Can you handle it?

12 03 2010

In case you haven’t noticed, I want to know the truth, even if it comes at the expense of having to admit I was wrong.  I don’t know about you but every time I hear the word “truth” my mind flashes back to the most well-known scene from the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men” with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson.  Go ahead, re-enact it:

Col. Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I think I’m entitled.
Col. Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Col. Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!

You may or may not be aware of the battle the education system in Texas is facing.  You may not even care, but you should.  Texas is one of the world’s largest textbook buyers.  That means they have influence on the content of curriculum nationwide.  Consequently, publisher’s design their books to match the Texas curriculum standards in hopes of writing books that their biggest customer will want to buy.

Does anyone else have a problem with that last statement?  I know that’s how our current economic system works, but what about having the integrity to compile educational content based simply upon what is true rather than what is popular? 

As you would imagine, the most heated debate revolves around the inclusion of religious content.  The “left” says we are putting too much emphasis on Christianity and the “right” says you can’t teach American history without it. 

Texas Education Agency board member, Mavis Knight said,

“It has nothing to do with the left or the right as we have continually talked about, instead of what is best for our children to know.  We have pitted ourselves left versus right, liberal textbook writers, conservative textbook writers.”

Let’s attempt to set aside whatever personal bias we may have for a moment, myself included.  Like it or not, Christianity has its place not only in the history of America, but in the history of the world.  Including Christianity in textbooks is not a violation of our Constitution or anyone’s individual rights.  That’s not bias, that is truth.  It happened.  I’m not afraid of the same class including historical information about other world religions as well.  Here’s an idea!  Let’s put all of the information on the table and let our students draw informed conclusions rather than just believing something because that’s what they’ve always been told.  Here’s another idea!  Why don’t we all do that?  Christians, non-Christians, left, right, wherever you fall.

While a college student I realized something.  As a Christian, I knew what I had been taught in church, at home, etc.  I knew what I believed, but I quickly found out that knowing what I believed wasn’t enough.  I was faced with questions like, “why do you believe that?”  That is a fair question.  The Bible itself tells us that we should be ready at all times to give reason for the hope that is within us.  For a while my honest answer was, “I don’t know.”  Let’s just say I set out to challenge everything I had been told and believed to be true.  If it was true, my search would confirm it.  If it wasn’t true I would be a fool to keep believing it.

That being said, Christians should not be opposed to learning the history of other world religions just as followers of other religions (or no religion) should not be opposed to learning the history of Christianity.  The Bible has been confirmed by notable historians, Christian and non-Christian alike, to be a trust-worthy document.  What is recorded in the Old and New Testaments is more than a compilation of “bible stories” it is documented history.  Recent archeological and scientific discoveries have also served to confirm the Bible’s authenticity.

Maybe you don’t believe that Jesus is who the Bible says he is, so Christianity shouldn’t be taught?  What about those who don’t believe Mohammed is who the Quran says he is?  Why, then, should it be acceptable to teach Islam?  Do you even know who they said they were?  What about the atheist who doesn’t believe any of it to be true?  Should we then also not study Zeus, Beowulf, and others considered to be fictional.  Why teach evolution when it is no more than a theory?  The reality is that few people really want the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” don’t they?  The truth can be difficult, but not impossible, to handle.

Hopefully this is just the beginning of a series that we’ll work through.  Feel free to send me any statements or questions you would like to have addressed.  If you’ve heard of the battle going on in the Texas school system be careful what assumptions you make.  Even the fair and balanced Fox News has had to clarify their initial report. 

In the meantime, here is a seven minute video I’d like for you to watch addressing the question “Is the Bible reliable as a historical document?”  Click here for video.




8 responses

12 03 2010
John Gardner

Great post again, Darrin! I’ve just started a book about religious literacy in America, investigating how changes in education and our culture has led to a lack of even basic knowledge about the main tenets of the world’s major religions. Should be interesting!

12 03 2010
ralph stewart

good stuff learned about the Texas thing in history class last week………one more step toward socialism………what happened to “one nation under God”, …… are right on Glad i read this

12 03 2010
Vicky Brummitt

Darrin, I completely agree with your comments about teaching about different religions then letting people make informed decisions! Chad and I have discussed that before, but I wouldn’t speak up and say so in front of some people for fear I would be tarred and feathered. HA HA!

I have always thought if one really, truly believes, then our belief in Christ will stand up against scrutiny and educating ourselves about why others believe what they believe. Knowledge doesn’t confuse believers; it strengthens our belief. Also, so many people are confused about the law. Teachers can use the Bible legally to teach secular material (such as literary devices the writers used) and explain how religion affected world events. For example, I always taught about Calivinism when I taught early American literature because the Puritans were among our first “American” authors. 🙂 As a Christian teacher, I totally agree with what you say!!!!

