explain the idea directly, is a negligent way of teaching.  

    Or at least, it is negligent for teaching things like reading and elementary arithmetic, where the rules are fairly straightforward, and also rather arbitrary – there is no reason why a given shape  inked on a page should convey a sound or number concept, you just have to learn which shapes convey which concepts.  

    There are other concepts which are better suited to teaching students to discover the truth through their experiences.  Recreating classical science experiments (such as Galileo rolling balls down an incline.)  Analysis and deconstruction of different levels of meaning in stories, once they’ve learned how to read the stories.  

    First graders can learn to discover the truth through experience and experimentation with simple experiments in science class, without expecting them to intuit the arbitrary rules of phonics just for the sake of figuring it out while the rules are kept secret.  

  • GDwarf

    Quite frankly, I think vocab is the least useful thing to have to memorize. Modern technology means that I can find word-equivalents essentially instantly on my phone. What it can’t do is properly conjugate them, or get the tense right, or similar.

    Further, once you know how a language works vocab can be expanded on your own time fairly simply. Individual words are just easy to look up. But if you don’t know how sentences are structured then you won’t know what noun the adjectives apply to, or what tense is being used, or similar, and that’s much more difficult to teach yourself.

    Sure, if I’m going to be living somewhere then I need at least basic vocab, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of a language, which the school curricula seemed to think was the case.

     

  • P J Evans

    I’m glad that my language classes included grammar. I’m also glad I met the first one before I was ten. (I’ll never be able to trill or roll an ‘r’ properly, but I can make most sounds well enough. I’ve met Chinese, and can do the consonant that’s variously spelled as j and r, which doesn’t seem to exist in English.)

  • EllieMurasaki

      I haven’t found that people avoid C.S. Lewis so much as lionize him as a
    “Christian writer” without reading anything but Narnia, if that.

    The Lilith bit is IN Narnia. “your father Adam’s first wife”.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah, but CS Lewis would have based it, in fandom terms, on material not uniformly regarded as canon by all concerned.

  • EllieMurasaki

    That wasn’t my point. I forget what my point was, but that wasn’t it.

  • Tricksterson

    Thing is many Evengelicals do avoid C. S. Lewis for what’s in Narnia because they feel it contains too much pagan imagery.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X