Not Necessarily the Good News
The Bible in Public Schools http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/01/trump-bible-literacy-public-schools.html
Theme:"Flash Light" by Parliament
Note: Without Works is produced for the ear and designed to be heard. If you are able, we strongly encourage you to listen to the audio. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
0:29 Lemuel: I’m Lemuel Gonzalez, repentant sinner. This is Amity your heavenly host and you are welcome to our ecumenical Sunday school picnic: Without Works.
0:36 Amity: Welcome to our first episode. Before we get started, I wanted to address something briefly and that is timing and to the news cycle, we would love to be putting out these episodes more often, but while we are growing consistency is the focused in that spirit, we may be speaking about things that happened quite a while ago. Our new cycle is now at what feels like about an eight-hour turnaround. And we aren't able to get out our responses as quickly as we would like. But we feel that the information and opinion remains relevant even as these issues dip back out of the news cycle. So we will endeavor to keep things updated and relevant, but we can't be a daily show. So some items will be dealt with quite a while after they first appear on the news. With that in mind, what are we discussing this week?
1:24 Lemuel: The theme for today is the Bible. What is it? What isn't it? And how should it be used?
1:32 Amity: Before we get there, there's another segment we're going to introduce,
1:35 Lemuel: I would like to introduce a segment that going forward we will call cannon fodder. So cannon fodder is people who we think have done something significant enough to where they should be considered for their good works. We don't think they will actually become a saint. But this could be the first step on their way.
Amity: Let's start with why we're calling it cannon fodder. What is the cannon
Lemuel: The cannon is a process canonization, which is the final step of becoming a saint in the Catholic Church, right? First thing you have to do is you have to be dead for five years.
Amity: So we're mostly going to be talking about living people, in the news.
Lemuel: Right. And once the five years are up, a bishop of the diocese with a person died opens an investigation to the person's behavior to see if they lived a good life. And if you're a good servant, right? So that happens, they investigate you make sure that there's no sort of shady things in your past. Step three is they have to prove that your life was a life of heroic virtue that you just went from good thing to good thing.
Amity: Not just good.
Lemuel: No, heroic. No, no, you can't rest on your laurels. You have to constantly be doing good things. And then the step that's the most controversial for a lot of modern people, is you need a verified miracle.
2:45 Amity: A verified… I thought it was three
2:47 Lemuel: Well, they've sort of taken that number down.
2:50 Amity: Because verified miracles fucking hard to come by.
2:54 Lemuel: But some people can imagine and there are people who've performed verified miracles were like, yeah, there's enough witnesses. There's been enough investigation.
3:01 Amity: There is a old Pope laying in state in St. Paul's Cathedral who has not rotted.
3:11 Lemuel: There we go. And then Step five is canonization where they go Okay, past all the other steps you're now going to be? Well, first, you're beatified, and then you're canonized and you become a saint. So what we're doing is not that that's a long process. It takes years and we are two people…
Amity: We are two people
Lemuel: and we don't have really beautiful hats.
3:32 Amity: Speak for yourself. I got a cool hat. I do not have any hats. I don't like them.
Lemuel: Also, you have like a head that does not quite like it's between a hat sizes
Amity: I have a very small head. But even when I was a baby, I didn't want a hat on it.
Lemuel: So once again, these are people…
Amity: I guess I can't be a head in the church. Also, I'm a lady.
3:54 Lemuel: That's… gotta work on that one.
Canon Fodder Intro
4:05 Amity: So I'm going to speak about Candace Payne. I'm going to say her name because I saw several articles where Chicago woman was what was in the headline, which, you know, that's fine, but her name is Candace Payne. And what she did was during the severe cold snap this winter in Chicago, she contacted several hotels, until she found 30 rooms available at Amber, Amber Inn and she booked 30 of them and put the homeless in them. She just went out with this is what my budget is. That's $2100 or so $70 per room, right? She found 30 rooms, she paid for it on a credit card. And then she asked via Instagram for anybody who could help transport homeless people. She had caravans of cars and SUVs, volunteer drivers. They met at a tent city on the side of the expressway. She says it's not a secret. The homeless have been living there for years. And she asked as many people as she could to go with her and get inside so that they didn't freeze to death because it was in the negative 40s. Like it was literally deathly cold. She's just a woman living her life and realizing that a bunch of people are going to die and there's something that she could do about it.
5:21 Lemuel: Right It is horrifying. It's horrifying. Because we're as we're speaking right now. What a mile away, maybe. between us and yeah, I think it's a mile
Amity: within a mile
Lemuel: of a local BART station here the transit station. There are at least two homeless camps.
Lemuel: And one of them was recently turned down in the middle of
Amity: the bad weather.
Lemuel: You know, a California has been in a drought for seven years. It's recently come out of that drought, things two months of continuous rain now and there were people evicted from what little shelter they had in the middle of those storms. And you wind up seeing people wandering the doorways people wandering under overpasses,
Amity: and then two days later, the tent city was back.
Lemuel: There's no solution for the situation that doesn't involve a lot of action. But it should be government action, not the action of individual people.
