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Author Topic: Western Civ class becomes Bible Lesson -- WWYD  (Read 4944 times)
Derg Corra
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Last Login:May 08, 2008, 09:29:15 pm
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« Topic Start: February 29, 2008, 07:08:20 pm »

So I am in my first semester of community college and I am taking the first part of History of Western Civilization since it is required by my major...  I actually had high hopes for the class since it covers some stuff very relevant to someone like me, as I am interested in the bastions of civilizations and religion (Egypt, Greece, Rome, Mesopotamia).  If nothing else I thought it would allow me to better understand the context of religious thought throughout the ages...

So we are on Rome right now and the book has a couple of paragraphs on Jesus.  It doesn't go in-depth too much, just presents a few brief notes about when he was thought to be born and crucified.  It seems my teacher decided to beef up the curriculum and today started giving out more information on Jesus.

At the very beginning of his lengthy monologue that went on for over 20 minutes, I raised my hand and said that I think he was starting to cross the lines of history and religious doctrine.  At least one other person in class agreed and chimed in saying that this seemed like more of a question of faith than history.  I mentioned the fact that the very fact Jesus lived is under debate and that I knew one of the major sources of "proof" commonly cited by believers is thought to be forged.  He corrected me and mentioned Josephus, and I immediately knew that was the name I was thinking of.  I said that I was pretty sure the documents in question were the material alleged to be that of Josephus, to which he countered something to the effect of "Well, I haven't heard that.  If they're forged then I think a lot of people will have to rethink their history."  All I could manage at this point was "I'll bring it in."

Ironically this was exactly the point I was trying to make as to why he should not be teaching this in a history class.  I realized that I was fighting a losing battle and that for the most part the teacher was preaching to the choir since I suspect most of the students were probably Christian.  I bit my tongue and pull out my music player and voice recorder at this point and start recording the lecture.

So he went on to ask the class what we knew about the life of Jesus, and he took cues from the class...  At points it was quite obvious he was fishing for answers of biblical origin (primarily gospels).  He even went so far to talk about the Annunciation (angels coming down to Mary and Joseph telling them that they were having the son of God), and the whole resurrecting and coming back to speak with his followers which he alluded was the catalyst for the creation of Christianity.

So I am pretty livid about the whole situation...  For one, I went through 12 years of Catholic school and was forced to listen to this stuff far longer than most by the time I graduated the 8th grade.  I had thought that school (particularly public schools and colleges) would be fairly secular in terms of content.  I did not sign up to a Western Civilization course so I could take an extra semester of Christian rhetoric.  Secondly, I looked it up and it does seem that the Josephus documents are generally understood to be forged by many, the subject of constant debate, and even rebuked by some Christians who know history a little better.  So I was right to challenge what he was spouting off to the class as fact, and by his own quip about rewriting history he has practically disproved half of what he was saying.

I don't know where I stand exactly on Jesus, whether or not he really lived or if the lore is a collaboration of pagan myths (there are lots of interesting books on this)...  However I don't think that discussion as in-depth as this belongs in a secular history class.  It's one thing to bring up Jesus as a sort of enigma that affected history be him real or figment, but to tell a bunch of impressionable college kids that this is all "generally accepted" really pisses me off.  I have no problem accepting a brief overview of Western religions as part of the history of Western Civilization.  This whole Jesus lesson just felt like Sunday school to me.

I don't know what I should do.  As soon as he told me that the Josephus thing was valid, I told him I would bring him in some material that would prove contrary.  But I don't know how to handle it, if I should just leave a massive pile of printouts proving my point on his desk with a brief letter of explanation or if I should just go straight over his head and try sending a letter to school administration.  Either way I think it's going to rock the boat and possibly affect my grade.  We have only had one test so far (I was one of only 3 people in the class who got an A, the majority of the rest of the class failed - 19 students)  As one of the few people who actually has done the work and pays attention to class I feel like I am obligated to rise to the occasion and "be the guy" that calls this teacher out on his mistake.  I just don't know how to do it without royally screwing myself over.  In the end I am tempted to throw caution to the wind and just make my point, because I guess even though I might not believe in what he's teaching, I believe that there is some sort of karma or something that makes my challenge have merit.

So if you are one of those people like me that thinks on principle rather than what might be the smartest thing to do for your own benefit, what would you do in this situation?
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