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Thursday, September 30, 2010

*pew pew*

For those not, as the children say, in the know, *pew pew* is the sound ones makes while making shooting motions with one's hands, in order to indicate some sort of victory or coolness on the part of...one.

My sentence got a little garbled there.

BUT, some of you sharp readers may have suspected that my *pew pew*ing currently IS ALSO A PUN. Regarding that stupid Pew quiz about various world religions. 'Cause yeah, I served that quiz some massive ownage, but I see little reason to be proud of that, because it's idiotically simple and I feel bad for all the religious types who didn't do as well as my shining 15/15. Apparently everyone is in a snit of defensiveness, if they're religious types who aren't among the religious types who did well overall--Jews and Mormons--and I guess the atheists are gloating because they know more about Christianity than Christians do.

As a former Mormon and a current sort-of atheist (the term I really feel applies to me is "apatheist" but we'll set that aside for the sake of clarity), I am completely unsurprised by all of this. OF COURSE Mormons know plenty about other sects of Christianity, given that a) most of them are trained to go off and be missionaries in foreign climes, including places heavy in Baptists, and b) most of LDS dogma and ceremonies are ganked from some other Christian group anyway (and the Masons). Jewish people tend to be smart in general (which of course is a great blanket statement, but I can't really speak on that topic because I am not and have never been Jewish. Most of the Jewish folks I know are freakin' informed, though). As far as atheists go, OF COURSE a minority group of any kind is going to read up on the majority group, especially if that majority group feels about the minority the way that most Christians feel about atheists.

Also unsurprising is the apparent fact that many Christians don't bother to read their own holy book. Der. I, being a former Mormon, have read the entire damned King James Bible plus all of the LDS scriptures, and found the questions on the quiz concerning the Bible to be laughable. I was expecting begats or the name of the (totally awesome) woman who staked an enemy leader's head to the ground or SOMETHING HARD. NOT who led the damn Israelites out of Egypt. Srsly? DREAMWORKS MADE AN ANIMATED FILM ABOUT IT (can I hear the Prince of Egypt love? Yeah! Moses was kinda hot in that movie). Oh yeah, Charlton Heston too. /Metatron I mean really, let's get something out of the way right now: if you claim yourself as some stripe of Christian and you don't know that "do unto others as you would have done unto yourself" isn't one of the Ten Commandments, give me your Christian card NOW.

Predictably, miffed Christians, embarrassed by their own lack of knowledge, blame public education for not teaching religion in schools. I assume they mean a course like "world religion" but forgive me for suspecting an ugly subtext. Personally, I'd love to see more comparative religion classes taught in public schools--they could easily be incorporated into social studies courses. Of course, then kids would learn about religions other than White Christianity and maybe start studying Judaism or Buddhism or, baby Jeebus forbid, Wicca! See? SUBTEXT. I guess a "Bible as Lit" class in high schools would be beyond the pale, since it would encourage discussion of authorial intent, likely culminating in the agreement that God is a psychopath and the Bible is overall a shitty piece of literature with completely uneven style. It's clear that the majority religion doesn't REALLY want any sort of nasty comparative religions course--they just want their brats to learn about Christianity. In school.

Moreover, the last question on the quiz--which most people regardless of religious affiliation missed--indicates that religious studies are not the only thing lacking in the noodles of America. History needs to be taught better, too! WELL DUH. America at large doesn't care for history, or at least it doesn't like to think about portions of our history which are unsavory (which is why you see challenges to To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn so often. White people don't care about whether the word "nigger" is offensive to blacks, they mostly just care about not looking bad), and this shows. Americans at large are woefully ignorant of world history, but we also know nothing about our own, not even White Christian history.

People. The phrase "The Great Awakening" should REALLY mean something to you if you're of some Christian denomination. Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God is a bona fide classic of colonial-era literature and it is the gold standard for every fucking fire-and-brimstone sermon any megachurch idiot has hurled at his audience. Maybe the creators of the Pew quiz put this question in to be assholes, but either way, the evidence is clear: history (and literature, since I didn't learn about Jonathan Edwards until I took an early American lit class in college) needs to be taught. The citizens of a country should be familiar with as many parts of its history as possible, and hopefully they should ALSO be taught to give a shit about other countries' histories too, because let's face it: the bulk of the non-reading types who got the questions about Islam and Hinduism correct were lucky at guessing. Knowing that Pakistan is next to India isn't going to do you a lick of good if you don't know anything ELSE about Pakistan and the only thing you know about India is that lots of Indians are Hindu.

Mostly this quiz gives me a bad case of Doppel!Willow.

("Bored now")

Not only did it not stretch my brain, but the whole shebang didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. Most Americans are ignorant. Most Christians never bother to crack a book, even the Bible. I do have one quibble about the quiz, though--the penultimate question is about the concept of nirvana. The correct answer is Buddhism, but I'd forgive someone for choosing Hinduism, given that Hindu philosophy does cover nirvana. It has a different meaning, but still. I thought this question was badly worded. Then again, for most people "nirvana" just refers to a crappy grunge band, so what am I bitching about?

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