13 03 2010

Very well written and very true. Our job as Christians is to lead as many people to Christ as possible. To do this, we must learn as much about unsaved people as we can. Knowing how people think and what they think is one of the most important forms information one can gather. (One of the reasons why Mission Classes for children are so important/vital). We must be willing to accept non-Christians as equals before they will accept us.
To be a true seeker of the Truth, one must investigate all ideas and philosophies with an open and unbiased mind. Most Christians are not open minded. Those that are open minded, are not unbiased. The real born-again Christian is no longer a seeker, for he has already found the truth. (There is no way to the Father except by Me.) We should call ourselves seekers of knowledge and wisdom. (And a finders and keepers/spreaders of the Truth)
In my personal search for knowledge, I have read some religious materials from other faiths and most/all of them will have some truth mixed in with what they say. The Quran has some of the same books as the Old Testiment of our Bible. New Agers believe that God is Love. The Buddests and Hindu believe that all life is sacred. Multiculturalism could be very confusing to the young child without Christian parents/teachers to guide them. Polytheism ,the belief that all roads lead to God, could result. Almost everything in life is a two-edged sword.
Our violent history tells us that we must find a way to get along with each other. We will never get along until we can understand each other. To be friends and allies, we must find common ground. This common ground it the door for witnessing. Search for it diligently. On a personal level, listen first, then respond. Jesus is the only answer for this world. In him alone can we all be brothers.
(Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord)
(and I should really be sleeping)

14 03 2010

– The America government was found upon Christianity. You start changing the foundation and the whole structure will fall. So are the text book companies going to start leaving out the Revolutionary War? They might as well take out the history of our country completely. I don’t have a problem with my children knowing of other religions. I believe the more you know about someone and their beliefs you can better understand them. Understanding each other is the only way we can live in peace and harmony world wide.
-But taking God out of everything we do? The Constitution doesn’t state you have to be a Christian to live here neither does the Bill of Rights. The words, “IN GOD WE TRUST” on our money doesn’t force Christianity upon anyone. You don’t have to believe in God to use it do you? It hasn’t stop terrorist from using American currency to support their efforts. I know terrorist don’t believe in the same God as it is printed on our money. They use it and aren’t Christians.
-Amen. Patrick there is a wealth of knowledge in what you wrote. I too have read the Quran, but I did it to better understand the people who were trying to kill me at the time. I also found similarities with the Old Testiment and the Quran. The thing that I came to realize is most of the world has yet to find His grace, Jesus Christ. Grace is Jesus, Jesus is Love, and love is what the Father has for the world that He gave His only Son that who ever believes shall not die but have eternal life. We are the salt of the Earth and we must be as shepherds and guide the lost to Him, but we must be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves. As Christians we have to be careful and let the world see Jesus and not see us. You can lead a horse to water, expect you can’t make him drink but feed him salt to make him thristy.
-I got off topic and allow my personal beliefs to speak, but Darren I agree with what you wrote. We shouldn’t allow book sales to dictate our children’s education. I also believe that every religion has it’s place in history and it’s importance to it’s believers. There are so many different religions with different dominations here is the thing though……out of all these only one of them is right. Someone somewhere has everything right. We all believe our’s is right. We will all know at the end of our journey on Earth. I know what I believe and I feel secure about my beliefs. I’m not saying everyone is wrong but Christianity is right for me. Everyone is their own person and they think for themselves. Give the facts and allow everyone to see what is what and let them decide for themselves. And besides what harm would come from everyone knowing the history of religions? Doesn’t mean you have to believe in it or become a believer of it just understand where and why it came about.

15 03 2010
TJ Fowler

I’ve kept tabs on the text book issue out in Texas. To em the committee there is letting their personal beliefs get in the way of what should be in there. On some of the issues I do agree with them on what should be included. Such as the speeches of Jefferson Davis be included next to Abraham Lincoln’s because it does encompass the Civil War and shows both sides.

However, they also don’t want to include Thomas Jefferson as one of the great forefathers or minds of the birth the nation because of his religious belief. Which is absurd.

To me History should be told and with as much of a unbiased standpoint as possible and with all viewpoints of the subject included. Human nature of course can not make this ENTIRELY possible.

With the text book issue States like Oregon and Vermont which “lean left” are worried that there view will not be supported. To me that is as wrong as the “right” wing being supported. When showing and teaching history it should be presented in a neutral manner.

Now as far as the “Truths” of history…well…what is truth in history?

Who writes History? Those who win wars…and those who hold power.

Think about that.


15 03 2010

Ok, I had to add one more thing. lol People get DESCRIBING confused with PRESCRIBING. A competent teacher can describe without prescribing.

Also, sometimes a person’s faith affects all of his decisions, which then affect history. So, a good teacher would explain how that faith affected world events. For example, Thomas Jefferson–and many of our forefathers– were Deists. He did believe in God, but Deists have a specific view of the way God interacts with world events. It affects how they viewed people and our ability to think for ourselves, which partly led to democracy.

You can probably tell I used to teach American lit, and I love the historical aspect that goes along with it. In order to teach how our literature evolved throughout time, I always included lectures explaining how world events and faith affected literature. Some of those beliefs I agree with, and many I don’t, but they were all important to help my students understand the literature. I am such a literature nerd. Sorry ! LOL

17 03 2010
Victor Crockett

great discussion Darrin. hope Texas is taking a few pointers from Indiana. Gov Daniels has done some good things there, with some assistance from Dr Bill Bennett, (former Ed Sec, radio Talk Show Host)

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