6:06 Amity: Yeah, so it ballooned up to her spending about $4700. And she also got toiletries and things for them and food. She also ended up getting near $10,000 in donations to offset the costs and keep paying through because the cold lasted longer than one night. It does. That's how it works. And she says her quote is I am a regular person. It all sounded like a rich person did this, but I'm just a little black girl from the south side. I thought it was unattainable. But after seeing this and seeing people from all around the world, that just tells me it's not unattainable. We can all do this together. So she wants to organize, other ways to help homeless people in Chicago. I don't envy homelessness in Chicago, like we we have a lot of homeless here because it is it is never easy to be homeless, it is easier to be homeless in California.
Amity: The weather will probably not kill you. What's been found to be true time and time again, the way to fix the homelessness problem. The way to keep somebody from being homeless is to house them,
Amity: If you give someone a place to live, they can typically find a way to keep it
7:18 Lemuel: Now what we found. And I remember describing this to a Lyft driver that I have the other night, and he wasn't aware of the situation. He had passed the homeless encampment, you know, it's about a mile away from here. And I told him how really sad it was to see people get up dressed for work coming out of that camp.
Lemuel: He was not aware of this. It's what? No, no, these their actual families, and there are people there who get up in the morning
7:43 Amity: College degrees and full time jobs, and they cannot pay to live in the city that they work in.
Amity: And that includes teachers. Yeah, Hey, y'all, that includes teachers, that's real, I would not be able to live in the Bay Area anymore. If not for the grace of this house. It is obscene what we are charging to live in a place that is great. But that standard of living is being propped up by people who are in these homeless encampents, it really feels like specifically in the Bay Area, the bubble is going to happen. It might be like a giant earthquake. When all of these, the highest of the high rises and, and the newest of the condos and the beach front property is gone, because the earth took it back. And then suddenly, we'll be able to pay rent again.
Lemuel: Well, you know, what we're describing is pretty horrible for anybody. But I'm really applauding this woman for doing something.
Amity: Candice Payne, I'll say her name again.
8:47 Lemuel: The person I'm choosing is Mark William Pocan, who is a politician who is serving the US House of Representatives is representative Wisconsin's second congressional district. And he came to my attention when he was questioning Betsy DeVos, who is…
9:10 Amity: The devil? Oh, no, she is the current serving Secretary of Education.
9:14 Lemuel: Who in presenting a budget to the House of Representatives
9:19 Amity: had cut the entire budget for Special Olympics.
9:22 Lemuel: which is why I was trying to find a way of articulating that in a way that didn't sound horrible. But there is and it wasn't just the Special Olympics, it was several other programs for handicapped people for Services for the Blind,
9:33 Amity: Right. Because special and Special Olympics isn't just the Special Olympics that happened in complete in conjunction with the “ regular Olympics.” It's also a program in like 1000 schools to integrate those with intellectual and developmental disabilities into regular curriculum and alongside neuro typical students, so that they're not ostracized and put in a special ed room and nobody ever sees them.
10:08 Lemuel: I think that room is about integration and actually giving them a better quality of life than they would be if there is separated
10:20 Amity: and also making other people. So those neurotypical people making them, see these people interact with these people and understand that these people are, you know, people.
10:33 Lemuel: To not stigmatize these people. Yes. So I saw him questioning about service. And she was, and it's one of the things irritates me the most about the representatives of this administration is how often they're smiling when they're telling you something really horrible.
Lemuel: And so she was smiling through her explanation, she was refusing to answer his direct questions, and kept doing I think she's done often. After all, I want to call a Conway after Kellyanne Conway, which is never answer your question. But answering a question you didn't ask. And he did not let her do that. He kept pushing going. Okay, you're not answering my question. So I'm going to reclaim my time. Because I'm asking you do you know how many people are going to be denied services based on this decision? And she was of the idea that the private sector is going to take care of it?
Lemuel: But we trust the private sector take care of everything. Private sector is not responsible
11:22 Amity: Right, and not just the private sector, but the private sector through philanthropy. It's the same as going you don't need insurance, because you can start a Go Fund Me. It is that is not how we should be taking care of each other. And the fact that you actually are relying on that that's some socialist thought, right?
11:41 Lemuel: Yeah. So in this case,
11:46 Amity: So she may not have been answering the questions, because she just simply did not know the answer to them.
11:51 Lemuel: Right. But she kept changing. I say, let me address larger question. And he was like, “No, I'm going to reclaim my time,” because you obviously cannot answer.
11:59 Amity: you the larger question. I asked you the question I posed.
12:01 Lemuel: Yes. And he did not let it go. He sunk his teeth. And he didn't let it go. His he fought for it. And his motivation, partly was that he had two autistic nephews, and he wanted to know why they're going to fall behind because somebody is denying them services. He's denying that. And again, was not just Special Olympics, he listed a number of services that were going to be denied or change or their funding was going to be taken away. Because of that.
12:29 Amity: Yes because the education budget for the country was presented with 7 billion with a “B” dollars in cuts, $7 billion taken from education in this country, you know, what our country can't afford $7 billion from education. That's what our country will not afford.
Lemuel: What it does is it creates it perpetuates a system where some people can get education, some people can't some people get healthcare, some people can't, that people who can't afford an education get to do those rotten jobs. Nobody wants to do
Amity: right or they turn to crime.
13:03 Lemuel: Right, exactly. it perpetuates
13:05 Amity: be slaves.
