Thursday, February 28, 2008

Many Religious Controversies

Memorial Garden at St. Mark's
Originally uploaded by Darrell
Centenary College of Louisiana recently invited Erik Wielenburg, an avowed atheist, to speak on campus. It came to my attention during a recent gathering at St.Mark's. Since Centenary has ties to the Methodist church, this has caused much hand-wringing and e-mail hysteria from insecure Christians among us. Wielenberg was the second non-believer to speak at Centenary this semester. A member of a local Methodist congregation got a little worked up, sending a mass e-mail asserting that parents send their students to "A Christian Methodist college for a reason." He went on, in part, "I refuse to believe that this reason is to brainwash their kids into believing that their is no God. We must do something about this. Please contact the president of Centenary, the board members, the alumni, the administration, and your church. I attended the atheists event last month and witnessed first hand how atheist spread their "word." Several students purchased her book after the event. I pray that none of those students turned against God that night."
Okay, let's not contact anyone. If these impressionable students are so insufficiently grounded in their faith that they will be "turned against God" by sitting through a couple of lectures, something has gone wrong over the last 18-20 years. This semester didn't have a lot to do with it.
The school's chaplain was compelled to respond with another mass e-mail explaining the bold concept of a free exchange of ideas. It was smart, well reasoned and right on target, saying parents have a duty to students to "Ground them in faith, engage them in reflection and in the exchange of ideas and then, when you send them to us, do all you can to encourage them to participate in the Christian worship, fellowship, study and service opportunities which we offer at Centenary."
My son has been offered a scholarship to attend Centenary. Thanks to this letter from the chaplain, I'm feeling really good about it.

Barack Obama
Originally uploaded by jurvetson
There's also a freaky line of thought creeping around the internet about Barack Obama. The mainstream media is exploring his religious beliefs because a lot of people believe he is a Muslim. He claims to be a Christian. There's a quiet undercurrent of discussion in the blogosphere that Obama may be the Antichrist. Barack Obama the Antichrist? That's way too deep for me, but I've had three people say something about it to me in the last week.
The only response I have is, "well, this is not the first time I've heard that."
Isn't it strange? I'm hearing this odd run of comments that flabbergast me beyond reasonable response. Hang onto your hat. Things are getting weird.

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Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say "bravo" for 2 things: 1. taking on a sensitive subject and 2. your rational observations and comments

Religious-based colleges sometimes can become places that are intolerant of another person's views which is somewhat ironic in that religion often tries to teach us to be tolerant of others. And afterall, since Centenary is touted as "the oldest liberal arts college West of the Mississippi.." it would stand to reason that the educational experience at Centenary would include a frank and candid examination of other points of view, especially those that would run counter to the popular and widely assumed accepted Judeo-Christian teachings and philosophies.

I've often found it interesting to see how persons who call themselves Christian react to alternate points of view as they seem to get very upset and quite reactive to other ideologies and philosophies. No one comdemns anyone for defending their faith, however I'm a bit taken back at just how vehement and acrimonious their reaction when someone, say an atheist or agnostic simply shares a point-of-view they disagree with.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not questioning the existence of God ( I believe She does exist! How's that for a philosophy!) But I don't necessarily believe in religion....(that's a chat for a different time). And more importantly I find such reactions as you've described to be based in a certain religious paranoia (or as you said: "insecurity") and impetulant.

The two things we have been "blessed with" are a free-will and the ability of dynamic reasoning. Anyone who feels that a lecture pertaining to whether or not God exists is out of place at an educational institution where the liberal arts are de rigeur ...perhaps needs to consider just how strong the foundations of Christian faith really are to begin with. Besides, those who believe will...and those who don't won' matter how much they are exposed to either philosophy.

Given this knee-jerk reaction, I suppose all Christian parents should also contact Centenary and have the administration ban books in the library on non-Christian religions and non-Christian subject matter or themes...Heaven forfend that such impressionable young minds be subjected to and corrupted by such information.

If that sounds extreme...then consider the premise of this thread.

--Semper Fidelis....quod obduco vinum!--

Darrell said...

Thanks, Marine. This is getting a little play. Another local blogger weighs in here: