Wednesday Notes and Noted

Baldblogger concludes his 7-part series of interviews with Edward J. Blum, regarding Blum's religious biography of Du Bois. Ed talks about the process of thinking about writing as a musical endeavor: that one should try to write musically, to hear the rhythm of the syllables, to groove to the spirit of narrative. I found myself doing that a bit this summer trying to write to Arcade Fire's Neon Bible, but I loved the CD so much I would descend into the music and forget to write! And don't forget that reading liner notes is always a great procrastination tool -- especially the wonderfully informative ones to Goodbye Babylon, the six-CD compilation that "that culls strange, rare and fiery finds of American gospel and other religious music from the early 20th century," and should be required listening for all American religious historians -- also read about it here and here, and listen to an interview with the compiler and annotator here).

Tim Burke gives some further thoughts on thinking about going to graduate school, in his typically thoughtful and provocative manner.

Matthew Hall points to a recent poll, conducted by the First Amendment Center, suggesting that
Most Americans believe the nation's founders wrote Christianity into the Constitution, and people are less likely to say freedom to worship covers religious groups they consider extreme, a poll out today finds.

The survey measuring attitudes toward freedom of religion, speech and the press found that 55% believe erroneously that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation. In the survey, which is conducted annually by the First Amendment Center, a non-partisan educational group, three out of four people who identify themselves as evangelical or Republican believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation. About half of Democrats and independents do.

That seems a little high to me, although the poll claims a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points. I may follow up and try to learn a bit more about the poll.

On the other hand, maybe I'm the naive one. I just gave some upper-division history majors here a few documents by Jefferson (including a famous letter to John Adams in which Jefferson hopes that the biblical stories of miracles will soon be classed with the fables of Minerva) and asked them to do a writing exercise in which they wrote successive paragraphs crafting an answer to the question "Was Thomas Jefferson a Christian," and then revising their paragraph after reading the next document. It was just an exercise in historical writing, and this is not a religious history class, but I was startled to see all but one student proclaim Jefferson a Christian even after reading the document in which he says that Jesus had every human excellence and never claimed any other. Clearly, ideology, or something, trumped reality.

Finally, I don't know about the U.S. but the Crimson Tide nation is a Christian one, that's for sure! (HT to University Diaries --click and then scroll down to "Scathing Online SchoolMarm" for her wonderfully tart interjections on this story).


Bland Whitley said…
The Crimson Tide is one of many such Christian nations. I remember reading some time ago a piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the UGA Bulldogs and their coach Mark Richt, a born-again Christian. Richt has imbedded his program in a Christian milieu. Prayer is a constant, and before games players gather and chant "In Christ, all things are possible!" This despite the presence of at least one Muslim player (this was I guess about 4 years ago). Attendance at team-sponsored Christian worship was encouraged, though not required. If memory serves, however, no player interviewed (including the Muslim) had opted out of the services. In spite of this, Richt still can't seem to beat Steve Spurrier. Ok, that was a cheapshot.
Paul Harvey said…
Bland: Cheap, but good! Paul

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