Lemuel: Right. So but going back to Mr. Pocan, he didn't let it go. And he made sure that that information was dragged out in public light. So much so that I believe it was a direct influence on the perception of what Betsy DeVos was doing. And again, Trump himself stepped in, which wasn't saying that he done a good thing. I think it was just hurting his public image because he was aware of how bad this looked, again, maybe, and a sliver of humanity. But I think it was a perception issue.
Amity: This is going to be a tricky time thing. Because here's also a problem with an administration who lies and us in pre production since that since Trump came out and said, we're not going to do these cuts, the Secretary of Education and the Education Department has come back and said, “We didn't propose these cuts in the first place the White House did.” So now it's going to be a he said he said she said they said. Fundamentally, it looks like they're walking back these particular cuts,
Amity: But yes, we need more people like this gentleman to ask direct questions and require direct response.
Lemuel: So I didn't know much about him. You know, I went on to find out that he's openly gay., right? I
Amity: Hey, Wisconsin - I like when Okay, this is gonna sound reductive. I enjoy an openly gay politician from the middle of the country. Because as a liberal elitist on the west coast, I don't know how open the middle of the country is. And it's still closed that a lot of places. So it makes me glad that all of our openly gay politicians and people in prominence aren’t only in the “ blue areas” of the country
Lemuel: Well there’s only three LGBT members of the Wisconsin legislature. So it's still a tiny minority. He actually became politically active after being assaulted with a baseball bat coming out of a gay bar. He was a victim of the gay bashing. They were calling him names, hit him. So very became active to defend the rights of people whose rights were not being defended. So that happens, but I appreciate the fact that he went after like we said, What after it, he stayed after it. He was not going to let people… because he understands what it's like to be under represented. Right. So there we go heroic virtue. To this gentleman. I hope he goes on having an illustrious career Mark Pocan from Wisconsin,
Amity: Married to Philip Frank since 2006 congratulations, gentlemen.
Lemuel: Yes, I hope he was long and wonderful life that he makes continues making choices defending the voices of people, people who aren't heard.
16:01 Yeah, this guy, I like this guy. I'm reading some of his quotes in the news. He's also on the side of climate, right?
16:09 Lemuel: things we can't ignore. We can't ignore things and we can't ignore people. Right?
Organ Transition Notes
16:16 Amity: Not necessarily the good news. Where we're pulling from the news and ripping it apart based on
16:24 Lemuel: the good news, as it used to be called, is that the Bible or Christian gospel means the good news.
16:31 Amity: Oh, okay. Great.
Not Necessarily the Good News Stinger (radio static, pomp)
16:52 Amity: New York Magazine article, dated January 28, 2019 by Sarah Jones called Trump so passionate about Bible literacy that he wants it taught in public schools. I guess our big subject is the Bible. What is it?
17:02 Lemuel: So in regards to Trump's tweet, the original tweet, which dates to January 28, numerous states, introducing Bible literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible starting to make a turn back. Great. That's his actual tweet. So I'm here to talk about why that might not be such a great idea. And then to explain to people what a Bible is.
17:25 Amity: Well, let's start with that. And then do that why it's not a great idea to put it in schools for the lay person to try and teach.
17:31 Lemuel: Okay, well, because first of all, the Bible can be misinterpreted as we know, by people,
Lemuel: It's misinterpreted all the time, to me the wildest and strangest thing,
17:41 Amity: and also by the people who proclaim to have read and understand it,
17:44 Lemuel: And there are people who claim to read it and obviously haven't or don't understand what it's saying. My concern is that if you make this mandatory, and people are teaching it in public schools, teachers, I mean, think about sex education classes, wind up getting taught by the coach, is that really who you want teaching your sex education class?
18:03 Amity: Now, let me be clear per this article, nothing is going to be mandatory. There are several states with legislation coming in. Specifically, we'll talk about the Indiana law, Republican legislators have proposed a bill that would allow public schools to offer Bible classes as an elective, and would, according to Fox News, according to New York Magazine, allow school boards to require quote, that schools offer various theories concerning the origin of life, including Creation Science. I just have a Problem with those last two words, together,
Lemuel: Well we'll discuss that
Amity: In Florida, a democratic legislator, who I don't want to give any more credence to right now, has introduced a bill that would require schools to offer world religions elective and additional the several elective Bible courses. Both the Indiana and Florida bills include disclaimers that the Bible courses must be taught in objective manner, which is meant to head off concerns that the classes if implemented would violate the First Amendment requirement that church and state remain separate. So nowhere we're talking about mandatory Bible classes. I just want to be clear on that. But let's start at the beginning.
Amity: There was the Word and the Word was God.
19:27 Lemuel: Right? Good. I like that.
19:29 Amity: I can do this. So…
The word Bible itself comes directly from Middle English via old French, from ecclesiastical Latin Biblia, from Greek Biblia for “book”… the Bible just means the book. That's what the word itself means. What is the Bible?
19:54 Lemuel: The first misconception is that the Bible is a book, it's actually quite a few books, written over a very long period of time. Since we can't really date when it started. We don't know how long a period of time that was.
20:08 Amity: And are we talking about the new and old testament Old Testament together, which made up of what are called books.
