Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Religious Literacy

One of our local public radio stations, 89.3 KPCC has a program called AirTalk hosted by Larry Mantle which plays near the lunch hour. I try to catch it when I can. Today he hosted a segment on a book called Religious Literacy by Stephen Prothero. The show notes are posted below.

In his new book, Religious Literacy (HarperSanFrancisco), Stephen Prothero addresses the tenets of the world's major religions and the real differences among them. Larry talks with Prothero about what he believes every American needs to know about the world's major religions in order to confront the domestic and foreign challenges facing this country today.

You can listen to the show here.

I've added this book to my reading list. It sounds like a must have. The premise behind the book is education. The author seems reasonable. He's compiled a book aimed at teaching the basic tenants of each major religion. I think it will be a great addition to my library.


Lydia said...

Hi. I had the chance to see Dr. Prothero speak on his book tour a couple weeks ago at my university. The professor who introduced him started by showing this clip from the Daily Show, here: http://www.comedycentral.com/motherload/player.jhtml?ml_video=83952&ml_collection=&ml_gateway=&ml_gateway_id=&ml_comedian=&ml_runtime=&ml_context=show&ml_origin_url=%2Fmotherload%2Findex.jhtml%3Fml_video%3D83952&ml_playlist=&lnk=&is_large=true

He was quite good-humored about it. Just thought I'd send it your way if you hadn't seen it.

Lydia said...

Let us see if I can properly insert the link. Sorry about the first try. I hope this one works...

Prothero on the Daily Show

The Exterminator said...

Prothero's concept of "Religious Literacy" sounds reasonable, and his book looks useful, if a tad lightweight. However, be aware that he has been actively campaigning for public school courses on BIBLICAL -- not RELIGIOUS -- literacy. You can read a capsule version of his view in The L.A. Times.

Obviously, it would be nice if teachers of history, literature, and even science, were knowledgeable enough to point out biblical references that come up in their subject areas. But one problem with an entire course in so-called "biblical literacy" is: why give so much weight to this one text? Surely Greek/Roman mythology and philosophy have had as great an influence, if not a greater one, on western civilization. There's something fundamentally (pun intended) dishonest about touting the bible above all other important cultural achievements.

A more pressing problem is: who would teach these courses, and what training would they receive to draw the distinction between merely conveying information and proselytizing? And who would act as classroom watchdogs to make certain that the bible is NOT presented as true? Prothero has no adequate answer to these questions.

Carolyn Ann said...

I just got this out of the library; and it's actually quite good. (I knew they had it, and dashed down there - 24 miles! - when I read this post and watched the Daily Show bit). He doesn't discuss religious thought, he discussed why "we" need to know more about religion and the world's religions.

Religion is everywhere, and it needs to be understood. It's as simple as that, and Prothero makes makes a compelling case for that.

Thanks for the blog posting!
Carolyn Ann

chaosbydesign said...

Do you mind if I link you?

Mojoey said...

Chaos - not at all - link away.