Defending the Bible
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Praise the Lords! And Ladies! All of them! One is the loneliest number.
I don't know what happened to Follower #78, but I'm down a notch. All three of you who are sticking with "The Gods Are Bored" during lean times, will you please drum up some more business for me? I'll bake you a pie just as soon as I have a moment to spare.
Have you ever seen a person who just can't stop asking annoying questions?
(If you answered no, have you ever looked at your own patterns of questioning?)
I have several students who like to steer my class off topic. Duh. Students live for this, don't they? Let's talk about anything else except transition words! Can't say I blame them much.
Today, however, the conversation in class was not about transition words, but instead about euthanasia. My sophomores have been reading a novel called Stuck in Neutral, about a teenager with cerebral palsy. "Mercy killing" is a theme in the story.
This afternoon I asked my students to write a position statement about euthanasia. And my off-topic questioner piped up. It went something like this.
Student: Miss Johnson ...
Student: I know this is off topic, but...
Self (to Self): here it comes, today's attempt at diversion....
Student: Have you ever wondered if the Bible was written by a crazy person? I mean, I go to church every Sunday with my grandma, but I still think about it. What if the Bible was written by someone who's nuts? I mean, look at all the stuff in it. There's some crazy shit in there! Ooooops! Sorry, Miss.
Self can see another student in the front of the room that Self knows is very religious. This student is quietly fuming. Self does not blame her.
Self: This is off topic, Student.
Student: I know, I know. But look. There's all this stuff about Moses going up and getting the Ten Commandments, and a bush that's burning. It's like, who wrote this?
Other Student: God wrote it.
Class erupts in spirited debate, all at the same time. Self is thinking Self is about to be fired.
Self: Please note that I'm not saying I go to church, or even what religion I am. But the newest parts of the Bible are 2,000 some years old, and the rest of it is older than that. I think if all the stuff in it was crazy, people would have discarded it by now. (To Self: Am I actually saying this?)
Student: Why do we read it anyway, if it's so old?
Self: I appreciate your questions, Student, but this is off topic and also off limits. You're asking me to comment on religion, and the Constitution.....
Student: It's just STUPID! Give me one reason why people read the Bible.
Another Student, to Student: If you don't believe in God, why do you waste every Sunday at church? That's retarded, yo.
Self: Look. We need to get back on topic. But I will address your question, Student. Here's what I think. And once again I want to preface these remarks by reminding you that I haven't said whether or not I believe in the Bible, or whether or not I go to church. I don't think the Bible is stupid. I don't think it was written by a crazy person. (To Self: Liar, liar, pants on fire!) The reason the Bible has been around for thousands of years is that it does contain some good advice about how to get along with other people. (To self: I can't believe I'm defending the Bible.) Now. We were talking about euthanasia, and whether or not people should be able to choose to end their own lives when they have no hope of cure for their illness. Would you all please write a paragraph stating your opinion on euthanasia, pro or con? Thank you.
Student: Miss. You are always trying to make us work!
Self: (Evil laugh) Yep. So do it!
There you have it, my ten faithful readers. It is not humanly possible to get through a school year without having to debate the relative merits of Christianity in a classroom. And yet I want to dodge this grenade with every ounce of my being. Nevertheless, I felt like I had to defend the Bible when one student was just trying to steer the class off course, and another student was clearly upset by the new course the discussion was taking.
Moral of the sermon: Love it or hate it, the Bible has endured because it was not written by a crazy person. Some of its writers might have been a little trippy, but when I think "crazy" and "long book," I think Thomas Pynchon. Nobody is going to be reading Thomas Pynchon 2,000 years from now. So the Bible was not written by Thomas Pynchon.
Emmmm...... I'm starting to babble. It's a long day, teaching. Don't let anyone tell you different.