20:14 Lemuel: Right, the Bible that you probably be the most familiar with, which would be just a policy King James Bible, is 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the new. It will be a little bit different in Catholic churches, and some of the other Orthodox churches will have more because they'll include what's called the Apocrypha. The Bible that you're probably going to find in a hotel room.
20:37 Amity: I was gonna say, is the hotel Bible
20:38 Lemuel: The hotel Bible, it used to be spread by the Gideons. They would put Bibles in the hotel rooms, that people in moments of doubt and reflection could open up that Bible and see all sorts of different alternatives for the horrible things that we're about to do alone away from their husbands and wives and families.
Amity: Is that really why they did it?
Lemuel: That was the reason why they did it.
Lemuel: To explain what the Bible is, it's a number of books. So we shouldn't take it all that it’s one comprehensive volume of they don't have a particular theme. There are historical books or books of poetry, there's at least one book of erotic poetry meant to be recited at weddings.
21:10 Amity: What is the difference between the Old Testament and the new test the old or ultimate? What is the Old Testament? And what is the New Testament.
21:16 Lemuel: The Old Testament is the largest collection of books that cover all the subjects I just mentioned. And there's a lot of history in it. The New Testament is specifically the story of Jesus in the early church, and then letters that are written by the early apostles to these churches and far flung parts of the Roman Empire, giving them advice about how to form this new religion.
21:38 Amity: The Torah and the Old Testament.
21:40 Lemuel: Yes, the Torah is the first five books, the books of Moses.
21:42 Amity: Great, that's interesting. I knew that they were in some way related, but I didn't know exactly how. So thank you for that. So those are the, the Old Testament is the books of the Jewish people. Right? And the New Testament is Christ. Christ Plus.
22:01 Lemuel: That's, that's, that's another odd one, because the books of the New Testament are also Jewish books.
Lemuel: The difference was that Christianity evangelicalized to the entire world, whereas the Hebrew Scriptures are keeping to the story of the Hebrew people.
And so, when I began asking this question about people, what do they think of the Bible? Some people honestly thought it was like the story of God, which it isn't. It's a story of the Hebrew people,
And even starts before that with Adam and Eve and then…
22:33 Amity: God makes cameos
Amity: He appears in a burning bush and whatnot.
22:37 Lemuel: Right. It's really the story of the Hebrew people really begins with Abraham. And it goes before that with no one these other characters.
Amity: So it's a history book
Lemuel: It’s predominantly history. And then as I said, there's books of poetry, there's one book that might be largely metaphorical. We're not sure exactly what the context of the book of Job is
22:55 Amity: for the books of the Bible's that are named for people. Are those named for the writers of the book?
23:01 Lemuel: No, not necessarily.
Amity: Some of them are?
Lemuel: Some of them are some of the books are narrated in the first person agrees, many of them aren't. And so on the surface of it, you can accept that this person I went tonight gave this prophecy and I saw the Lord spoke to me in this year. And you'll have that from some of the prophets themselves will write down their own books, or dictate them like Jeremiah did, somebody wrote for him. But then there are books that are written long after the history actually took place.
Amity: Now within the pages of a Bible, if I just picked up a Bible, would it tell me that history like would it tell me that Jeremiah dictated this to somebody?
Lemuel: It might say that in the opening of the text, it depends on who edited the Bible, or who's producing it. And that's one thing that makes it important to remember that when you get a Bible, sometimes a translation will be promoting a certain church’s particular point of view.
23:52 Amity: When you say a specific, certain church, I think building but you mean, like, Methodists.
23:59 Lemuel: Oh no, no for instance, Catholics have more books than Protestants do. The African orthodox has books that no one else accepts, but they accept themselves, like the Book of Enoch, which is a weird book.
24:10 Amity: Do you consider the Book of Mormon a Bible?
24:16 Lemuel: No, I don't. And I think only Mormons do. The Bible was largely edited by scholars, putting together the oldest possible text and then, and and again, this is the reason why the conceit of a lot of fundamentalist churches that the Bible is infallible, and unchangeable, is questionable, because the Bible was edited by people who felt led to choose some books over others, some books that were consistently about other books that were inconsistent, like the Gnostic texts that show up much later, after the Bible is almost a closed subject, add all sorts of things that have nothing to do with the actual scriptural teachings. And so it was so far different and sometimes blasphemous that they just decided no, we can’t include these effectively, when we're going to make a claim that something is the exclusive Word of God, then it really shouldn't have been something that's basically interpreted by a group of other people, or written down or translated from any number of languages, that claim can't be sustained.
25:18 Amity: If you go into a bookstore today, there are numerous versions of the Bible. They're different translations of the original text, right? Each of these are different translations. So it's not like this one has doesn't have certain books in it, or this one doesn't have necessarily, it may just be the people who physically translated the text, which would have been in Hebrew? Aramaic?
25:48 Lemuel: Well, Aramaic, or Hebrew, and Greek.
25:50 Amity: Like the big sort of ones are like the King James, the New King James, the New International, English Standard…
Lemuel: The Revised Standard Version Yeah.
Amity: For translations like that, for sort of audience specific translations. Are they going back to the original text? Or are they picking up the King James and adjusting it?
