I'm a graduate of Wayland Baptist College and attended for one year Southwester Baptist Theological Seminary. What I remember from my religion and theology classes was it seemed every class had one or more students that always tried to pin the professor down as to what their personal belief was on the given topic. See there's been two thousand years of theologians trying to make a name for themselves by advancing a different interpretation for every verse of scripture in the Bible. On certain topics there can be a dozen or more points of view. The text and professors would explain the interpretation and then give its strengths and weaknesses. What the professors would not do is tell you which one of the interpretations they thought was the right one or their personal belief. There are two very good educational reasons for this. 1) The professor being the authority figure would exert undue influence on the students, which leads to point #2 It's the students' responsibility to judge from the pros and cons and figure it out on their own. I remember Dr. Bishop spending sometimes half the class arguing with students that were so frustrated because he wouldn't be pinned down. You could see those students get all huffy, "How dare he not tell us how to think."
Theology is not like Math where 2 + 2 = 4.
Sadly since 1978 education has been replaced at Southern Baptist Seminaries by brain washing. There is only one official way to interpret the Bible. The fundamentalist view which they beat over everyone's head with the buzz word inerrant. "The Bible is inerrant." Which means they and their interpretation is inerrant. All the other interpretations are never mentioned.
Now I'm sure many of my hippie political blogger friends are scratching their heads and wondering what the hell I'm rambling on about. I've said this in preamble to what I read a few days ago by Cal Thomas.
Cal Thomas is on our local Op/Ed page. If I ever want my blood pressure to go through the roof I just have to read his column. Most of the time he is so stupid it's not worth the time and effort to refute his errors, myths, and down right lies. This one struck a chord.
He was defending right wing colleges and professors who fail any students that don't regurgitate exactly what they've been told is true.
He said that if liberal colleges and liberal professors fail students for not answering the way they want them to, then conservative colleges and professors should be able to do the same.
Beyond the obvious that two wrongs don't make a right. Liberal colleges and professors don't fail conservative students for answering a different way. Cal Thomas was PROJECTING the conservative thought process onto what they consider to be liberal practices. As I've pointed out education doesn't give a party line. Education (what they consider to be liberal) embraces and accepts multiple interpretations and thought. Education wants you to think and figure things out for yourself. If students still thing the world if flat or the sun revolves around the earth, then they might find that their beliefs will get them a wrong answer on a science test. In the humanities if an opinion is asked there are no wrong answers, you're graded on your ability to defend your answer. Somehow an answer, "Jerry Falwell said so," isn't very convincing.
Which leads to another column I read in Alternet by Max Blumenthal. He mentions a little remembered letter by President Eisenhower where he warns that the greatest threat to democracy was an electorate who was too eager to follow an authority figure who tells them how to think instead of thinking for themselves.
He (Eisenhower) explained to Biggs that Hoffer “points out that dictatorial systems make one contribution to their people which leads them to tend to support such systems — freedom from the necessity of informing themselves and making up their own minds concerning these tremendous complex and difficult questions.” The authoritarian follower, Eisenhower suggested, desired nothing more than insulation from the pressures of a free society.
Erica Jong had an article in the Huffpo with an interesting take on the health care smack down. She explained that her husband was a divorce lawyer and that it's always the crazy partner, the one who's unreasonable and does all the screaming and fussing that gets what they want. The reasonable partner gets screwed. She equates all the crazy things happening at the town hall meetings that represent only a fraction of the general population, but that they are the ones being heard will most likely keep us from getting the type of health reform we need.
Maybe it's time to take the debate away from the demagogues and start thinking and acting for ourselves.