3 thoughts on “Religious Literacy

  1. Another nice vid. Might I suggest keeping them a little shorter? The 10 minute length is a bit much to keep track of for leaving comments, unless one were to get out a pad and pencil and take notes while watching.

    Anyway, my thoughts, in no particular order, are these: We won’t see the end of the institutional church in our lifetime. However, I think there’s also a good chance that neither you or I will worship or work in the institutional church for our entire lives. I think it’s more likely that a non-institutional church will take hold alongside what we currently think of as the church. Whether than new strand will just become institutionalized itself or what, only time will tell.

    I like the idea of religious literacy, I’ve desired to become more literate myself even just in the various Christian traditions. To look beyond that is an admirable, if not intimidating, goal. Can I really consider myself completely fluent in Christianity even with my lifetime of experience in the faith? What would it take to become literate in another tradition?

  2. I am trying to master the shot talk format. I am shooting for 6 minutes or less.

    I think religious literacy is a journey as faith is. You endeavor to live into it.

  3. Stephen says:

    To Matt’s comment, I would say that I see a difference between being literate and being fully fluent. I would define religious literacy as having some degree of understanding about what various religions have to say about the world, history, the absolute / the sacred, human beings, and what things are of ultimate value in life. Yes, I realize that’s a lot, but I’m really talking about literacy in the sense of being able to highlight distinctive traits of those areas in a sentence or two.

    The use of the word literacy is a good one, I think, because it strikes me as being the base level of communication. There’s a difference between being literate and being able to write a graduate level paper in a language, and so the task to become literate in other religious traditions does not seem as daunting because to me it really means just a basic familiarity with the general worldview of other traditions.

    [While I do acknowledge there being differences even within the Christian tradition, I think the sects for the most part share similar lines of thought when dealing with those various categories and it’s more a matter of degree than a completely different understanding. I’m interested to hear whether you agree on that point.]

    I see Christian religious literacy as one of the major areas where the church falls short. And here I’m not even talking about between faiths or even between denominations; I mean literacy in one’s own tradition. Christian education is no longer a cultural project — something that is absorbed simply by being alive in the United States. And I think churches have been slow to react to that change and really need to re-evaluate the importance and methodology of doing meaningful Christian education. [Ryan, I saw you mention Worship & Wonder the other day, and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. I haven’t participated in the program (assuming I am talking about the same thing as you were), but I’m really intrigued by what I know of it].

    I see Christianity as having a worldview that is at odds with secular culture in many ways. But if Christians don’t receive meaningful Christian education, I don’t see how they are going to develop a critical eye when examining the pervasive belief systems of today (and here, I’m mostly talking about secular belief systems) — a task which is immensely important if you are going to talk about the church moving outside of its institutional box to really engage the world.

    [For me, this also raises the question of how you would do that education outside of the institutional church?]

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