26:17 Lemuel: They're adjusting it or they're, they're going… because the King James wasn't the first English Bible,
Amity: Who was King James? What King James' deal?
Lemuel: He was an English king who wanted to separate his church from Catholic heresies as they felt
26:33 Amity: So Henry the VIII split the Anglican Church off of the Catholic Church, so that he could start divorcing women and stop beheading them.
26:34 Lemuel: Right. So this is a, it was started in 1604 was completed 1611. And he wanted to make an Anglican Bible.
Lemuel: So it was specifically made to make a Bible for the Church of England as opposed to the Catholic Bibles. And they were early translations that were printed in English, that didn't get very far because they had kept Catholic roots to the translators did. So he wanted to get the diligent revision of scriptures and put together one that would be the basis what the Anglican church would be going forward.
27:11 Amity: And it would be an English
Lemuel: It would be in English,
Amity: Which is a stark difference. That is one thing I know about the Catholic Church wants the whole thing to be enlightened. So you as a person, get your information, not from the book itself,
Lemuel: But from the Priest
Amity: But from the Priest
27:25 Lemuel: Now there's two things that and the concept that we’ll introduced here is when Martin Luther broke from the Catholic Church, he had a concept that's called Sola Scriptura. Right?
Amity: Only scripture?
Lemuel: Only scripture, everything that you get from the Bible is gotten exclusively for the Bible. It's not based on the interpretation of priests. It's not based on the interpretation of other governing bodies of the church, we're telling you, “this is what it says you don't have to read it yourself.”
27:53 Amity: That's going to be tough, because I'm already not reading the original text.
28:00 Lemuel: Right. Exactly.
28:03 Amity: I cannot read Greek. So I need to read what this kind gentleman the hundreds and thousands of years ago, translated for me.
28:13 Lemuel: Right. And so that's where the issue comes into it. It's like, Well, you can't really say that, that should be the basis for all teachings, the Catholic Church and some of the high church, other high church, believe that there's sacred traditions, there's reason they actually include reasons as one of the things, the Methodists do, include it as one of the things that you should have as a part of a spiritual life.
28:38 Amity: Okay, and so not just blindly believe the words in a book, but to use the brain that God gave you.
28:47 Lemuel: This is a concept called Prima Scriptura
Amity: Scripture first?
Scripture first rima Scriptura is the notion that it's first and above all, the Bible, you can use it, but it still has to be tempered by gifts, insight, conscience and common sense, a common sense,
Amity: Hey, common sense
Right. So that they're saying, okay, there's this scripture, but you also have to understand it. Yeah. And that, so the Catholic Church has, as it does this regular history. On the one hand, the Scripture is being controlled by people who are telling you, this is what it says. And now you have to believe it. So there was all sorts of things that weren't part of the Bible that people were taking to be the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Whereas it was a good thing to break away from that necessarily, because you were believing what people told you it said, rather than you reading it yourself,
Amity: Right. Well, at this time to a lot of people were not literate,
Lemuel: Right. And that's why
Amity: Even if it was in a language that they could read, when we went to the we took a trip to the oldest church in San Francisco, if you remember, yes. And we're looking at these beautiful stained glass
29:52 Amity: The mission of the mission district
29:56 Lemuel: and so as we're wandering around, we're looking at the pictures, I said, it's beautiful, how the stained glass windows themselves have an entire essentially devoted to entire books of the Bible,
Lemuel: And so you can sit there, and if you were familiar with it, interpret all the symbols in this window. And so for a person for a priest or something, who is speaking to a mostly non, you know, I don't want to see illiterate because that makes it sound like…
30:20 Amity: well, illiterate, not not as a pejorative
Lemuel: Not as a pejorative.,
Amity: These are people who did not learn to read,
Amity: because they were busy farming, so they didn't die.
Amity: Sorry, kids, I'm sure you'd rather be in a one room classroom with nine other people, but I'm going to need you in the field cutting that wheat, because we have taxes.
30:41 Lemuel: So people would look at the picture, and he could explain everything from the last meeting itself. The difference is like in anything that needs to be interpreted by another class of people, you're really relying on that class of people who was interpreting it not to be corrupt.
30:55 Amity: Right. And an issue with this, we're going to go into probably at over the course of the show many issues with the clergy. But an issue with this, too, is a priest is installed in a church by the higher ups.
Amity: And that's the extent of their oversight.
Amity: Basically, I mean, if, if complaints are lodged than maybe not, but the priest is the end all beyond be all in a parish is my understanding. I mean, there are bishops but nobody's coming to the privilege every week,
Lemuel: Occasionally, not every week.
Amity: To see that they're not abusing their power.
31:36 Lemuel: What the problems are with these two points of view. So it's like the idea behind so scripture, which is really embraced by evangelicals, is that the Bible is everything you ever need to know.
31:48 Amity: They sometimes do like a magic eight ball situation with the Bible, isn’t that a thing.
31:53 Lemuel: It used to be the
31:55 Amity: where if you're really struggling with a question, you just like, open up the Bible,
31:57 Lemuel: Open up the Bible and point to a verse, and that'll tell you.
