December 20, 2011

Not A Single Luxury

A couple weeks back Mia was sent home with something called The Robinson Crusoe Reader published by something called the Christian Liberty Press. It's part of her take home reading.

It's a little dense but Mia can read anything. Still, Beth, Mia and I alternate chapters. My introduction to The Robinson Crusoe Reader was on chapter 26. There I was confronted with an explanation of how good God was to Crusoe, how He made Crusoe's barley seeds grow and allowed Crusoe to prosper. And the entire book was just like chapter 26.

I have to admit, I was a little shocked. Not about the references to god. After all, Defoe used Robinson Crusoe as a vehicle to talk about his own spiritual beliefs. (I'll readily admit that I looked that up from a couple of sources because I've never, not once, read Robinson Crusoe.) On one level, I was a little shocked because it came home as a take-home reading book from my kid's first grade public school classroom. And, further, while I'm not overly offended by a book dealing almost exclusively with god coming home with my public school kid - whose curriculum, it was my understanding, would be secular in nature - I thought the idea was offensive. Why? Because it took a classic story, bastardized it and turned it into nothing more than a tool.

There are beautiful books that intentionally deal with god and faith and religion in wonderful ways. In fact my favorite book - The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell - is just such a book. And that's strange since I'm such an ardent atheist. If you want to talk about faith or religion or, specifically, god, you don't have to edit literature.

Posted by Chris at December 20, 2011 8:27 AM

As a Christian (albeit liberal) I'd be offended - not the stuff for public schools. And I'm glad there are atheists out there like you too - so many lately have become militant (ie Dawkins) and are just as bad as te bible bangers!

Posted by: Heather at December 20, 2011 9:39 AM

Consider it a way for Mia to understand a culture outside her own. After all, most of English literature is based on those who believe in a higher power, and she's going to meet the 97% of the world who are not atheists.

Posted by: krista at December 20, 2011 9:40 AM

As a jew I'd be really unhappy if that came home from public school.

Posted by: jodifur at December 20, 2011 10:35 AM

//If you want to talk about faith or religion or, specifically, god, you don't have to edit literature. //

Your assuming the goal was merely to talk. More likely, the goal is to convince...

Posted by: COD at December 20, 2011 12:08 PM

hmmm. i'm having mixed feelings about this for sure. i probably won't articulate correctly but it's one thing if an unbiased textbook teaches "the way defoe alluded to his faith in robinson crusoe alluded was brilliant". it's something else if your daughter's public school is sending home christian prosthletyzing materials.

Posted by: kati at December 20, 2011 12:52 PM

I'm a Christian.

And I admit. I'd lose my schmidt over that.

The guarantee of "separation of church and state" means something to me.

And I bet every Christian who thinks that the Crusoe stuff is so awesome? Would lose their shmidt if their kid was sent home with a book where the author extoles the virtues of his Muslim (or Jewish, or Pagan, or anything but Christian) faith - or - his purely scientific view and an absence of any and all faith.

And - um - my kids and I read world literature. Not just American literature. 95% of the world is most certainly not Christian. Actually - we are in the minority.

Posted by: Mindy at December 20, 2011 1:41 PM

Well last summer you sent your kid to vacation bible school, and you said you wanted her to make her own decision. So I guess its okay for her to make up her mind, when you say its okay. Hmmmm....

Posted by: linda at December 20, 2011 2:11 PM

I will just chime in - yeah, not cool. I would be shocked too.

Posted by: bouncy at December 20, 2011 7:29 PM

Just re Krista's point above, the more accurately recorded percentage of non-religious world population is 15% and most atheists (of whom I am one) believe that number to be higher. However public censure, persecution and shaming prevent a good percentage of the non-religious folks from actually admitting that. Just saying.

I loved The Sparrow. I wasn't as impressed with her follow up book, but a great read indeed!

Posted by: Mandy at December 21, 2011 10:55 AM

You are great! But I still did good! Hey!

Posted by: Office 2007 at December 21, 2011 8:59 PM

One subject completely over thought by most people. I think its just another opportunity for open dialog. There are so many different beliefs, traditions, stories, songs, and they all differ from faith to faith. So what........I believe in a God, and my daughter was introduced to Hanukah at school and I did not find it the least bit offensive, but as stated above it was just a chance to talk about differences. For the record I unfamiliar with Crusoe so I am speaking in general, but I think it odd that people are so touchy with their religious back grounds and beliefs. Both sides, believers, non believers have become over the top ridiculous with the "its offensive" B.S.

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