A place for new ideas to settle.

09 September 2011

The Gray Area of Religious Literacy

Disclaimer: This post may not sit well with you, as it deals with a topic that some people find sensitive and/or personal. While my response to that is not quite "Deal with it," you have been warned. I'm not going to pull any punches.

Every year, Western Washington University selects a book for its "Western Reads" program, which is supposed to "promote intellectual engagement, community, and conversation" according to the website. The other time I actually read one of these selections, I definitely had a conversation... but it was a somewhat frustrated, somewhat snarky conversation with a friend about the poor quality of the writing. That was the 2008-2009 school year, however, and this is now. The 2011-2012 Western Reads selection is Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—And Doesn't, by Dr. Stephen Prothero, and it's an entirely different book bag of worms. (Incidentally, the terribly-written book I didn't finish reading in 2008 was also about religion and America, but that's somewhat beside the point.)

I very much look forward to attending the Q&A with Dr. Prothero when he visits Western to discuss the book. I hope I get to ask him a few questions regarding his view on religion as it relates to public education, and indeed the relevance of religion to public discourse.

I hope this, because his book seems dangerously wrongheaded.