Lemuel: yeah, this is a really,
Amity: But witchcraft, definitely burn her…
Lemuel: Prima Scriptura opens you up to common sense, it opens you up to other things, you can specifically have a divine revelation, at the same time tempering that saying, if I believe I've seen God, I'm going to test it against the Scripture, because primarily revelation comes through Scripture. So if I see God, and God tells me “kill them all,” I go through and I look at the scripture that says, God doesn't say kill them all, then therefore don't kill them all.
32:29 Amity: Weirdly, he's never said that to anyone before. So I probably need to go to a doctor.
32:35 Lemuel: So then what we have, the second thing that we have with a Sola Scriptura, is it actually sounds like a good idea, okay? The person who's interpreting the scripture for you, is going to color it with their own opinions and points of view,
Amity: Of course.
Lemuel: So you should be able to read it for yourself. The flaw is that people then interpret it any way that they want to.
Lemuel: So it winds up there's two points of view.
32:57 Amity: And let's talk about the language. Since we’re talking about interpreting.
33:02 Lemuel: Right. And this is a something that the Catholic Church has a large debate with the Protestant church about, which is no one in the scripture ever says, Sola Scriptura, this is the only standard of truth, because they weren’t aware they were writing the Scripture. Paul is writing letters to Corinthians to Philippians, to all these churches that he visited, and some of which he started. He never at any point says this is the only thing you ever have to believe.
Amity: So there's just a section of letters in there?
Lemuel: Right. It's just a section of letters. But the thing is, at no point in the Scripture, does anyone make the proclamation, all of the Scripture which they didn't know was being edited and do a book is the infallible Word of God, no one ever says that. Jesus will say, as the scripture says, and then say something that doesn't appear in our scripture. And St. Paul does does it too. And so one of the great arguments for not you know, going with a Sola Scriptura idea is that there are obviously books that we've lost over history that aren't there anymore. So he's saying those books get excluded if they get found. I mean, archaeology is a living process. People find things all the time,
Lemuel: One of the reasons why…
34:09 Amity: and if they were on for papyrus, it's possible that that's it. it's never going to be found.
34:14 Lemuel: It’s never going to be found. So the reason why I fell on the side of like, Prima Scriptura, if we're going to choose a side between the two, was, I believe that a good deal of it could be true. And when you look at the New Testament, it's, it's a historical thing that happened to the historical time. The people who are writing the New Testament are writing in the living memory of the people who experienced it. It’s not like whoever wrote the books of Moses, actually remember Adam and Eve?
Lemuel: So the difference between what happens the Old Testament and the New is the New Testament was written because there was Jesus, there was his teachings, there was his death, and whatever mysterious things happened afterwards, I believe it one way, you believe it another. But the Jesus is preaching about the end of the world. At times now we know this to be what later on happened with the fall of Jerusalem. So there were people there who are listening to Jesus, saying, this is all going to end the temples going to be torn down, he wasn't talking about the end of the entire world.
35:15 Amity: The end of the world as you know it.
35:17 Lemuel: Right. And it did happen within the lifetime of the people who were sitting there.
35:20 Amity: The end of the world, as humanity has known it has happened repeatedly. It happens a lot. I would argue that right now we're living through a cycle of it.
35:32 Lemuel: So when Jesus is telling people this, after Jesus, we’re left with the disciples and apostles, the apostles, rather, who are going around, saying what Jesus said. Now, if you were an early Christian, it would be like this, we would go to a synagogue, a Jewish synagogue,
35:53 Amity: There aren’t anything but Jewish synagogues, that’s what those are.
35:58 Lemuel: So we don't say, it was different, occasionally you would meet in people's houses, if the synagogue was hostile
Amity: women, women's houses, and it was the early early church was kept alive by women
Lemuel: By women, by widows mostly. And so you'd be so it would be either a friendly synagogue or a sympathetic one or a person's house. And what would happen is that somebody in the congregation go, “and now Mary, come up and tell us what what Jesus said to you.” And she'd come up and just tell you the whole story. “And then he said this to me. And then he said that to me.” And these people were like, celebrities in the early church, they would just, they would go to church services, you go along with one of your people who met Jesus.
Amity: When you say, Mary, you mean, Magdalene?
Lemuel: it could be Mary Magdalene, it could be any number of
Amity: Mommy Mary!
Lemuel: There's that Mary, Mommy Mary, there was Mary, the sister of Lazarus.
Amity: Mary: common name
Lemuel: and apparently, Lazarus was a popular guy to have around to it's like that guy. So you know,
36:54 Amity: yeah, he's straight up rose from the dead, y’all
Lemuel: a great story.
Amity: If you can get him at your party, get him at your party
37:00 Lemuel: people would come up and just tell these stories, what began to happen is that there was persecutions, both by the Jewish church, and then later by the Romans, and sometimes by both, where these people are being killed and executed. So then somebody had the idea of well start writing their stories down because we're losing them.
Lemuel: that's where the New Testament comes from.
Lemuel: It's because somebody is like, well, Peter is about to die. There's this friend of Paul, this young guy named John Mark, he writes the Gospel of Mark, not all but even survived, parts of it are missing. But he wrote down things that Peter told him,
Lemuel: Because so whereas the Old Testament is stretches this huge span of history, and some of it is metaphorical, whatever. What was different about it was this was like, religious history in modern news, which is why it had such a big impact, because it wasn't something that happened hundreds or thousands of years ago.
