Saturday, May 5, 2007

Evangelicals disdained?

And she emerges, still alive, from a finals week caffeine OD coma in order to comment upon the Washington Post!

So, the question as the Post's headline puts it: Is there disdain for Evangelicals in the Classroom?

Okay, let's see here. A college student got hauled before a faculty committee on charges of discriminating against gays because she wouldn't send a letter petitioning the state of Missouri to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Yeah, I got a problem with that. It's her problem if she believes that the government should discriminate against people. College should make her think critically about her position, but not force her to act in a manner contradictory to her beliefs. But then, the professor in question says that there was a massive misunderstanding and she never had to send a letter or sign a petition. Crap happens when dealing college administrations. And let's face it, it is an epidemic that college professors fail to adequately explain an assignment the first time around.

But that's just my commentary on the human interest/ introduction bit of the article. The meat of the article is still coming.

Some bloke did a study and found that while college professors basically only have negative opinions about are Evangelical Christians and Mormons. Students of other religious persuasions -- not an issue. Okay, yes, it's a bias -- newsflash, college professors are humans and have biases. And now, people are crying that higher education in the US is suffering from rampant discrimination against Evangelicals. The fellow who did the poll even compared professorial dislike of evangelicals to bias against students of color.

*begin sarcasm* I can't imagine why a biology professor would be annoyed by a student who insists that the earth is only 6,000 years old or that evolution is a big myth. I can't possibly see how a Religious Studies professors would be bothered by the kid who is quite sure that no Christian could be pro-choice and refuses to consider the existence of different opinions on the subject. Or, the other lovely storm I have witnessed: the girl who freaks out and derails discussion on post-colonial and liberation theology christologies by screaming about how offended she was that someone found it theologically useful to imagine Jesus as a gay man. *end sarcasm* People who are absolutely convinced that they are right and that there is no real substance to any philosophy that does not agree with their personal beliefs are difficult. I've also seen problems with hard-core vegans and hard-core atheists making it difficult to carry on a decent discussion in the classroom. The problem is not the beliefs of evangelicals, per se, the problem is that evangelicals are notoriously bad at accepting the legitimacy of beliefs other than their own.

Dealing with hard-core evangelical Christians in the classroom can be incredibly difficult for me as a fellow student, and I have heard professors express some frustration with such students. But when you have a student who is not simply trying to express his or her opinion, but is refusing to accept that people can hold differing positions -- yeah, it's a problem.

What's worse is that the students raising cain aren't the majority of Evangelical Christians, many of whom are indeed capable of accepting that there are many differing beliefs that people can hold. So, it is unfair that professors, because of the actions of a few, have developed a distaste for all Evangelicals. But it's also hardly the same as professors holding negative opinions of students of color. The color of your skin isn't something you can do anything about. How you respond when someone presents an idea that differs from your beliefs or even calls them into question is something that is under your control. Big difference.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Americano is Getting to Me

I really like the words, "further" and "suggests." I use them far too much.

Also, I really want to put the sentence, "Vehement prohibitions of self-castration found in both Church Fathers and the canons of Nicaea further attest to the presence of voluntary eunuchs in Christianity as more than isolated occurrences when someone let a very zealous young man be alone with a knife." into my paper, but I think dropping the last clause is a good idea.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Militantly Secular

Two propositions:

The force of government, within Metra philosophy land, should not be used coerce people into following the tenets of a religion. (Look, I'm a product of the Western Enlightenment!)

The force of government should not be used to prohibit persons from -- of their own free will -- following the tenets of a religion.

In some ways, I wish Americans would be more like the Turks and would take to the streets to protest goverment changes that they do not support. (We are APATHETIC.) At the same time, I'm distrubed by the attitudes of the quotes and even the writing style of the AP article that appeared this morning in the Washington Post.
"We don't want a covered woman in Ataturk's presidential palace," protester Ayse Bari, a 67-year-old homemaker, said in reference to Gul's wife, Hayrunisa, who wears a Muslim head scarf. "We want civilized, modern people there."
I'm not sure if I like the tendency to link non-observance to civility and modernity. Modern, okay maybe, I find it hard to consider many people who are constantly insisting that science is somehow only right when it confirms Biblical accounts to be modern. But, civility? It's true that few things are worse that encountering a person who believes his or her religion gives him or her the right to treat you as a non-human, but I know a goodly number of very religious people -- even some who might not be modern -- and they are quite civilized. Religious observance and civilization are two separate things.

I'm also very concerned by the tendency of the article, at least, to focus all of the negative attention on Turkish foriegn minister's wife, Hayrunisa Gul, and her choice to wear a headscarf. I don't know what type of policies the pro-Islamic government is/was planning to implement and should there be an attempt to limit the human rights of the Turkish people, I will applaude their efforts to maintain their rights. However, I am concerned by the author's choice to link a governmental assault on the separation of state and religion to Gul's attempt to gain the right to wear a headscarf to university. It's a return to the old trope of when in doubt, find a conveinent woman to pin the blame on.

I understand how it could be symbolic of larger issues -- for instance, I would not respond well to be told that I needed to wear a headscarf -- but ultimately, Gul's personal choice to wear a headscarf has nothing to do with me or anyone else, and she should not have to remove it to make other people comfortable.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

News Flash: The Deck is Stacked Against Chicks!

Yeah, so that pay gap between men and women -- it starts right after graduation from college. You know before those justifications of it that I've heard set in. These young women aren't yet having to take maternity leave or time off for kids and *gasp* those young men aren't breadwinners with dependents. The pay gap between men and women can't be explained away by these supposed mitigating factors. Leaving only one remaining possibly -- society hates women.

The argument of this article is that this is indirect discrimination built out of the combination of girls and young women being taught by society to not ask for more and bosses who don't know what to do when a woman values her work (and her self) to the extent that a man does and asks for more money.

Little girls, when asked to state how much their work is worth, give themselves far less in comparison to boys. Something is teaching these little girls to place less value on them selves and their labor. (Warning, Metra, warning: approaching Marxist language.) What could that something be other than societal institutions?

And people wonder why I want to overturn the pillars of society.