Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New Cultural Object Lesson at University: Stomping on the Name of Christ

Yes, the university issued a CYA statement that no student was suspended, but the hubbub is essentially about the student being initially suspended by the teacher for refusing to participate (you see, the student returned the piece of paper with "Jesus" written on it instead of stomping on it when he was told to--this apparently was considered lack of participation).

The teacher has since come forward to claim that the student seemed to threaten him after the class was over.  Does it seem strange that this information hasn't come out sooner?  And the teacher claims to be a Sunday School teacher.

First of all, not all church leaders and participants believe the way most evangelicals or fundamentalists do.  And as strange as it may seem, not everyone has the same significance about the name of Jesus.  In traditional Christianity, God has exalted the name of the man from Nazareth because he was no ordinary man, and the name that refers specifically to this man is considered holy.  But a Sunday School teacher may still not be necessarily orthodox.  Ironically, the beliefs of the teacher are not relevant (except possibly to refute that the teacher is promoting atheism in particular); it is rather the religious beliefs of the student that are important here.

Why not ask the students to draw a picture of Jesus and spit on it?  C'mon, folks, it's just a picture of Jesus, not Jesus himself, so what's the big deal?  Why not explore the symbolic value of art by having the students dunk a crucifix in urine (as it has been done in government funded art)?  Why not have the students burn an inexpensive paperback Bible and then discuss their feelings about the matter?  The teacher could then tell the students how superstitious it is for them to feel that God is mad at them for burning a sacred text.  Are those appropriate object lessons?

Here is one atheist's take on it:
If you’ve come to this site and jumped down to the comments section to say “The professor didn’t make students stomp on MUHAMMAD or ALLAH!!!”… just save it. If that’s what you think this is about, you are so desperately missing the point of everything that we can’t have a meaningful discussion about the merits of this lesson.
Actually, that seems like a very meaningful point to discuss.  It's apparently very ethnocentric to assume everyone is Christian in any other situation, and since the power of symbols apparently can't be explored effectively without inducing some trepidation in the mind of the participants, let's ask point-blank what the students' beliefs are.  Each student can make a sacrilegious act against whatever symbols they grew up revering.  Buddhists can write down a sacred name of a boddhisattva that has saving grace, and be asked to step on that name.

Absolutely, let's have an exercise where the name of Mohammed (may he be blessed) is written on a piece of paper and stomped on.  I think the reason this atheist doesn't even want to go there and dismiss it before it can be meaningfully discussed is that he knows what would happen.   There would be an outrage, possibly a violent reaction, by Muslims, and then liberals would bend over backwards excusing the reaction and condemning the offenders -- like the reaction to the video that was wrongly blamed for the terrorist attack in Benghazi.  And it would be stated as obvious that exploring the power of symbols does not necessitate any encouragement of sacrilege.

Muslim outrage is prima facie evidence that someone has done something insensitive, while Christian outrage is not.

What I think should happen here is that President Obama should call this offended student to ask how he's holding up, just as he asked Sandra Fluke after a radio show host called her a bad name, and then our President should go to the U.N. and publicly announce that "the future does not belong to those" who would desecrate the name of Christ.

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