37:54 Amity: Alright, so that's the Bible. So why shouldn't we teach that in schools?
37:59 Lemuel: The reason why is again, goes back to the Prima Scriptura, as well as Sola Scriptura. Do you want a person who's not qualified teaching the Bible, and putting the emphasis on whatever they want to? Do you want a person teaching the Bible, and it comes up with an interpretation that advocates violence, you know, go back to when Joshua is cleaning out the Philistines or whoever not the Philistines, that would be David. And they will use this as saying God is giving the excuse here for violence, the holy war it you know,
Amity: so basically preaching jihad in the schools,
Lemuel: You can.
Amity: I mean,
Lemuel: you can do that if you're going to be very selective in what you find you can preach Well, here, it says that these people were troubling the people of Israel, so we took up arms, and we stopped them.
38:39 Amity: Yeah. So maybe a thing that,
Amity: some people should be saying to some other people,
38:46 Lemuel: and we hit on earlier, the whole idea of handmaid, okay, what if someone puts an emphasis on that? Well, it's your responsibility as a woman to be submissive. Because look,
38:57 Amity: And your entire worth right is your will. Congratulations.
39:01 Lemuel: And Sarah could not have children. He's the father of the Jewish nation. And he had to take a handmade because, of course, that will end up being disastrous for everybody. But you can use you can use the Scripture, because its historical, you can use a historical example, to bend things the direction of what you want to say, which is what's been happening for a very long time for hundreds of years. And because of that, it's like, okay, you can go the idea that somebody has to interpret it for you, but then who's interpreting it for you? And what is their point of view?
Lemuel: You can go with the route of reading it all yourself the solo script around but at the same time, what if you start developing ideas that wrong about it? And then that's, what do you get from it? The what's the Bible's telling me to do this, the Bible telling me do that,
Lemuel: You have to balance it, I really approve of the whole idea that you have to balance it according to reason and common sense and other things,
39:53 Amity: but also having a qualified guide,
40:02 Lemuel: and that it's not going to happen with everyone teaching the way that they want you to hear it, because primarily what we're getting is a very conservative movement to start it again, Bible education in schools is a kind of a conservative movement.
40:15 Amity: Right. And it's likely that you're going to get more fanatical people,
Amity: Applying for that role.
Amity: Like, it won't just be, you've got an extra? Well, some might be, you've got an extra period, you're going to teach this class, math teacher, which is bad on its own face, if she has no experience with it
Lemuel: Or no interest in it and just makes it dull.
Amity: And then the opposite problem might be the people that are very eager to get in there. Get their point of view across
41:02 Lemuel: Their point of view, their interpretation, their belief there are…
41:09 Amity: Now it's not to say that the Bible should not be in school.
41:13 Lemuel: No, I think, here's the strange thing. You and I think English literature.
41:20 Amity: I took a class in college, called the Bible as Literature.
41:26 Lemuel: When you are reading any literature written from 100 years ago, backward. And even now, but more so then, there was a an acceptance of biblical literacy, even if you didn't necessarily believe
41:42 Amity: Absolutely. To understand much of, especially like, the Irish canon, there are biblical references. James Joyce is packed with biblical references. James is packed with all kinds of references. That’s another story, but if you don't have a baseline biblical knowledge, a lot of that is going to go right over your head,
Amity: And you're not going to be able to understand the text your reading
42:12 Lemuel: even secular authors, people who were not people who believed in the Bible, for instance, Edgar Allan Poe was making references to it.
42:19 Amity: Now we have these are stories that are ingrained in our culture.
42:28 Lemuel: If you’ve seen The Matrix,
Lemuel: If you've seen the recent Godzilla.
Lemuel: You're seeing the life of Christ.
Amity: Oh, yeah.
Lemuel: Shape of Water,
Amity: Harry Potter,
Lemuel: Harry Potter. Okay. So the thing is that the this story echoes,
42:43 Amity: But once again, we're talking about a historical, a book about the historical Jesus, and their belief that he is the Son of God. And his statement he does He say ever say, “I am the son of God?”
42:56 Lemuel: Not in the way that people take it for? He's actually very cagey about a lot of times he does it during his lifetime. And then, right when they're taking him to a cross, because why not. I'm not denigrating the scripture in any way. But the scripture means both more, in some ways less than you want it to mean. And I think that the idea that we're going by this, or teaching that to people, it's irresponsible, putting it in the hands of people who you don't know how they're going to teach it, don't know how they're going to share it, don't know how they're going to emphasize it.
43:28 Amity: So if the Bible were to be taught in schools, in public school, there would need to be a universal curriculum.
Amity: Which then really defeats that division of church and state,
Amity: Because the state would have to institute a curriculum that the schools would have to stick to, so that it wasn't being used as a tool.
44:00 Lemuel: Essentially, to create a governmental religion.
44:04 Amity: And then we've really decimated that church and state line.
44:08 Lemuel: I'll tell you a story.
Amity: I've heard of him.
Lemuel: Yes. Great guy. He is constantly being provoked by the teachers of the law inside the synagogue who are trying to get him to commit to ideas because there's two major groups the Pharisees the Sadducees, the Sadducees are existentialists who follow the law, the Pharisees believe in an afterlife, so he's closer to them because he preaches about an afterlife. But both groups basically control religion for the people. You bring them at cow, they sacrifice it for your sins, you know what the scripture interpreted? You go to them. So here's this young Rabbi wandering around just saying the strangest things, Right. So they're constantly trying to get him to trip them up. One of them comes up to him and says, Is it lawful to pay tax or not? We're an occupied country, we're paying taxes the Romans. Right? what they're trying to do is like, well get the Romans to take care of him. He says, don't pay taxes, the robbers will arrest them. And then our hands are clean of this guy. And so Jesus takes that says, Give me a Roman coin. And so they hand them a Roman coin. And there's an image on the Roman coin of Caesar. He says give Caesar the things that belong to him and give God the things that belong to Him. He's just separated church and state. This is the state, this is the church, they're not coming together. This is something that he instituted - Jesus, yes, that Jesus, Jesus, the Christ, the founder of the Christian church to us, right. So the notion of undoing Jesus's work, to honor him is idiotic. There's a reason why we have it separate. Jesus grew up in a metropolitan area, there were Romans, there were Greeks, there were Jews, there were other races of people there. You don't force other people to learn your scriptures, that's not going to encourage them to want to be curious about God or to love God at all, if you're forcing it down their throats.
46:05 Amity: And we were built on a sad sack group of Puritans who were terrible at parties. And they were put upon by the people of other faiths around them, they weren't allowed to be as uptight as they wanted to be. So they came here and evolved into just, we're not going to… the state will not dictate the church that its people go to. And y'all that's goes both ways. It's not going to make you be Christian. And it also can't keep you from being Christian.
Lemuel: There’s not a war on Christianity, it's it can't stop you from being Christian. It also can't stop you from being Quaker, or Muslim, or Jewish, or Buddhist, or Hindu, or any of these other things. You can have whatever religion you want, provided, you are not poisoning Kool Aid, and then forcing people to drink.
Lemuel: Let's not be a cult leader. Let's not.
47:17 Lemuel: Yeah. But yeah, so it's, it's a complicated issue, but I think it has a very simple answer is that we're not we're going to just reduce the quality of biblical teaching, if we give it to anybody to do.
Amity: And it's not like, there aren't places in every community to go read the Bible.
Lemuel: And you can choose Sola or Prima Scriptura, you can have anything you want. It's a smorgasbord, right? You can go anywhere you want to any of these things. And you don't have to go to a school to do it. I don't know why that would see.
47:53 Amity: Also our education system is deteriorating, we already are not teaching the kids, everything that they need to be learning. Taking a period out of the day, for the Bible doesn't seem like the wisest move when we could be teaching financial literacy. For instance. Here's how to not go into debt, balance your checkbook. Here's what taxes are, all of this stuff. This is not taught in school. And this is the stuff that actually is needed by every America
Lemuel: And again, going back to the earlier point, if you want to learn about the Bible, there are lots of churches you can go to. This is not where you should, when you have this time for school, you're supposed to be preparing people for life later on. The church will give you a good moral background. This is not what you need in school, what you need to learn is how to read and write. Okay, you need to learn how to
48:56 Amity: Three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. Is that maybe where the system went wrong?
49:03 Lemuel: The fact that in the proposal that you mentioned earlier, yes, creationism is included.
49:12 Amity: This
49:13 Lemuel: is a political direction. Yes.
49:15 Amity: That's really what's happening. I don't think the Catholics are not on board.
49:21 Lemuel: Catholics accepted evolution in the 1950s like they couldn't like and they didn't that was only after they already announced several times like no, no reason and common sense apply to your scripture.
Lemuel: When I was a kid, there was a minister who taught that okay, that war in heaven like you read in Paradise Lost angels, evil angels fell onto the newly created Earth and possessed the animals and that's what made dinosaurs
49:45 Amity: That's nowhere in the Bible.
49:48 Lemuel: No, it’s not. This is what he was teaching. And so I'm looking at him and my mom is looking at me like what? Because then she's like looking suspiciously always dinosaur books I have.
49:58 Amity: That’s not even in Paradise Lost.
50:01 Lemuel: No, it's not that was his…
50:03 Amity: That’s in a fever dream and that person had right at some point. That's incredible.
50:12 Lemuel: That's the kind of weird loneliness that you can get sometimes when people, and again, when people all the knowledge comes only from the Scripture, and there's nobody guiding them through it. They're just “Well, this is the idea that I had.” It's the spirit.
50:23 Amity: Yeah, if they want to look at the Bible as the answers to everything, they're going to be stuck because the Bible doesn't have answers to everything. Because that's not what the Bible was written for
50:34 Lemuel: The Bible is written and we can look at this as if…
50:39 Amity: It is a history of a people
Lemuel: right me as a Christian looking
Amity: And then a history of a man
Organ Transition Music
50:47 Lemuel: Thank you for listening this week. If you have questions you would like answered please send us an email or a voice memo to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would like to include the audience as much as possible.
51:00 Amity: We can be found on Facebook at without works podcast. We're on twitter at without works pod. And we're working on making transcripts for the show available. We think the best way to do that will be a Tumblr, and we'll announce in the Facebook page when that's available. I've been Amity he's been Lemuel, and we remind you to get out there and do something good.